Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Presidential candidate's faith matters

Published in USA Today October 20, 2011
By Jonathan Imbody, CMA VP for Government Relations

USA Today imageAssailing a pastor who impoliticly contrasted GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's Mormon beliefs with orthodox Christianity, law professor Rodney Smith suggests that considering a candidate's beliefs is the equivalent of declaring "a religious test for political purposes" and that the Christian faith is merely a personal "brand" ("Column: Founders wouldn't have targeted Mormons").

The latter assertion ignores the fact that two millennia of Christian consensus, reflected both in Scripture and historical creeds, unite both Catholics and Protestants around core truths that include the Trinity, the unique deity of Christ and more. The fact that Mormon leaders do not share this orthodox Christian consensus calls for discernment rather than discrimination.
As to "declaring a religious test for political purposes," even typically pragmatic Americans consider a presidential candidate's personal faith relevant, for we recognize that a worldview can guide decisions. Americans have learned much about faith and politics by observing the policies of many faith-professing presidents from Washington to Lincoln to Bush and Obama.

Each of these presidents professed to support, along with the Founders, the rights to life and liberty in the Declaration of Independence. Yet how and whether each president implemented those truths in public policy — consider slavery and abortion, for example — has varied greatly.

What matters in politics is the same thing that matters in the Christian faith: It's not just what you say you believe, but what you prove you believe by your actions.

You can impact U.S. public policy:

  1. Join your colleagues: Sign up for federal jobs, commissions, consultation
    Consider advancing your career and your values while serving your profession and nation:
    • Launch a career in the federal government.
    • Network with colleagues and guide national policy by serving on a federal commission.
    • Provide expert counsel to Members of Congress, White House staff and agency officials.
  2. Simply sign up for CMA's Freedom2Care coalition's Federal Registry on LinkedIn (registration is free) and stay updated with notices of opportunities plus tips, updates and discussions.
  3. Track legislation, get alerts, sound off

See also CMA commentary published in The Washington Times, October 13, 2011: "In candidates, seek integration of faith, policy.

House passes bill to protect conscience, ban federal abortion funding

Excerpted from LifeNews, October 13, 2011. House OKs Legislation Stopping Abortion Funding in Obamacare: "The House approved legislation, the Protect Life Act, to stop abortion funding in Obamacare. Senate Democrats are not expected to approve the bill and, pro-abortion President Barack Obama is expected to veto the measure if it reaches his desk.
"Members voted 251-172 for the pro-life legislation, with 236 Republicans and 15 Democrats supporting the bill and 170 Democrats and two Republicans voting against it. (See how your member voted here).

"H.R. 358, Protect Life Act, makes it clear that no funds authorized or appropriated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), including tax credits and cost-sharing reductions, may be used to pay for abortion or abortion coverage. It specifies that individual people or state or local governments must purchase a separate elective abortion rider or insurance coverage that includes elective abortion but only as long as that is done with private funds and not monies authorized by Obamacare.

"The pro-life measure also ensures that state laws 'protecting conscience rights, restricting or prohibiting abortion or coverage or funding of abortion, or establishing procedural requirements on abortion' are not abrogated by Obamacare. It also makes it so any state or local governments receiving funding under Obamacare may not subject any health care entity to discrimination or require any health plan to subject any entity to discrimination on the basis that it refuses to undergo abortion training, refuses to require abortion training, refuses to perform or pay for abortions, or refuses to provide abortion referrals."

CMA imageCMA letter of support for the Protect Life Act, sent to Members of Congress: "For our members, as for many faith-based hospitals and clinics nationwide, conscience rights are essential to the practice of medicine. In a survey of 2,865 faith-based healthcare professionals, conducted by the polling companyTM, more than nine out of ten (91 percent) faith-based physicians agreed, 'I would rather stop practicing medicine altogether than be forced to violate my conscience.'
"Since faith-based physicians are among the most likely to be serving the poor and those in medically underserved areas losing these life-affirming professionals to discrimination and job loss especially imperils the poor and patients in medically underserved areas.

"We are already facing critical shortages of primary care physicians. The Obama administration's decision to rescind the only federal conscience regulation protecting life-affirming physicians and institutions from discrimination now threatens to make the situation far worse for patients across the country who depend on faith-based health care. "The administration has indicated in federal court documents its plan to act on this threat to rescind the conscience-protecting regulation no later than March 1. That makes legislation such as HR 358 all the more crucial to pass.

"Therefore, we urge that any attempts to weaken the strong conscience protections of HR 358 be vigorously opposed. Abortion advocates have a long history of using cloaked terms and overly broad definitions of “emergencies” or “medically necessary” to advance their ideological agenda.

"The result of such verbal engineering to undermine the clear intention of HR 358 would be the loss of conscience protections for healthcare professionals and the corresponding loss of healthcare access for patients."

Voice your values on conscience-protecting legislation at CMA's Freedom2Care legislative action center.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Christians and stem cells

"How should we as Christians respond to stem-cell research?," Christianity Today. October 4, 2011--It is becoming progressively more difficult politically to argue that we should respect the human life of those bundles of cells that hold promise for potential cures of diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Of course, such cures remain theoretical, the only proven therapies coming from adult stem cells. Yet true believers in embryonic stem-cell research find our opposition heartless. They tell us we are imposing archaic moral codes on society. They tell us we care little about alleviating suffering or forestalling death.

It can be hard to know how to respond, since the logic of these believers appeals to a deep Christian instinct: to offer healing to those who suffer. No wonder even many Christians wonder: So what's the big deal, especially if we might save or extend human lives?

