"Holy Clones: Cloning--Sacred or Sacrilege?"
by Dan Kapelovitz
Ever since February 1997 when embryologist Ian Wilmut and his colleagues at the Roslin Institute in Scotland announced that they had created a lamb named Dolly, the first mammal cloned from an adult cell, theologians around the world debated the religious implications of cloning--especially human cloning.
As early as 1987, the Vatican argued for the banning of all human cloning. Religious arguments against cloning range from the belief that cloning humans is akin to playing God, to the concern that human clones would have no souls. Others oppose the separation of procreation from the human sex act, while some of the more liberal religions argue that cloning should not only be allowed, but may be even mandated by God if it can save lives.
President Clinton had the National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC) investigate cloning. Unconcerned with the separation of Church and State, Clinton devoted an entire day of the NBAC hearings listening to various religious leaders. The Commission concluded that there should be a moratorium on federal funding of human cloning.
But what do some of the lesser known religious movements, who weren't allowed to testify before the Bioethics Commission, think about cloning? For some religions, cloning is a significant part of their theology. They view cloning as a means to achieve eternal life. Other groups have received direct messages from Jesus telling them that cloning is wrong. There are even those who want to clone Jesus Christ back into existence.
One such group is the Second Coming Project. "Our intention is to clone Jesus by taking an incorrupt cell from one of the many Holy Relics of Jesus' blood and body that are preserved in churches throughout the world, extracting its DNA, and inserting into an unfertilized human egg," reads the group's web site (clonejesus.com). "The fertilized egg, now the zygote of Jesus Christ, will be implanted into the womb of a young virginal woman, who will then bring the baby Jesus to term in a second Virgin Birth."
"Christians will wait around FOREVER for Jesus to return unless we take matter into our own hands and bring him back ourselves!" declares their web site.
The group even uses the Bible to justify cloning. They contend that when Jesus at the Last Supper asks his disciples to eat his flesh and drink his blood, he is alerting them and future generations to preserve his body for cloning.
Most scientist believe it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to clone Jesus (assuming, of course, that Jesus even existed). Although the Second Coming Project claims Holy Relics exist of Jesus' body including his blood, his hair, and his foreskin, many believe that all of the relics are fake. Even if there were a relic containing Jesus' DNA, and a church was willing to give this DNA to the Second Coming Project, scientists believe the technology does not yet exist to clone from cells that are almost 2000 years old. Not all scientists agree. Presently, scientists are looking for preserved Mammoths in Siberia, hoping to insert the Mammoth DNA into a female elephant. As technology rapidly improves, so do mankind's chances of cloning Jesus.
Others worry that if someone could clone Jesus, then someone could clone Hitler. But most experts agree that a clone would not be exactly the same as the original person. In fact, the two would have less in common than even identical twins who were separated at birth. Not only would they have different experiences beginning from the womb, they would also grow up in different periods of time. Gnostics believe that Jesus already had a twin brother named Thomas, and if he wasn't the Messiah, than neither would a cloned Jesus.
Many Christians worry that a cloned Jesus not only wouldn't be the Messiah, but would in fact be a demonic being, perhaps even the anti-Christ. They believe the Second Coming Project may be involved in a Satanic plot to create such a being. As proof, they note that their web site, clonejesus.com, was registered by Feral House, the publisher of books written by Anton LaVey, creator of the Church of Satan.
"We did set up the web site because it's an article in Apocalypse Culture II, and I have it there to promote the book," admits Adam Parfrey, founder of Feral House, who contends that, other than including the article in his book, he has nothing to do with the cloning of Jesus.
This hasn't stopped hundreds of angry Christians from sending Parfrey hateful e-mail. "The e-mails say either they're gonna kill me, or God's gonna kill me. They want to prevent some weird Satanic entity from being created that's known as Jesus because humans cannot create it, it has to happen on its own."
Because of the many death threats he has received, Kristan Lawson, the mastermind behind the Second Coming Project, refuses to talk to the media.
Raël, leader of the Raëlian Religion, says Jesus has already been cloned. He was cloned by extraterrestrials who had preserved one of Jesus' cells prior to his crucifixion. "That's how he was dead and alive again a few days later," says Raël. "He was the first in history to be cloned, in fact."
In 1975, Raël hung out with Jesus who now lives on the Planet of the Eternals along with 38 other prophets including Moses, Ezekiel, Buddha, Mohammed, and Joseph Smith (Raël is the last of the 40 prophets).
