Author Topic: The Ice-Water Challenge: A Caution!  (Read 2164 times)

Paul T. McCain

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The Ice-Water Challenge: A Caution!
« on: August 22, 2014, 04:44:43 PM »
From the LCMS.ORG web site:

Commentary: Should Lutherans take ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’?
on August 22, 2014 in New This Week, Reporter, Resources 2

By Daniel Hinton
Jim Sanft, president and CEO of Concordia Plan Services (CPS), takes the "ALS Ice Bucket Challenge" during a CPS employee picnic Aug. 20 at Kirkwood Park. Pouring the water are CPS employees Jason Williams, left, and Curtis Wooten. CPS plans to donate employee pledges of $3,155.52 to an ALS organization aligned with LCMS Life Ministries. (Concordia Plan Services/Diane Mottert)

Jim Sanft, president and CEO of Concordia Plan Services (CPS), takes the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” during a CPS employee picnic Aug. 20 at Kirkwood Park. Pouring the ice water are CPS employees Jason Williams, left, and Curtis Wooten. The challenge was posed spontaneously at the picnic, and Sanft said he was “happy to do it” in memory of his mother-in-law, who died of ALS in 2012. CPS employees pledged $3,155.52, which will be sent to an ALS organization aligned with LCMS Life Ministry. (Concordia Plan Services/Diane Mottert)

A new wave of videos has made its way across the Internet this summer in which people are dumping ice water on their heads and challenging others to do the same. This is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a “viral” campaign to raise awareness of and money to fight ALS, a debilitating neurological disease responsible for two of every 100,000 deaths in the U.S. Also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” it has afflicted professor Stephen Hawking for more than 50 years and, in 2006, caused the death of Lutheran theologian and professor Kurt E. Marquart. Currently, there is no known cure —available treatments mostly treat the symptoms of the disease.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge began July 29, 2014, as a way to help those who have the disease by raising money for research. Participants make a video in which ice water is dumped on them, and sometimes they dump the water themselves. Celebrities such as LeBron James and “Weird Al” Yankovic have participated, as have former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. At the end of each video, the soggy participant usually “calls out” a few people to participate, giving them the option of either making their own video or sending $100 to the ALS Association for research.

The video appears to be an enormous fundraising success. According to the ALS Association, they have received more than $41.8 million this year, compared with $2.1 million as of the same time last year. So between the fun videos — and many of them are riotously hilarious — and the fundraising to combat a debilitating and incurable disease, this is a win for everyone, right?

There is one concern with this challenge, and it is by no means a small one. The ALS Association, which is promoting the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, sends its money to research groups to find new treatments and to look for cures. Unfortunately, a substantial amount of that money — $500,000 in 2013 — goes to a group that conducts its research using a stem cell line that started from the spinal cord of a baby who was electively aborted at eight weeks’ gestation. In other words, the research conducted by this group depends upon the death of an innocent, pre-born baby.

Among the thousands of people who have taken up the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge are many Christians who are acting out of love for their neighbor that was first shown them in Christ’s life and death for all. Knowing that such a frightening and destructive disease is afflicting so many of those around us, Christians are naturally moved to compassion, and that compassion manifests itself in action like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Unfortunately, because the research methods are not widely publicized, most Christians simply do not know how much of this research is carried out and would be appalled to learn the details of embryonic stem cell research.

In the Fifth Commandment, God forbids murder. The taking of innocent human life, as is the case with the embryonic stem cell line used by one of these research groups, is by definition murder. It is still murder even if the purpose of killing the baby is to harvest his spinal cord to develop medical therapies. The research being conducted with this embryonic stem cell line, then, is unethical, and Christians should not support research that begins with the murder of a baby.

Thus, I advise Christians not to send their money to any group that funds embryonic stem cell research. It should be noted though that stem cell research that uses stem cell lines harvested from adult skin cells or from the umbilical cords of babies who have been born should not be considered unethical, and Christians may support this type of research with a clear conscience.

Thankfully, ethical alternatives exist for those Christians who are moved to support research to treat ALS. A quick Internet search revealed at least four organizations that are conducting research using the ethically-harvested stem cell lines, and some of the research conducted from those lines has already shown great promise toward effective therapies.

