March 19, 2009

Obama: Clergy in Chief?

When President Obama recently signed the Executive Order that would provide federal funding for embryo-destructive research, the ideological floodgates were opened. Obama said the new order is “about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda—and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology.” Science does not make decisions, ethics and the theories that support them are where decisions are made.

There are two significant issues that arise from this whole discussion. The first is the fact that science can only provide us with an “is.” Science can only describe what we can do or what we might be able to do, but science will never, on its own, answer the question, “what should we do?” Simply because the progress of science and research allows us to do something does not necessitate that we ought to. This IS-OUGHT dilemma is so extremely elementary, yet escapes Obama and his left-leaning ideologues. Indeed, he has answered the ethical question that was previously “above [his] paygrade,” but tries to disguise it as a matter of science.

The other significant issue is that Christian conservatives are catapulted again into the discussion of what is an embryo, when does human life begin, what does it mean to be created in the Image of God, and what are the implications of this research on the character of American society? But oddly enough, while Obama is allowed to bring ideology to the teleprompter in his IS-OUGHT charade, the church is a bit more temperamental about bringing so-called political issues in the pulpit. The fact is, most issues of politics are issues of faith and matters for the church to engage, yet there is nothing inherently political about embryo-destructive research that should make it off limits from our pastoral leadership and communicated from the pulpit. Embryo-destructive research is first a matter of ethics and is secondarily political. In fact, it’s only been politicized because of the desire to appeal to the wants of a very vocal and left-leaning segment of our society. And aversion to these discussions from the pulpit is based on the idea that they have great potential to cause division inside the church so we, for our own good, should abide by the so-called Wall of Separation. Is this evidence that the church is really as political as government, and government is really as faith-oriented as the church? An interesting reversal of roles.

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