Six Billion Chickens

The animal rights movement

Part one of a two part series by Dave Matherson

Have you ever
gone to the circus

Roll over Marx and Lenin!

Most people "love" animals...

God's intent has
always been for
man to show kindness
to animals...

"A rat is a pig
is a dog is a boy."

...animal idolatory...

In other words
man is superior
to the animals.

Man's rebellion against God takes many forms, but as king Solomon once observed, "There is nothing new under the sun." Such is the case with the environmental and animal "rights" movements that have captured a growing amount of media attention over the past two decades. These trendy and fashionable causes are really little more than a modern day manifestation of a sin that is rooted in antiquity, but they do threaten to further undermine the already eroded Christian foundations of our culture.

Environmental extremism and the animal "rights" movement are closely linked in terms of their core beliefs. While environmentalism encompasses a broad spectrum of issues, animal rights deals with only one: the relation between human beings and animals. This essay deals with the animal rights movement (really a movement within a movement), and in this first of a two part series, we'll look at the philosophy, origins, and influence of animal rights. In part two, we'll examine the movement's tactics and the inroads it has made in our culture.

Have you ever gone to the circus...?
Let me begin by asking you a few personal questions. (Don't be shy!) Have you ever gone to the circus or rodeo with your family? Do you own or wear leather belts, shoes, wallets, or purses? What about a fur coat or a parka with a fur-lined hood? Ever visited the zoo? Do you eat meat, poultry, or fish? What about honey or dairy products? Do you own pets of any sort? Do you ever wear clothing made of wool, silk, or goose down? Do you take comfort in swallowing a prescription knowing it was tested on a lab animal and found to be safe for humans before the pharmacist dispensed it to you? are a primitive, arrogant, cruel, barbaric, murdering "speciesist,"

If you answered "yes" to any of the above, the animal "rights" movement would like you to know that you are a sick, exploitive, bloodthirsty person. Furthermore, you are a primitive, arrogant, cruel, barbaric, murdering "speciesist," not fit to lick the boots of a crustacean. Such kind words of encouragement are actually just a collection of animal rights rhetoric seen frequently in their publications and literature and used regularly against their enemies - namely, you and me.
Sounds a bit strong, doesn't it? It's the sort of ranting and raving you would expect from some fringe radical refugees from the 60s; greying hippy-dips that burnt-out a few too many brain cells on their last trip. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The grass roots popularity of the animal rights movement continues to grow rapidly with each passing year; it attracts a broad cross-section of society, and it is highly organized, heavily financed, and politically sophisticated.

Roll-over Marx and Lenin!
The membership of the larger animal rights groups is widely diversified and includes the young, the not so young, blue collar workers, professionals, the unemployed, politicians, and (surprise!) Hollywood celebrities. Did you ever wonder what became of the left wing "intelligentsia" following the humiliating collapse of the Soviet Union and its Communist puppet states? Well, they are alive and well, and they are continuing to promote the Communist ideals of state control over resources. The only things that have changed are the terminology they use, and the names of the organizations they belong to. Roll over Marx and Lenin! Today's trendy and leftist causes are animal rights and radical environmentalism.

Just how large and influential has the animal rights movement become? In the United States alone, it is estimated that there are over 7000 different animal rights advocacy groups. About 56 of these groups maintain fully staffed offices in Washington, D.C. to lobby and harass federal politicians. These offices employ over 700 people, and have a combined annual budget in excess of 219 million dollars. Some animal rights groups even employ professional fund-raising firms from New York and Los Angeles and spend over a million dollars annually on advertising alone. The largest North American animal rights group is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (P.E.T.A.), which boasts a membership of over 350,000 people, an annual budget of over eight million dollars, and 65 full-time staff.

Most people "love" animals...
What is it about the animal rights movement that makes it so attractive to so many people? Most people "love" animals to varying degrees and hate the thought of them being treated with cruelty or violence. Animal rights groups are very aware of the public's emotional attachment to animals, and they exploit this fully, using emotive visual imagery whenever possible. A favourite tactic is to orchestrate or stage media "events." Seldom do reporters criticize or ask probing questions, let alone conduct anything that even remotely resembles investigative journalism. The "enemies" of animals are usually portrayed in the worst possible light: medical researchers are caricatured as "mad scientists who torture animals"; hunters as "bloodthirsty savages"; and the animal rights supporters are, of course, portrayed as righteous crusaders valiantly striving to save innocent animals.

