Christian leaders have responded quickly to Sunday's announcement that Massachusetts-based Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) has created human clones. The embryos died after a few hours.

The scientists said the experiment was not aimed at creating cloned human babies. Instead, the group's intention was to develop an embryo long enough to cultivate embryonic stem cells. In an article for the journal e-biomed (and appearing in the January issue of Scientific American), ACT makes a distinction between this type of cloning—called therapeutic cloning—and cloning that would produce a baby. Their method uses the genetic material from patients' own cells to treat illnesses, they say, while reproductive cloning should be banned due to "safety and ethical issues."

Few Christian leaders see such a distinction. President George Bush has called the experimentation "morally wrong." The Vatican responded with "unequivocal condemnation" saying that in such research, "the end doesn't justify the means."

Since Sunday, life ethics watchdog groups have condemned ACT's work by citing bottom line issues that embryos are humans and that any cloning is immoral. Most called for an immediate federal ban. In July, the House passed legislation that would ban any cloning—reproductive or therapeutic. But it stalled in the Senate after September 11.

After Sunday's announcement, Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) encouraged the Senate to push the legislation to the forefront. On Tuesday, senators delayed decision for several months.

"The human embryo is a human person created in God's image," Jennifer Lahl, executive director of the Center for Bioethics and Culture, told Christianity Today. "We strongly support Senator Brownback is his push for legislation and call ...

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