Messengers pass resolutions against stem cells
Eminent domain also targeted and The Pathway is lauded
By Brian Koonce
November 1, 2005
SPRINGFIELD– Less than 24 hours after hearing Gov. Matt Blunt again endorse a form of human cloning known as somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) – this time in person – Missouri Baptists resoundedly restated such research destroys human life and is unacceptable.
Messengers to the annual meeting of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) overwhelmingly approved three separate resolutions that condemn the process for creating and destroying life. They also approved the six other submitted resolutions with unanimous or near-unanimous votes during the Oct. 26 session.
Susan Klein, a messenger from Concord Baptist Church, Jefferson City, introduced the first of the human cloning/SCNT resolutions. It called for the opposition to an initiative petition that would amend the Missouri Constitution allowing SCNT research.
“This initiative petition seeks to make the general public think they are passing a ban on human cloning when in reality they would be approving human clones to be created and killed in the State of Missouri as well as approving embryonic stem cell research on in-vitro fertilized embryos,” the resolution reads. It went on to ask messengers to urge the General Assembly and specifically the governor to enact a ban on human cloning by SCNT or any other methods.
That resolution was followed by a related one by Kerry Messer, messenger, First Baptist Church, Festus-Crystal City, and lobbyist for the MBC. It clearly defined SCNT as human cloning and that any human life, whether created by human sexual relations or nonsexual processes in a laboratory “is still sacred human life deserving all the legal rights and protections of the law as well as the moral support of the church.”
The third resolution to speak to SCNT and human cloning was submitted by Rodney Albert, pastor, Hallsville Baptist Church, and president of the MBC’s Christian Life Commission. It asked messengers to restate that they are not only against a constitutional amendment that would encourage SCNT and cloning, but that they opposed the processes themselves. Further, it encouraged government leaders to reconsider their position and support “a consistent biblical view of all pro-life matters.”
The governor addressed the 2,000 messengers and visitors to the annual meeting Oct. 25. Although he was warmly received and had to pause several times for applause, he did acknowledge that he differed from the majority of Missouri Baptists on the SCNT issue. He asked messengers to pray that God would guide the process as the state considers SCNT/human cloning, a request seconded by MBC President Mitch Jackson, pastor, Miner Baptist Church, Sikeston.
In other actions, Missouri Baptists voted to urge the government of Romania to reject proposed legislation that would hinder Baptists and other evangelicals in the Eastern European nation. The pending law would provide for government funding of churches, mandatory teaching of all religion in schools including private Christian schools, and would grant ownership of community cemeteries to the Orthodox church, making it impossible for the non-Orthodox to bury their dead. The resolution, submitted by Dennis Jackson, messenger, Summit Woods Baptist Church, Lees Summit, who returned from Romania in September, also urged the state and national governments to pressure the Romanian Parliament to reject this impending persecution.
Messer introduced a resolution on eminent domain and church property. In the wake of a recent United States Supreme Court ruling that said “public good” can be defined by a potential tax base increase, the resolutions said the “abuse of eminent domain places all private property, including churches and not-for-profit ministries, at a higher risk of targeted takeover by civic authorities” desiring to redevelop areas bringing in less tax revenue. The resolution urged Missouri Baptists to call upon the General Assembly to reign in abuse of eminent domain and to specifically protect churches and other not-for-profit ministries.
The role of churches and the family was the subject the joint resolution of Brad Haines, messenger, First Baptist, Grandview, and Jason Rogers, messenger, Calvary Baptist, O’Fallon. The resolution affirms that “God has given parents the responsibility for the upbringing and education of our children” and that “many negative influences are attempting to transform the moral foundation of the culture by reshaping the core values of our children…” Therefore, messengers urged parents and churches to investigate the curriculum in schools, monitor the entertainment and educational influences on children and hold parents and schools accountable.
Messengers voiced their support for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, reacting to the damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent floods in August and September. John Marshall, pastor, from the host church, and Don Currence of First Baptist, Ozark, submitted the resolution urging Missouri Baptists to pray for the institution as well as “to continue to seek the Lord’s guidance in providing assistance to the faculty and students” and residents of the Gulf Coast affected by Katrina and Hurricane Rita.
The Pathway got a rousing vote of confidence in a resolution submitted by Doug Austin, messenger, Lynwood Baptist Church, Cape Girardeau, and a member of the MBC Executive Board. According to the resolution, “Missouri Baptists need a reliable publication that furnishes accurate information and news…” and The Pathway “is an excellent source of news within our MBC and the Southern Baptist Convention.”
Messengers thanked Second Baptist Church as well as the city of Springfield for hosting the meeting and the Missouri Baptist Pastors’ Conference.