Hallelujah! Obama Speaks as “Person of Faith” on Stem Cell Research

President Obama’s new stem cell
research policy was expected – but the way he framed it was totally unexpected
to me as a pro-choice minister. Rather than elevating science above all, he
spoke “as a person of faith” – those are his words. And he said: “I believe we
are called to care for each other and to work to ease human suffering.” He was
clear that his religious views informed his policy and that using federal funds
for research using stem cells from existing embryos that are slated to be
destroyed is fully consistent with respect for human life.  

You would have to know a lot
about religious positions on research with embryonic stem cells to know that
Obama is firmly in the mainstream of religion on this issue. You wouldn’t know
that from most press coverage, which routinely says that religious groups are
against this research and health advocates – secular groups – are for it. In
most of the American press, “religious” is a synonym for anti-choice or, in this
case, anti-research with stem cells from embryos. In short, the press buys the
Religious Right storyline that they have a lock on religion. In this scenario,
the rest of us – we who are pro-choice, who believe it’s moral and ethical to
use embryos slated for destruction to advance science and save lives – are
somehow not religious, even if we worship and live according to our
understanding of our faiths.

President Obama’s words reflect
sentiments of his denomination, the United Church of Christ: “…by banning the
research, we foreclose the possibility of doing all we can to improve the lot of
the living, and in many cases giving them new life…” They also reflect the
statement adopted by the RCRC Board of Directors in 2000: that “excess embryos
slated for destruction must not be placed above persons whose pain and suffering
might be alleviated due to the knowledge gained from studying them.” They
reflect the view that being “pro-life” cannot be reduced to being pro-embryo or
pro-fetus; life is much greater and life is the common good. 

This new policy is a radical leap
forward. As the President said, “sound science and moral values” are not
inconsistent in this revised policy. It’s not only about removing the
restrictions placed on federal funding of research with embryonic stem cells,
the cells that potentially have the ability to cure some of our most devastating
diseases. It’s about acting as healers and creators of a better life and rising
above the narrow and often petty definitions that some claim to be the whole and
only truth. Perhaps this will be the beginning of a new understanding that
people who are religious and religious institutions themselves have many
different views on bioethics. In announcing this policy as he did, President
Obama also announced a fresh start for religious freedom and respect for
religious diversity on controversial issues. Change has come!

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  • invalid-0

    I’m a pro-choice Atheist and it really bugs me that religious people talk about having faith,and how this has helped them to make life’s decisions.That is so wrong on so many levels,first off,the 30 million or more atheist who live among us,make life’s decisions using common sense,reason,and logic to better our selves and our families.Bottom line-have faith in science,reason and logic and not some sky daddy.

  • invalid-0

    Rev. Veazy, Thanks for bringing attention to the many people of faith who support using embryos that will be discarded anyway for life-saving research!

    At Faith in Public Life, we blogged about examples of the press lumping all religious groups into the anti-ESC research camp, when as you note, many people of faith, especially among the mainline Protestant and Jewish communities, in fact, support ESC research. (We also noted some high points of coverage.)

  • invalid-0

    There is no bio-ethical issue with ESC research. Move on.

    A person is not a person until it is born. Ova, sperm, embryos, zygotes — not people by any semantic or scientific definition, conceptualization, or evidence.

    And if you want to talk about faith, Muslims believe that no soul is entered into the fetus until after 120 days, while the Bible says in Gen. 2:7 that a human is a human at conception, which one is right? Neither. In fact, both are boldfaced lies. Churches and mosques and synagogues are about as qualified to talk offer opinions on science as Congress has proven to be about economics. Useless.

    The only ethical issue is in regards to money. Organized religion taints everything that it touches in one way or another.

    If you are brain dead, you are dead. Reverend, I pray for your moral mortality.

    • invalid-0

      GOD is the authority over all life and over all our decisions. You cannot murder someone else, even if laws let you, because HE said its wrong to. You know murder against a child is wrong, your mistake is that you don’t consider an unborn child to be human. Has not GOD made this clear when HE said,

      “Churches and mosques and synagogues are about as qualified to talk offer opinions on science” – GOD is qualified.

      You are either are liar or do not know the Bible, because if you did, you would not have spoken falsely concerning what is made clear. If you disagree, its because you have no love for GOD in your heart.

    • invalid-0

      If you really value science, try reading a HUMAN EMBRYOLOGY book, A Rabbi. Life begins at conception/fertilization. There is no medical debate as far as this issue is concerned. This fact has been known for hundreds of years! (Only recently, has scientific facts been tampered with by the pro-abortion side by adding the phrase “potential to become human” in some online videos & resources on pregnancy.)

      In keeping with their long history of deceit and cover-ups, abortion providers/supporters are the only ones who persistently, continuously, maliciously spread this LIE that the zygote/embryo/fetus is not a baby or not human for if the truth is made known to all, they would lose HUGE PROFITS & MILLIONS of taxpayer dollars.

      It’s not at all about CHOICE or WOMEN’s RIGHTS or REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH or SAVING LIVES through scientific research. It’s all about the MONEY!! That’s all been part of the anti-life propaganda from DAY 1. They purposefully hide the truth from women for this very reason. They deceive pregnant women daily in abortion “clinics” where supposedly they can get accurate medical information and “safe abortions” and as a woman, how it angers me!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxlMsvR_upQ Deception, deception, deception!!!

      It is really very unfortunate that Justice Blackmun (Roe v Wade) chose to IGNORE science and did not call for an expert human embryologist at the time. As a result of this serious error in judgment, millions of babies have died and thousands more are being killed daily.

      Now, going back to stem cell research, why use stem cells from “discarded” (killed) embryos that can develop into CANCER when ADULT STEM CELLS have been proven to treat ~70 diseases already!?! http://www.stemcellresearch.org/facts/treatments.htm

      Stem cell research is simply an awful waste of time, money, and energy! These scientists should be spending their time on more worthwhile research projects. And money, WOW! In this economy, taxpayer money should really be spent more wisely and if you really cared about saving lives, A Rabbi & Dr Veazey, please help promote adult stem cell research or other non-destructive techniques/treatments instead.

  • http://www.freecreditreport.com.es invalid-0

    “I believe we are called to care for each other and to work to ease human suffering.” This statement of president Obama also impress me a very much. I think it is not a question when a zygotes become a human – the main question (regardless of any religion) is how much do we love and estimate life in general and how much we support it. Sometimes it seams that for some people humans are like goods which you can trade and manipulate in the way you like and what brings the most profit. We have to remember ourselves that the fact zygotes, who have no mouth to speak, make them not to creatures without any rights. More then ever respect for human life is of immanent importance!

  • invalid-0

    Embryonic Stem cell research is simply an awful waste of time, money, and energy!