Pouring cold water on the ice-bucket challenge

As religious leaders including a former Southern Baptist Convention president are taking the Ice Bucket Challenge, denominational leaders warned Christians against unwitting support for types of medical research that require the destruction of human embryos.

By Bob Allen

Abortion opponents are encouraging conservative Christians to chill out before taking the Ice Bucket Challenge plunge.

jack graham ice bucketAs of Friday, Aug, 22, the ALS Association has received $53.3 million in donations — compared to $2.2 million during the same time period last year — thanks to the viral phenomenon where people get doused with buckets of ice water on video, post the video to social media and challenge others to do the same.

It’s all in the name of raising awareness about Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a progressive neurodegenerative condition best known for killing New York Yankees slugger Lou Gehrig in 1941, with lesser-known sufferers including Baptist scholar William Hull, who battled the disease six years before succumbing in December 2013.

Numerous high profile celebrities have taken the challenge, including a few religious leaders, including T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen and former Southern Baptist Convention President Jack Graham.

Recently, however, abortion foes like Patheos blogger Father Michael Duffy, a priest for the Diocese of Rockville Center in Long Island, N.Y.; the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and anti-abortion activist Lila Rose raised moral objections over the ALS Association’s support for embryonic stem cell research.

The Southern Baptist Convention denounced the federal funding of research in which human embryos are harmed or destroyed in a 1999 resolution. The SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission issued a caution Aug. 22 about “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,” according to the FAQ issue analysis by ERLC staffers Andrew Walker and Joe Carter. “The taking of innocent life under any circumstance is sinful. Moreover, fostering a culture of life predicated on the destruction of life is contradictory.”

“There are pathways to participation that don’t require moral compromise and that can allow those interested to join in the campaign without violating their conscience,” they continued. “The ALS Association encourages people taking part in the challenge to ‘make a donation to an ALS charity of their choice.’”

The article goes on to list organizations recommended by a Christian bioethicist that use adult stem cells in ALS research.