Mormonism Spelled Out - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Mormonism Spelled Out

Re: P. David Hornik’s Qassams for Breakfast:

P. David Hornik’s excursus on Sharon and Qassams is beside the point. Right now the strategic threat to Israel is not these firecracker oh-look-we’re-rocket-scientists’ pipebombs with fins but real IBCM’s developed by Iran, aimed at Israel, and soon to be nuclear capable.
Paul Freedman
Falls Church, Virginia

Re: James R. Whelan’s Consolidating Castro:

I have read Mr. Bohning’s Herald articles for many years and have always felt he wrote rich in facts though i often dissented from the conclusions he reached. I just finished your review of his book which I also will read. Your review made me pause and wonder. Is this the time the Democrat party became anti-American and so timid as to accomplish quite literally nothing in forty years?

Could it be that the Father and Son (figuratively), to whom the present day cowards and liars who comprise the leadership of this once great party look for inspiration were the catalyst that shut down both critical thought and any action whatsoever? Could these two men have become God to their party and killed it in one stroke?

If we accept the author’s premise, a basic law of physics, every action has an equal and opposite reaction, what the Kennedy’s did actually helped the dictator consolidate and keep power. My Dad who was a WWII Marine always told me “timidity is often worse than doing nothing.” It appears that the Kennedy’s caught the Harry Truman disease and acted without much conviction or force. To that my Dad would have said “If you’re going to put your boot on a man’s neck, you’d better break it because if you don’t he’s going to come looking for you one day.” Look at us now with North Korea.

But I digress. My guess is that the Democrats are the perfect opposition party. They stand for nothing. They attempt nothing. They accomplish nothing. They merely disagree, though in a virulent, hate-filled manner.
Jay W. Molyneaux

Am I crazy to wonder about the reaction of Democrats to the attempted ouster of Castro in light of the current furor over the successful dispossession of Saddam?

At the time, did Republicans rail against this attempt on Castro? How about the attitude of the MSM? I don’t clearly recall since I was busy raising my family at the time.

We have a saying in our house concerning the ways of the world: “There’s one rule for Democrats; there’s another for Republicans.” The book review of The Castro Obsession makes me wonder if Kennedy was denounced by his opponents as Bush now is.
A. Robinson
Lowell, Michigan

There is, I believe, a coda to the Castro caper.

JFK, unable to fight the communists in Cuba, cast round for another venue and found it …in Vietnam. The need for “action” against the communists — thwarted in Cuba after the missile crisis — as much as anything energized the Vietnam caper, which then metastasized.
Greg Richards

Re: Lawrence J. Henry’s Time Capsules:

Fantastic article, Mr. Henry! To the naysayers who spout off negatively about watching reruns of classic sporting events by saying “but you already know how it turned out,” I can only roll my eyes and take pity at their lack of appreciation for such things. Already knowing the results of the event is part of the appeal. Mr. Henry doesn’t mention it, but I think any golf fan, and some non-fans, could watch the final 9 of the 1986 Masters and still be blown away at the drama of Jack Nicklaus’s thrilling come-from-behind victory at the age of 46. Even though you already know the outcome! Mr. Henry does mention Muhammad Ali. Who wouldn’t thrill to see the “Thrilla In Manila,” watching two giants of the ring throw haymakers at each other for 14 rounds, until Smokin’ Joe just couldn’t drag himself out of his corner anymore? Or Ali’s masterful rope-a-dope strategy in Zaire, knocking out the “invincible” George Foreman in the 8th round? I have Dale Earnhardt’s last Winston Cup race win on tape, the October 2000 race at Talladega, Alabama. Knowing that the Intimidator is going to blast his way from 18th place to the lead in just four laps, then hold off the field for the final lap of the race to take the checkered flag, INCREASES the pleasure of it. I could go on and on, but I won’t. (You’re welcome, by the way!)
Scott Warren
Hohenfels, Germany

Regarding this otherwise fine article, I need to rectify certain facts about the 1995 Tour De France.

