Uniting for Life
National Pro-Life Religious Council, Inc.,
109 2nd St. N.E.
From the President:
I had the unhappy privilege of touring the Pentagon and Ground
Zero crash sites of the September 11 attack. To stand near
the fiery graves of so many innocent people was overwhelming
to say the least. So much disrespect for human life in one
place at one time. The only other occasion when I felt such
a void in my soul was when I visited what remains of Dachau
concentration camp in Germany nearly twenty years ago. Such
feelings should only occur in one's life every 20 years.
But, wait a minute. More than 5,000 innocent lives willfully
terminated in one day is far too great a crime -- far too
great a sin -- to be comprehended, much less accepted and
moved on from. So, why then do so many of us do so with routine
regularity when it comes to the willful termination of preborn
innocent human life? I have at least a partial theory why.
We pro-life advocates have long said that if the beauty of
life from its earliest stages could be seen more accurately
and more often, the attitude towards abortion in our culture
would be very different. If the womb were only transparent,
many would rethink abortion.
Well, that day has come. Not only do we now have 3-D color
sonography - the window to the womb - but, we also have a
grand and horrible lesson in the evil of disrespecting the
sanctity of innocent human life. What the devil meant for
evil is indeed being turned to good by an almighty God. There
is a new appreciation for the treasure that is every human
life. And, I believe, there is a new disdain for those who
Let us mourn the enormous tragedy of this unspeakably grotesque
act of mass murder. But, let us remember that it is only the
most spectacular sort of this sin. The killing of the innocent
goes on all around us every day. Let us pray that these new
lessons in morality will take hold in the hearts, minds and
consciences of Americans, and especially in the next generation
of Americans. Just as past wars have provided a platform to
teach virtue, so should this latest Day of Infamy.
Let's take what the devil did on September 11 and turn it
on him by renewing our commitment to preach, teach and live
the Gospel of Life. Let's turn this terrible loss into gain
by employing it as an asset in the work that our Lord has
given us to do.
"Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good."
(St. Paul's Letter to the Romans, Chap. 12:21 NASB) See you
on the front lines.
Yours for Life,
Rev. Rob Schenck, President
Lutherans for Life Offer
Sanctity of Human Life Educational Materials
By Rev. James Lamb, LFL Executive Director
According to Lutherans For Life Executive Director, Rev.
Dr. James I. Lamb, "Our goal for 2002 is to help God's people
better understand what Martin Luther called the 'Theology
of the Cross' and the practical applications this has to the
problems God's people face in their lives. Christians are
no different than anyone else when it comes to having problems.
Christians, however, see things differently. Christians not
only see their problems, they can see what is 'hiding' in
those problems. Just as we can see God's love 'hiding' in
the suffering of Jesus on the cross, so we can see things
of God 'hiding' in our own suffering. That is why we do not
have to resort to death as the solution to the problems of
Lutherans For Life believes that the Church is compelled
by God's Word to speak and act on behalf of those who are
vulnerable and defenseless. The crisis of our times is the
repudiation of Biblical truth manifested in the wanton destruction
of innocent human life through legalized abortion-on-demand
and the growing threat to the lives of others through legalized
assisted suicide and euthanasia. Therefore, as Lutherans For
Life, we will strive to give witness, from a Biblical perspective,
to the Church and society on these and other related issues
such as chastity, post abortion healing, and family life.
To help congregations proclaim the "Life Under the Cross"
message Lutherans For Life has produced Life Sunday bulletin
inserts, sermons, worship services, and other materials that
are useable throughout the year.
Lutherans For Life's message for Life Sunday January 20,
2002, is "Life Under the Cross," based on Romans 12:12, "Be
joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."
Life Sunday commemorates the anniversary of the Roe vs.
Wade decision of 1973 legalizing abortion in all nine months
New Life Sunday materials for 2002 include bulletin inserts,
bible study, children's message, a sermon pack, the "For Life"
video, and "God Loves Life" audio cassette/sheet music. Sermons
are also available on computer disc. To order materials, call:
888-364-Life or 515-382-2077, or fax 515-382-3020.
