Stem Cell Research and Religion: What are the official policies of various religions?
This week we’re discussing Obama’s executive order releasing Bush’s constraints on embryonic stem cell research. Now, federal funds can be used to create and cultivate new lines of stem cells.
Heralded as the separation of ideology and science, I argued that the separation is impossible: It’s just the substitution of one ideology for another. There’s no such thing as value-free science.
Our discussion prompted me to consider the official policies and rules of various religious affiliations. There is considerable variation, some surprising, according to a summary Pew compiled last year. Here are some highlights:
American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. do not have an official policy on stem cell research. Rather, “one must be guided by one’s own relationship with God and Scripture.”
Buddhism does not explicitly address this issue, and its two main principles offer conflicting guidance. The principle of seeking knowledge is consistent with stem cell research; the principle of not harming others is not.
Catholics have a coherent policy that is consistent with views on abortion and other hot issues. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opposes embryonic stem cell research because the process creates or destroys human embryos. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod has a similar policy. The National Association of Evangelicals opposes stem cell research. So, too, does the Southern Baptist Convention.
Neither Hinduism, Islam and the Mormon chuch are among those religious groups that do not appear to have an official position or policy on the matter, according to Pew.
Judaism supports embryonic stem cell research. With some variations in their policies, so do the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, United Church of Christ, and United Methodist Church.
Do these positions confirm or disconfirm your expectations?
Are your views of embryonic stem cell research informed by an official religious policy?
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