This race was not won by a Frenchman. Sadly (well, in my opinion, happily…) The French have been inept at their own race. A frog hasn’t touched the top step of the podium in twenty years now. Not since five-time winner Bernard Hinault in 1985. The last time the home team smelled victory they crapped it away on the last day. Two-time winner Laurent Fignon lost the 1989 Tour by eight seconds on that final Paris time trial. The winner, by the by, was American Greg LeMond.

Back to 1995: Miguel Indurain did win that year, but he is and was a Spaniard. He became the first to win the Tour five times consecutively, a record now bested by a certain Texan.

What the 1995 Tour will be remembered for is the tragic death of Lance Armstrong’s teammate, Fabio Casartelli. He died when he hit the back of his head on a rock during a particularly nasty descent. Three days later, Lance rode (as he described…) with the “strength of two men” as he won stage 18 in Limoges. To this day, Lance remains close to the Casartelli family, and has dedicated stage wins in 2001 and 2003 which passed the memorial to his fallen teammate.

Just to set the record straight on the Tour.
Rob Hartsock
Bend, Oregon

Great article by L. Henry — brings back many good memories. One minor point, Miguel Indurain is a Spaniard, not a Frenchman.
W. Deitrich
Roswell, GA

Re: David Holman’s Romney’s Mormon Problem:

I will expect an onslaught of religious bigotry from the left if Romney has success, but to see it from conservatives so soon is really disheartening. No religion is perfect. We all worship God as best we can. If Mormon-baiter Holman can find 50,000 polygamists in Utah, he’s been doing a lot of cloning.
Doug Gibson
Ogden, Utah

One reason for welcoming Mitt Romney’s candidacy is the opportunity it will create for Mormons to discuss their fundamental Christianity with Christian friends and neighbors. I have no quarrel with the attention called by David Holman to unconventional aspects of Mormon doctrine. (He calls those doctrines novel, but teachings that have been available for nearly two centuries now might be less new than they are different.) No one will try to argue that LDS teachings fit snugly into mainstream of Protestant theology. Yet, Holman does millions of Mormons a disservice when he misrepresents their beliefs, as where he asserts that the Church’s teachings on abortion sound more like a political compromise than a well-reasoned moral teaching. The page of Gospel Principles to which his article provides a link describes abortion as an abominable sin — that sounds like an uncompromising moral stance to my ears. You can be assured that Mormons regard abortion as the murder of unborn, and that the Church as an institution works harder to save the lives of unborn children, through adoption, than any other church in America. If Holman wants to argue that you can’t be Christian and accept exceptions for rape and incest, for example, he’s going to be excluding as many Protestants and Catholics as Mormons from his version of the True Faith.

Worse, Holman dismisses Mormons’ agreement with fundamental Christian doctrine as mere “platitudes,” while he emphasizes areas of departure from conventional theology. But, is it a “platitude” when Mormons say they believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ? All Mormons believe that Jesus Christ was, is, and always will be the literal Son of God and the only begotten of the Father (John 3:16). Mormons believe that the Atonement of Jesus Christ was the central act of all history, and that it was the only sufficient sacrifice for our sins. As such, Christ’s sacrifice was the only means by which men and women may be saved. Are these mere platitudes? I would have thought that these beliefs were the essence of Christianity. Mormons believe in the Virgin Birth and that Jesus was the only man ever to live a perfect life. Mormons believe that Christ, having been crucified for our sins, rose again the third day, as recorded in the Gospels, after which He ascended to Heaven. To dismiss these core beliefs as unimportant, without even mentioning them, is less candid than I would normally expect from a contributor to your pages.

