Nearly 30 Johnson County religious leaders sign letter urging ‘No’ vote on abortion amendment

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Nearly 30 Johnson County religious leaders are among dozens of signatories to a newly published letter urging a “No” vote on the Value Them Both abortion amendment that is on the August 2 primary ballot in Kansas.

What the letter says: The letter, organized by Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, the main group organizing opposition to the Value Them Both amendment, says the signers, representing a variety of Christian denominations and the Jewish faith, “must honor the freedom necessary for each woman to make the decision that is right for her.”

  • The letter acknowledges “sincerely held religious beliefs on both sides of this complicated issue” but says that the signers “recognize and respect how many faiths — including many Christian denominations — support access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion.”
  • The letter cites instances of rape and incest and life-threatening complications during pregnancy as among the reasons why pregnant people should be allowed to make “private medical decisions for themselves.”
  • Overall, the letter contains the signatures of more than 60 religious leaders from across Kansas.
  • Kansans for Constitutional Freedom has also produced a video ad in conjunction with the letter, featuring retired Presbyterian pastor Jay McKell of Overland Park.

Key quote: “We believe that each Kansan is the best decision-maker when it comes to their own body — not the government,” the letter reads. “Women do not deserve our shame and judgment. They deserve our love and support.”

Why it matters: The letter underscores again the emphasis, to a degree rare in electoral politics, that local religious leaders and houses of worship are putting on the much-watched abortion amendment vote in Kansas. 

  • Other religious organizations, most notably the Catholic Church and its local diocese, have been organizing support for the amendment for months.
  • The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas has contributed $2.5 million to the Value Them Both coalition, the main campaign supporting the amendment, more than half of that campaign’s total fundraising.
  • The Value Them Both coalition did not immediately respond to the Post’s request for comment for this story, inquiring about any organized statement from religious leaders that it had published or could offer in response.

Who signed it: Below are the Johnson County-based religious leaders who signed the letter from Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, including their Christian denomination or faith tradition and where they are from:

  • Jay McKell, Presbyterian, Overland Park
  • Matt Vaughn, Presbyterian, Prairie Village
  • Chad Herring, Presbyterian, Prairie Village
  • Rev. Michael Vollbrecht, United Church of Christ, Prairie Village
  • Don Wilson, Presbyterian, Prairie Village
  • Rabbi Monica Kleinman, Judaism, Overland Park
  • Aaron Robert, United Church of Christ, Prairie Village
  • Mark Levin, Judaism, Prairie Village
  • Rabbi Javier Cattapan, Judaism, Overland Park
  • Rabbi Stephanie Kramer, Judaism, Overland Park
  • Paula Lafferty, United Church of Christ, Overland Park
  • Jeff Clayton, Presbyterian, Overland Park
  • John Coil, Episcopal, Prairie Village
  • Tahl Ben-Yehuda, Judaism, Overland Park
  • Caitlin Brazner, Judaism, Overland Park
  • Heider Peterson, Presbyterian, Overland Park
  • Katen Wright, Presbyterian, Prairie Village
  • Rachel Rothstein, Judaism, Overland Park
  • Rodger Nishioka, Presbyterian, Mission
  • Jerry Kolb, Episcopalian, Prairie Village
  • Beck Schubert, Episcopalian, Prairie Village
  • Kirk Perucca, Presbyterian, Prairie Village
  • Chase Peeples, United Church of Christ, Overland Park
  • Nancy Pauls, United Methodist, Fairway
  • Ali Haynes, United Methodist, Lenexa
  • Jan Rhind, United Methodist, Lenexa
  • Karen Nyhart, United Methodist, Shawnee
  • Nancy Kollhoff, United Methodist, Overland Park

Read the full letter signed by the religious leaders:

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About the author

Juliana Garcia
Juliana Garcia

👋 Hi! I’m Juliana Garcia, and I cover Prairie Village and northeast Johnson County for the Johnson County Post.

I grew up in Roeland Park and graduated from Shawnee Mission North before going on to the University of Kansas, where I wrote for the University Daily Kansan and earned my bachelor’s degree in  journalism. Prior to joining the Post in 2019, I worked as an intern at the Kansas City Business Journal.