Skip to comments.ELCA Releases Draft Social Statement on Genetics
Posted on 03/18/2010 6:29:36 PM PDT by lightman
ELCA Releases Draft Social Statement on Genetics 10-097-JB
CHICAGO (ELCA) --The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) released March 18 a 49-page draft social statement on genetics, a framework for discussion on a variety of current topics in the field including certain advances in medicine, reproductive cloning, human embryonic stem cells, and animal and plant genetic engineering.
The full text of the Draft Social Statement on Genetics, an executive summary and a question-and-answer document are at http://www.ELCA.org/geneticsdraft on the ELCA Web site.
The draft was prepared by the ELCA Task Force on Genetics, formed after the social statement was authorized by the 2005 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. Individuals and congregations are invited to study and discuss the draft, and provide feedback to the task force by Oct. 15. The draft will be revised based on the feedback, and a proposed social statement is to be released in February 2011.
The ELCA Church Council, the church's board of directors and interim legislative authority between churchwide assemblies, will review the draft in April 2011, said the Rev. Rebecca S. Larson, executive director, ELCA Church in Society. The council has the responsibility for placing the final text of a social statement on the agenda of a churchwide assembly, she said. The next assembly is in August 2011.
ELCA social statements are theological and teaching documents. They assist the ELCA and its members to reach informed decisions on social issues from a faith perspective. Social statements set policy for the ELCA, and guide its advocacy and work as a public church.
In November 2008 the task force released a study document, Genetics and Faith: Power, Choice and Responsibility, and invited comment. Task force members consulted with ethicists, scientists, sociologists, theologians and others to prepare the study and the draft.
"The draft is not so much a list of specific decisions on particular genetic issues as it is a framework to discuss specific topics," said Janet Williams, a genetics counselor, Salt Lake City, and task force co-chair. "My hope is that it actually does generate discussion and a recognition that these topics are important."
The document was carefully crafted, she said, noting that the task force is a diverse group of agribusiness professionals, clergy, ethicists, physicians, researchers, teachers and theologians. "As we came to the end of the draft process, we were very pleased with how we as a group had debated and reached a consensus on the specific set of diverse topics that were critical to include in this draft," Williams said.
"This document tries to formulate a moral framework that can encompass questions about human genetics, and plant and animal genetics," said Dr. Per Anderson, professor, Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn., and task force co-chair.
For many genetics is a complex topic, Anderson said. "The one challenge we faced is that genetics is a technical matter and it requires some knowledge. We're talking about something technical. This is a new matter for the church in that respect."
"We need to think hard about these matters, and we can do it together," he said. "We are trying to create a conversation and get a consensus about how to think about these topics in a way that is truly Lutheran and truly Christian in the 21st century," he added.
Five themes, boundaries suggested in draft social statement
The draft has five general themes, said the Rev. Roger A. Willer, director, Department for Studies, ELCA Church in Society:
+ Christians view genetic developments in light of God's work "that is ever creative and steadfast"
+ Humans are responsible as "imaginative stewards," called to dedicate themselves to the flourishing of the creation
+ Ethics in genetic advances requires respect and promotion of the community of life with justice and wisdom
+ The ELCA is called to be a community that engages public issues intentionally and deliberatively while supporting "with care and respect" individuals who must make difficult decisions
+ The draft offers broad convictions regarding genetic developments and discusses how those convictions relate to a few particular advances in medicine, stem cell research and genetic engineering of plants, animals and humans
The draft said that the word "genetics" never appears in Scripture, but states, "We believe that God's word in Scripture illuminates the challenges and issues posed by genetic knowledge and its application."
Noting that genetic science is moving forward quickly, the draft states that the social statement "concentrates on fundamental affirmations, general analysis, overarching values, directives and principles for teaching, deliberation, policy advocacy and pastoral guidance, rather than providing ethical prescriptions for a multitude of specific issues."
The draft is organized into several discussion sections under the broad headings of faith affirmations; social context; an ethical framework; challenges for a community in Christ; and power, choice and responsibility.
While it is intended as a framework for discussion, the draft does suggest specific boundaries on selected topics:
+ Genetic knowledge and application must always benefit the common good, and it rejects genetic developments that harm the community of life
+ It rejects the "technological imperative" that humans may use knowledge to create any technological application if the market will support it
+ It rejects reproductive cloning of humans
+ It supports investment in genetic knowledge and its application to heal afflictions, relieve human suffering, improve the human situation and restore the environment
+ It calls for long-term, ecological, social and economic impact assessment for genetic processes and products
+ It rejects the creation of human embryonic life expressly for research purposes, but welcomes "scientific research aimed at finding alternative sources" of stem cells that doesn't involve uses of embryonic human life. It also "accepts" the use of surplus frozen embryos created for infertility treatment that are no longer needed
+ It calls for increased education about and labeling of genetically engineered food
"In this 21st century the church's trust exists not in human achievements, but in the Triune God who creates, redeems and will finish making all things new. This One is the source of Christian confidence to live boldly in these times; it is a confidence that runs from the beginning to the end of faith and responsibility in any age," the draft concluded.
For information contact: John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or email@example.com
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* as of August 19, AD 2009, a liberal protestant SECT, not part of the holy, catholic and apostolic CHURCH.
Keep a Good Lent!
I know the answerr in this case, but “why is this a concern of the church?” Where is the Gospel tie-in?
As science delves closer to the process of creating life the temptation grows to forget the true Creator and to "fear and love" the usurpers.
Certainly the "use" of human embryoes is a matter of the 5th Commandment; and, should they be considered as property, the 7th as well.
But unique Christian perpective is that "God so loved the world" ("cosmos", in the New Testament Greek), and in the Christ (the maker of all things) He has come to reconcile all things and to make all things new.
The challenge is how we who are simul justus et peccator can plumb the mysteries of creation without hubris or idolatry.
Does that respect for the community of life mean that the ELCA will stop funding abortions for any reason up to 20 weeks in its health plan?
It would start to grow for the first time in 20+ years, though, as Bible-believing Lutheran churches have grown.
Why is this needed at all??? Just because the word “genetics” isn’t in the Bible, doesn’t mean instructions on how to approach it isn’t there. It doesn’t take a task force to know that tinkering with God’s plan is a no-no. I’m so glad we are no longer ELCA. I just pray for my good friends who have yet to make the decision to go somewhere else.