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On Wednesday evening I’ll be in St. Louis, Missouri as the Cardinals take on the Detroit Tigers in game four of the World Series. Jeff Suppan will be standing on the mound looking down at the feisty Tigers. He’ll knock them down one-by-one and chalk up another win, just like his teammate Chris Carpenter will have done the night before.

By midnight on Wednesday, the Series will stand 3-1 in the Cardinals' favor.

Unfortunately, I won’t be in the stadium on Wednesday to see if my baseball predictions come true. I’ll be elsewhere in the city looking at a story that's even more important than baseball.

Missourians know what I’m talking about.

On November 7th, they will go to the polls to vote for, or against, Amendment 2. It is a referendum that would enshrine in their State’s constitution the right of biotechnology firms to do human embryonic stem cell research.

My original interest in this story was based on what I foresaw as two national ramifications from this Missouri ballot issue:

First, the Republican Party’s stance on this life issue is in the balance. For the first time since the 1920’s, the Republicans control both houses of the Missouri state legislature, as well as both Senate seats, and the governorship. If Missouri politicians, at the pinnacle of their Republican influence in the state, do not make this an essential wedge issue between them and their opponents, they will have sent a message to the nation that when it comes to the protection of human embryos, there is no difference between the two parties.

Secondly, if voters in a traditionally conservative state like Missouri vote to approve Amendment 2, we will know that American voters have decided that the survival of human life in a Petri dish is less important than the quality of life of adult humans.

My interest, however, has evolved after reading the actual Amendment text. While I could do an interesting and important story on the ethical and scientific pros and cons of embryonic stem cell research, another story is emerging. It is a story of possible deception.

Do Missourians know what they are actually voting for?

Opponents of the referendum say the lengthy 2,400-word amendment serves as a master plan of deceit to trick Missourians into legalizing human cloning. They point to two apparently contradictory sections within the Amendment.

Section 2 (1) states, “No person may clone or attempt to clone a human being”

A voter who reads this may think that he or she is voting to approve embryonic stem cell research as long as it does not permit human cloning.

Not so fast, say opponents.

Section 6 (5) defines embryonic stem cell research to include a common method of cloning. “Human embryonic stem cell research, also referred to as ‘early stem cell research’, means any scientific or medical research involving human stem cells derived from in vitro fertlization blastocysts or from somatic cell nuclear transfer.”

“Somatic cell nuclear transfer” is the scientific term for therapeutic cloning, the very same method used to clone “Dolly”.

With an estimated 80% of Missourians claiming to be against all forms of human cloning and the proposed referendum (that permits therapeutic cloning) enjoying a clear lead in the polls, it is logical to ask whether Missourians have been sold a bill of lies.

I’m looking for an answer. Have Missourians been duped, are they asleep, or have they just thrown in the towel, not just about embryonic stem cell research, but also about human cloning?

Beginning Wednesday, I’ll update this blog on a daily basis on what I see and what I learn, from both sides.

God bless, Father Jonathan

What I'm Reading

Religion and Culture

U.K. Veil Controversy:
The polarised debate over full-face veils could spark race riots in the UK, the head of the Commission for Racial Equality has warned.

Commentary: It's My Cross and I'm Proud to Bare It

Immigration and Inculturation

French Police Face 'Permanent Intifada'

Religion and Politics

Conservatism Doesn’t Need God:
The GOP has become the party of religion, and Democrats have been scrambling to play catch-up. The truth, though, is that piety doesn’t belong in politics.

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