Fundamentalism Trumps Science Yet Again

One of the biggest battles fought during the Bush years was over the issue of stem cells. During that time, Congress twice passed and President Bush twice vetoed a bill that would have expanded federal funding for ethical stem cell research. You might remember some of the odious rhetoric surrounding the debate, most notably Rush Limbaugh’s shameful treatment of Michael J. Fox after a commercial touting his support for the research. The message from the previous administration was clear: there will be no support for this type of research from the federal government.

Once Obama was inaugurated, however, he promised to make federal stem cell funding a priority. This came along with a new focus on science in general. Even during the ban of the Bush years, experts and researchers extolled the virtues of the research while dispelling some of the more dishonest deceptions of its opponents.

Yet despite the Obama team’s new focus on science in America, it seems the shadow of religious know-nothingness is still hovering over our country. On Monday, Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth of Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, halted the implementation of Obama’s new guidelines, effectively reinstating the ban and leaving the future of stem cell funding in serious doubt.

The White House responded to the ruling today, saying it was mulling its next move. As the battle continues, it’s worth noting that this is a perfect example of why religion, especially the brand peddled by such demagogues as Sally Kern, Jim Inhofe, and most of the rest of Oklahoma’s national and local representatives is so destructive. They themselves know nothing about the research, know nothing about what sort of potentially life-saving cures could be developed from it and would rather placate their ultra-religious base by relying on scripture over science. I would love to hear from science researchers in our own state to see just how popular the ruling from the Reagan appointee is.

If Oklahoma is ever going to attract the industries of the future (including those not associated with oil and gas) then we really need to speak out whenever our representatives demonize this vital area of science. Here’s hoping Congress can enact legislation to address the ruling soon. Otherwise, the religious rhetoric of people like Sally Kern will continue to thwart our country’s attempts at progress.

(cross-posted at


2 Responses to “Fundamentalism Trumps Science Yet Again”

  1. Funny how they won’t say who’s behind this. The law prohibiting public funding of embryonic stem cell research should be ruled unconstitutional since it’s a violation of the separation of church and state.

    • I completely agree. I don’t want to imply that Inhofe, Kern, et al are somehow influencing the judge’s ruling. He is following the letter of the law as he sees it. It’s more that the law itself was borne of the same fundamentalism that says Muslims aren’t welcome here and Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to school.

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