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About Religion & Human Biotechnology

Religious perspectives on human biotechnologies vary widely, depending in part on the specific technology or application.

Most religious leaders are in step with public sentiment in opposing human reproductive cloning and inheritable genetic modification. They recognize social and ethical as well as theological reasons that the use of these technologies would run counter to fundamental tenets of their faiths.

In 1983 a leadership coalition representing a wide spectrum of theological beliefs issued a letter to the U.S. Congress calling for a ban on inheritable genetic modification (changing the genes we pass on to our children). The Theological Letter Concerning the Moral Arguments argued that this practice would pose "a fundamental threat to the preservation of the human species as we know it, and should be opposed with the same courage and conviction as we now oppose the threat of nuclear extinction."

Religious communities are far more divided about other human biotechnologies, particularly embryonic stem cell research (ESCR). Some conservative Christian denominations oppose ESCR because of their objections to any activity that destroys a human embryo. This has been a major theme in the ongoing debate about stem cell policy. Many other communities of faith support ESCR. Still others support ESCR that uses embryos created but not needed for infertility treatment, but oppose the creation of embryos specifically for research purposes.

What DNA Testing Reveals About India’s Caste System by Dan KedmeyTimeAugust 27th, 2013New research reveals that genetic mixing between castes in India ended 1,900 years ago, around the same time the caste system was being codified in religious texts.
Russian-Speakers who Want to Make Aliya Could Need DNA Testby Asher ZeigerThe Times of IsraelJuly 29th, 2013The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office says would-be immigrants from the former Soviet Union may be asked to prove Jewish bloodline.
Made-to-Order Embryos: You Want to Sell What?!by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesMay 2nd, 2013The fact that a fertility clinic can own and sell made-to-order embryos for profit raises novel concerns that should not be collapsed into predefined frameworks used to assess other assisted reproductive technologies.
Stem Cells: A Culture War Gone Quiet by Alex Seitz-WaldSalonAugust 23rd, 2012The GOP is so against stem-cell research that it's in the party platform. So why won't Republicans talk about it?
Genome Test Slammed for Assessing ‘Racial Purity’by Alison AbbottNatureJune 12th, 2012Hungary’s Medical Research Council has asked public prosecutors to investigate a genetic-diagnostic company that certified that a member of parliament did not have Roma or Jewish heritage.
Canada's Fertility Industry Now Open for (Unregulated) Businessby Emily BeitiksBiopolitical TimesApril 19th, 2012The decision to close down Assisted Human Reproduction Canada signals even less oversight of the country’s fertility industry.
Stem Cell Strife in US and EU Courtsby Doug PetBiopolitical TimesMay 11th, 2011Developments in US and European courts regarding funding and oversight of stem cell research have reopened passionate debates.
Hijacking Human Rights in Latin Americaby Gina Maranto, Biopolitical Times guest contributorMay 3rd, 2011Prominent Catholic politicians and scholars are using human rights discourse to strengthen a transnational initiative to restrict reproductive rights.
Gene of the Week: Christianityby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 1st, 2011Gay scientists are reported to have isolate the 'Christian gene' and to have successfully removed it from experimental rats.
Vatican warns of ethical risks with gene progressby Nicole WinfieldAssociated PressFebruary 17th, 2009A Vatican official warned that advances in genetic testing were spreading a eugenics mentality — the effort to improve the quality of the human race by controlling heredity.
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