Christians Role in Ethical Research


The modern day corrosive social and political climate has influenced researchers to apply crooked unethical methods when conducting their research. While it is ethical to conduct field experiments, some scholars have overlooked research bioethics that dictate what research activities are right and wrong. For instance, during World War 2, a physician used Jewish captives to determine the efficiency of their war machinery. Similarly, clinical research involving experiments on human participants raised concerns on what is right to do when conducting research involving human subjects[1]. Christian teachings have been considered as the basis upon which ethical codes may be drawn for public policy research. In many cases, biblical scriptures are applied to guide humans on what is wrong and right. Romans 13:1-2 says: “Obey the government, for God is the One who has put it there. There is no government anywhere that God has not placed in power. So those who refuse to obey the law of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow[2]. This serves to direct people to obey laws put in place and failure to do so results in dire consequences.

General Ethical Concerns in Research

Major international and legislation note informed consent, confidentiality, and research misconduct among others as key ethical issues affecting public policy researchers[3]. Any research aims to impact the real world; however, scholars have little oversight of their experiments. For this reason, several political and social researchers tend to use human subjects as a source of data to provide research guidance[4]. The law dictates that researchers using human subjects bear the responsibility to protect their life, health, uphold confidentiality of personal information, and handle test subjects with respect and dignity. Despite this, the media has confirmed cases of research misconduct where researchers have violated the principle of informed consent. The International Conference on Harmonization of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (ICH) defines informed consent as “a process by which a subject voluntarily confirms his or her willingness to participate in a particular trial, after having been informed of all aspects of the trial that are relevant to the subject’s decision to participate”[5]. [6]For instance, the Tuskegee Syphilis study and the Milgram’s Obedience to Authority were regarded as scandals of human research since the reported participants claimed they had not obliged to be part of the research. Likewise, a field experiment in Montana spurred controversies when participants were hardly aware that they were part of an election study.

“We genuinely regret that it was sent and we ask Montana voters to ignore the mailer,”. “The informational mailer was part of an independent study by political science professors to determine whether voters who are given more information are more likely to vote. The mailer was not affiliated with any political party, candidate, or organization, and was not intended to influence any race.”

This risks people’s live and may cause harm to both the researchers and alleged supporters.

The Belmort report provides a model using three ethical principles to minimize ethical issues in research[7]. The report framework dictates that researchers should embrace respect for human subjects and acknowledge their freewill to participate or decline participation in the research. For those willing to assist with research activities, the researchers must uphold beneficence and do not expose subjects to harm. [8]Lastly, mistreatment of subjects through insufficient informed consent, failure to confidentiality, or deception is illegal.

Christian Role versus Secular Counterparts

Christianity is recognized as a source of value and ethical codes. Ideally, people turn to religion in instances of moral chaos. With respect to ethical issues in research, Christians have a moral duty to ensure public policy researchers understand the value of human beings especially those involving human test subjects[9]. The foundation of Christian life: the teachings of Jesus Christ: emphasize the dignity of human as a pinnacle of God’s creation. Genesis 1:26-27 “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth[10]. According to the Christian worldview, humans are inviolable beings created in the likeness of God. Additionally, man are distinct creatures from animals; therefore, treating them without value in research is unethical.

The new testament further explores how human should show love to one another and treat each other fairly[11]. [12]Mathew 7:12 “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also for them for this is the law…” In this regard, Christianity gives researchers a basis for morality when using human subjects. In contrast, secular counterparts such as scientism and materialism tell researchers what they can do and how to do it efficiently but disregard the ethical basis of whether you have to do it[13]. Research identifies that scientism bases its moralities from differing assumptions of the big question; on the other hand, materialism initiates soft relativism in a highly moral community committed to fair human rights and justice for the disadvantaged[14].

How Christian Ethics Impact Public Policy Researchers.

The Christianity moral foundation directs professionals’ general life principles of right and wrong besides their careers. [15]2 Timothy 3:15 “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work”. As a public policy analyst believing in the Christian faith, Christian teachings are likely to enlighten me on moral intuitions about human rights. Additionally, showing love and care to human subjects during research fosters cooperation, trust, and long-term partnerships built on respect that may advance my vocation.


Evidently, Christian teachings provide the society with moral basis of what is wrong and right in life. For public policy researchers, biblical scriptures confirm the value of following ethical principles especially when dealing with human subjects. In this relation, researchers are able to understand their subjects through demonstrating humane gestures, attain cooperation and credible research results.