The Spin on Stem Cells
By Georgette Forney, Executive Director, National Organization
of Episcopalians for Life
"For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit
me together in my mother's womb... my frame was not hidden
from Thee when I was being made in secret, intricately woven
in the depths of the earth. " (Psalm 139)
When President Bush started studying the issue of whether
federal funds should be used for embryonic stem cell research
this summer, the issue finally made it onto America's radar
screen. There has been a lot of 'spin' about cloning and stem
cells, but I sense, from the questions I've been asked a lot
of people are not sure what's fact and what's science fiction.
To help make informed decisions, we need the facts, not 'spin.'
Here are the basic facts:
Human embryonic stem cells are really totipotent and pluripotent
cells that are capable of becoming organs and tissue in the
human body. There are three types of stem cells:
What is a stem cell?
1) Embryonic stem cells are found in human embryos. When
the stem cells are removed from the embryo, the embryo's life
2) Stem cells taken from an umbilical cord or placenta are
considered non-embryonic stem cells.
3) Adult stem cells refer to all stem cells that are taken
from adult tissue, e.g., blood, fat tissue, organs, and bone
Are embryonic stem cells better than adult stem cells?
There are three reasons noted by researchers, for preferring
embryonic stem cells: they are easier to harvest, there are
more stem cells in an embryo than in an adult, and they are
more 'plastic'- that is they can be more easily changed into
every organ and tissue in the body
But the harvesting issue is misleading because researchers
have been extracting some types of human adult stem cells
for almost a decade, while human embryo stem cells were only
isolated in 1998.
And, several biotech companies have developed proprietary
methods to make adult-cell isolation and extraction even easier.
Also, a company in New Jersey Anthrogenesis Corp., recently
announced it had been able to collect 10 times as many stem
cells from a single post birth placenta as have been gathered
from any other single source, and every year over four million
umbilical cords are discarded. In addition, scientists have
now discovered stem cells in adults in virtually every major
organ, including the brain.
Regarding the third reason embryos are preferred, their 'plasticity'
their strength is also their down side. Glenn McGee, a bioethicist
from the University of Pennsylvania told MIT's Technology
Review, "The emerging truth in the lab is that pluripotent
[embryonic] stem cells are hard to rein in. The potential
that they would explode into a cancerous mass after a stem-cell
transplant might turn out to be the Pandora's box of embryonic
Another issue raised with the use of embryonic stem cells
is the need for the patient receiving the cells to use anti-rejection
drugs, as the cells will be foreign to the patient's body.
However, this is not an issue with adult stem cells, as the
patient's own cells can be drawn from his or her body.
Where do the embryos come from?
In-vitro fertilization clinics for couples suffering from
infertility allow more eggs to be fertilized than are implanted.
The leftover embryos are the ones that researchers want to
use. Parents must give permission for their embryo offspring
to be used in research. Based on conservative estimates, there
are approximately 150,000 tiny frozen human beings in IVF
clinics. In 1978, Louise Brown was the first 'test-tube baby'
creating a new era of human reproduction. The stem cell issue
is causing many to reconsider the ethics of IVF treatment.
We know an embryo is a human being.
The argument that embryos aren't human beings contradicts
scientific fact. The widely used medical textbook by Moore
and Persaud, "The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology"
(Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Co., 1998) states on page 2 that
"The intricate processes by which a baby develops from
a single cell are miraculous... This cell [the zygote] results
from the union of an oocyte [eggJ and sperm. A zygote is the
beginning of a new human being... " Atpage 18,
this theme is repeated: "Human development begins at fertilization
[emphasis in original) ... " TheAmerican Medical
Associations Encyclopedia of Medicine has this definition
of an embryo from the 1989 edition - 'From the time of
conception until the eighth week, the developing baby is known
as an embryo. "
Adult Stem Cell Research Results
1) Adult bone marrow stem cells have been morphed into kidney
cells, potentially providing a real breakthrough for treatment
of kidney disease; a German man given a transplant of his
own bone marrow stem cells to repair his heart is doing well.
