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In Delaware, the state legislature is debating embryonic stem cell research. A copy of some correspondence about that debate recently came to us here at First Things , and it seemed worth noting.

The first was a widely distributed email from Kit Schooley, a liberal Presbyterian minister whose wife is a state legislator strongly in favor of embryonic stem cell research in her state. Schooley emailed other pastors and ministers in Delaware, trying to round up support for his wife’s views:

Dear Colleagues in Ministry in Delaware:

I am writing to you at the request of my wife, Representative Terry Schooley (23rd District/Newark), concerning the Stem Cell legislation that has been introduced in the State Legislature (Senate Bill 5).

Terry is soliciting the names of clergy who would support the legislation in the form that it is written. A letter stating your support of the legislation is in the attachment to this email. If you are willing to have your name, or your name and congregation’s name, added to the support letter, would you email that information to Terry? [address removed] Should you wish to read Senate Bill 5, here is the link to the state webpage .

In Faith,

Kit Schooley

Interim Associate Pastor for Mission

Westminster Presbyterian Church

Wilmington, Delaware

In reply, a Lutheran pastor named Matt Hummel sent the following email:

Dear Kit,

I am sure that you write with the noblest of intentions. However, I need to tell you that I have absolutely no interest in signing a letter to encourage our legislators to introduce into Delaware an alien gospel in line with the Third Reich’s " lebensunwertes Leben ." It saddens me to find Christians willing to jump on that bandwagon. I am also sure that there will be ethical issues or ministries of justice or charity where we can and will work together, so I do not see this nor do I intend this as a door slamming in your face.

In Christ’s Peace,

The Rev. Matthew M. Hummel, M.A., S.T.S.

Pastor, Saint Stephen’s Lutheran Church

Dean, Delmarva Conference/DEMD Synod/ELCA

B.A., Environmental Sciences, Virginia

Father of an adopted child

Brother of a profoundly disabled sibling

Son of one parent who has died of cancer

Friend of several people with various neuromuscular degenerative diseases

Spiritual caregiver to many who have died of diseases that "could be cured but for the recalcitrant obscurantist Christians"¯so please don’t tell me I don’t get it. I get it all rather too well. I grew up in a household where Pastor Niemöller’s words were taught at an early age: "First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me."

Only difference is, this time, they are starting with the unborn.

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