The Raëlians, who claim 55,000 members in 84 countries, believe that humans were created by extra-terrestrial scientists referred to in the Bible as the Elohim. The Elohim have perfected cloning and many live eternally on the Planet of the Eternals with the earthling prophets. "There are two planets," explains Raël, who is the half-brother of Jesus. "One is the Elohim Planet where they procreate exactly like us, and the planet where I went to was the Planet of the Eternals where they have eternal life."
The Elohim who live on the Planet of the Eternals are forbidden to have children. "If you have eternal life and children at the same time, then you have over-population," explains Raël.
To become Raëlian, one undergoes a transmission ritual in which a Raëlian Guide places a hand on the convert's forehead transmitting his or her genetic code to the Elohim. The Elohim can then clone Raëlians, at a later date, enabling them to live forever on the Planet of Eternals.
When a Raëlian dies, he donates his body to science and medicine except for a square centimeter of the frontal bone which corresponds to the third eye. Here is where the DNA is most concentrated. Raël keeps these skull chunks in a safety box. "It can be used by human beings for cloning," says Raël. "It is not for the Elohim."
"Cloning is the key to eternal life," says Raël, who has written a new book, entitled Yes to Human Cloning. "I was the first to talk about it 27 years ago. This is just the first step. Right now cloning is just like having a twin brother or a twin sister. The next step is a new technique called Accelerated Growth Process where you can directly clone an adult copy of yourself. The third step is when you can upload or download your memory, your personality in the brain of the adult clone who is like a blank tape. When you reach this level you can have eternal life in another body, that is what is exciting, I think a baby is not very exciting."
"It is coming very soon," predicts Raël. "We are not talking about next century, it will be available between 10 and 20 years. If are less than 50 years old, you can expect to never die, and that's wonderful. You are very lucky, you will have eternal life."
What does Raël think about those who are morally opposed to cloning? "The Catholic Church is against everything," says Raël. "Against divorce, against contraception, against sexual freedom, against cloning. At the beginning they were against electricity and even more funny, the first people to use the fork were excommunicated. That's the Catholic Church, they condemned Galileo and everyone who said the Earth was not the center, and they are still the same.
"If you read the articles they wrote at the time of the first test tube baby, everyone was against it like they are against cloning now, saying it is like Frankenstein. Then they saw on TV a beautiful baby girl. It will be the same with cloning: after ten years, people will wonder why they were against it."
Three years ago, hoping to present a new scientific breakthrough baby girl to television audiences, Raël started the world's first cloning company, Clonaid®. A wealthy American couple, whose 10-month-old child died due to hospital error has hired Clonaid® to clone their dead daughter. Clonaid®, which is now run by Dr. Brigitte Boisselier, should produce the clone in one or two years, according to Raël.
Because there is much trial and error in the cloning process, 50 Raëlian women are lined up to act as the surrogate mothers.
On its web site, Clonaid® offers these reasons for cloning (they charge $200,000): "If you are a sterile couple with no more hopes to get the child you have dreamed of. If you are a homosexual couple deeply wanting to have a child carrying your own genes. If you want to be cloned, whatever your reasons may be, then Clonaid® has the right program for you."
They also offer Clonapet®: "The cloning of pets to wealthy individuals who wish to see their lost pet be brought back to life. This service will also be offered to the owners of racing horses, a very promising market given the outrageous prices paid for champions."
The only service that they presently offer is Insuraclone®; for $50,000, Clonaid® will preserve a client's cells in case the client ever needs to be cloned. "A Clonaid® representative will come to your place or the place of your choice to get cell samples of yourself and/or your beloved ones. This sample will then be placed in a safe and confidential place, under cryogenic temperature and will remain there until you decide to use them."
Another religion whose members view cloning as the key to eternal life is Summum. "We presently are the only people in the world that offer mummification," says Corky Ra, founder of Utah-based Summum which claims 100,000 members worldwide. "At the same time we preserve the genetics in the animals and humans that can be cloned at a later date. Most of our clients usually have a large living trust. Some spell out if they want to be cloned in the future. Some of them write out that they want to wait until there's a possibility for memory regeneration and also when it's possible to have some of their defects taken away when they are cloned."
Summum charges a minimum of $65,000 for their mummification services and recently built a mausoleum for a New York woman and her cats costing 11 million dollars. (Summum charges around $6000 to mummify a cat and as low as $1000 for a parakeet.)
The mummification process takes 77 days, during which they perform a transference ritual which guides the soul to a new life and destination. The Summum's transference rite is a cross between the Egyptian Book of the Dead and the Tibetan Book of the Dead. (They will tailor the ritual to fit any religion if desired.)
