Friday, August 24, 2007

Cleaning the Blogfile

As a follow up to my entry yesterday about Missouri’s media bias on the matter of cloning, I remembered a recent article from Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, who comments on media bias on the national level. Read it here.

And for those who missed Dr. James Dobson’s commentary on how the brutality of abortion gets overlooked, especially in the recent coverage of Michael Vicks alleged dog abuse, go here and click on the audio button.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Can Missouri’s Press say C-L-O-N-I-N-G?

Missouri’s leading newspapers had some trouble reporting fairly the press conference held yesterday by Cures Without Cloning.

The Springfield News Leader headlined a story by Associated Press writer David Lieb: “Proposal seeks to ban type of cell research.” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, also using Lieb’s piece bannered the article with “Cell transfer procedure is targeted.” And the Joplin Globe, also parroting the AP article used “New proposal seeks to ban certain embryonic stem-cell research.” Jason Rosenbaum of the Columbia Tribune (or more accurately, his editors) came pretty close to fairness with the headline “Stem cell research opponents launch cloning ban effort.” This effort is about cloning, though the Trib forget to qualify that it is "embryonic" stem cell research opponents want to ban.

But the fairness award on the issue of headlines, goes to Kit Wagar and the Kansas City Star. The article was titled “Cloning opponents seek initiative toward 2008 Missouri ballot.” Just when I thought Missouri reporters didn’t know the word “cloning” existed or that “cloning” is at the heart of the petition filed with the Secretary of State, a liberal newspaper restores my confidence in fairness.

If you remember anything at all in the next 14 months, remember this. This movement is about cloning.

David Lieb didn’t mention anything about the cloning process this petition seeks to ban calling it only “a particular research method.” Wagar and Rosenbaum both give details of this “particular research method” though they omit some significant information like the fact that nearly every objective scientist and credible scientific organization describes somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) as a cloning process.

For instance, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) far from a radical right-wing organization of “anti-abortion” zealots has a glossary page defining terms including somatic cell nuclear transfer. The NIH definition reads:

Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT)—A technique that combines an enucleated egg (nucleus removed) and the nucleus of a somatic cell to make an embryo. SCNT is the scientific term for cloning. SCNT can be used for therapeutic or reproductive purposes, but the initial stage that combines an enucleated egg and a somatic cell nucleus is the same. See also therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning.

So, despite all the smoke and mirrors with which the good folks over at Stowers, Inc. want to mesmerize Missourians, and despite the complicit participation of Missouri’s media establishment in skewing the issue, it’s pretty simple. SCNT is cloning. Missouri, do you want cloning?

Another issue that disappointed me in reading the press coverage was the tipping of the hat to the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures (MCLC). I understand the need for a response from “the opposition” that adds balance to the story being reported. But the AP story gave only one quote to Cures Without Cloning chairwoman Dr. Lori Buffa. It was 45 words long. The AP also gave Donn Rubins, chief propagandist of Missouri’s pro-cloning movement a quote. His was 39 words in length, just 6 words fewer than the head of the organization that hosted the press conference.

Kit Wagar was the worst offender on this issue. The first direct quote from Buffa (23 words) was offset by quoting 3 opponents: party-crasher Dan Rice, who just happened to be “on his way” to the library, got 42 words of print media; while the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures got both its spokeswoman Connie Farrow (34 words) and its chairman Donn Rubins (29 words) quoted. Wagar did give another Buffa quote (27 words) toward the end of the report, bringing the total word count of direct quotations to 50-103. So much for holding a press conference!

The quackiest quote from all the print coverage had to come from Jason Rosenbaum’s piece quoting Connie Farrow, spokeswoman for MCLC, who said: “There’s never been a human life created that didn’t come from a womb.” Wesley Smith blogged on this quote saying “if given on a test, [it] would have caused her to flunk high school biology” and goes on to remind us many humans were created in a lab dish through in vitro fertilization, a truth the propagandists want to forget.

I had to smile at Kit Wagar’s description of Cures Without Cloning as “a fledgling political group.” It reminded me of a dialogue from the 1993 version of the movie Gettysburg between Union Calvary officers Col. William Gamble (played by Buck Taylor) and Gen. John Buford (played by western icon Sam Elliott). The dialogue goes as follows: (spanish speaking readers may want to access the movie clip here).

Buford: That's infantry, all right.
Gamble: At least a whole brigade.
Buford: Any sign of cavalry?
Gamble: Not a lick, sir.
Buford: That's strange. Infantry moving alone in enemy country, blind.
Gamble: Very strange, sir. What do you make of that?
Buford: He's headed this way.
Gamble: Sir?
Buford: Lee's turned. That's the main body.
Gamble: You think so? I thought they were going to Harrisburg. Buford: He was. That's too many troops to be a raiding party. There's power behind it.

Cures Without Cloning “a fledgling political group”? I think not. There’s power behind it.

