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Obama Rolls Back Religious Right Agenda on Stem Cells

By March 9, 2009

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In lifting the eight-year federal funding ban on embryonic stem cell research, President Obama took a important step forward in rolling back the influence of George Bush's extremist religious-right agenda that he forced on the American people.

Despite overwhelming scientific community and public support for embryonic stem cell research, Bush stubbornly refused to allow continuing medical research into, per President Obama, "these tiny cells (that) may have the potential to help us understand, and possibly cure, some of our most devastating diseases and conditions:

  • to regenerate a severed spinal cord and lift someone from a wheelchair;
  • to spur insulin production and spare a child from a lifetime of needles;
  • to treat Parkinson's, cancer, heart disease and others that affect millions of Americans and the people who love them."

(See Obama 's Remarks on Lifting the Embryonic Stem Cell Research Ban for the full text.)

Imposing a Conservative Christian Agenda on All Americans
Bush's Christian evangelical-based reasoning for his stance is that embryonic stem cell therapy can require the destruction of a blastocyst, which is a days-old, laboratory-fertilized human egg. Much, but not all, of the pro-life religious right believes this to be murder of human life.

They believe that it is immoral to destroy a few-days-old human embryo, even to save or reduce suffering in existing human life, which they regard as of significantly lesser importance in their pro-life values spectrum. (See Pros & Cons of Embryonic Stem Cell Research.)

Why Americans Believe the Bush Ban Was Wrong
To most Americans, though, including former First Lady Nancy Reagan, this reasoning lacks all common sense because it eliminates vital scientific tools that could preserve, protect and support millions of existing human lives... all for the sake of a days-old embryo that will never become a human being.

Millions of Christians disagree with this religious right biblical interpretation. The President explained when signing this order:

"As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering. I believe we have been given the capacity and will to pursue this research -- and the humanity and conscience to do so responsibly."

A secondary, nonsensical aspect of Bush's funding ban is the massive, lost economic opportunities for the U.S. Per President Obama:

"When government fails to make these investments, opportunities are missed. Promising avenues go unexplored. Some of our best scientists leave for other countries that will sponsor their work. And those countries may surge ahead of ours in the advances that transform our lives."

Religious Right was Wrong to Force Its Values on All Americans
Of course, in the United States, people of all faiths are free to believe and live-out their values.

Millions of good and decent people fervently believe that embryonic stem cell therapy inevitably entails procedures that they find morally objectionable.

They have every right to register their concerns and objections, and to not allow the fruits of embryonic stem cell research to be used to aid themselves and their families.

But under the intent of the "establishment clause" of the U.S. Constitution, which states that ""Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...", Bush had no moral right to force his extremist religious-right beliefs on all Americans.

Barack Obama was absolutely correct in rolling-back the religious right agenda imposed by his predecessor on the United States, which is a religion-neutral nation.

And I'm delighted that the President took it a step further by announcing a new "Presidential Memorandum directing the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision-making."

The whole, blessed point of this overdue directive is to systematically rid the federal government of George Bush's across-the-board anti-science, pro-religious right bias by harnessing "the power of science to achieve our goals --to preserve our environment and protect our national security; to create the jobs of the future, and live longer, healthier lives."

As a progressive Christian, I say THANK GOD!

(Photos taken on March 9, 2009 as President Obama signs order lifting George Bush's federal funding ban. #1, which includes including Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), the first quadriplegic to serve in the House: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images. #2, of Obama surrounded by physicians and scientists: Win McNamee/Getty Images)


March 9, 2009 at 8:35 pm
(1) John Ballard says:

We have a constitutional scholar in the Oval Office. It’s almost too good to be true.

He’s setting the stage for federalizing Roe v Wade with FOCA. There will be a big argument about the meaning of “viability” but until the matter of embryonic stem cell research was addressed, there was no way to move the discussion to “quickening” and “viability.”
After viability a constitutional argument can be advanced for protecting a future citizen.

Politically, FOCA will have to wait. But a move in that direction has been made in the first 100 days.

March 9, 2009 at 8:43 pm
(2) usliberals says:

John/Hoot, you write “We have a constitutional scholar in the Oval Office. Itís almost too good to be true.”

Amen to your sentiment, my friend! Everyday since Obama has taken office, I have seen and deeply appreciated exactly that.

I think I keep using the phrase “President Obama” in my writing to convince myself it’s really true. The differences on the morally-related, constitutional issues are, thank God, a total reversal from the Bush administration. And I realize more and more, that’s what I detested most about Bush/Cheney: that they were morally bankrupt.

March 10, 2009 at 4:52 pm
(3) Brendon Wellroot says:

ID 10 T

March 11, 2009 at 3:10 pm
(4) CJ says:

To “usliberals”,
So Bush and Cheney are “morally bankrupt” because they would not support measures to kill a child all in the name of science??
According to Webster’s definition of “moral:1 a: of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior ” it seems they had much more.

March 14, 2009 at 4:49 pm
(5) Dr. Gregory Tyree says:

Here we go again!! Let’s blame the “Christian Right” for stopping the cure for every known disease over the past eight years. This blog is nothing more than a “Back in your face” series of rantings by a novice. I take heart in knowing that to Christians by the liberal left like this author,and the uninformed desision by Mr. Obama to once again assert his authorithybto .

April 23, 2009 at 8:58 pm
(6) Obama says:

How about the fact that Obama has put our country into more debt then all the other presidents combined? In his first 30 days as president!!

March 24, 2010 at 8:59 pm
(7) God says:

Although ur right, what the hell does that have anything to do with this???

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