She said a sense of shame over premarital sex can lead an unwed woman to choose abortion, and while her organization doesn't push contraception outright, it is trying to educate pastors about what's happening between the sheets with the people in their pews.

"We need to create a safe space in our churches for this discussion to happen without shame or condemnation," said Smith, who has single friends in their 20s who found support for unplanned pregnancies through their churches. She wants to see such churches become "not the exception but the rule."

Evangelical leaders are grappling with how they can do more than simply decry abortion. Author Jonathan Merritt envisions in his new book, "A Faith of Our Own," a community of churches working jointly to help birth mothers pay for diapers, doctor visits, schooling and day care. He said he was pleasantly surprised about the results of the nonscientific Q survey.

"If someone chooses to have sex outside of marriage or if they are married but unprepared to have children, I absolutely think they should use contraception," he said.

Not everyone, however, is ready to advance the conversation to contraception.

Jimmy Hester, co-founder of "True Love Waits," an abstinence initiative started by the Southern Baptist Convention's LifeWay Christian Resources, said: "Any discussion of contraception weakens the abstinence message."

Although Landini admitted at the Q conference that she prayed for a miscarriage, she said that in the end, her unexpected pregnancy brought blessings.

"I'm proud of being a birth mom," Landini said. "I'm proud of my decision. I'm proud of Jacob. I didn't like some of the behaviors that got me into that behavior, but God has been good through that."

c. 2012 Religion News Service. Used with permission.

Publication date: April 20, 2012