Would-be cloning journalist: "I am a good old-fashioned Christian"
Michael Guillen, the former ABC News science reporter who was going to test the Raëlians' claim that they'd cloned a human, has been the brunt of a lot of media anger. When there was little to report after Clonaid's initial press conference, reporters cannibalized one of their own. He was portrayed as "flipped out," greedy, untrustworthy, a quackery-pusher, and too credulous of "pseudo-science."
Last week, after Clonaid refused to allow DNA testing of the supposed clone, Guillen, who was already distancing himself from the story, suggested that it all might be "an elaborate hoax." But it may be too late. "The story could tarnish Guillen, a former Harvard professor who left ABC last fall after 14 years," USA Today earlier reported. "After ducking reporters for two weeks, Guillen is trying to salvage his reputation."
As part of that, he talked to Beliefnet about his own beliefs and those of the Raëlians.
"I am a good old-fashioned Christian, and that's what is difficult for people to understand," said Guillen, the son and grandson of Pentecostal pastors. "I believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ and what the Bible says."
That's not something he was eager to make public before issues of cloning surfaced, he says. After the sheep Dolly was cloned, Guillen was part of a roundtable discussion on Good Morning America.
Charlie Gibson asked me what I thought of cloning. I said I was concerned about the implications of what [researcher Ian] Wilmut had done as a scientist—and as a scientist who believes in God. … When I was showering that morning to get ready for the show, I suddenly began to sob uncontrollably. … I realized I had never spoken about my belief in God on the air, and … that if I was going to be honest, I would have to confess I believed in God. I didn't know how people would react. I had always tried to be impartial and keep my personal opinions to myself. … As I walked through the studio, every grip and camera guy shook my hand. It was a milestone for my career, but I felt ashamed for not having confessed sooner, for having been such a coward. It was also very painful when the media speculated that I was a Raëlian, and somehow I had gone over to the dark side with Clonaid.
Gullien says most of his critics don't believe that science and religion can ever be reconciled, and that journalists who reported their criticisms should have acknowledged the biases of their sources. But, he says, "I am completely at peace with what has happened. I am in God's hands. He loves me and even all this has purpose which will be revealed to me."
Beliefnet also has a defense by Gullien's interviewer.
"As the anti-Guillen crowd sees it, the reporter is a definite I-want-to-believe 'Mulder' type—to borrow from 'X-Files' iconography—in a role that needs him to be Scully, a hard-nosed skeptic," James Pethokoukis, who usually writes for U.S. News & World Report, says. "Yet a look at Guillen's reporting record—while undoubtedly showing a real interest in fringe topics, and, likely, the ratings they draw—also reveals a healthy dose of skepticism about those otherworldly subjects."
Pethokoukis also takes on Guillen's critics. By their criteria, he says, "any journalist who fails to reject any possible common ground between science and religion would seem to be a worthy nominee for … being a crackpot."
Mel Gibson: Jesus film "brings out a lot of enemies"
Speaking of discrediting people who integrate their faith and work, Mel Gibson says making a movie about the life of Christ has launched a media Inquisition.
"It's interesting that, when you do touch this subject, it does have a lot of enemies. And there are people sent. I've seen it happening," he said on the The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News. "Since I've been in Rome here, for example, I know that there are people sent from reputable publications—they go about, while you're busy over here, they start digging into your private life and sort of getting into your banking affairs and any charities you might be involved in. And then they start bothering your friends and your business associates and harassing your family, including my 85-year-old father. I find it a little spooky."
"If Mel Gibson's thesis is correct and there is an agenda to embarrass him because he is making a movie sympathetic to Jesus, now we have a serious situation on our hands," Bill O'Reilly said on today's show. "Secular editors have no right to hurt people with whom they disagree. … And the news organization that publishes that kind of an article is going to have a major problem."
The New York Post alleges that The New York Times is leading the crusade.
But Gibson wanted to talk more about the film than about his celebrity woes. "I think it's meant to just tell the truth," he said. "I want to be as truthful as possible. But, when you look at the reasons behind why Christ came, why he was crucified, he died for all mankind and he suffered for all mankind, so that, really, anybody who transgresses has to look at their own part or look at their own culpability. It's time to sort of get back to a basic message, the message that was given. At this time, the world has gone nuts, I think. Christ spoke of faith, hope, love and forgiveness. And these are things I think we need to be reminded of again. He forgave as he was tortured and killed. And we could do with a little of that behavior."
