‘Make certain the money you contribute goes either directly to ALS patient care or to fund research involving adult stem cells instead of embryonic stem cells’, says executive director
By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
August 27, 2014
The images are all over social media — videos of everyone from your next door neighbor to the rich and famous dumping buckets of ice water on their heads as a way to challenge others to join the fight against the fatal illness ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis).
Even as the popular Ice Bucket Challenge has raised more than $80 million, pro-life organizations are starting to share their concerns that well-meaning contributors may be unknowingly funding embryonic stem cell research.
“We are in no way discouraging people from taking the Ice Bucket Challenge to help people with Lou Gehrig’s disease,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina. “We are simply suggesting that they make certain the money they contribute goes either directly to ALS patient care or to fund research involving adult stem cells instead of embryonic cells, which takes the lives of the unborn.”
According to a report from the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission, the ALS Association is funding one study using embryonic stem cells, but the organization says donors may specify that their contributions not be used for such work.
Even so, the ERLC suggests that “with the close proximity to a moral dilemma that this situation presents, it is reasonable that Christians would register hesitation and distrust towards collaborating with an organization that harbors no moral opposition to the destruction of unborn life, but instead endorses such activity.”
“Christians should also consider whether their contributions are unwittingly undergirding a philosophical worldview at odds with Christian ethics,” the Commission asserts. “The taking of innocent life under any circumstance is sinful. Moreover, fostering a culture of life predicated on the destruction of life is contradictory.”
As a better option, the ERLC suggests sending funds to one of several ALS research organizations that don’t use embryonic stem cells, including the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center, the Mayo Clinic, or the Adult Stem Cell Technology Center.
“The truth is there are a myriad of ways to help our nation’s 80,000 victims of ALS, so those who want to help can easily do so without violating their consciences” said Dr. Creech, who noted that many North Carolina leaders — from House Speaker Thom Tillis and Sen. Majority Leader Harry Brown to N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory — had taken the Ice Bucket Challenge.
Dr. Creech said that while concerns about embryonic stems cells are certainly valid, some complaints about the Ice Bucket Challenge seem a bit overblown, as the campaign has drawn criticism from some corners for wasting water or for promoting so-called “slactivism” — the idea that donors are drawing more attention to themselves than to ALS.
“We understand there are areas of drought and also that not everyone who pours a bucket of water on his head or every friend that person ‘calls out’ is going to follow through and donate a significant amount to ALS,” Dr. Creech said. “But in this day and age, anytime people stop what they are doing to acknowledge that there are others suffering from terrible diseases and that people can take action to help one another, it’s a good thing.”
“Let’s not throw cold water on the Ice Bucket Challenge,” he added. “We would simply suggest that folks do a little research as they practice good stewardship and make sure, like we all ought to with any donation that the funds are going to the right place.”