The Rev. Daniel Hinton is associate pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Cheyenne, Wyo.

Editor’s note: These organizations are among those that avoid the use of embryonic stem cells in their medical research efforts:

    ALS Therapy Development Institute
    John Paul II Medical Research Institute
    Midwest Stem-Cell Therapy Center

The following resources from the LCMS Life Library are designed to provide insight into the use of embryonic stem cells and related ethical concerns:
« Last Edit: August 22, 2014, 04:46:15 PM by Rev. Paul T. McCain »

LutherMan

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Re: The Ice-Water Challenge: A Caution!
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2014, 05:02:16 PM »
Thank you for bringing this to our attention.  I wonder if Ethel Kennedy and her children would regret participating in this if they were armed with this info?

Donald_Kirchner

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Re: The Ice-Water Challenge: A Caution!
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2014, 05:13:00 PM »
I saw this on another site. It is a bit unclear.

"There is one concern with this challenge, and it is by no means a small one. The ALS Association, which is promoting the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, sends its money to research groups to find new treatments and to look for cures. Unfortunately, a substantial amount of that money — $500,000 in 2013 — goes to a group that conducts its research using a stem cell line that started from the spinal cord of a baby who was electively aborted at eight weeks’ gestation. In other words, the research conducted by this group depends upon the death of an innocent, pre-born baby.'''

In the Fifth Commandment, God forbids murder. The taking of innocent human life, as is the case with the embryonic stem cell line used by one of these research groups, is by definition murder. It is still murder even if the purpose of killing the baby is to harvest his spinal cord to develop medical therapies. The research being conducted with this embryonic stem cell line, then, is unethical, and Christians should not support research that begins with the murder of a baby."

The unborn baby wasn't killed in order "to harvest his spinal cord to develop medical therapies" was he? 

If an adult is murdered, is it unethical to use the victim's heart or other organs for implantation or to develop medical therapies? Is it not common to use cadavers for medical training, etc? Is that unethical?

At the LCMS Convention  in 2007 a resolution was passed.

http://blogs.lcms.org/2007/convention-sets-lcms-position-on-stem-cell-research

"The resolution states opposition to embryonic stem-cell research that destroys human life and has not yet shown success for treatment of diseases in humans. It further urges LCMS members to give public witness against the destruction of human life with embryonic stem-cell research and to 'speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.'"

Did the ALS Ice-Water Challenge research destroy human life in order to advance its research?
« Last Edit: August 22, 2014, 05:31:28 PM by Pr. Don Kirchner »
Don Kirchner

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Michael Slusser

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Re: The Ice-Water Challenge: A Caution!
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2014, 05:57:08 PM »
Some Catholics have picked up on this, too:
http://www.cathnewsusa.com/2014/08/ohio-catholic-diocese-discourages-als-ice-bucket-challenge/

On the other hand, if there is money to be made by doing things that are wrong, some government bodies, corporations, charities, non-profits, and individuals will be doing them. The love of money is (as someone once said--probably for pay) . . . .

Peace,
Michael
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Robert_C_Baker

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Re: The Ice-Water Challenge: A Caution!
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2014, 06:29:54 PM »
"There is one concern with this challenge, and it is by no means a small one. The ALS Association, which is promoting the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, sends its money to research groups to find new treatments and to look for cures. Unfortunately, a substantial amount of that money — $500,000 in 2013 — goes to a group that conducts its research using a stem cell line that started from the spinal cord of a baby who was electively aborted at eight weeks’ gestation. In other words, the research conducted by this group depends upon the death of an innocent, pre-born baby.'''

In the Fifth Commandment, God forbids murder. The taking of innocent human life, as is the case with the embryonic stem cell line used by one of these research groups, is by definition murder. It is still murder even if the purpose of killing the baby is to harvest his spinal cord to develop medical therapies. The research being conducted with this embryonic stem cell line, then, is unethical, and Christians should not support research that begins with the murder of a baby."

The unborn baby wasn't killed in order "to harvest his spinal cord to develop medical therapies" was he? 

If an adult is murdered, is it unethical to use the victim's heart or other organs for implantation or to develop medical therapies? Is it not common to use cadavers for medical training, etc? Is that unethical?...

