Stem-Cell Research and Missouri “Patriot Pastors” Update

In an e-mail to his supporters, Texas activist Rick Scarborough, president of Vision America, decries the upcoming Senate vote on stem-cell research:

The Senate is debating stem cell research and cloning, for the first time since Dolly, the cloned sheep appeared.  This debate is long overdue and will allow Christians to know who the true pro life legislators are.  At the heart of the debate on stem cell research and cloning is the issue of who originates life and who can decide when life is expendable.  Will little “gods” replace the Lord God in America?

I am saddened that Senator Dr. Frist betrayed his longstanding commitment to the sanctity of life when he embraced embryonic stem cell research. To date, there is no evidence that embryonic stem cells are the magic cure all that is being touted while adult stem cells have produced many encouraging advances toward curing diseases.  It is never right to exploit a life for the advancement of another life and that is what embryonic stem cell research is in essence.

Scarborough is an influential figure in the “Patriot Pastor” movement in Texas, and as he pointed out in a fundraising e-mail last month, he is working on spreading the model to Missouri around a state referendum on stem-cell research. The Pathway reports on five upcoming rallies, including one with far-right luminary Alan Keyes.

“Alan Keyes is a principled conservative driven by his own love for Christ,” Scarborough said. “I’ve spent hours and hours with Alan Keyes, who is a Catholic, but when you hear him talk, you’re going to think you’re listening to a Southern Baptist because he’s Christ-centered and Christ-driven. And he will be doing this rally as a fellow believer in Christ who believes that this is an abhorrent evil that must be stopped.” …

Scarborough explained that he has been given a budget of $100,000 so that he can go to Missouri as often as he feels it is necessary to do what he does best – mobilize pastors.

“The next five months of my life I intend to dedicate myself to stopping this tragic evil from coming, working with Missourians, people of conscience and faith,” he said.

Unlike Texas and Ohio, where “Patriot Pastor” movements have effectively allied themselves with 2006 candidates for governor, such a movement in Missouri would probably not offer its support to Republican Sen. Jim Talent, “until now a rising star in the conservative movement” who is having trouble with the base over his indecision on stem-cell research in Congress and in Missouri, as Robert Novak wrote in February. Newsweek reports that Talent, who is running even with his opponent in his re-election campaign, has not taken a position on Missouri’s constitutional amendment, and “[h]is reluctance to speak out irritated Missouri stem-cell opponents.”

Nevertheless, Scarborough’s campaign in Missouri continues, and it’s possible that in November he will leave behind a network of politicized churches of the sort that has been invaluable to Ohio gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell. From Scarborough’s e-mail today:

For the past two months I have been crisscrossing the state of Missouri, meeting with religious leaders of all faiths, in an effort to rally Pastors against the nation’s first attempt to legalize human cloning in America.

Under the guise of wanting to encourage medical research and find cures for diseases, men of good reputation have joined forces with moneyed interests in the state to pass an amendment to the state constitution that if passed, will make Missouri the first state in the Union to legalize human cloning.

Vision America will conduct a series of rallies around the state, featuring Dr. Alan Keyes and myself, which will be designed to set the record straight as to what the amendment actually will do and not do.  Liberal interest groups will spend up to 20 million dollars to pass the amendment, in hopes of securing lucrative patents on embryonic stem cell lines and potential cures, if the amendment passes.

Leaders from Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Assembly of God, Charismatic and others have signed on in an unprecedented show of unity to fight this abuse of science.