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Land: Cloning debate outcome will direct society’s future

ST. LOUIS (BP)–The culture is locked in a fierce battle over whether humans will continue to be defined as unique creations of God, Richard Land said in opening the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s report to the Southern Baptist Convention June 12 in St. Louis.

“It is one of the most critical issues we face,” Land said, drawing particular attention to the human cloning crisis. He said in January 2001 scientists announced the creation of the first genetically modified monkey — “an advancement that could lead to customized primates for medical research.”

“It brings the possibility of genetic manipulation closer than ever to humans,” Land warned, noting also that a watchdog group revealed last year that a European company had granted a patent to Australian scientists for the creation of human-animal hybrids. The patent, he said, involves the creation of embryos with cells from humans and mice, humans and pigs, and humans and goats.

Land is president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and a nationally known radio commentator. The ERLC serves Southern Baptist families and others by addressing Scripture’s response to moral, ethical and public policy issues.

The ERLC’s For Faith & Family broadcast ministry is heard on nearly 600 radio stations across the United States and on the Internet at www.faithandfamily.com. Land is also host of the recently launched “Richard Land Live!” a three-hour caller-driven Saturday afternoon talk show that airs each Saturday. The program is nationally syndicated by the Salem Radio Network.

“Whether man is going to continue to be as God created him to be or we are going to allow man to play God and manipulate human genetic structure and clone human beings for their own profit is what is at stake,” Land said.

Reckoning back to the slave issue in America, and that today some regard clones as something less than human, Land recalled there was a time when the Supreme Court said slaves weren’t human. Both are wrongheaded beliefs, he continued.

Unless Christians intervene, Land said he envisioned a time when clone plantations with clone slaves for sale to highest bidder will be used by other human beings. God’s judgment will fall on a civilization that allows such an abomination, he warned.

Land encouraged convention messengers to contact their U.S. senators to urge them to support the Brownback-Landrieu bill’s outright ban on human cloning for therapeutic or reproductive purposes. “The legislation will provide a firewall against the cloning of human beings,” he explained.

An alternative bill, also offered in the Senate, would allow for human cloning but would prescribe for the embryo to be killed before reaching a certain age of gestation. “Your federal government would require the killing of human beings before they can become recognizably human,” Land said. “If that happens, God help us.”

He urged Southern Baptists to get involved in the political process. “God is not a Republican; God is not a Democrat. You can’t reduce God to a mere party,” Land continued. “I can assure you that God was anti-slavery and God is pro-life.” He said God cares about how Christians vote when it comes to life issues. His vote is not for sale, Land stressed, saying he supports candidates who line up best with Judeo-Christian beliefs.

Southern Baptists and other people of faith who trust Jesus are the last line of defense in the culture, Land said.

“We cannot do it in our strength. But I believe the Lion of Judah is on our side and I believe God wants to send revival. I believe God wants to send awakening. And I believe God wants to send reformation to America,” Land insisted. “Yet all great movements of God start with God’s people getting right with God.”

Land also is the author of “For Faith & Family: Changing America by Strengthening the Family,” recently published by Broadman & Holman of LifeWay Christian Resources.

Land also expressed thanks for the opportunity to work alongside the SBC’s Annuity Board and Executive Committee in getting the Clergy Housing Allowance Clarification Act passed.

“I don’t think anybody in Washington, D.C., including the president, congressmen and senators, had any idea that Washington could pass a bill that quickly,” Land said. “We got together and got it done. Now all we have to do is to get the Senate Judiciary Committee to quit obstructing the Constitution and pass the judges that President Bush has nominated so we will have courts that won’t overturn that law.”

During the question and answer session that followed Land’s report, Lauren Hutchinson, a messenger from First Baptist Church of Lee’s Summit, Mo., reacted to the ERLC’s printed response to a motion he made at the 2001 SBC that was referred to the ERLC. His motion called for the ERLC to oppose President Bush’s faith-based initiatives. Hutchinson said the ERLC’s response “comes up short of what we believe as Southern Baptists.”

Land defended the ERLC’s response, saying the commission opposes government money being used to propagate any religious faith. “We believe we are standing squarely within what Baptist tradition has taught,” he said. “The separation of church and state was never intended to mean a separation of morality from public policy.”

Finally, the ERLC president expressed appreciation for the generous giving of Southern Baptists that fund the work of the commission through the Cooperative Program. Land singled out the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention for the financial gifts it provided the ERLC and other SBC entities earlier in the year.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: ERLC GIVES ANNUAL REPORT.

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  • Dwayne Hastings