(Reuters News Service)
2) Two different patients, a 16 year-old and a 22 year-old,
both suffering from Crohn's Disease have received their own
blood stem cells to repair their immune systems. Both patients'
show signs of complete recovery. Similar processes have been
used to treat Lupus and Multiple Sclerosis successfully.
3) Melissa Holley, an American teenager whose spinal cord
was severed in an auto accident, leaving her a paraplegic
has recovered significant motor function in her legs and regained
bladder control following an injection of immune cells from
her own blood into the damaged area of her spinal cord
4) Harvard Medical School recently reported that adult stem
cells affected a 'permanent reversal' of Type 1 diabetes in
mice. A trial for patients has already begun at Massachusetts
General Hospital in Boston.
5) Stem Cells, Inc. is using adult stem cell research to
develop methods for regenerating damaged central nervous systems
and restoring functions to kidneys.
Embryonic stem cell research
- A report from China described how implanted fetal tissue
became bone, skin and hair cells inside a test subject's brain.
The subject died.
- In an experiment on Parkinson's patients, fetal tissue
was implanted into their brain cells, the experimental treatment
was a failure and some patients suffered side effects described
as 'absolutely devastating, tragic, and catastrophic.'
To date, thousands of patients have been helped with adult
stem cell research and therapies but none have benefited from
embryonic stem cell research. Scientific results provide the
best reason federal funding should focus on research with
adult stem cells.
Life Under Attack
John B. Brown, Jr., United Church of Christ Friends For
"America Under Attack" was a phrase on the lips of many following
the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers and
the Pentagon on September 11. The losses in these attacks
are the worst of any one day period in American history, including
times of war, according to one TV commentator.
Viewed from a pro-life perspective, however, these terrible
losses are overshadowed by the even greater loss of life that
our nation has experienced through legalized abortion since
1973. The truth is, that life, the sanctity of all human life,
is under attack. Terrorists are willing to destroy lives indiscriminately.
Though America as the primary target in the September 11 attacks,
the citizens of nearly 60 other nations also died at he World
Trade Center. Abortion is a bit more discriminating, targeting
as it does the unborn.
Motives also differ, in that those who choose abortion often
do so more for reasons of fear and convenience than hatred.
But the victims in every instance are innocent, and the end
result of the attacks of terrorism and abortion upon human
life is death.
In Proverbs 8:36 it says that "All those who hate me (the
Wisdom of the Lord) are in love with death." Sadly there are
men and women in nations around the globe who are in love
with death, and as long as this is true, there will be innocent
victims in increasing numbers. For us who respect life, and
the Author of life, the task is to build a culture of life,
and to restore respect for the sanctity of every human being,
including those with whom we disagree, including even the
lives of terrorists. It is the desire of God, wrote St. Paul,
to save every human being, and to bring them to a knowledge
of truth. We are to be instruments of his grace and truth,
and in this present moment, with much wisdom and sensitivity,
do all that we can to raise the awareness of a mourning nation
to include the unborn, the handicapped, the chronically ill,
and the elderly.
The extraordinary generosity and courage of the American
people in response to the recent tragedies has been heartwarming.
Equally so has been the deep sense of unity that has arisen
throughout this great country, along with a growing determination
on the part of our leaders to find those responsible for these
outrageous acts and somehow to bring them to justice.
When that courage and generosity and determination are brought
to bear on the other assaults on human life in this world,
the result will truly be a culture of life. To encourage that
wider focus must be our life task, and our constant prayer.
Rev. John Brown, National Pro-Life Religious Council
Action Alert to Prohibit Human
Please write to your two U. S. Senators and urge them to
cosponsor or support Senator Brownback's bill, S. 790,
to prohibit human cloning. This is similar to the Weldon-Stupak
Human Cloning Prohibition Act (H.R. 2505) which was passed
by the House in July. Ask them to oppose any substitute
measure that would allow "therapeutic cloning," because this
term really means that human embryos would be created in large
numbers simply to be killed in research ("clone and kill").