Did the ALS Ice-Water Challenge research destroy human life in order to advance its research?

If this is a genuine case of embryonic stem cell research, then nuclei from the initial somatic cells, taken from the aborted baby's spinal chord, would have been inserted into denucleated oocytes (eggs), thus fertilizing them and creating human clones, not quite a 100% genetic match with the original baby (some mitochondrial DNA remain in the denucleated oocyte), but close.

Those human beings, at the zygote stage of human development, are destroyed in the name of "research."

The troubling moral issue is NOT that research is done using tissue from a person no longer alive. The moral infraction is in the destruction of live, human embryos, which have been developed from this stem cell line.

Donald_Kirchner

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Re: The Ice-Water Challenge: A Caution!
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2014, 06:38:26 PM »
Ah, thank you for explaining that. Hinton's article is confusing to me, leaving the implication that the research was aborting a baby for the purpose of harvesting stem cells from its spinal cord.

Thanks for the clarification.
Don Kirchner

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Matt Staneck

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Re: The Ice-Water Challenge: A Caution!
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2014, 06:55:48 PM »
Pr. Hinton's article is confusing and a bit problematic. The title asks, Should Lutherans Take Ice Bucket Challenge? and then in it Pr. Hinton never directly answers that question. However, along the way, he likens the actions in "some" cases to that of murder via the 5th commandment. For those of us who have participated, are we guilty of murder in "some" cases? Are we needing to repent of our participation? Does Pr. Hinton speak for the LCMS in this article, especially when he states, "I advise" regarding what to do (though still not directly answering the article's title)? And then there is this via Religion News:

“Currently, The Association is funding one study using embryonic stem cells (ESC), and the stem cell line was established many years ago under ethical guidelines set by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS); this research is funded by one specific donor, who is committed to this area of research,” she said. “The project is in its final phase and will come to an end very soon.” http://www.religionnews.com/2014/08/19/als-ice-bucket-challenge-fund-embryonic-stem-cell-research/

I have seen in an email to someone who asked the question directly about embryonic stem cells the same answer and also an added bit that any and all donations made can be directed away from things or put towards others specifically. However, it seems that this research is being done via a separate grant and none of the monies raised through the Ice Bucket Challenge may even go towards harvesting embryonic stem cells.

Amidst all of this, I would have appreciated a different approach by the LCMS than the one taken in this article.

M. Staneck
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Buckeye Deaconess

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Re: The Ice-Water Challenge: A Caution!
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2014, 05:50:10 AM »
The title asks, Should Lutherans Take Ice Bucket Challenge? and then in it Pr. Hinton never directly answers that question.

Thus, I advise Christians not to send their money to any group that funds embryonic stem cell research.

Thankfully, ethical alternatives exist for those Christians who are moved to support research to treat ALS.

Nowhere does he state that one shouldn't take the ice bucket challenge.  He simply states that money should be sent to an organization that doesn't fund embryonic stem cell research if one wants to support ALS research (it is implied that this is in the form of the ice bucket challenge, in my opinion).

Quote
However, along the way, he likens the actions in "some" cases to that of murder via the 5th commandment. For those of us who have participated, are we guilty of murder in "some" cases? Are we needing to repent of our participation?

In the Fifth Commandment, God forbids murder. The taking of innocent human life, as is the case with the embryonic stem cell line used by one of these research groups, is by definition murder. It is still murder even if the purpose of killing the baby is to harvest his spinal cord to develop medical therapies. The research being conducted with this embryonic stem cell line, then, is unethical, and Christians should not support research that begins with the murder of a baby.

Where does he pin the 5th commandment on those who have taken the ice bucket challenge?  He pins it on those who support research using embryonic stem cell lines.

My uncle is suffering from this debilitating disease.  My family hasn't been challenged yet, but if we are, we'll gladly accept it.  My organization of choice to support (because I think it makes sense that if you take the challenge, you should also donate) is this one due to the time of year and all.  And I'm considered a Synod official, I guess, or so I'm told by some.  And I helped do some research on the issue as LCMS leadership was considering issuing this statement. 

I suppose like supporting Planned Parenthood, one can give to support their breast cancer referrals, but can an organization ever truly distinguish those funds from the funds used to destroy tiny human beings?  The CPA in me knows better; it doesn't always happen the way non-profit organizations try to tell us it happens.

