A majority of people in the pews support embryonic stem cell research, whether the pews they fill on Sundays are in Protestant or Roman Catholic churches. That's one bit of information from a survey conducted by ABC News/Beliefnet mid-summer, just as the debate over federal government funding for this research heated up in Washington, D.C.
The research involves using stem cells extracted from embryos left over from fertility treatments to develop therapies for conditions including Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, arthritis, burns and spinal cord injury.
With support of 68 percent, Protestants (non-evangelical) favored the research at an even higher rate than people who claim no religion — their support was 63 percent. Approval of Catholics polled was 54 percent and of Evangelicals, 51 percent — despite church teaching against such use.
Such statistics come as no surprise, says Philip J. Boyle, chief operating officer of the Chicago-based Park Ridge Center for the Study of Health, Faith and Ethics. "Have you ever met a clump of cells you feel warm and fuzzy about?" he asks. Yet what people are faced with is weighing the future of this "clump of cells" against the potential benefit to a living person — a family member or friend.
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