Most US clergy avoid hellfire threats over abortion politics

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By DAVID CRARY AP National Writer

James Altman is a Roman Catholic priest in Wisconsin, little known outside his parish until a few weeks ago. Robert Jeffress is the high-profile pastor of a Baptist megachurch in Dallas. They have a message in common for members of their faiths: Voting for Democrats who support abortion rights is an evil potentially deserving of eternal damnation.

Their fierce, openly partisan rhetoric is attention-grabbing, but it remains the exception in America’s diverse religious landscape, even in this divisive election year. Most members of the clergy, including foes of abortion, steer clear of overt endorsements or denunciations of political candidates. Numerous denominations try to frame their stance on abortion in ways that respect multiple viewpoints.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, for example, has adhered for three decades to a nuanced policy aimed at respecting churchgoers on all sides of the debate.

“We say that abortion should be seen as a path of last resort, but we defend a woman’s right to make decisions over her own body,” said Bishop Paul Egensteiner, who heads the ELCA’s Metropolitan New York Synod.

The National Association of…



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