Also urge the Senators to oppose Senator Arlen Specter's S.
723, which would authorize federal funding of research which
would require the killing of human embryos in order to obtain
their stem cells. The address for all U. S. Senators is:
U. S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510
The Doctrine of Creation
and the Culture of Death
By Rev Kirk van der Swaagh, Conservative Congregational
I have become increasingly convinced that the crisis of the
much needed global responsibility is in principle due to the
fact that we have lost the certainty that the Universe, nature,
existence and our lives are the work of Creation guided by
a definite intention, that it has definite meaning and follows
a definite purpose.
Where were you when 1 laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding. Job 38:4
When from out of the whirlwind God confronts Job as to the
musings and pronouncements of those gathered, his question
is implicitly one of origins. Job, from where have you come?
Did I make you or did you make me? Do I not stand before all
things and their existence? Who has the wisdom and power to
create and sustain all that is around you? This question introduces
us to a most important doctrine of the church -- in fact,
the most important in our current cultural climate, I would
argue. This is the doctrine included in the first article
of the Apostle's Creed: I believe in one God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth. Unfortunately, unlike the ancient
fathers of the church, some Christians shy away from affirming
this essential truth.
It is quite remarkable how we in the church have been cowed
by the doctors of science. Perhaps not wanting to appear unsophisticated,
or to suffer another humiliating defeat at the hands of an
able lawyer, we have tried to negotiate the supposed findings
of science with the biblical presentation of a Creation that
has been fashioned, as John Calvin states; as a spectacle
of God's glory. But this is not without consequence.
Vaclav Havel, president of the Czech Republic having witnessed
the rise of civil war and human cruelty, in a 1998 article
made a call for the reestablishment of the transcendent in
the world. As he notes, with the loss of the transcendent,
humanity hasn't a reason to act responsibly; this loss is
accompanied by the loss of the understanding that whatever
we do must be subjected to the regard for the higher order
of which we are a part and to the respect for its authority
in whose field of vision every one of us is permanently present.
Though he eventually collapses into humanistic pleadings,
Havel perceptively senses that society's condition, which
has produced, among other things, the assault on life, which
the NPRC has been chronicling for some 20 years, is a product
of the notion promulgated by moderns that there is no certainty
of a God who stands outside of our existence; and that we
all are the product of random and unguided events. As such,
we are not answerable to anyone and there are no ultimate
consequences for our actions. Even heinous acts can remain
unchecked if we have no fear of death or judgment.
But we Christians should know better. The biblical witness
presumes the doctrine of Creation. The passages are too numerous
to mention that treat all of the Universe as something wrought
by God's hand. It figures into our entire relationship with
God: justice, judgment, stewardship, obedience, eternal life,
are all connected to the notion that God is the Creator, we
the creature, and we are obliged to know this God and what
he expects of us. In this respect Havel is right.
I humbly submit that we can fortify our fight against the
culture of death by openly and vigorously reaffirming the
doctrine of Creation.
In his article, Havel ponders the root cause of the human
indifference and arrogance which he has witnessed. He states
that it is his deep conviction that the only option is a change
in the sphere of the spirit, in the sphere of human conscience,
in the actual attitude of man toward the world. It is not
enough to invent new machines, new regulations, or new institutions.
We must understand differently and more perfectly the true
purpose of our existence on this earth. He questions: might
not the societal problems that he outlines be the result of
a loss of metaphysical certitude . . . in simple terms . .
. the loss of God? Or more specifically: the loss of respect
for the order of existence of which we are not the creators
but in which we participate as created beings.
Confronted by such metaphysical certitude Job can only respond,
"See, I am of small account; what shall 1 answer you? I
lay my hand on my mouth" Job 40:3-4.