University of Minnesota stem-cell scientist: Too early to tell anything
Catherine Verfaillie says her discovery of "the ultimate stem cell" is important, but there's still a lot of work to be done. "Even though we're excited about the fact that there seem to be cells in adult tissue that seem to have greater potential than we thought, it's too soon to say they have the same potential and capabilities as embryo cells," the University of Minnesota biologist tells The Washington Post. As Christian bioethics organizations pointed out yesterday, the discovery probably makes controversial experimentation on embryonic stem cells unnecessary—but Verfaillie says that such experiments should continue. The discovery of the adult stem cell "does not mean we should eliminate a whole line of research," she says.
Work on "the most important cell ever discovered" is just beginning, but already it is the focus of debate on Capitol Hill. A Senate subcommittee was already scheduled to discuss a ban on human embryo clones yesterday. Verfaillie's finding (published in New Scientist on the basis of a patent the biologist filed, not on any peer-reviewed academic journal article) added a new dimension to that meeting. "Science continues to prove that destructive embryonic stem cell research is unnecessary," said Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kan.).
One important media note: The New York Times article on the stem cells says, "Embryonic cells, although more versatile, are obtained by destroying the blastocyst, or early stage embryo, and opponents of abortion are strongly against work with them." But The Washington Post correctly points out that it's not just prolife forces who oppose embryonic stem cell research:
The committee also heard strong words in opposition to the embryo studies, including some from voices not usually in harmony with the conservative or antiabortion voices that usually dominate on prenatal issues.
"The push to redesign human beings, animals and plants to meet the commercial goals of a limited number of individuals is fundamentally at odds with the principle of respect for nature," said Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth, an environmental group that opposes embryo cloning and other areas of biotechnology.
Others on the left have raised similar concerns—notably Judy Norsigian, co-founder of the Boston Women's Health Book Collective, which produced the feminist health guide Our Bodies Ourselves. Norsigian, in rare alignment with President Bush, testified last year in favor of the winning House bill.
Burnhams enter ninth month as hostages
Speaking of prolife causes, Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) told activists at the March for Life rally Tuesday that lobbying for the freedom of missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham is also a prolife issue. As of this weekend, the Burnhams will have been held captive for nine months. (If you missed the 48 Hours report on the Burnhams, the show's Web site has it.) A Boston Globe editorial, however, wonders if it's worth rescuing them. "Freeing three hostages can hardly justify a military mission that could, if it became too muscular or too prolonged, provoke anti-American resentment in a country that was once a U.S. colony and that forced the Pentagon to abandon two major military bases 11 years ago," the paper says today. "Not even the goal of disabling the fanatical Abu Sayyaf group can justify a US combat role in the Philippines—a role that would violate the Philippine Constitution." The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is more sympathetic: "There is value in helping the Philippine government prevent a beachhead for international terrorists on its shores and rescue two American hostages. But this mission needs to be kept simple and short." Now is the time legislators and newspapers need to hear your opinion on the matter. Decisions are being made about how much the U.S. should be involved in rescue efforts. If you haven't contacted your representative already, do it.
Pope religious violence isn't truly religious
There are many stories today about the meeting of world religious leaders in Assisi. No time to sum it all up now, but here are links:
- Faith groups gather in Assisi to seek peace | In a world shaken by terrorism and religious conflict, Pope John Paul II and leaders from all major faiths are uniting to show that faith can be a source of mutual respect and serve as an antidote to violence (The Christian Science Monitor)
- Pope denounces violence in religion's name (The New York Times)
- Pope and religious leaders shun war in God's name (Reuters)
- Pope leads prayer for peace (Associated Press)
- Pope unites religious leaders in pilgrimage for peace (The Daily Telegraph)
- Pope lights beacon of hope (BBC)
- World's religious leaders join Pope in prayer for an end to terrorism (The Times)
- Pope to Pray with Other Religions for World Peace (Reuters)
- Worried Pope prays for peace (BBC)
- Mission from above | Religious leaders join Pope in Assisi to give peace a chance (The Sydney Morning Herald)
- Christians love Lord of the Rings | Film has won high praise from religious groups for what they see as Christian values in the story (Associated Press)
- Rising star balances work and religion | The Count Of Monte Cristo's Jim Caviezel is a devout Catholic (Daily News Los Angeles)
- Taking a leap of faith on film | In a rare move for Hollywood, the lead character in A Walk to Remember is a Christian. Religious leaders and studio execs are closely watching (Los Angeles Times)
- Soccer Jesus and the teen religious revival | There is a ready market for Jesus Sports Statues and other such kitsch (AdWeek)
