MBC leaders advise Blunt on cloning
Ban appears dead for now, but hope springs eternal
By Allen Palmeri
April 19, 2005
JEFFERSON CITY – In a last-ditch effort to save Senate Bill 160, the bill banning embryonic stem cell research/human cloning, three Missouri Baptist leaders met privately April 13 with Gov. Matt Blunt.
Blunt campaigned as an anti-abortion candidate who has stated numerous times since being elected that he will veto the bill.
When Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Director David Clippard, MBC Executive Board Member Cindy Province and MBC Christian Life Commission Chairman Rodney Albert all failed to convince the governor to change his position, Clippard, who chose his two lobbying partners strategically, said he is not optimistic about the bill’s chances this year. Province and Albert agreed.
“Although the bill failed, the issue lives on,” Province said.
Clippard said the meeting with the governor went well, thanks in large part to how well Province, a nurse ethicist, and Albert, a pastor/ethicist, complemented his leadership. One of Clippard’s main objectives was to affirm Blunt for his choice to run as a pro-life candidate in 2004, which all three members of the Missouri Baptist delegation did during their meeting.
“We kind of represented three aspects of Missouri Baptist life – spiritually, technically and politically,” Clippard said. “Each person contributed wonderfully, and Gov. Blunt received us well, and for that we’re really appreciative.”
Province said she appreciated what Clippard did in his opening remarks to put the governor at ease. That enabled her to help address any potential confusion on human cloning that the governor may be experiencing. Albert “did an excellent job” of reminding the governor of his responsibility by keeping the moral issue front and center, she said.
“I think the governor was very open to what we had to say,” Province said. “I think he listened to us. I think he has respect for our Southern Baptist faith community and for the fact that this is a moral issue.
“I think we have identified some areas where we need to continue to educate the governor and the other legislators on this issue. We need to remember that this is a fairly new issue to a lot of people. They haven’t been thinking about it for years and years. It’s appeared to come on the scene kind of suddenly to a lot of people who don’t have a science or medical background. That’s part of the challenge we face trying to have the moral debate on an issue at the beginning.”
Albert said 2005 was a year when evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics in Missouri made progress in the moral debate on human cloning, despite all of the non-committal and even adversarial rhetoric that came from the governor’s office.
“He has erected an entire scheme of thinking that is wrong,” Albert said. “If we keep hammering away, I think there’s a little opening there. I think our governor is really having a struggle with his conscience. That’s why I’m hopeful.”
Clippard is hopeful, too.
“He was the stellar pro-life candidate in the recent election, and that was a great concern for us, and I’m going to trust that he will continue down that road,” Clippard said.