Vatican Issues Position Statement Opposing 21st Century Science

The Vatican appears to be as resistant to modernization as members of the religious right I noted earlier today. The New York Times reports on their current position on bioethics, “taking into account recent developments in biomedical technology.” In this case “taking into account” means more additions to the things to oppose:

The Vatican issued its most authoritative and sweeping document on bioethical issues in more than 20 years on Friday, taking into account recent developments in biomedical technology and reinforcing the church’s opposition to in vitro fertilization, human cloning, genetic testing on embryos before implantation and embryonic stem cell research.

The Vatican says these techniques violate the principles that every human life — even an embryo — is sacred, and that babies should be conceived only through intercourse by a married couple.

The 32-page instruction, titled “Dignitas Personae,” or “The Dignity of the Person,” was issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s doctrinal office, and carries the approval and the authority of Pope Benedict XVI.

Under discussion for six years, it is a moral response to bioethical questions raised in the 21 years since the congregation last issued instructions.

It bans the morning-after pill, the intrauterine device and the pill RU-486, saying these can result in what amount to abortions.

The Vatican document reiterates that the church is opposed to research on stem cells derived from embryos. But it does not oppose research on stem cells derived from adults; blood from umbilical cords; or fetuses “who have died of natural causes.”

West Virginia vs. Michigan

John Cole has a modest proposal for a bailout plan for the automotive industry which the Republican Party would go along with–invade Michigan. After throwing out some statistics they might find compelling, Cole writes:

We need to invade Michigan and rebuild the state from the ground up. We will be greeted as liberators, we have clear supply lines, and we can easily rebuild the auto industry with the kind of money we spend on other countries we invade. Hell, our new Secretary of State, Hillary of Clinton, spent the better part of the past year fighting for the rights of average folks from Michigan, so think of the good will we have with the public. This is very doable. Just tell Congress we will give KBR no-bid contracts to fix Detroit.

Actually I thought that Hillary was fighting for herself, not Michigan, when she sought to disenfranchise those of us who supported Obama by grabbing more delegates than she would have won in a real primary battle.

Not looking forward to either a military invasion or a visit from the incoming Secretary of State I will turn John’s use of Republican logic against him. It doesn’t take much to imitate a conservative conspiracy theorist and make that accusations might sound plausible even if lacking in any evidence. I don’t even need to leave John’s blog for an example of this principle.

Could the motivation behind pushing for an invasion really be revenge by someone from West Virginia against Michigan for stealing two of their coaches? The University of Michigan has stolen two high profile coaches from Cole’s state–John Beilein and Rich Rodriguez. With the basketball team recently upsetting UCLA and Duke it looks like Beilein was a good pick.

It is too early to judge Rodreguez. While he led the Michigan football team to one of their worst seasons ever he did come into a program which had far less talent than usual, and then had to deal with additional players deciding to leave early. A spread offense simply will not work without a quarterback. Regardless of how Rodreguez turns out at Michigan his hiring was a loss for West Virginia where he had an excellent record despite also having a losing first season.

There are plenty of people in West Virginia who are angry about Michigan taking Beilein and Rodreguez, and undoubtedly some would see this as reason for an invasion. Having a blogger from West Virginia advocate such an invasion presents a far stronger case than has been seen in much of the Republican paranoia about Democrats.

Religious Right Resists Modernization of Attitudes

I’ve noted several times how the religious right has become an anchor which is making it hard for the Republican Party to move on from their recent defeats and revise their positions to ones which voters outside of the deep south might accept. In the past when political parties have suffered defeats they have recovered as new ideas took hold. I’m not sure if this is possible for the Republicans. At present they have lost too many voters to win without the religious right and the religious right appears unwilling to moderate their views. An example of the problem can be seen in this case where one of their spokesmen suffered from differing with their extremist thought. The Washington Post reports:

A prominent evangelical lobbyist resigned yesterday over his remarks in a National Public Radio interview, in which he said he supports permitting same-sex civil unions.

The Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), later apologized for the remark, said the Rev. Leith Anderson, president of the 30 million-member organization.

But, Anderson said, “he lost the leadership’s confidence as spokesman, and that’s hard to regain.”

Asked by Terry Gross in a Dec. 2 interview on NPR’s Fresh Air whether he had changed his position on same-sex marriage, Cizik responded: “I’m shifting, I have to admit. In other words, I would willingly say that I believe in civil unions. . . . We have become so absorbed in the question of gay rights and the rest that we fail to understand the challenges and threats to marriage itself — heterosexual marriage. Maybe we need to reevaluate this and look at it a little differently.”

The remark, anathema to most evangelical Christians, who believe that the Bible permits marriage only between a man and a woman, caused an uproar in the group and in other evangelical organizations.

Cizik did not return calls. Anderson said he met with Cizik on Wednesday at Anderson’s Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minn. Cizik’s decision to resign was “reluctantly mutual,” said Anderson, “by that I mean from me as well as from him.”

This isn’t the first time that Cizik has offended evangelicals, particularly conservatives. In recent years, he has taken a leadership role in the growing religious movement to curb global warming, calling it “an offense against God.”

More than two dozen evangelical leaders — including James C. Dobson, chairman of Focus on the Family, and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council — complained in a letter last year to the NAE leadership that Cizik was “using the global warming controversy to shift the emphasis away from the great moral issues of our time,” which they defined as abortion, homosexuality and sexual morality.

Maybe over time enough people in the religious right will moderate their views to the point where people like Dobson lose their influence. Otherwise I see no choice for the GOP other than to bite the bullet and separate itself from the religious right and be willing to endure a period as a minority party while they attempt to rebuild.As long as they are tied to the current views of the religious right the Republican Party will have a tough time surviving as a meaningful party of the 21st century.