A bi-partisan group in the US House of Representatives passed legislation this week to expand public funding for embryonic stem cell research. The president immediately threatened to veto the legislation. The religious right has declared that such research is in opposition to Christian values. But that pronouncement is not shared by all Christians. In fact, the United Church of Christ adopted a resolution in 2001 in favor of federal funding of embryonic stem cell research under the rational that “Jesus set an example, by his ministry of healing and caring for the sick and disabled, challenging us to follow his example by supporting the healing and caring ministry in our own day.”
Embryonic stem cell research has the potential to unlock cures for conditions like “diabetes, spinal cord paralysis, heart disease, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, cancer, MS [multiple sclerosis], Lou Gehrig's disease and other fatal, debilitating diseases," says Rep. Jim Ramstad, a Minnesota Republican.
No one is talking about growing embryonic stem cells simply for research. The legislation adopted by the House – which is in line with the ethical guidelines adopted by the UCC – “allows federally funded research on stem cell lines that were derived ethically from donated embryos determined to be in excess," says Republican Delaware congressman Mike Castle.
Christians can confidently and morally support embryonic stem cell research. We are called to support a healing and caring ministry in our own day and this research can help meet that goal.
Click here for additional information on the issues involved from the testimony of The Rev. Ronald Cole-Turner, a UCC minister, before the National Bioethics Advisory Committee. Another good essay dealing with the issues, this one from Dr. Betty Hoskins, is available on the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice web site.