'Personhood' prop splits Miss. religious leaders

By Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press

JACKSON — Mississippi religious leaders are split on a “personhood” initiative on next Tuesday’s ballot.

Initiative 26 would amend the state constitution to declare life begins at fertilization.

The state’s largest religious group, the Mississippi Baptist Convention, supports the proposal, as does the Tupelo-based American Family Association.

The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi, the Rt. Rev. Duncan Gray III, says he is “gravely concerned about the unintended consequences” of the initiative.

The General Conference of the United Methodist Church has not addressed “personhood” initiatives, and the church’s Mississippi bishop, the Rev. Hope Morgan Ward, says she doesn’t support the ballot measure.

Bishop Joseph Latino of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson says individual Catholics “may vote as they so choose.”

Rabbi Deborah Kassoff of Greenville’s Hebrew Union Congregation opposes the initiative.