"By combining the sciences of Transference and cloning, it becomes possible to direct the soul into a body specifically cloned for the reincarnation of this being," reads the Summum web site (summum.org). "It will be possible for individuals to incarnate into a body of their choosing. This is really nothing new. It was done once before as ancient hieroglyphs will attest. It will happen once again."
Ra believes that there are already human clones. "They aren't doing a lot of publicity on this until they [the clones] get a little older. The technology is already there. There's no reason why not to do it. We're not doing any cloning right now, but we've had a lot of people willing to do our cloning for us contact us."
Like Raël, Ra believes people will one day accept human cloning. "They were against cars when they came out," says Ra. "When they first started doing transplants, there was an uproar against heart and liver transplants, and they're doing those now. It just takes time for people's consciousness to catch on."
Ra believes that Jesus was a clone. "Christianity tells that they took a seed from the father and immaculately put it in the womb of Mary called the Virgin Birth and a child was born. That's what is called a clone." Their web site quotes Jesus as saying, "I am the Father, and I am the Son, and We are One" as proof that Jesus was indeed a clone.
Like the Summum, Unarius believes that human cloning existed thousands of years ago. But unlike the Summum, the Unarius are ardently opposed to human cloning. This El Cajon UFO cult believes that ancient cloning had dire consequences.
"This has all happened before in Atlantis and Lemuria," explains David Reynolds, Unarius instructor and webmaster. "That's why the authors of the Unarius text already had known what the deal is. For example, in Atlantis they developed clones for war. These clones were programmed to be super warriors." Reynolds believes that clones are easily programmable because they don't have a soul.
"The Space Brothers, through the Unarius text, have warned us that if we ever allow human cloning, then we will see some kind of negative effect in our future. Does that mean more birth defects, more mutants? I don't know."
Reynolds compares human cloning to nuclear power, saying that both adversely effect human evolution.
"When scientists get involved with cloning they are causing some serious karmic situations in the energy body," says Reynolds who, like Ra, thinks modern-day scientists may already have cloned humans. "They don't know anything about the energy body, so they are struggling blind with ignorance, not knowing they're going to damage the individual."
According to Reynolds the original person would suffer greatly if they were duplicated. "Their mentality, their IQ would eventually be depleted, similar to organ donation where you have two psychic bodies intertwining. Now you have the original person who now is going to be responsible for what the clone does. So if the clone goes out and murders a bunch of people because a bunch of sick people program it to, then don't you think that the original person has more karma to deal with?"
Although agreeing with Unarius about clones being soulless, Billy Phillips of the Kabbalah Center, who practices a form of mystical Judaism, is not concerned about the karma of the cloned individual. "Kabbalah doesn't care about the ethics or morals, doesn't get involved in that," says Phillips. "Kabbalah cares about the connection to the universal energy that connects all reality."
Phillips agrees hat cloning was done long ago. "The Zohar and the Talmud spoke about instances where the kabbalists actually created a Golem using the primordial DNA of the cosmos," says Phillips. "According to Kabbalah, when these Golems were created 2000 years ago, the problem with them was that they were soulless, they didn't have the spark of divinity, the soul. Only man has that."
"Many Kabbalists used the Book of Formation [written by Abraham] to clone and create a calf or a Golem," explains Phillips. "But it's not like anybody off the street could pick up that book and start cloning. You need a high spiritual level. There are built in protections. Tremendous meditative techniques are involved that are almost impossible to achieve."
Phillips sees modern-day cloning as a sign to show people the possibilities. "Cloning is happening today for the same reason why there were more technological advances in the 20th century than in all other centuries combined. It has taken place to help us raise our consciousness to realize that is within the power of a human being to regenerate his body. We re-grow our nails. We re-grow our hair. You should therefore re-grow a kidney. You should re-grow a healthy heart. As we grow spiritually, these blocks are removed which will pave the way for concepts as radical as immortality and regeneration of the human body. But physical cloning will not be the solution; it will have to be within the mind of man."
The Family, formerly known as the Children of God, is a communal Christian group who believe that any of God's creations, including clones, would have a soul. Even so, they are anti-cloning.
"We just believe that it is intruding on God's creation, and man should leave God's creation as it is," says Lonnie Davis, who does public relations for the Family. "In other words, God created man and woman in his own image, and the way he created them is perfect, and the method that he gave them to reproduce is also perfect."