- Misread rapture? | Despite its enormous success, "Left Behind" is being criticized on theological grounds by some Christians who say the story of worldwide tribulation following a sudden "Rapture" of born-again believers is based on a faulty interpretation of the Bible. (The Washington Times)
Church and state:
- Federal judge rules VMI prayers unconstitutional | Praying before dinner is a "state-sponsored religious exercise" (The Washington Post)
- District defends ban on Columbine's religious tiles | Move was for mental health, educators say (The Rocky Mountain News)
- The fate of Easter service comes down to chance | A coin toss today will determine who will produce the annual sunrise event at the Hollywood Bowl. Veteran organizers of the event are outraged by county's decision. (Los Angeles Times)
- ACLU opposes town's anti-Satan proclamation | Organization says it will file suit if declarations are not removed from entrances to town (Associated Press)
Missions and ministry:
- A guide for birds who pray | A Pentecostal pastor from Cherry Hill ministers to many of the Eagles, giving players lessons on manhood and the power of humility. (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
- Billy Graham's team hits North Texas | Members laying groundwork for evangelist's visit (The Dallas Morning News)
- Congress aspires to fire up the faithful | The thousands of people expected at Vision New England's three-day congress 2002, which begins today, are aiming to ``Reignite Your Passion for God (Boston Herald)
- Plus: Vision quest: Evangelical movement is taking root in New England through outreach programs | A pulsing evangelical Christian movement has taken hold in Massachusetts and across New England (Boston Herald)
Forcing Christian servicewomen to dress like Muslims:
- Saudis want U.S. servicewomen veiled | Officials say servicewomen must wear abayas despite military's easing of rules (Associated Press)
- Dress code blues | Women are not second-class citizens in America, and they should not be treated as second-class "inferiors" in the American military — particularly the American military, an all-volunteer force where the women in uniform have stepped-up to serve their country and defend its ideals (Editorial, The Washington Times)
- U.S. servicewomen still in robes | Despite new Pentagon orders, some commanders will still tell servicewomen to wear Muslim garb (BBC)
- Also: Some servicewomen told to wear robes (Associated Press)
- Saudis angry at U.S. military rule on women's dress | No immediate Saudi government reaction (Reuters)
- AT&T dropping 900 phone services | "This could be the final death knell" for psychics, sex lines, and other companies (Associated Press)
- Reparative therapy doesn't work | In their quest to prove that gay people are somehow deficient and deformed, ex-gays only highlight what is unrelentingly miserable and sick within themselves. (Liz Winfeld, The Denver Post)
- Some for abortion rights lean right in cloning fight | As the Senate prepares for hearings on whether to restrict cloning, the fight against the research is creating unlikely alliances on Capitol Hill (The New York Times)
- Abortion foes create 'no exception' alliance | National Congress for the Protection of Human Life says other pro-life groups, such as the National Right to Life Committee, are not firm enough in their opposition to abortion (The Washington Times)
If you think Harry Potter is bad, wait 'til you read The Dark Materials, nominated for a huge British literary award:
- Children's tale works magic on Whitbread | Dark materials wins major award (The Times)
- Dark demons | A prizewinning way to escape the world and measure it (Editorial, The Times)
- Pullman does for atheism what C S Lewis did for God (Editorial, The Daily Telegraph)
- Courageous and dangerous: a writer for all ages (The Times)
- 'Look up,' said the bear. 'They are the witches' | Philip Pullman is the first 'children's author' to win the Whitbread Prize with his book The Amber Spyglass. Reviewers place him in a literary pantheon alongside Chekhov and Tolkien. Does he deserve their praise? (The Daily Telegraph)
- Nigeria's 'adulteress' set free | Raped woman faced death penalty, though rapist went free (BBC)
- One dead as armed robbers attack Anglican bishop, others | Henry C. Ndukuba says one attacker pulled trigger, but gun malfunctioned (Vanguard, Lagos, Nigeria)
- Nigeria destined for world leadership, says Bonnke | "The many problems facing Nigeria would soon be solved," says German evangelist (The Guardian, Lagos)
- Searchin' for the surfer's saint | A group of Vatican elders is angling to give the Internet a patron saint (Wired News)
- The wait is over: Jews' messiah now kosher | Vatican affirms Jewish position; scholars scramble to decipher new doctrine.(Jewish Week)
Other stories of interest:
Copyright © 2002 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
See our past Weblog updates:
January 24 | 23 | 22 | 21
January 18 | 17 | 16 | 15 | 14
January 11 | 10 | 9 | 8 | 7
January 4 | 3 | 2 | December 31
December 28 | 27 | 26
December 21| 20 | 19 | 18 | 17
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more
Read These Next
- TrendingJunia, the Female Apostle Imprisoned for the GospelWhat Scripture tells us about the story of this “outstanding” Jewish woman in chains.Português
- From the MagazineIs It Time to Quit ‘Quiet Time’?Effective biblical engagement must be about more than one’s personal experience with Scripture.
- Editor's PickLiberty Appoints Retired General, Air Force Chaplain as New PresidentAlumnus Dondi E. Costin steps in to lead years after Jerry Falwell Jr.’s scandal.