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Attack of the Right-wing: The Science of Cloning
Reverend Antonio Hernández
it’s synonymous with "Satan" among right-wing Christians.

There exists the potential, in medical laboratories, to clone a human being or that human’s cells, and the bible-thumping crowd is terrified. They know that there is a weirdo fringe group, kicked out of the U.S. and now in Europe, that claims to have already cloned a human. The fact that the U.S. Congress has outlawed the cloning of a human being has brought them little relief; they want all cloning research stopped. However, if one were to ask precisely what it is they don’t like about cloning, their response would be, "No one should play God." That statement wins both the Ignorant and Ambiguity Prizes of the millennium.

Naturally, lots of wires have gotten crossed among the right-wing fanatics. They believe that "stem" (human embryonic) cell research forged ahead because aborted embryos were the primary source for raw material. The conservative crowd doesn’t want abortion, and they don’t want human cells to be created, then branded as a commercial "thing". They are unaware that the genesis of this research lay harmlessly in the world of animals: a gangly teenaged prodigy injected an albino chicken with normal chicken DNA and reversed the albinism. This experiment occurred back in the 1970’s; today the gangly prodigy is one of the world’s leading experts in the field of cloning and embryonic cell research. His main interest? To bring near-extinct animals back before they vanish, and to re-populate healthy livestock and beasts of burden. His latest success was the cloning of a rare ox. He has absolutely no time for absurdities like cloning a human. As to commerce, everything in medicine is commercialized.

Another doctor has nearly perfected a cellular procedure. In this procedure, human DNA is treated in such a way that it reverts to an embryonic state-- thus resulting in a small bundle of the donor’s own "stem" cells. This is called "dedifferentiation". Usually a female ovum is required for embryonic cells to be grown; dedifferentiation requires only the DNA donor. The process could save thousands who die before receiving much-needed organ transplants. The process reduces the threat to female egg donors and bible-thumpers alike. Or does it? One can understand the Christian view that all cloning research is a "sin". The very idea brings into question the concept of the human soul. If I am cloned successfully, my clone will grow to be a duplicate of me. But will he have a soul? If he does, will it be "my" soul, a "false" soul, a "real" soul? What, then, does this imply about the soul? This type of absurdity has left the Christian right chasing its own tail. President Bush has declared any and all forms of clone research anathema, and would like to make it all illegal. Luckily he cannot.

The Jewish religion can teach us a thing or two about clear-headedness. Understanding that the research is medically marvelous, the State of Israel (admittedly, a religious state) studied the religious aspect of cloning. Their decision was that to try to clone a human is wrong, so they have outlawed it-- after all, it seems an attempt to take God’s place, "manufacturing" a human. Still, they know it is an event as unlikely as someone making a golem. Anything else, however, is permissible and legal in Israel, because Scripture and Jewish commentary state that an embryo is not a "person", not "human". (It is clear that few Christians in America are very knowledgeable about the Judaic God, yet all we hear is prattle about "Judaeo-Christian" values.)

A large part of the difficulty is that we’re hypnotized by the idea of the total cloning of a person. The research is not for the ultimate goal to perfectly duplicate anyone. It is research that may very well present an injectable cure for all diseases. It is not directed toward manipulating every detail of an unborn baby, though it may very well provide lab-grown organs that function perfectly. Certainly it offers the infertile a chance to have their very own children. It may make the human race better and stronger, without any ridiculous speculations about creating a "super-race". We do not have to debate the asinine topic of "designer" babies. Too many people trembled when they saw the film "The Boys From Brazil", and that is the extent of their knowledge of cloning research. The actual research is on the brink of carrying us into a marvelous new age.

That term, "New Age"-- it’s synonymous with "Satan" among right-wing Christians. Usually it is used to indicate the dawning of a tremendous advancement of some kind, and the bible-thumpers have always been against any such thing. If they had their way, we would still be reading by candlelight. They have even demonized the term: many Christian right-wing publications darkly hint at the coming "New Age" in their titles. A big part of the "New Age", in their minds, is cloning. Few of them comprehend cloning research, but to them it clearly leads to 666, the mark of the beast. What better to feed poverty-stricken imaginations, than the vision of an assembly line of stamped, numbered babies?

Cloning research may one day eliminate all diseases and injuries-- what is to be feared? Cloning will allow childless parents to have their own offspring. What greater gift is there? The argument is ultimately about one thing: power. Right-wing Christian views are spearheaded by ignorance, urban myths, non-facts and superstitious speculation. Keep the population ignorant and you can keep it in line. Any progress not based on Christian ideals must be brought to heel, because it robs the manipulators of their power. Clone research is about only one type of power: the power to heal. When cloning is the topic, we don’t want to know about dubious biblical passages that "condemn" it. We don’t want to hear the latest Christian take on science: a furious U.S. representative recently shouted from the floor of the House, "We are NOT a theocracy!!"

We want to know what’s going on in the lab, what progress is being made. Cloning and embryonic cell research is very vague to us, because the right wing will not keep quiet long enough to let anyone learn anything. How can we make decisions about how we feel, when we don’t even know what we’re considering? Well, that’s just the way the Christian right wants it.

© Rev Antonio Hernandez IBA July 2002

email: "Antonio. Hernandez"

one Nation under Scrutiny
Reverend Antonio Hernández, IBA
Thomas Jefferson, for example, wrote a great deal about God, yet he was an atheist.

Jedi Knight-Class

Rev Antonio Hernandez unravels the mythology of Star Wars
To be a good person is to think, speak, act, work, study and live in the right way.

Attack of the Giggles
Reverend Antonio Hernández
we are treated to a cartoon Yoda, hopping about like an angel-dusted Kermit

Peter The Roman
Reverend Antonio Hernández IBA
Aron Jean-Marie Lustiger, cardinal and Archbishop of Paris, is this front-runner in the soon-to-be-held conclave to elect the next pope.

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