HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – For decades, abortion rights have deeply divided religious people in Alabama.

Church leaders equally agree that human life is sacred from conception to creation. However, leaders in the state of Alabama differ on how the government uses the church’s beliefs on abortion.  

Reverend Dexter Strong of the Monte Sano United Methodist Church in Huntsville says the religious conversation started in the 19th century after a surgeon singlehandedly brought the American medical and spiritual establishment into the fight against abortion. 

“Horacio Storer and a small group of physicians sought to reframe the ideas around safe, free and private abortions,” Strong told News 19. “Their premise was largely predicated on the idea that America should be alarmed by the influx of immigrants and them giving birth to people who didn’t look like the folks in charge.”

Other faith leaders teach that the law restricting abortion was passed at Horacio Storer’s urging was largely in place until being overturned by Roe v. Wade in 1973. 

“Christian bodies were looking to ally with institutions of power to control a cultural agenda,” Strong noted.

Strong says that conservative Christian justices, who hold the balance of power at the United State Supreme Court, have used religion to undermine a woman’s right to choose. He believes that religious leaders should not give moral authority to government officials. 

“We need faith leaders who are committed to compassion, love and justice to guide those conversations with their practitioners without the government’s involvement,” said Strong.  

Alabama’s abortion ban brings stiff penalties if violated.

Pastor A.R. Bernard of Christian Cultural Center said in a tweet, “Elected officials should respond thoughtfully and compassionately, protecting the life of the unborn, without treating those women seeking abortion as criminals.” 

“I don’t think there is ever a time where there is a politician that gets to decide what is and isn’t Christian,” Strong stated. “That’s my job, not theirs.”

Jewish organizations responded to our request for interviews for this story by saying the court’s decision on Roe v. Wade leads to religious violations against Jewish women and their right to reproductive health.