Within all of the controversy surrounding Jesus and cloning--should we clone him, was he a clone, has he already been cloned--The Family (who regularly receives messages from the Messiah) claims to have obtained the last word from Christ himself:
"In this discovery, like so many others, I test and try the hearts of men. I see and know those who would use such things to help and to heal, and I know those who would use these things to hurt and to harm. I also know those whose interest is financial, and who care not whether a thing helps or heals so long as it is profitable. I the Lord see every thought and intent of the heart and mind, and I reward men accordingly. All reap what they sow. Those who do good reap reward, and those who do ill reap judgment. Let those who would meddle with life to harm life or to make merchandise of My creation beware, for they reap to themselves great judgment."
Official Statements From Various Religious Organizations Regarding Cloning
Church of Latter Day Saints
Statement: "The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have declared that 'God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife. We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed.'"
Rabindranatha, head priest of Los Angeles center Krishna: "In our society when a family wants to have children they pray to god to get the blessing of a nice child and raise a god-conscious person like that. If you do something outside of that, who knows what you're gonna get. People have a hard enough time raising children as it is. It will create confusion if someone asks you who's your father, who's your mother. Society is already mixed up as it is, it will just cause more problems."
"There are spirit souls everyplace. The example is given of the earth worm, you got an earthworm and you cut it in two, you immediately have two insects, so what happens is another spirit soul takes advantage of that body at that time and goes in the other part of the worm. Spirit souls are everywhere even in the air there are so many microbes, and according to somebody's karma, they could take place as a clone."
"It's not a matter of are we playing god. Are we creating life? No. Life is everyplace"
Islam Center of Beverly Hills:
Dr. Mirahmadi, the president of the Islam Center: "The souls are all in a garden or something, and when the body formed at 6 weeks then god would call the soul up, 'Mr. X, your body is ready, go down,' and then he goes down and comes to that body."
"Cross gender in Islam is forbidden, if you take the sperm and ovum from two different people you can't do that unless they are married, so cloning is forbidden for humans. The lineage is the most important thing, everyone should know his or her lineage and that's why adoption is forbidden. If you adopt someone you have to adopt them with their name preserved. also sperm banks are forbidden."
Although human cloning is forbidden by Islam if done by humans, Allah will clone humans at the Day of Judgment. "Taking it one step further, they say on the Day of Judgment, how could a person be reproduced? 1400 years ago, 2000 years ago this was impossible to imagine, but now it is very easy to imagine that soul and life when they leave they have the DNA information so they can duplicate you anytime."
"The Church of Scientology is apolitical and would not have an official position on human cloning as a general proposition. However, depending on the uses to which it could be put, it could give rise to some serious potential human rights violations. The Church would oppose the human rights violations without taking a formal position on the technology itself."
"Scientologists believe that people are spiritual beings who inhabit their bodies.Any of these technologies can be used in a positive manner. Afterall, the person is not his body, so it really matters very little how the body was made."
"But these technologies can be abused to create human rights abuses which we would oppose: slave societies, people who are "superior races" because they have been modified genetically, "people" who are grown just for their body parts and who are otherwise kept chained up, "slave" mothers who are kept captive and pregnant with other people's children. Things like that. We would oppose human rights abuses like that very energetically."
"Nothing specific has been found in the bahai writings on genetic engineering, this subject is quite complex, and an informed opinion can be offered only when the scientific understanding is much further advanced than at present and the social implications are clearer with the emergence of adequate understanding, there will also me opportune to deal with the ethical issues involved" spokeswoman: "So our international governing body in the future may make a decision about human cloning but at this time there is none."
The United Christ Church (Rev. Ike):
Spokesperson: "We really don't like to get involved in that kind of thing as far as what's right and what's wrong. We view things a lot differently than most churches. We're into prosperity, everything's good, money, everything was put on this earth for all to enjoy."
"Since God is the Designer and Creator of life, it is fitting to consider what he has in mind respecting the quest for perfection. The Bible book of Genesis says that after creating life on earth, "God saw everything he had made and, look! it was very good." (Genesis 1:13) The first human couple were genetically perfect. It was because they rebelled against God that they brought imperfection and death upon themselves and their offspring--Genesis 3:6, 16-19; Romans 5:12
"Jehovah God wants to see an end to sickness, suffering, and death. Long ago, he made provision to rescue humanity from these problems. The Bible book of Revelation foretells a time when God will intervene in human affairs. Of that time, we read: "[God] will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away." These sweeping changes will not come as a result of the scientific breakthroughs of humans, many of whom do not even admit the existence of God, much less praise him. No, the passage continues: "The One [Jehovah God] seated on the throne said: "Look! I am making all things new."'—Revelation 21:4,5"
(This article first appeared in Mean magazine, April 2001)
Click here to go back to articles page.