Conclusion

This survey of religious responses to cloning suggests that there is significant misunderstanding of how major religious traditions have reacted to the possibility of reproductive cloning, at least in the popular media. For example, when the story broke that the British House of Lords had legalized therapeutic cloning for the purpose of deriving stem cells in 2001, the Reuters news service described Parliament as "turning a deaf ear to religious leaders from across the spectrum who had urged them to oppose the measures." Reuters's characterization of religious leaders as uniformly opposed to cloning is fairly typical. The reality is quite different. As this survey attests, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism take subtly different positions on the status of the embryo, on the appropriate motives for even considering cloning, on the notion of "playing God" and manipulating nature, and other matters.

Add to this the fact that, within each tradition, there are disagreements about these matters and the picture becomes very complex. What can safely be said is that none of these traditions appears to embrace cloning as an unqualified good, and, with the exception of official Catholic teaching and that of some evangelical Protestant groups, none appears to condemn cloning as intrinsically and unqualifiedly wrong.

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