Secrets of the Witherspoon Gang

Most of you know about the 2 scientists who for their own reasons want to kill embryonic stem cell (ESC) research and with it the hopes for millions of people.

Relatively new on most of our radar screens, however, is an extremist right-wing “think tank” called The Witherspoon Institute/Council, which I refer to as the “Witherspoon Gang” because of their negative, yet powerful agenda.

You know how some “elite” fraternities are in college are very snobby? These Witherspooners are basically a grown up snobby anti-stem cell fraternity.

I blogged about them recently and you can read that post for background.

More research on the Witherspoon Gang has unearthed some interesting nuggets that you need to know.

Their leadership includes many lawyers who also have strong interests in religion, particularly Catholicism, and numerous links to the Vatican.

The Witherspooners have extreme ring-wing views including challenging the authority of the Supreme Court (recall Newt Gingrich recently saying if he was president and the Supreme Court made a ruling he disagreed with that he’d simply ignore them).

They are strongly opposed to equal rights for gays.

They appear in favor of giving human rights to 1-celled fertilized eggs and support the same wildly radical ideals of the Personhood Movement.

And not surprisingly, given them being supporters of the two scientists suing the government to block funding of ESC research, the Witherspooners are against ESC research.

What makes the Witherspoon Gang different than many other extremist groups that are opposed to ESC research such as the notoriously flaky Family Research Council (FRC) is that the Witherspoons have heavy-duty academic credentials.

Unfortunately both groups also appear to have deep pockets with the FRC funded by Blackwater of Iraq infamy. For reference, Blackwater has changed its name to try to escape its black history and is now called “Xe Services LLC”. But just 2 months ago Xe changed its name again to put further distance between it and its terrible past, now Blackwater is called “Academi”.

Where is the money coming from that supports the Witherspoon gang? Some comes from anonymous donors (read deep pockets) that we will never know, but it is also supported by ultra-right wing groups including the Bradley Foundation (which reportedly gives away $30 million a year to conservative groups) and the John M. Olin Foundation, amongst others.

One take home message from this research is that there is a big money pipeline feeding the opponents of ESC research. Big as in $10s of millions. 

On our side, however, we are mostly a ragtag band of volunteers with some exceptions such as the GPI founded and run by friend Bernie Siegel.

But overall, where are the foundations and monetary support out there to defend ESC research?

With anti-hope groups like FRC and the Witherspoon Gang rolling in dough, the pro-cures movement cannot continue running on fumes. We need philanthropy and we need it now. It’s time to reach out for help. Ideas?

 

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