Christy Berghoef, right, grew up in the Christian Reformed Church. She’s now a leader at the more progressive Holland United Church of Christ, where her husband, Bryan Berghoef, left, is pastor.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Growing up in this small town near the western edge of Michigan, Christy Berghoef learned to live by a simple rule.
“To be Christian is to be Republican is to be ‘pro-life,’” she said recently, sitting in a renovated shed-turned-office behind her house on the 40-acre farm of willows and gladiolus where she was raised. “All else makes you a ‘baby killer.’”
Berghoef abided those harsh judgments. As a child, she prayed for abortions to end. In her teens, she marched in antiabortion vigils and carried signs at protests. After college, she found a job on Capitol Hill for her Republican congressman, where she was recruited to be a legislative aide on antiabortion law.
Her politics eventually shifted even has her faith stayed firm. She switched her voter registration to Democratic. Her definition of “pro-life” expanded to tightening gun control and protecting the rights of immigrants. She now believes — in what is considered sacrilege in the wood church where she was raised in the Midwest — that abortions should never be outlawed, though she’d rather see fewer of them …