Opinion

Animal Liberationists Celebrate Lent By Twisting Religion

Will Coggin Senior Research Analyst, Center for Consumer Freedom

For Christians, the period preceding Easter — known as Lent — is a time for reflection and self-reform. For radical animal liberation activists, however, it’s a convenient excuse to twist religion to call for the faithful to become vegan. In an op-ed published in papers across the country, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) Director of Christian Outreach and Engagement makes the case that “Lent is an ideal time to start that journey” toward veganism.

This is only a part of PETA’s longstanding campaign to manipulate religion in the service of its agenda that holds that animals and humans should have equal rights. In addition to dragging Jesus — who, let us recall, is said to have divided not only loaves but also fishes among his followers to eat — into the ranks of the vegans, PETA has falsely claimed that Judaism, Islam, and other faiths require honest followers to give up animal use.

As appalling as twisting doctrine in the service of political ends may be, it isn’t the worst sin against the faithful that PETA or HSUS have committed. One PETA campaign equated the suffering and genocide of the Jewish people and other victims of Nazi crimes against humanity with the “plight” of livestock and poultry animals that farmers raise to feed us. The campaign was condemned universally by civic organizations, and European nations.

That might be off-putting to most, but it wasn’t a black mark for the guy responsible for PETA’s despicable propaganda. He was hired by PETA’s big brother, the Humane Society of the United States, which is more of a PETA clone than a pet-shelter group.

HSUS has its own religious outreach program, designed to manipulate religious teaching in the service of the group’s agenda. Cleverly, it has adapted Christian terminology, urging people to live with “compassion.”

But what does that actually mean?

PETA and HSUS talk a big game about animal welfare, but their attacks on religious beliefs and basic human decency show that they only have one goal in mind. Both organizations want to eliminate the use of animals by humans for food, fiber, and recreation. Both believe that that humans and animals are morally equal.

That runs at odds with what religions teach. The Catholic Church quite forthrightly says “[I]t is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals is a morally acceptable practice if it remains within reasonable limits and contributes to caring for or saving human lives.”

The view that using animals for human benefit is acceptable is not unique to Catholicism or Christianity. In Islam, the Qur’an explicitly permits eating meat and using animals for transportation. Jewish practice presumes the morality of eating meat: A roasted lamb or goat bone is presented on the traditional Passover Seder plate as a symbol of the ancient Temple, and kosher laws detail numerous rules for the handling and preparation of meat and dairy foods.

These tenets aren’t compatible with animal rights ideology. PETA’s leader, for example, holds that the group would be against animal research even if it cured AIDS. HSUS has the same goals as PETA of animal “liberation” and is against the use of animals for food, fiber, and recreation — essentially undercutting the principle of man’s dominion.

Animal rights activists have no moral high ground. Not only would their philosophies harm humans, but they don’t abide by principles of ethics or compassion. PETA notoriously slaughters pets by the thousands at its headquarters, a longstanding open dirty secret. Of the pets that have the misfortune of being handed over to or picked up by PETA in a given year, up to 97 percent can end up dead by PETA’s hands. PETA recently found itself in trouble for stealing and killing a healthy family pet off of someone’s front porch.

When animal rights activists come to churches to preach about “compassionate living,” it’s important to remember the implications of what they’re saying. And if these animal liberationists were really interested in the spirit of Lent, rather than using it as a cudgel against those who eat burgers, they could try 40 days without the offensive propaganda.

Will Coggin is the director of research for the Center for Consumer Freedom.