Summary – An analysis of the Bible, the law and the facts all undercut President Bush’s decision regarding stem cell research. Is it possible for the nation’s Evangelical leaders to support an open-minded analysis and discussion of the issues as stem cell research progresses?
Last week, President Bush, an avowed Evangelical, vetoed legislation that he had previously stated held the promise to cure over 100 million American citizens of illness.
Bush stated: “This bill would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others.”
We all can agree that Evangelism is a biblically-oriented faith. In particular, Evangelicals regard the Bible as the Word of God and the ultimate authority for religious belief and morality.
In this context, President Bush’s veto raises the following questions, for which we can only hope for truthful answers and dialog:
1) Where does the Bible state that human life begins at conception and what is the context of the citation?
2) What does the Jewish religion (which authored the Old Testament) believe about the beginning of a human life and what is the Jewish religion’s stated rationale for its belief?
3) What was the state of human knowledge of the embryo at the time the Bible was written and what was the predominant view of scholars at that time of when a fetus became a human being?
4) Where in law or common law in the United States or in other countries from which our descendants arrived has life been defined as beginning at conception and, when it has been defined, how has it been defined?
5) How does the Presidential veto address the United States’ legal requirement emanating from the 1st Amendment of the Constitution that “there must be no excessive entanglement between government and religion” (U.S. Supreme Court, Lemon v. Kurtzman, 1971)?
6) If fertilized embryos represent human life according to Evangelicals, what are the Evangelicals doing about the massive number of embryos that have not and will not reach birth due to natural causes and what should be the role of government in saving these embryos (e.g., funding research, etc.)?
7) What is the Bush Administration’s policy regarding in vitro fertilization whereby hundreds of thousands of excess embryos are created as part of the process and are ultimately discarded?
8) How is possible for an embryo to be considered a human life if it will never be implanted in a women’s womb by written requirement of the donors (and law) and therefore does not have the potential to become a human being?
9) Embryonic stem cell research is being pursued vigorously around the world. What is the Bush Administration’s policy regarding U.S. companies licensing and implementing cures on U.S. soil based upon foreign embryonic stem cell research?
10) In the future, if a close relative – God forbid – were suffering from an excruciating disease that was curable from embryonic stem cells harvested overseas, would you support such treatment and whose decision do you think it should be to get such treatment?
These questions deserve careful analysis and answers by President Bush as well as by all members of Congress who do not support pursuing cures through embryonic stem cell research. Moreover, due to the potential profound impact that embryonic stem cell research may have on millions of living and breathing human beings, all citizens should take the time to do their own research and let their opinions be known to their government representatives. Ours is a government that is by and for the people.
Whether or not the Evangelical leaders will admit it, embryonic stem cells are here for good. Let’s get beyond the fire, brimstone and photo ops and have a reasoned analysis and discussion of the issues, rather than using it as a recruiting tool for a closed-minded base of supporters. In other words, can Evangelical leaders work with other religions and within a system of laws, or do they believe that they are above it?