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SBC leaders, others encourage president’s anti-cloning stance

WASHINGTON (BP)–Two Southern Baptist ethics leaders have signed onto a letter encouraging President Bush’s effort to enact a comprehensive ban on human cloning.

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Richard Land
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and Ben Mitchell, biomedical consultant for the agency, were among nearly 30 signers on the Jan. 1 letter to Bush.

The letter commends Bush for his “moral leadership” in proclaiming opposition to human cloning and in calling for the Senate to approve a comprehensive prohibition on the practice. The House of Representatives passed such a ban, which would prohibit cloning for both reproductive and research purposes, in July, but the Senate has not acted on the bill.

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Ben Mitchell

The signers said they agreed with the president a ban is urgently needed and promised to support his attempt to enact such a prohibition.

Among other signers to the letter were James Dobson, president of Focus on the Family; William Bennett, co-director of Empower America and former secretary of Education; Charles Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship; William Kristol, chair of The Bioethics Project and editor of The Weekly Standard; Ken Connor, president of Family Research Council; Sandy Rios, president of Concerned Women for America; David O’Steen, executive director of National Right to Life Committee; Samuel Casey, executive director of Christian Legal Society; Gary Bauer, president of American Values; Richard John Neuhaus, head of Institute for Religion and Public Life; Nigel Cameron, dean of The Wilberforce Forum; Roberta Combs, president of Christian Coalition, and former Republican Party presidential candidate Steve Forbes.

Mitchell is not only the ERLC’s biomedical consultant but also associate professor of bioethics and contemporary culture at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and editor of Ethics and Medicine, an international bioethics journal.

In late November, researchers at Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester, Mass., announced they had cloned human embryos for the first time. While the ACT spokesmen said only one embryo progressed to the six-cell stage, they said their goal still is to clone an embryo from which to take stem cells to treat various diseases, a process that destroys the young human being.

Bush condemned the news, calling the cloning of an embryo “bad public policy” and “morally wrong.”

An attempt to bring about a Senate vote on a ban before the body adjourned for the year failed. It appears senators will not take action on a comprehensive ban until at least February or March.

At its annual meeting in June, the Southern Baptist Convention passed without opposition a resolution condemning both research and reproductive cloning.

The Jan. 1 letter was sponsored by The Bioethics Project, a Washington-based organization.

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