It will be interesting to see how Romney’s candidacy plays out. There are certainly many, Holman among them, I suppose, who are still pleased to call “Mormonism” a cult. On the other hand, as attention is paid to Romney’s faith, conservative Christians will discover that Mormons share their views on social issues and also, typically, have the same attitudes on matters of economic and foreign policy. (Harry Reid is, regrettably, an exception to the rule.) I’m expecting the MSM to be schizophrenic about Romney’s faith; they’ll want to be sympathetic when Romney is criticized by some Christian conservatives (whom the MSM love to hate), and yet Mormon teaching on the hot-button issues of gay marriage and abortion are anathema to their blue-state mentalities. That’ll be fun to watch.

At least one other good thing might occur: newspaper, magazine and (ahem) web-page editors might finally learn how the Church’s name is to be written. It is the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Note the hyphen and the small “d” — please get it right in the future!
Leighton M. Anderson
Whittier, California

It is quite easy to see that the spirit of persecution that drove the Latter-Day Saints from their homes several times is still alive and well, at least in author David Holman’s mind. In this day and age, conservative-minded people need to unite to fight the liberal and secular philosophies of our time. This article is full of flat-out misrepresentations about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The author’s contempt for the LDS Church is thinly veiled. Below I will clarify what Latter-Day Saints really believe and are about.

1) Are Latter-Day Saints Christians? Yes, we believe the Book of Mormon to be scripture and the most correct of any book. This belief, however, supports and sustains our belief in Christ and does not conflict with the Old and New Testaments, but supports them. Below are just a few of many verses in the Book of Mormon that support our belief in Christ.

“And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they look for a remission of their sins.” (2 Nephi 25:26)

“Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works. Wherefore, beloved brethren, be reconciled unto him through the atonement of Christ, his Only Begotten Son, and ye may obtain a resurrection, according to the power of the resurrection which is in Christ, and be presented as the first-fruits of Christ unto God, having faith, and obtain a good hope of glory in him before he manifesteth himself in the flesh.” (Jacob 4:11)

“Now Aaron began to open the scriptures unto them concerning the coming of Christ, and also concerning the resurrection of the dead, and that there could be no redemption for mankind save it were through the death and sufferings of Christ, and the atonement of his blood.” (Alma 21:9)

I wonder if David Holman has ever read the Book of Mormon all the way through? Latter-Day Saints certainly believe in the Heavenly Father, his Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost and all of the gifts associated with the Holy Ghost. Our belief that they are separate and distinct individuals is supported by the Bible (See below).

“When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:58-59)

Stephen saw two separate and distinct individuals.

“And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt…” (Matt 26:39)

Why would Jesus pray to himself? He was praying to Almighty God, his father – separate and distinct. The three in one doctrine didn’t exist in the primitive church but was made official at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD. Furthermore, when Jesus prayed that he and his Father would be one, he was meaning that they should be one in purpose.

“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou has sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:20-23)

Now, if you will also examine how most Latter-Day Saints live their lives from day-to-day, you will see President Hinckley was not just offering “Christian-sounding platitudes”.

2) LDS Moral teachings are a shining example of Christ’s teachings. Your example of the few exceptions justifying abortion are a sham and are a disgraceful misrepresentation of the truth. Latter-Day Saints adamantly oppose abortion. Utah is the most conservative state in the whole country for crying out loud. Faithful Latter-Day Saints don’t smoke, drink, swear, commit adultery, or anything like it. They are honest, hard-working, loving, kind, and industrious people. If you have a Latter-Day Saint neighbor you likely have one of the best neighbors you could ever hope for.

3) Polygamy, etc. There are 12,000,000 Latter-Day Saints in the world that do not practice plural marriage and I don’t believe your claim that there are as many as 50,000 polygamists in Utah. Polygamy hardly thrives in Utah. I grew up in Salt Lake City and never met a Polygamist there until I was 23 years old. Since 1890 any Latter-Day Saint with more than one wife has been excommunicated period, end of story. Your need to look to the past to criticize the LDS church reveals your weak position on the status of the church today.
Jeff Garrigues
Firestone, Colorado

While I doubt Mitt (President Mitt, can you imagine, is that a catcher’s mitt or first baseman’s?) has much of a chance in the Republiskum presidental race, his candidacy would be a real test for the dumdamentalist-evangelical-right because Mormons are not Christians!