The problem is not just the immoral destruction of the embryos from which stem cells are extracted. The larger cultural issue is an ethic of immortality that undergirds the push for embryonic stem-cell research. It's an ethic that has already warped our culture's perspective and now threatens to warp our Christian worldview, too. Quest for Immortality
Perhaps our culture clings so tenaciously to the hope of extended youthfulness and lasting life because we have shoved death from view. "All the things that once prepared us for death-regular experience with illness and death, public grief and mourning, a culture and philosophy of death, interaction with the elderly, as well as the visibility of our own aging-are virtually gone from our lives," writes Virginia Morris in Talking About Death. "Instead, we are tempted daily by that perfect apple, by promises of youth and immortality." The apple that's currently tempting our society is the half-million frozen human embryos created in fertility clinics. Our culture so clings to life that it is prepared to legislate taking of life at its earliest stages in order to graft it on at the end.

David Prentice, PhDSenior Fellow for Life Sciences, Center for Human Life and Bioethics, and CMDA Member David A. Prentice, PhD: "Proponents of embryonic stem cells continue to promise amazing cures, even though all of their treatments are theoretical. All of the success with stem cells comes from adult stem cells, including the only proven therapies for patients. The distinction is important but often overlooked--Christians are not opposed to stem cells, but only to unethical sources that target vulnerable humans. Yet proponents of embryo experiments continue to criticize those who oppose embryo research as heartless, clinging to an archaic morality and uncaring for the suffering. As the editors of Christianity Today point out, the embryo researchers’ logic touches a deep Christian instinct to heal and to help the hurting. Christian doctors have given their lives to this mission. But the editors also note that the apple the embryo researchers tempt us with is really the false promise of youth and immortality.

"Embryonic stem cell research makes a 'modest proposal'—trade a half million frozen human embryos at fertility clinics for cures, youth and immortality. But the problem is not just the unethical destruction of the young human beings from whom the stem cells are taken, but a larger problem that the editors label an 'ethic of immortality.' This cultural ethic so desperately clings to life that it would trade the earliest human lives 'in order to graft a bit of life on at the end.' Christians must not succumb to this warped perspective, but rather must consider each and every human life of matchless value.

"For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:24, ESV).

CMDA Ethics Statement: Human Stem Cell Research and Use
Stem Cell Talking Points

AMA fails on health reform

Excerpt from "New Doctors' Survey Says AMA Fails on Health Reform, New Voice Needed," Jackson Healthcare. September 6, 2011--Almost 18 months after President Obama signed healthcare reform into law, America's physicians have not forgiven the American Medical Association for supporting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to a new survey released today by Jackson & Coker, a division of Jackson Healthcare.

According to the nationwide survey conducted Aug. 1-29, only 13 percent of physicians agree with the AMA's stance on health reform. It supported the bill and now supports the new law. It has not called for any legal challenges or repeal measures, despite $500 billion in planned cuts to Medicare and no measures to protect physicians from frivolous lawsuits. Meanwhile, of the 1,611 physicians who responded to the survey, 70 percent disagreed with the AMA's position on health reform. The survey, distributed to more than 111,000 physicians, had a margin of error of plus or minus 1.59 percent.
As a result, 77 percent of doctors now say the AMA no longer represents their views and another voice is needed. Only 15 percent of those surveyed said the AMA was a strong advocate for physicians' issues. Forty-seven percent of those who dropped their AMA membership said it was specifically due to AMA's support of the PPACA. "The physicians we polled say the AMA is no longer the voice of their profession," said Sandy Garrett, president of Jackson & Coker, a physician recruitment firm.

"The numbers speak for themselves," Garrett said. "Physicians in America feel abandoned and need an advocate especially during this time of tremendous change in healthcare."

David Steven, MD ImageCMDA CEO David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics): "How the mighty have fallen! In the early 60s, more than 70 percent of physicians were AMA members. Today, the AMA represents only 17 percent of physicians and physicians to be. About one third of those are students or residents. Last year the AMA lost 5 percent of its members.1 The only way the AMA remains viable is the huge amount of money they generate from their monopoly on medical coding. In 2009, they had a gross income of $268.6 million, a 4.8 percent growth over the year before with a net income of $53.1 million.2

"Three out of four physicians say that 'the AMA no longer represents physicians; physicians need a more representative voice.' By contrast, fewer than one in ten CMDA members surveyed disagreed with CMDA's position on the highly controversial issue of healthcare reform, and CMDA members' disagreement on all other issues never exceeded five percent. Why not choose an organization that shares your values and represents your views? Jackson & Coker asked physicians in their survey what were viable alternatives to the AMA. They specifically mentioned CMDA in their report (p.14).

"I believe this survey provides a unique opportunity for you to invite your Christian colleagues to be part of an organization that not only represents their views on public policy but more importantly is transforming doctors to transform the world. We are ready to give you membership information to help you do that. I learned a long time ago that the most likely way a doctor will join CMDA is for one of their friends to tell them why they belong to CMDA.
"In these difficult days in medicine and in our country, it is crucial that we band together as Christian brothers and sisters to stand for righteousness and to change hearts in medicine. Won’t you help me do that?"

Hoover's company profile for the AMA

Key numbers for fiscal year ending December, 2009:
Sales: $268.6M
One year growth: (4.8%)
Net income: $53.1M

To Read more on the AMA company profile click here.
1 Doctors, Medical Students Abandon AMA in Search of Alternatives
2 Hoover's Company Profile: AMA

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