Dan Fienen

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Re: The Ice-Water Challenge: A Caution!
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2014, 09:11:27 AM »
One good thing about Science Fiction is its ability to consider moral issues at one remove from current events.

In the first season of Babylon 5, there was the episode, "Deathwalker."  An alien comes aboard the space station that is identified as the war criminal called Deathwalker.  An expert in bio-weaponry she was a kind of interstellar Mengele.  Some of the species aboard Babylon 5 are anxious to try her for war crimes, others are anxious to gain from her her greatest discovery, a universal "anti-agathic" drug that greatly speeds healing, cures all diseases, and greatly retards the aging process.  Several of the alien races (as well as Earth Government) are willing to give her sanctuary in exchange for the secret of the drug.  In a further ironic twist it is revealed that the only way to produce the drug involves killing members of the species it is to be used on to harvest necessary ingredients.  Universally hated for her cruelty she gleefully predicts that the species who despise her and her people, "Not like us?  You will become us," as they scramble to obtain the secrets and then kill each other to produce the drug.

How far as we willing to go to heal disease?  If abortion is so valued and its continued availability is so important as a convenience for ending unwanted pregnancies, what will happen if aborting babies or even creating embryos for the purpose of harvesting their stem cells becomes useful for treating diseases?  Shall we create life to harvest it for others? 
Pr. Daniel Fienen
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Buckeye Deaconess

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Re: The Ice-Water Challenge: A Caution!
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2014, 10:52:32 AM »
Of course, there is always another reason to evaluate an organization before donating . . . its use of funds towards administrative costs.  I found this article interesting:

http://healthimpactnews.com/2014/als-ice-bucket-challenge-do-you-know-what-you-are-supporting/


Buckeye Deaconess

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Re: The Ice-Water Challenge: A Caution!
« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2014, 12:39:52 PM »
. . . I have also heard but not verified yet that any contributions made can be designated to NOT go toward ESC research. 

This is correct from what I've read, as well.  However, when an organization recognizes a 31,100% increase in giving in just a few short months over the previous year, how much of that new, exorbitant amount will now be directed towards additional ESC research efforts?  I suspect a good bit.  Thus, the overall ethical leadership of an organization comes into play when making funding decisions.  This statement by the ALS Association sure would cause me concern about giving them money:  "Increased awareness and unprecedented financial support will enable us to think outside the box."

"Think outside the box" could be quite problematic where those concerned about upholding the dignity of human life is concerned.

jneace

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Re: The Ice-Water Challenge: A Caution!
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2014, 07:52:22 AM »
This is correct from what I've read, as well.  However, when an organization recognizes a 31,100% increase in giving in just a few short months over the previous year, how much of that new, exorbitant amount will now be directed towards additional ESC research efforts?  I suspect a good bit.  Thus, the overall ethical leadership of an organization comes into play when making funding decisions.

Considering that it seems like prefers ESC compared to Adult Stem Cell research, I would be shocked if they didn't increase their ESC research efforts.

Joshua

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Re: The Ice-Water Challenge: A Caution!
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2014, 09:44:42 AM »
Sometimes a charitable cause is just a charitable cause, and not a symbol of the confession of the church.

Until it is shown to be otherwise, ALSA has stated the money received from the ice bucket challenge does not go to embryonic stem cell research. It is unnecessary to bind the consciences of those who do decide to participate in the challenge.

M. Staneck
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Donald_Kirchner

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Re: The Ice-Water Challenge: A Caution!
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2014, 12:45:50 PM »
Which is why I found Hinton's article confusing, focusing on aborting babies in order to use their spinal cords rather than the issue of destroying fertilized eggs as explained by Prof Baker.
Don Kirchner

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Dave Likeness

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Re: The Ice-Water Challenge: A Caution!
« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2014, 02:12:32 PM »
Here in Illinois we have another problem.

The last 2 governors of this state have served prison
time for fraud.  Now the current governor Pat Quinn
is guilty of fraud.  Yesterday he took the Ice Water
Challenge but he did it with warm water as he had
no shivers or extreme cold reactions.  Those around
him were mystified by this apparent fraud.