- Archbishop's theology not orthodox | Author says differences not restricted to sexual ethics as frequently reported (Garry Williams, The Dallas Morning News)
- Church put to DNA test | Instructor risks expulsion with his claim that Book of Mormon is racist (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
- Unitarian Universalists may add 'God' to beliefs | "We have lost the ability to speak of what is sacred and holy to us," says president (Ft. Worth [Tex.] Star-Telegram)
- Line blurs on 'faith-based' efforts | Job trainees get a lift as religious groups use state funds (The San Diego [Calif.] Union-Tribune)
- State veterans' shelters losing faith | Religious groups get more grants from U.S. (The Boston Globe)
- Declining U.S. abortion rate at its lowest level since 1974 | In 2000, there were 21.3 abortions per 1,000 women age 15 to 44 (USA Today)
- New poll shows tilt to protect unborn | Nearly 70 percent of Americans say they favor "restoring legal protection for unborn children" (The Washington Times)
- Bush declares Sanctity of Human Life Day | But the president also stopped short of condemning abortion—or the cause of abortion rights activists—outright, using only the veiled language of the anti-abortion movement (Associated Press)
Clergy sex abuse:
- Trail of pain in church crisis leads to nearly every diocese | More than 1,200 priests are known to have abused more than 4,000 minors over the last six decades, according to an extensive New York Times survey (The New York Times)
- Mediating church scandals | Process can benefit both parties. But will it perpetuate secrecy? (The Christian Science Monitor)
- Boston's Bishop Lennon sends bulletin to priests | Pledges to resolve accused clergy cases (The Boston Globe)
- Pope seen going slow on replacing Law | New archbishop faces tough job (Chicago Tribune)
Memoirs of Church of England bishop David Jenkins:
- Pushed away from God | In his frank memoirs, David Jenkins says that being a Church of England bishop brought him nearer to atheism than anything in his life. Today, while he is convinced by God, he is still unconvinced by most religions (The Times, London)
- I was called an unbelieving Bishop | Vilified by traditionalists, including Lord Hailsham, when he dared to air commonplace views questioning the literal truth of scripture, the author still pursues an open liberal theology (David Jenkins, The Times, London)
- INS: Ghana asylum seeker's tale is hoax | Adelaide Abankwah claimed that as a "queen mother" in waiting, she had violated tribal law by becoming a Christian, secretly falling in love and losing her virginity. If forced to return to Ghana, tribal elders would punish her by cutting her clitoris, she told an immigration judge. (Associated Press)
- Has God ambushed Ghanaians? | Charismatic churches keep congregations uninformed and ignorant (Kwasi Boahene, Ghanaian Chronicle)
Money and business:
- Priest's charity charges immigrants millions | Records show ministry provided him and associates cars, loans (The Dallas Morning News)
- Also: Ministry's board calls for reform | Story revealed financial abuses by priest's charity, officials say (The Dallas Morning News)
- Church's taxation enrages Italians | The people and politicians of a Tuscan village are in revolt against their bishop after he reinstated a medieval church property tax at heavy new levels (The Telegraph, London)
- Nonprofits question tax-exempt status | Some Hoosiers confused by change in financial report (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)
- Levy, Church Leaders Differ At State House | Clash over over recent increments of salaries and allowances for ministers and members of parliament (The Post of Zambia)
Intelligent design and evolutionary theory:
- 'Intelligent design' believers, sect seek curriculum change | People who believe in "intelligent design" are trying to change the way science is taught in West Virginia's public schools. This time, they have an unlikely ally: the Raelian sect espoused by baby-cloner Brigitte Boisselier (The Charleston [W.V.] Gazette)
- A presentation without arguments | Dembski disappoints (Mark Perakh, Skeptical Inquirer)
- Walking sticks, just winging it | Insects' 're-evolution' challenges 'use it or lose it' assumption of evolutionary biology (The Washington Post)
- Also: Stick insects upset theory of evolution (The Daily Telegraph, London)
- Holy war over gospel | A copyright battle over gospel music is looming as churches square up against gospel artists who take church hymns without permission and rearrange them without crediting the composers or paying royalties to the churches (City Press, Johannesburg)
- Blind Boys take their music to mainstream | Ricky McKinniesees working with rock figures as a kind of evangelical outreach (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
Other stories of interest:
- Mischievous saint gets to the bottom of parishioners' woes | For a small chapel at Murtosa, northern Portugal, is the only Roman Catholic church where it is acceptable to drop your trousers and show your bum (The Guardian, London)
- Oral Roberts suffers heart attack | Had one in 1992, too (KTUL, Tulsa, Oklahoma)
- Top baker's campaign to change a deadly sin | France's best-known baker, Lionel Poilâne, wrote to the Vatican seeking to change the French word used for the deadly sin of gluttony before he died in a helicopter crash three months ago (The Daily Telegraph, London)
- Why athletes sometimes act as if God has a rooting interest | Crediting divine intervention for that home run, touchdown, basket and knockout has become as much a custom as the pregame chalk talk (The New York Times)
- Black churches: Excavate mall site | Leaders of the city's two oldest black congregations have joined in calling for an excavation of the home site of James Dexter, a former slave and a founder of the nation's first African American human-rights group (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
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