They may say they are Christians but there are too many serious — maybe even fatal — discrepancies with historical Christianity to give credence to that supposition.

Ya can say what you want about the Dobsons, but Ms. D. was right — at least within her own view of “orthodoxy” — to say “no” to a Mormon’s request to participate in a prayer service.

And this is from a 61-year-old high-church, Anglo-Catholic!!
Ted Church
Memphis, Tennessee

Interesting article. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is a Mormon, and that hasn’t hurt him in Nevada. Of course, a national election is different.

Without a doubt, many Southern Baptists will not be excited about voting for a Mormon. Mormonism is highly regional, unlike the nationwide practicing of Catholicism and Protestantism.

McCain doesn’t have to worry.
Robert Ellis

Joseph Smith was also an epileptic and I personally think that he used his “visions” and visitations-by-a-spirit episodes to help cover and explain them. He was also a horse thief. The Book of Mormon is written with grammatical errors throughout. The territory they staked out in the west was patrolled by pony soldiers. They even bred a horse with a bigger lung capacity to go the distances. Oftentimes wagon trains and other pioneers had to sneak or fight their way through the Mormon territory to get to California. Lincoln not only had to deal with the secession of the South, but the threat of secession of the Mormons and their territory as well.

I grew up with Mormon girl friends and spent many slumber parties listening to them talk about their life’s goal — getting married in the temple. I always thought that was sad.
Sue Ellen Hirtle
Eagle, Idaho

I live in predominantly Mormon SE Idaho. This part of the state can arguably be described as a Mormon theocracy and it isn’t easy living here as a non-Mormon. The LDS religion is not Christian and has its suspicious origins and practices very similar to Islam. I have been a staunch Republican voter for decades but will not vote for Romney no matter how he is dressed up and presented to the American people. I have seen his inner core and it’s ugly.
Don M.

I read with great interest David Holman’s article on Mitt Romney and our mutual problematic religion. Being an aficionado for the occasional anti-Mormon rant, I understand Holman has legitimate concerns, and I certainly don’t lump him in with the fanatical Mormon bashers… yet. I can’t help but get the feeling, however, that his mindset is in league with our detractors, as many of his arguments have a familiar ring to them. Permit me then, as a Mormon of average intelligence and looks, to try and dissuade some of the more obvious misinterpretations and (benign?) suspicions.

Let’s start with the easiest: abortion. Holman states, “LDS moral teachings will likely displease social conservatives when they learn the church’s position on abortion sounds more like a political compromise than a well-reasoned moral teaching.” The church’s teachings concerning abortion are identical to the majority view of the pro-life lobby. Most pro-lifers would agree that abortion should be allowed in cases of rape, incest, endangerment of the mother’s life, or the inability of the unborn to live outside the womb. I take my views on abortion restrictions further, but the church’s official stance is perfectly respectable to most pro-life warriors.

Now let’s get into the more hairy issues. How ’bout our “racist” past? If Brigham Young banned blacks from receiving the priesthood, he was in line with what is written in The Pearl of Great Price (another book of scripture to coincide with The Bible and the Book of Mormon, and like the Book of Mormon, translated from an ancient record by Joseph Smith). In the Book of Abraham, we read that Ham, a son of Noah, married Egyptus, a descendant of Cain. From these two people was born the line of Pharaohs. The first ruler (whose name was Pharaoh) ruled Egypt in righteousness, and as we read in Abraham 1:26, was blessed by Noah “with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood.” Undoubtedly, a learned man like Young would have been familiar with this passage. It is a pity that Mr. Holman is not as familiar with The Journal of Discourses he cited in his article, or he would have heard this from Young:

