Roe v. Wade
Here's how the Supreme Court decision affects health care, politics, and more in Charlotte and North Carolina.
Charlotte’s churches and worship leaders responded Sunday to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, as the effects of the momentous reversal ripple across the country and region.
Some worship leaders celebrated a victory, saying the decision vindicated religious activists and would save “thousands” of lives in the years to come.
Others pushed back on a move they said doesn’t reflect a dynamic, inclusive church and could harm those already oppressed in America.
“We cannot allow the teachings, law or tradition of some to be imposed on the rest to the detriment of us all,” Rev. Tara Gibbs of Myers Park Baptist Church said.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, announced Friday, removes the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy and triggers bans or severe restrictions on abortion in at least 11 states. Abortion remains legal in North Carolina.
‘We thank you Lord’
At First Baptist Church of Indian Trail, pastor Mike Whitson began service on Sunday morning by acknowledging the court’s decision.
“Fifty years ago, the United States made a covenant with death,” he said. “This week the Supreme Court annulled that covenant.”
He called on worshippers to celebrate the reversal as an act of God.
“We prayed for the Lord for 50 years to change this,” Whitson said. “And he has.”
Now, he told attendees, the “work of repentance” begins. He urged them to get involved in the foster care system and support men and women who are expecting a child.
At St. Matthew Catholic Church in Ballantyne, priest Miguel Sanchez read from the statement of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“Today’s decision is also the fruit of the prayers, sacrifices, and advocacy of countless ordinary Americans from every walk of life,” he read from the statement. “The pro-life movement deserves to be numbered among the great movements for social change and civil rights in our nation’s history.”
At Freedom House Church in northeast Charlotte, pastor Stephanie Blanton compared the court’s decision to the biblical fable of David slaying Goliath.
“There were six Supreme Court justices this week that slayed a giant,” she said of the 6-3 decision. “A giant that was taunting us for 50 years. … We thank you, Lord, that this is overturned.”
‘We need a little more nuance’
Spiritual director Tommy Allgood, at Watershed Church, tried to comfort those whose reproductive rights were threatened by the reversal.
“For some people, you are coming in this morning feeling really afraid,” he said. “Some of you, especially women, may be feeling really violated … know that we are with you and we love you.”
At Myers Park Baptist, Gibbs encouraged worshipers to embrace the complexity of reproductive rights in the United States, and include it in their faith.
“Just a few days ago, we heard ‘Do not murder, murder is a sin’ as an argument against access to reproductive care,” she said, framing the decision in context of the Ten Commandments. “But when sexual assault, rape, Black mothers dying in childbirth, ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages are still a very real and present trauma, maybe we need a little bit more nuance.”
She critiqued Christians who she said may be “obsessed with when life begins and where they will spend the afterlife,” but offer “no concern for the quality of the living that happens in between” by fighting poverty or hunger.
“That’s not dynamic faith,” she said. “God is calling you to embrace ‘both and.’”
Dr. Michelle Meggs at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church did not address the ruling directly in her sermon, but urged worshipers to confront injustice in their lives and communities.
“Dismantle and destroy the altar of patriarchy,” Meggs said. “Give up your love affair with prejudice, with misogyny.”
‘We have a lot to do’
Religious leaders celebrating the decision warned congregants that, with abortion still legal in North Carolina, the abortion fight was not over.
“We have a lot to do in North Carolina,” said Whitson, of First Baptist. “Unfortunately in this state, this recent decision by the Supreme Court has very little effect.”
He urged listeners to vote anti-abortion politicians into office and support religious “pregnancy resource centers” across the country.
“You’ve helped us pray, you’ve helped this march,” he said. “And now we’re here to help you as you help young women make the right decisions and the right choices.”
The Observer’s Jodie Valade contributed to this story.