A Hopeful Solution
We’ve all been reading about the recent controversy concerning stem cell research.
One thing that disturbed me was the suggestion that this wasn’t a moral issue at all because those who framed the Constitution clearly divided church and state issues.
The suggestion is that the Pope’s pronouncement against using human embryos for stem cell research is irrelevant because the government shouldn’t be influenced by the church, Christian morals or its belief in God.
I don’t believe the founders of the Constitution ever intended to design a country without Christian morals or a separation of God and state. God was a guiding force in most, if not all, of the critical documents related to the founding of America. Let me demonstrate:
1620-The Mayflower Com-pact: "In the name of God, Amen, having undertaken for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith … do … solemnly and mutually in the presence of God covenant and combine ourselves together …"
1643-Constitution of the New England Confederation: "Whereas we all come into these parts of America with one and the same end and aim, namely to advance the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ and to enjoy the liberties of the Gospel in purity with peace."
1681-William Penn: "If you are not governed by God, you will be ruled by tyrants."
1752-Liberty Bell: "Leviticus 25:10, Proclaim liberty through all the land and for all the inhabitants thereof."
1772-Declaration of Indepen-dence: "… the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God … that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights … with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence."
1787-Benjamin Franklin (in the Constitutional Convention): "I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth … that God governs in the affairs of men."
1820-Daniel Webster in Plymouth, Mass.: "… more than all, a government and a country were to commence, with the very first foundation laid under the divine light of the Christian religion …Who would wish that his country’s existence had begun otherwise? Let us not forget the religious character of our origin."
1861-Abraham Lincoln (Farewell words in Springfield, Ill.): "Unless the great God who assisted him (Washington) shall be with me and aid me, I must fail; but if the same omniscient mind and mighty arm that directed and protected him shall guide and support me, I shall not fail—I shall succeed. Let us all pray that the God of our fathers may not forsake us now."
June 14, 1954-Pledge of Allegiance (words "under God" adopted by Congress): "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands—one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." Adopted as national motto of the United States by joint resolution of Congress, July 20, 1956.
Every session of Congress since the very First Continental Congress in 1774 was opened in prayer.
The same strength of faith in God and morals that our forefathers drew upon to form and protect this nation are every bit as important for the American people today as we face new challenges such as stem cell research.
Frankly, I tend to believe that we could avoid the volatility of the issue if our federal government would accelerate research done by Dr. Marc Hedrick of UCLA. He reported in the April issue of The Journal of Tissue Engineering that stem cells from fat tissue removed from patients undergoing liposuction could be used for research instead of the controversial procedure of taking stem cells from embryos.
In fact, I’d be glad to provide some fat tissue for that research. It would be a lose (weight), win, win scenario that would avoid controversy and benefit all who would love to see diseases such as Alzheimer’s be cured.
These challenges are no less monumental than those of our forefathers. We are in no less need of the wisdom and power we can draw from our faith in God.
I ask you to uphold our president in constant prayer that he might have the same Divine guidance while he must make many decisions including the issue of stem cell research.
It’s exciting to me that we have a president who will pray and seek God’s will on such an important issue. Please pray that he won’t decide our way, but God’s way.
The Rev. John Wilson, D.Min., is the senior pastor of Canoga Park Presbyterian Church in Canoga Park. Call the church office for more details at (818) 883-3510.