God has created of one blood all the nations and kingdoms of men that dwell upon all the face of the earth: black, white, copper-coloured, or whatever their colour, customs, or religion, they have all sprung from the same origin… When the residue of the family of Adam come up and receive their blessings, then the curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will receive blessings in like proportion…

Done in 1978, when the church spanned every continent but Africa. What wasn’t done in 1978, however, is the apparent tendency of some of the American people to exclude a political candidate on something as flimsy as religion. As Holman says, “[A] 1999 Gallup poll found that while only 6 percent of Americans refuse to vote for a Jew and 4 percent a Catholic, 17 percent rule out Mormons on their ballots.” So much for voting your conscience, or for the candidate with whom you agree the most.

Holman also states, “In his Journal of Discourses, Young affirmed the ‘curse of Cain,’ the Mormon doctrine that blacks bear the fallen brother’s punishment.” This seems to insinuate that Young wished to punish black people, or that Young thought that they, for some reason, were punished for some crime by nature of their birth. With his intimate knowledge of the most basic Mormon doctrines, there is no conceivable way that this would be what Young felt, or preached to anyone else. Children born in crack houses, broken homes, poverty, or any other horrible circumstances are unaccountable before God, yet does this not seem like a curse (or “punishment”) to them? The idea of being cursed, or damned, goes to the heart of all Christianity. It is the reason for Christ. We are cursed with death and misfortune. But a curse is not “punishment.” The Atonement of Christ is the victory over the curses of this world. Our repentance and desires for forgiveness, combined with His grace, are the means to obtaining that prize. But all this is lost, I suppose, on a sophisticated, highly color-conscious, and politically correct nation like modern-day America, 17 percent of whom are free to discriminate against Mormons….

It is quite possible that Mr. Holman’s article is not meant, in the slightest, to be a slam against a church that teaches marital fidelity, honesty, integrity, physical health, financial responsibility, industry, education, the importance of family, the equality of all before God, and oh, yes, Christianity. I will concede the point, but only on the condition that my reply will not be taken for an endorsement of Brother Romney, a man who strikes me as little more than another Compassionate Conservative, which is our fresh new term for Socialist. A Libertarian like myself would never do that, though he is probably an admirable fellow in his private life (which is where I say he belongs). No, I would rather watch Romney’s campaign crash and burn, if only to save face for our church. But I cannot stand by while rumors, innuendo, and misunderstanding take a stab at an institution as fine, as upstanding, as willing, as amenable, and (dare I say it?) as true as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Oh, and congratulations on finding the only unflattering photograph in existence of the Washington, D.C. Temple.
Brendan R. Merrick
Budd Lake, New Jersey

The real problem Mitt Romney faces is that he’s as conservative as, well, a Governor of Massachusetts. When the grand diktat came down to equate homosexual relationships with matrimony, did the morally centered Romney cause all state business to come to a screeching halt while the impeachment, conviction and removal from office of the power-crazed judicial thugs proceeded apace? Well, of course not. Did he go on TV and simply give the mental flatulence that such black-robed ravings represent the horselaugh they deserve, followed by a clear statement that anyone who actually tried to act on such nonsense would be ignored initially, and if they persisted they’d be removed from office/arrested/shot down where they stood?

Not the Mutt. Instead, he just muttered some low-decibel nonsense and half-heartedly supported a facade of action that he knew would allow things to meander on the path that they have. He, of course, merely follows the lead of our current Two-Faced-in-Chief, who occasionally babbles something that sounds mildly moral or ethical, while focusing on wasting hundreds of billions of our tax dollars and thousands of lives on attempting to reform the failed and ignorant dregs of humanity, who nevertheless are smart enough to leech off our national stupidity and our leaders’ corruption. Both these hacks provide yet more evidence that there’s not a dime’s difference between Republicrat and Demopublican — both pimp for the globalism and multiculturalism their handlers desire.
Peter Jacobs

