Bush will announce scaled-down faith-based initiative plans, director today
Jim Towey will be named the new director of the the White House Office of Community and Faith-Based Initiatives today, reports The Washington Post. The paper identifies him as "a man who once lived and worked in a home for dying AIDS victims," and the head of Aging With Dignity—an organization he founded after a life-changing 1996 meeting with Mother Teresa. Towey's title will be the same one John DiIulio had, but don't expect him to be a replacement.

"Towey's lower profile fits with a White House plan to have the office under the … newly created White House national service office," reports the Post's Dana Milbank. "The two efforts are to become increasingly integrated with more focus on volunteerism than on helping religious charities, administration officials said." Religious charities and organizations won't like to hear that. Focus on the Family is already loading the guns for battle. "New attempts to come up with a passable version of the faith-based initiative are said to strike at the heart of religious freedom," Family News in Focus said yesterday. "It looks like Senate liberals have won out." Conservatives are particularly concerned that religious organizations will be told who they must hire, and Rich Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals tells Focus he'd rather wait years for a good bill than to pass the kind of legislation that's being discussed now. The Dallas Morning News disagrees. "Faith-based initiatives must move forward this session, even if the steps are small and measured," the paper said in an editorial yesterday.

If life begins at fertilization, what happens when there's life without fertilization?
Stem-cell discussions just got a bit more confusing. Researchers are able to trick an unfertilized monkey egg into thinking it has been fertilized. It starts dividing as normal, even creating an embryo. Scientists are then able to take stem-cells from that embryo and create "mature cells like muscle, brain and intestinal cells," according to The New York Times. Important word to know: parthenogenesis is when an individual is reproduces from an unfertilized egg (a lot of insects do it, apparently). The Times explains the implications: "Parthenogenesis might be a less disputed way of obtaining stem cells. … Parthenogenetic embryos do not go to term if placed in the womb, to judge by experiments on mice and other animals. The embryo is not deprived of future life when its stem cells are removed."

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We'll probably have to wait a few days to hear prolife bioethicists' full response, but there are already some quotes floating around the newspapers. One of the most important voices is that of Ben Mitchell of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, but he doesn't say much in the USA Today story. "My view is these are momentous decisions that should not be left to scientists or politicians alone," he says. The American Life League (ALL) has a stronger opinion. "Just because an immoral procedure generates a human embryonic person, this has no bearing or detraction on the innate dignity of that person," Joseph Howard, director of the ALL's American Bioethical Advisory Commission, tells The Mercury News. "Even if you know a newborn infant will die, doesn't it still have moral rights?"

In another important life ethics development, the Bush administration said yesterday that a fetus can be considered an unborn child eligible for government-funded medical care. The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League says it's "the latest ploy in its ongoing stealth campaign to have government make abortions illegal." The National Right to Life Committee says the move has no bearing on Roe v. Wade, "but this can be cited as another reason why people should reassess the state of abortion law. It's obviously the kind of development we hope to see more of." Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson, however, says it's a health issue, pure and simple. "Prenatal care for women and their babies is a crucial part of the medical care every person should have through the course of their life cycle. … Prenatal services can be a vital, lifelong determinant of health, and we should do everything we can to make this care available for all pregnant women."

More articles

Super Bowl:

  • Warner has faith in a higher authority | St. Louis quarterback credits God for success (New York Post)

  • Keeping the faith | Perhaps no other professional sports team ever has been quite as unabashed in talking about their religious faith as the Rams. Or perhaps it is just that no other team at the pinnacle of its success, and with the sort of forum that brings, has been this forthright. (Chicago Tribune)


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Church life:

Church and state:


Interfaith discussion:


Religion and computers:

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Other articles of interest:

  • Spreading their word | Christian missionaries are developing a growing 'Messianic Jewish' movement in Israel (The Jerusalem Post)

  • Jury: Manti sect must pay | True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of the Saints of the Last Days was ordered to pay $290,000 for fraud and other charges after promising to produce Jesus in the flesh (Salt Lake Tribune)

  • Also: Women win lawsuit after Jesus fails to appear (Associated Press)

  • P.O.D.'s rock, faith mix successful | Unlike Creed, another platinum-selling rock band that has some religious tones in its music, the members of P.O.D are more than happy to espouse Christianity in interviews and in their music. (Associated Press)

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