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Friday, November 30, 2007

Should Religous Beliefs Dictate Stem Cell Legislation?

ARGUING WITH THE CHURCH: Catholic Beliefs to Dictate Stem Cell Program?
by Don C. Reed www.stemcellbattles.com

Religious freedom is a fundamental American right, no matter how foolish that faith may seem to others. If I wanted to worship goldfish, I have the legal right to do so, without being persecuted—but do I have the right to impose Goldfish Worship on others?

My family’s faith (though not my own) is Catholic. Should that religion’s beliefs be required of Baptists, Episcopalians, atheists, Muslims, Presbyterians, Jews, agnostics, Sikhs and Buddhists?

The Catholic Church is trying to force to force its stem cell research policies onto everyone.

This is not a casual attempt, but a world-wide effort, beginning with the Vatican, which recently opined that supporting embryonic stem cell research is an excommunicable offense. Think what that means—that I should literally be condemned to Hell for all eternity for my opinions on medical research?

To me, that is as nonsensical—and cruel—as the religious belief that anesthesia in childbirth was against God’s wishes, because it said in the Bible that “In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children.”

Personally, I have more faith in God than that. For me, the reason God gave us a brain is to think and solve problems. But that is my opinion, and I would not attempt to enshrine it into law.

The reason America separates church and state is because there can never be agreement on something unprovable. How can God be even described, unless we can bring Him/Her/It into the room with us? And if we cannot describe God without arguing, how can we ever hope to agree on religious legislation?

But down through history, the Church has been a power structure, as well as a source of comfort and wisdom. And when it steps into politics, it must not be allowed to go unchallenged.

If religious officialdom forces a law, that affects us all. If you drive into a town where the Churches “persuaded” local officials to require all stores to close on Sundays, and you need to buy a quart of milk, you are out of luck.

And if you live in a state or a country—or a world--- where stem cell research was declared illegal…

In the United Nations, Catholic priests accompanied Bush administration officials as they attempted to impose a world-wide ban on SCNT (Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, sometimes called therapeutic cloning) an advanced form of stem cell research.

Nationally, the Catholic Church’s and other Religious Right organizations routinely bully and terrify legislators, utterly controlling the Republican Party’s stem cell policy, preventing the passage of even such a moderate and mild law as the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act.

In state after state, the Catholic Church is the center of the anti-research movement.

In Missouri, the church passed out lawn signs opposing Amendment 2 (which said Missouri should not be denied any federally-approved medical research), and let churches be offices for groups which passed out plastic fetuses to children at county fairs, saying this is what embryonic stem cell research is all about.

In California, Catholic churches distributed glossy full-color fliers opposing the science supported by Proposition 71—and every California church receives anti-embryonic research materials routinely, for the priests to intone from the pulpit, and for parishioners to take home with them.

In Michigan, the Church mailed 504,000 anti-research CDs (think of the money—a church which takes a vow of poverty somehow can afford to burn half a million CDs and postage and padded envelopes for one state mailing alone) to the homes of Catholic families.

In Texas, meetings of the legislature are held late at night with little or no public notice—so the Catholic anti-science view can be drummed into the heads of legislators without opposition.

And now, with the experimental “success” of an alternative stem cell technique, their campaign moves into high gear.

Led by the Catholic Church, anti-research forces will try to use the experimental skin cell technique (Induced Pluripotent Stem cells, or IPSc) to shut down embryonic and SCNT research.

Do I exaggerate?

To see the actual open letter from the New York State Catholic Conference revealing the Church’s intent to control stem cell policy and read the rest of this article, please go to www.stemcellbattles.com

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