You are probably right in implying that Mitt Romney’s membership in the LDS Church will make him unelectable. If, by some miracle, he does get the Republican nomination, he stands a decent chance of being elected President. It is the getting the Republican nomination that will prove impossible. The Republican Party is basically the captive of the evangelical religious right. More than any other group within the Republican Party, the evangelicals will strongly oppose a Romney candidacy on purely religious grounds. Of course, the opposition will be cloaked in political language to make it seem like something other than religious bigotry. Dr. James Dobson and his group enjoy the benefits of religious tolerance and openness by having his program “Focus on the Family” broadcast by KSL, a large AM radio station owned by the LDS Church. He and his group, however, will not reciprocate by allowing a Mormon to offer a prayer at a National Prayer Day function. Such is the intolerance of the religious right.
Robert W. Brown

The author evidently thinks he has done fabulous research on the Mormons in stating without equivocation that “Joseph Smith took dozens of wives, often claiming that he was commanded to do so by the Almighty Himself.” Any serious research into the subject will reveal that that affirmation is indeed a troubling one. Much research has been done into the subject, and if indeed, Joseph had “dozens of wives,” surely his first and only wife, Emma, would have known about it. If she, according to RLDS church history, would have taken the children and left Joseph were he to allow a bar to be set up in his home, for any length of time, as a favor to a tavern owner that had his tavern incapacitated, surely she would have denounced him as a fraud were he to have had “dozens of wives.” Further, there is no historical document written during his lifetime that states Joseph Smith, Jr. claims “he was commanded to do so by the Almighty Himself.

Yes, there is a problem with “Mormons.” Some of the problems stem from what has been perpetrated by Mormon-haters and bigots, who have no first-hand witness to offer, but who have chosen to repeat slander and libel, or make up stories out of pure devilishness, as a course of action against an historically peaceful and faithful people.
Kent Pedersen

Your article, although very lengthy, has not done justice to Gov. Romney nor to his faith and church, of which I am also a member. I don’t appreciate it when my faith is portrayed as strange, or not approved of. One reason this tends to surface is because of poor press and poor articles like yours. Ask Charles Osgood, Renee Fleming, and many others who have been close to the church and have been delighted to be a part of media presentations by the church describing how Mormons are. Just be fair, OK?

Believing as a conservative that truth is crucial, and in that, generally speaking, The American Spectator does a first-class job, I am disturbed by the casual and inaccurate way you have portrayed my faith.

Not only do you quote doctrine but then you do so without any reference to basis for it or the context of it which is critical in having a fair and accurate understanding.

I can also quote a teaching from the Protestant or Catholic faith and the Bible, and without the background for it others would comment “Wow, is that what they believe?”

Sir, this is poor writing and you know it. Not once did you even bother to remark about what the church has been to Gov Romney and the integrity and values he lives and reflects.

I would urge you since you brought it up, to get a copy of the bio of Marion G. Romney. I think you might be rather amazed. Better yet, go to and select one of his talks from the list and listen to it, his wisdom is profound. You may think differently of this “cousin.” If you do this then also get Bruce R. McConkie and listen to one of his. He is also a “relative of Gov. Romney,” and was one of the greatest doctrinal scriptorians in this generation.

A wise man said once that if you must use a hammer, use it to build your house, not to knock another man’s down.
Pamela Johnson
Zionsville, Indiana

I was very interested to read about Mitt Romney’s “Mormon problem.” I guess believing in God and Jesus Christ and determining to personally follow them is a “real problem” for some people. I, however, think Mitt would be a great president! His morals are unquestionable and his standards are high. He is a Christian in every sense and one without any closet skeletons. If Evangelical Christians have a problem with that, then they are hypocrites and no better than the anti-Semite or local racist.
Elizabeth Beus

