Playing God

In January, President Bush announced to the March for Life that he wants a comprehensive ban on human cloning. That's what we've been saying here at BreakPoint since they first cloned Dolly the sheep. The House of Representatives has voted for a ban more than once. Unfortunately in the Senate the biotech industry and celebrities like Christopher Reeve have persuaded some key senators that they need to protect so-called "therapeutic cloning" -- that is, the creation of millions of human embryos for medical experiments. In this, the Senate is out of step with most of the world. Nations from Germany and France to Mexico have voted to ban human cloning altogether. At the United Nations the United States and many others have been pressing for an international convention to set the standard worldwide. I pray it's not too late. Just yesterday, South Korean scientists made the dramatic announcement that they have created, not just one, but thirty human clones. They have already harvested stem cells from some of them in an act that has been rightly called "high-tech cannibalism." The news has sent shockwaves around the world. And in our backyard, things are not going that well either. New Jersey has passed a grotesque bioethics bill that not only protects cloning but allows cloned embryos to be implanted in the womb and used for experiments all the way through pregnancy -- as long as the child is killed before birth. And on the West Coast, cash-strapped California is being asked to borrow $3 billion to fund embryo stem-cell research that involves human cloning. There are plans to spend $20 million just getting the signatures and campaigning for the vote. They will tell California voters that not only will this cure diseases, it will save money by curing them more cheaply. But if the scientists really believe this, then why won't corporate America step up and put up the money? Why do they keep asking for our tax dollars to pay for their experiments? This issue is coming to a head. What can we do? Beyond contacting your senators, the most important task is to understand what's going on. We need to get an education in the biotech agenda so we can work in our churches and our culture for the dignity of human life. How do we do that? Well, we've been working on that. The Wilberforce Forum now has a kit that anyone can use to teach a Sunday school class or small group. It goes through all the key bioethics issues, from abortion and euthanasia through stem cells and cloning. There are short videos and a CD of BreakPoint commentaries, along with a teacher guide and student guides. I've teamed up with my colleague, bioethics expert Dr. Nigel Cameron, and biology professor Dr. David Prentice, to get all the key information together in a form that anyone who listens to BreakPoint can understand -- and use. The title of the kit is Playing God?. The stakes in the biotech issue are getting higher and more urgent. Christians need to understand the issues. Playing God? is a great way to equip yourself and your church or group so that you can do your duty: that is, to bring a Christian worldview to bear on this crucial issue. At stake is nothing less than the very question of what it means to be human. For further reading and information: Find out how to order Playing God?, a dynamic multimedia study discusses bioethics and the Christian faith. Sign the biotechnology manifesto, "The Sanctity of Life in a Brave New World" (signature form is linked at the bottom of this page). Read President Bush's remarks to the 2004 March for Life attendees. Rick Weiss, "S. Korean Scientists Describe Cloning," Washington Post, 13 February 2004, A13. "Scientists say they've cloned human embryos," CNN, 12 February 2004. Jonathan Amos, "Scientists cloned 30 human embryos," BBC News, 12 February 2004. Maggie Fox, "Scientists Welcome Korean Cloning Breakthrough," Reuters, 12 February 2004. Wesley J. Smith, "Cloning and the First State," Weekly Standard, 16 January 2004. Mark Stricherz, "A Law That Shouldn't Be Cloned," Christianity Today, 10 February 2004. Paul Elias, "Ballot measure seeks to make California stem cell capital," San Francisco Chronicle, 6 February 2004. Nigel M. de S. Cameron, "The Global Struggle for the Soul of Biotech," Council for Biotechnology Policy, 14 November 2003. Learn more about bioethics and biotechnology at the Council for Biotechnology Policy website. Sign up for the Biotech Policy Update e-newsletter. Also visit Americans to Ban Cloning. Dr. David A. Prentice, Stem Cells and Cloning (Benjamin/Cummings, 2002). Call 1-877-322-5527 to order ($12).


Chuck Colson


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