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Las Vegas pastors, churchgoers react to abortion ruling

Updated June 27, 2022 - 8:31 pm

Churchgoers packed into Hope Church on Cactus Avenue on Sunday to hear their weekly sermon, eagerly waiting for the opening prayer.

Almost immediately, the room filled with praise and cheers of “amen” as the pastor addressed the decision made by the Supreme Court Friday, ending a constitutional right to choose abortion and allowing states to make their own laws governing access.

“As Jesus followers, we should celebrate and praise God for the crucial step we saw taken Friday to protect the lives of the unborn,” Pastor Scott Worthington said as members clapped throughout.

On June 24, the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade case that guaranteed access to an abortion in all 50 states. By the end of Friday, abortion was entirely or almost entirely illegal in many states. Abortion will remain legal in Nevada under current law.

Hope Church is of a Baptist Christian denomination. The belief is abortion is not permitted under any circumstance due to the interpretations of the Bible and Scripture within.

The opening prayer went on for 15 minutes talking solely on the topic of abortion as soft piano music played behind Worthington’s words. Hope Church stands behind the decision politically, but Worthington preached about how their god is at the heart of the debate.

“This is not a political decision for us … at the heart of the abortion debate is the ‘imago dei’,” Worthington said. The Latin meaning is “image of God.” “The biblical reality that all human life is created in the image of God and is worthy to be lived on both sides of the womb.”

Worthington modeled the majority of his sermon after a single piece of Scripture, Psalm 150:6.

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord,” read the Scripture as Worthington looked out to the crowd.

These pieces of scripture model their faith and they follow it to the very word, what Worthington referred to as their “foundation.”

“There are complexities in this situation, I think we can all agree,” said Worthington. “But what is not complex is that a baby in the womb, made in the image of God, has the right to live outside the womb.”

The sermon ended with praise and worship as the church felt the decision was a step in the right direction.

However, other denominational services in Las Vegas took a harsher tone to their services. At the same time the Hope Church congregation celebrated the court’s ruling, 15 miles away Rev. Elizabeth Zivanov of Christ Church Episcopal admonished it.

“The ruling was a real punch in the gut,” she said in her sermon.

Zivanov has been an abortion rights advocate since 1967, she said. Her own positions go further than the official stance of the Episcopal church, which she described as “fence-sitters.”

The official Episcopal position is that abortion is a choice to be made between a pregnant woman and her doctor.

The Episcopal church is committed to “equitable access to women’s health care, including women’s reproductive health care,” a statement from the church reads. Which is “an integral part of a woman’s struggle to assert her dignity and worth as a human being.”

According to Zivanov, the anti-abortion movement has been led by conservative Catholics and evangelicals, but she doesn’t believe they represent the views of most Christians. Their belief that life begins at conception is arbitrary and not rooted in Scripture, she said.

“They say all of this just about a zygote,” she said, referring to the small clump of cells which eventually grows into a fetus during pregnancy. “Nobody really knows when a zygote becomes a human being.”

In the same sermon, she also spoke out against the court’s Thursday decision to limit gun control legislation.

“Jesus was political,” Zivanov said. “People say that politics shouldn’t be in the church, but that’s what the church is in some ways.”

Personally, she felt hurt by the court’s decision, and had an originally harsh message for the court’s five justices which formed the majority on the decision, one which she tempered due to her ecclesiastical role.

“I wish they have nightmares, every night, for the rest of their lives.”

Contact Nick Robertson at NRobertson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @NickRobertsonSU on Twitter. Review-Journal business intern Emerson Drewes can be reached at edrewes@reviewjournal.com or via Twitter @EmersonDrewes.

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