Re: Tom Bethell’s Science, Fraud, and Steel Chop Sticks:

While it is good that Tom Bethell is monitoring the bogus claims of scientific research over which he has no moral control, I would disagree with his assertion that “The ethics [of human cloning and embryonic stem-cell research] could be left for another day.” Human vivisection is evil. For that reason alone we ought not to encourage research into making possible that which we should be condemning.
Kevin O’Neill
London, England

Tom Bethell hardly fears molecular biology being “hamstrung by medieval qualms and superstitions” but then he at once believes that the molecular mechanisms “of immune-system rejection itself only became apparently quite recently” while “embryologists had been trying for over a hundred years to understand how the cells of the developing body manage to do this.”

How exactly they did so a century before the sequencing of the human genome he does not say, but that does not deter him from an “I told you so’ lecture averring one allegation of hype or fraud among the legions laboring on the problem of cellular compatibility and cloning proves there is nothing to it but scientific wishful thinking — perhaps abetted by greed.

So he “decided to focus on the science”, not that he has ever done or published any, confident that since cellular biology “clearly had not reached the stage where it could solve these problems.” Ergo, “the ethics could be left for another day.”

He says “The basic scientific question that must now be discussed is: Can these laboratory demonstrations or claims be repeated by others? This is the most basic feature of the scientific method… they have not been able to do so yet.”

Since the paper in question has not in fact as yet been withdrawn, it would seem obvious that nobody has yet had the time to try — Bethell wants to hang Hwang high before trying him, let alone seeing if he can be exonerated by experiment — rather the way in which some Texan prosecutors would like to lynch Tom DeLay.

Bethell’s closing argument, that 1,000 laboratory-grown embryos “led to the birth of just two cloned puppies — one of which died after three weeks,” makes one wonder how vigorously Ethicist Tom Bethell denounced the demise of an equally dismal proportion of human heart transplant recipients in that controversial procedure’s first decades.

Producing a warm puppy with a host of skeptics looking on, and an assortment of frogs and sheep already in the cloned menagerie, suggests Bethell should return to his metier — calling for further investigation of that icon of tabloid science the face on Mars, and that Wlady, and the readers, should look at the evidence themselves on Nature‘s website, where they will find a more, well, scientific account of this matter. Don’t ask me for the details — my humble superstition is physics.
Russell Seitz

Tom Bethell replies:
The author has confused me with someone else when he says that my metier is calling for further investigation of “the face on Mars.”

The author shows himself to be unfamiliar with the procedures of science — odd for a physicist. He implies that scientists don’t try to replicate a result until the first claim to have achieved a given result is repudiated by its withdrawal. This is nonsense. The repeatability of experiments is the essence of science and scientists do not wait for admissions of error before they try to repeat the experiments of others. They do not accept findings on authority because science is not an authoritarian field. They try to repeat the experiment whether or not it has been withdrawn.

Markers indicating that stem cells are likely to indicate their “foreignness” and therefore be rejected if transplanted became apparent in 2002. (See “Stem Cells Not So Stealthy After All,” Science, July 12, 2002.) Meanwhile, embryologists have indeed been trying for 100 years to understand how the cells of the developing body become specialized in the course of normal development — which is what THIS referred to in my article. He has erroneously conflated two separate allusions.

More bluntly, he doesn’t know what he is talking about. He should stick to physics.

Re: J. Peter Freire’s An Astonishing Lack of Coulter:

As a conservative I love listening to liberals speak, like Sheehan. They prove just how ignorant they are, whereas liberals feel threatened by a conservative, so they try to prevent them from speaking. In the liberal’s own sick way of thinking it might even be a compliment.
Sharon Cookson

Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.’s Who Is Byron Dorgan?:

Why don’t we get the report classified Top Secret codeword and give it to the CIA for safekeeping. It will soon appear in the New York Times/Washington Post for all to read.

Problem solved!
Tom O’Reilly
South Portland, Maine

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