Voter turnout critical, leaders urge citizens to reject Amendment 2
JEFFERSON CITY – Since announcing its campaign in October of 2005, The Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures has been building its case for passage of Amendment 2, which would bring constitutionally protected taxpayer-funded human cloning to Missouri.
The message in their advertisements is simple, going something like this: We are for hope. Cures mean hope. Research means hope. We are for research. We are for hope and cures. Our opponents “don’t get it” on hope and cures. Vote for hope and cures on Nov. 7!
The clone-to-kill coalition has raised a whopping $28.7 million to drive home those talking points, and for 13 consecutive months, the pollsters have reported that the message of “hope and cures” is winning. Time will tell if they are correct.
On the other side of the debate stand pro-life Southern Baptists, Roman Catholics and even feminists who question the moral, ethical and medical wisdom of Amendment 2. Representative of this group is David Baker, pastor, First Baptist Church, Belton, and a member of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Board. Baker refuses to buy the hope and cures message.
“I have 11 members with Parkinson’s,” he said. “I have 22 members with diabetes that are insulin dependent. So I’m dealing with this, too, and I understand it, but I do not have one person who has these diseases, or members of their families who, when they really heard the issue, have not decided, ‘This is a judgment of God issue. This is so important that we are literally inviting the judgment of God if we fail to respond.’”
Polls several months ago showed Missourians favoring stem cell research by a wide margin, but when asked if they favor “embryonic” stem cell research or “cloning,” the poll all but flips with the majority opposing such research. Like so many elections, the outcome of this issue may hinge on voter turnout.
On Oct. 24, support for Amendment 2 fell below 50 percent for the first time. A SurveyUSA poll of 630 likely voters indicated that 45 percent were for the initiative, with 36 percent against and 18 percent undecided. That indicates that if 15 percent of those uncertain voters were to vote no, opponents of the initiative would win.
“I cannot believe that Missouri is going to be fooled by a $28 million deception,” said Rodney Albert, chairman of the MBC’s Christian Life Commission and pastor of Hallsville Baptist Church. “I’ve lived in this state all my life, and in the end I hope Missouri citizens are going to come through and defeat this deceptive amendment.”
There are indications that an aggressive grassroots effort by Christians and other conservatives in Missouri is having an impact. “Conservative activists who oppose the procedure,” Congressional Quarterly Weekly recently reported, “are seen as highly motivated and could turn out heavily at the polls.”
At stake are the lives of billions of innocent human embryos.
“If this is approved by a state that historically is a barometer of national trends and is considered a pro-life stronghold, it will be a national model for breaking popular resistance to what the scientists and biotech companies want,” wrote Robert Novak, columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times.
While “Vote No Against Amendment 2” yard signs are emerging throughout the state as the election draws near, the television and radio ads of the proponents seem to be increasing in frequency as well. Even so, opponents like MBC Associate Executive Director David Tolliver are determined to fight to the very end. Tolliver will preach one last pro-life message on Nov. 5 at Southern Hills Baptist Church, Bolivar.
“I’m there to inform but also to inspire—try to get some folks who may not be planning to go on Tuesday to the polls,” Tolliver said.
The entire term of office for MBC President Ralph Sawyer, pastor of First Baptist Church, Wentzville, has been marked by this campaign.
“This is the most crucial vote in the history of Missouri,” Sawyer said. “If Missouri Baptists will go to the polls and vote no, we can win. We should never give up. We shouldn’t listen to the poll numbers. We have to go vote and do what’s right.”
“In the end, it really is not about winning or losing,” he said. “For us, it’s about being faithful to our God. The hope is that God is in charge, regardless, but that does not negate our responsibility to be faithful all the way to the end.”