Raising ‘True Believers’: Anti-abortion ‘education’ for primary children in the UK

Pam Lowe*, Sarah-Jane Page

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the UK, the vast majority of people accept abortion, whether or not they are religious. Holding an absolutist anti-abortion view is out of line with the general population. The overwhelming majority of anti-abortion activists are motivated by conservative Christian religious beliefs, not necessarily shared by others in their faith communities. Their minority position, and ageing population, poses issues for the continuance of the anti-abortion movement, creating a need for specific anti-abortion religious socialisation that is unavailable elsewhere. Drawing on data from a longitudinal ethnographic study of anti-abortion activism, this article highlights the ways in which anti-abortion activists seek to develop anti-abortion values among primary-aged children. It illustrates their conflict between the need to develop a strong anti-abortion identity and involving children in potentially controversial discussions on abortion. We use the framework of lived religion to argue that, while much attention has been given to the concerns about children in minority religions, this has resulted in a lack of attention to the diversity of practices within mainstream religious communities, and how controversial forms of socialisation are managed.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalSociological research online
Early online date18 Aug 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright © The Author(s) 2023. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).


  • abortion education
  • anti-abortion activism
  • religious socialisation
  • lived religion
  • educational practices
  • children


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