From infancy, the animal rights movement seemed to realize that in order to gain popularity and public acceptance for their off-beat philosophies, they would need to associate themselves with the well-established and respectable animal welfare groups. In so doing, they spread the deception that animal "rights" are the same as animal welfare. The two are actually quite distinct and separate. Historically, animal welfare advocacy groups originated in England during the 19th century and appeared later in North America. Their goals were admirable and, more importantly, Biblically-based. These included encouraging the humane treatment of farm animals, monitoring the treatment of performing (i.e., circus or racetrack) animals, eliminating unnecessary laboratory testing, and neutering or spaying shelter animals.

God's intent has always been for man to show kindness to animals...
It should be clear that as Christians, we can and should embrace the concept of animal welfare. In Genesis 2:15, God gave what was Adam's first job and mankind's first responsibility. This was to "tend and keep" the garden of Eden, and it included responsible stewardship of all the resources God placed in the garden, whether plant or animal. Clearly, man was not to make unethical use of, waste, or despoil God's creation. God's intent has always been for man to show kindness to animals, as is revealed in His law: domestic animals were to share in the rewards of the harvest (Deut 25:4), to be included in the weekly Sabbath rest (Ex 23:12 and Lev 25:5-7), and to be treated with respect (Prov 12:10). Men were forbidden to kill both the mother and young of a wild animal together, apparently to prevent the destruction of an entire species (Deut 22:6-7).

"...animal rights activists ... takeover...

In what proved to be an excellent strategy, animal rights activists set out to takeover the old established animal welfare groups. First to fall, was the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection. Over 200 animal rights activists arrived by bus at one of the annual general meetings and voted in their own slate of "rights" activists. They not only acquired a respectable organization to hide behind, but a group with lots of cash in its coffers. Corporate takeover methods have since been used by "rights" activists to acquire effective control over other welfare groups such as The Humane Society and The New England Anti-Vivisection League.

There are, however, some voices of truth and sanity speaking into this issue. Putting People First (PPF) is a non-profit, grassroots organization founded by Kathleen Marquardt in 1990 and is dedicated to opposing anti-human animal "rights," and environmental extremism. Although a very young organization, PPF has compiled an impressive list of victories in the political, legislative, and media arenas. PPF is an ardent supporter of animal welfare and conservation; they oppose animal abuse and environmental destruction. However, according to Marquardt, "People just don't understand how dangerous, how radical the animal extremists are. They're not reformers. They're abolitionists, revolutionaries... they say humans have no right to exploit animals. Animal extremists lie. They're out to brainwash the American public, and they're succeeding. They use terrorist tactics. They make death threats against their opponents, such as scientists who conduct medical research on animals. I've received lots of death threats from them myself."

Even a cursory look through the literature published by animal rights groups validates what Marquardt says. Consider the following sample of statements made by the founders of two of the largest and most high profile animal rights groups:

"A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy." (Ingrid Newkirk, co-founder of P.E.T.A.)
"I would not knowingly have an animal hurt for me, or my children, or anyone else." (Cleveland Amory, founder of The Fund for Animals, when asked on the Larry King Live Show if he would kill a lamb in order to get insulin needed to save his own child's life, who was dying of diabetes.)
"Six million people died in concentration camps, but six billion chickens will die this year in slaughterhouses." (Ingrid Newkirk)

These statements reveal the foundations of the animal rights movement. It is the belief that animals have the same feelings, motivations, and inalienable rights as humans do. Animals are in every way of equal "worth" to humans, and the death of a rat or slug is just as tragic and significant as the death of a child.

...animal idolatry...
Not only is this philosophy disgustingly anti-human, it is also defiantly anti-God. The animal rights movement is little more than a modern version of the animal idolatry that has flourished for thousands of years. Surely our modern animal worshippers are aptly described by the Apostle Paul when he wrote of men "whose foolish hearts have become darkened," and who have "exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator...." (Rom 1:25). Fallen man has always elevated God's creation to the level of deity, worshipping the image of animals molded or carved into idols.

In other words, man is superior to the animals.
In the dominion mandate, God declares that man is to "rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." In other words, man is superior to the animals. Of all the life-forms God created, man alone was made in His image. Man is the crown of God's creation: he is not merely one creature among many, but rather is distinct from the rest of creation. He has been placed in a position of rulership.

The animal rights movement is at war with the Creator and His order in creation; it seeks to overturn the dominion mandate and reduce man to the level of an animal. It will not succeed, for our Lord rules in the midst of His enemies.
Originally published in U-TURN

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