The state’s religious communities are divided over what is perhaps the most profound question on this year’s ballot: Should people nearing the end of terminal illnesses be allowed to obtain a prescription drug to end their lives?
The largest religious force in Massachusetts, the Roman Catholic Church, has come out squarely against the referendum, as have other prominent faith voices. A handful of smaller denominations support the measure known as Question 2.
But some umbrella faith organizations remain loath to stake out a position, reflecting, they say, the range of opinion among their membership on an issue that proponents refer to as “death with dignity” and opponents call “doctor-assisted suicide.”
“It points to the diversity of political and ethical positions within the life of the church right now,” said the Rev. Laura Everett, executive director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, an ecumenical partnership of 17 Protestant and Orthodox denominations, referring to the lack of consensus within the council’s membership. “With complex theological issues that have public policy expression, there are Christians of strong conscience and faith who disagree.”
Rarely does the political system confront matters of life and death so directly. With Election Day less than two months away, many religious leaders are intensifying their focus on the question.
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