No doubt the petition will be slowed by the Secretary of State and others of the political establishment. It was be mischaracterized by Missouri’s media, who are continuously dishonest about cloning. It will be assaulted by the progranda machine of Stowers Inc. But there’s power behind it. In poll after poll, Missourians are opposed to cloning. Soon, the measure will be on the 2008 ballot for Missourians to decide. Do we want legalized cloning?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A True Ban On Cloning

Today, officials of “Cures Without Cloning” a state-wide coalition of grassroots citizens and organizations have filed a petition with the Secretary of State to amend the Missouri constitution to prohibit the practice of human cloning. The chairman is Dr. Lori Buffa, a pediatrician from St. Peters, MO. She held a press conference that can be heard here.

Many Missourians are aware that Amendment 2, which passed last November by a slim majority (51%-49%), made cloning legal in Missouri. The amendment was a convoluted and tortuous 2,000+ word document. Now, Missourians have an opportunity to clearly weigh in. Do we want cloning enshrined and protected in our constitution?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Say what?

Following this Sunday’s dedication of Virginia Tech’s “April 16 Memorial” school officials have also planned a September 6 concert with music rapper NAS. The concert ironically, according to this press release, is intended “to help the university community move forward in the aftermath of the April tragedy at Virginia Tech.” You may remember that 23 year old English major Cho Seung-Hui, went on a rampage April 16 that killed 32 people and wounded 26 others.

The problem is that NAS, as do most rappers, sings violent and profane lyrics. So in an effort to move beyond violence and murder, Virginia Tech officials book someone to sing on, well, violence and murder?!?

According to the Washington Post,

Alicia Farrell, whose brother, Jarrett Lane, was one of the students killed by gunman Seung Hui Cho, said she believes there is a time and place for such music -- but not at a concert meant to commemorate the victims and comfort the survivors of the worst shooting in U.S. history. Cho, a senior from Fairfax County, killed 32 students and faculty members and himself.

"My issue is not with Nas or his lyrics in any other place, but this is an opportunity for healing in the community," Farrell, 26, said from her home in Richmond. "It's the most inappropriate thing I could imagine hearing at such an event.”

The university’s press release even described NAS as “hip hop’s conscience.” You click this link to decide…is this hip-hop’s conscience?

[Warning: I said RAP…if you’re culturally illiterate that means cursing, foul, profane language]

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The SBC and Women Pastors

I came across a news item today regarding the historic First Baptist Church of Decatur, Georgia calling Julie Pennington-Russell as its senior pastor. FBC Decatur, while leaning towards the liberal Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, still has ties with the Southern Baptist Convention.

The article from was headlined “Former SBC president reacts to Georgia church that called female as senior pastor”. Interestingly, that was none other than Paige Patterson. With a couple of clicks on the internet, I found this information and this controversy was a couple of months old. First Baptist voted June 17 and Dr. Al Mohler had blogged about this on June 5. It leaves me with a couple of impressions.

I fear the SBC has gotten a bit too acclimated to some perverse practices of theology. A woman serving as an overseer of Christ’s church is strictly forbidden in Scripture. 1 Timothy 3:1ff couldn’t be more clear that Christ vests the spiritual authority and care of His church in men.

This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

We should be coming out of our seats, ready to give firm, loving discipline to a church that so clearly errs in obeying the Bible. Yet, this action seems to have gotten barely a yawn from our denomination. I believe if one of our churches just hired a homosexual pastor as some apostate denominations are doing, we’d have a virtual riot on our hands. Yet, this repugnant rebellion against the Sacred Record receives almost universal silence. Why?

First, we’ve become accustomed to receiving money from liberal, CBF churches. The reasoning would go something like this. Even though First Baptist, Decatur has a past history with the Southern Baptist Convention, and even though they contributes money to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program and thereby qualify to be defined as “a Southern Baptist church” they aren’t really Southern Baptist. The bulk of their money goes to the CBF, and I suppose they don’t send messengers to the annual meeting. So, let’s all keep the status quo—no harm, no foul.

But I contend there is harm. Even Paige Patterson, normally pit-bullian in his adherence to pristine theology, was summarized (perhaps erroneously) with a passive viewpoint. The article said Patterson “believes [FBC, Decatur] will eventually leave the denomination.” So, we’ll allow this errant church to continue to call itself Southern Baptist? We’ll wait for them to “eventually leave”? I’m all for showing them to the door.

Second, and much more concerning, we’ve become accustomed to women in spiritual leadership positions. While most Southern Baptists embrace 1 Timothy 3, many are weakening their application. We’ve made an unbiblical distinction between senior pastor and associate pastor. We’ve interpreted “bishop” or “overseer” to mean “senior pastor” only. Many churches will allow women to oversee the spiritual ministries of the congregation in worship (music ministers) or in leading teenagers or children (youth and/or children’s ministers). I think also, we’re tired of resisting evil and settle for far less than we should. After all, we’re not hiring homosexuals like the Episcopalians. That would be really bad! A woman pastor here and there, we can survive…so goes the conventional thinking (and there not really Southern Baptists anyway). As long as there are no gay men in our pulpits, we’re safe.

But we’re not safe. We have a holy God to face and His perfect Word to embrace. And this CBF-supporting, SBC-affiliated, Bible disobeying church represents a clear and present danger to our denomination.