The animal rights or animal liberation movement is frequently mentioned in the news. It influences many people and organizations, especially government, schools, and businesses. The purpose of this study is to examine the real, fundamental beliefs and goals of the animal rights movement (especially those of PETA), comparing them to the Bible.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), with more than seven hundred thousand members, is the largest animal rights organization in the world. Founded in 1980, PETA is dedicated to establishing and protecting the rights of all animals - PETA web site.
PETA has acted as spokesman for the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), an international underground organization that was founded in England. ALF has claimed responsibility for numerous raids and break-ins in the United States beginning in 1979. It reportedly liberates animals being used for entertainment, food, clothing, or experimental research. ALF has also allegedly issued personal threats to animal researchers and has allegedly set fires, defaced property, destroyed equipment, planted fake bombs, and stolen research videotapes - Clifford Sherry, Animal Rights: A Reference Handbook, pp xi, xii.
[The] books, Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals, by Peter Singer, and The Case for Animal Rights, by Thomas Regan, provide the philosophical basis for the modern animal rights movement - Sherry, p3.
[Note: We here cite the PETA web sites as of 9/2002. Since web sites often change, these quotations may not always be found there.]
Like most liberation movements (women's liberation, children's liberation, etc.), the animal rights movement keeps private its most fundamental beliefs. Publicly it emphasizes views likely to arouse sympathy and acceptance, focusing on extreme abuses. To learn its fundamental beliefs one must dig into communications of sympathizers.
* The basic belief of animal rights activists is "that all human use of animals should stop immediately" - Sherry, p xi.
* "PETA operates under the simple principle that animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment" - PETA web site.
* "Other PETA sites" specify that they oppose wearing anything from animals, including fur or leather. They oppose all experimentation on animals for medical or any other purposes. They oppose all eating of animal products including, not just meat, fish, and chicken, but also eggs, milk, and dairy products. They advocate complete vegetarianism. They oppose all use of animals in entertainment, including zoos, circuses, rodeos, and movies. (See list of web sites on PETA site.) But there is much more.
* Many people think PETA is an animal welfare agency, like a humane shelter, seeking simply to protect animals from mistreatment. Animal rights advocates completely reject such views, referring to them as merely "animal welfare." "Animal welfare" would sacrifice animal interests to achieve justifiable "human benefits." But animal liberation views animals as having rights, which cannot be sacrificed regardless of the benefit to humans - FAQ from PETA web site.
* Ingrid Newkirk, a founder of PETA, said: "Animal liberationists do not separate out the human animal, so there is no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights. A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They are all mammals" - Vogue, 9/89 (via Sherry, p xiii).
* Alex Pacheco, also a PETA founder, said: "We feel that animals have the same rights as a retarded human child" - New York Times, 1/14/89 (via Sherry, p. xiii).
* Extremists in the movement go still further. ALF member Tim Daley says the animal rights struggle is like a war, so "you have to take up arms and people will get killed" - Sherry, p xiv.
So you cannot "own" an animal any more than you would "own" a person - that would be slavery. You cannot use an animal against its will for any purpose any more than you would a person. You cannot keep an animal captive against its will. (The logical consequence - even though many animal libbers are inconsistent and do not accept the consequence - is that you could not even keep an animal as a "pet," any more than you would keep a person captive as a pet.)
So the old question, "Am I a man or a mouse?" is appropriate to ask animal liberators! They see a man as essentially no different from a mouse: "a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy." A mouse should be treated by the same rules as a man, so Animal Liberators do not know the difference between a man and a mouse!
Animal liberation was unheard of before the 1970's. It could thrive only in an urban society, where children grow up thinking meat, fish, chicken, eggs, and milk just come from the store.
For example, a man told me his wife objected to his hunting for meat; she wanted to just buy their meat at the store. Either way the meat comes from an animal that had to be killed!
In our rural society, prior to the 1950's, most people hunted or grew up on farms or personally knew people who did. They witnessed animals being raised for food and clothing as a necessary and important part of life. Only a change to an urban society could lead people to think otherwise.
As a matter of personal opinion or preference, many of us might agree with some animal rights views. We may oppose some extreme forms of animal abuse. We may prefer a vegetarian diet for health or other reasons. We may promote animal welfare, as secondary to human welfare. But none of that is the issue here.
The essential point is that animal rights groups say all these are issues of morality and ethics - right or wrong. Note some quotations from PETA web sites (emphasis added):
* PETA stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. ("Ethical" by definition refers to "principles of morality; pertaining to right or wrong conduct.")
* "From a moral standpoint, actions that harm others are not matters of personal choice. Murder, child abuse, and cruelty to animals are all immoral."
* "The point is not whether animal experimentation can be useful to animals or humans; the point is that we do not have the moral right to inflict unnecessary suffering on those who are at our mercy."
* "Most of us would agree that harming a dog or cat is unethical -- unChristian even ... harming any living being, including cows, chickens, pigs, and fishes, is equally immoral."
* "Humans are playing God with animals, and ethical people should have no part in it."
* "... eating animals, war, slavery, polygamy, animal sacrifice, and other practices that most people find immoral..."
* "...actions that are inherently unchristian..."
So real animal liberators see opposing viewpoints, not as personal choice, but as unethical, immoral, playing God, unChristian, and morally wrong. They liken such views to murder, child abuse, war, and polygamy. That is the position we examine here.
The real leaders of the animal rights movement acknowledge that their views are not based on the Bible.
Some adherents claim Bible authority for their views, but the philosophical leaders make no such claim.
Singer and Regan, who wrote the main books defending animal rights, both "base their positions on modern secular reasons and eschew arguments based on religious suppositions" - Sherry, p4.
Singer subtitled his book "A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals." If it is "new," then it is not the Biblical ethic, which has been here for thousands of years.
So animal liberation is a view of morality based on human wisdom, not on religion or the Bible.
Bible believers reject human wisdom and recognize the Bible as the only standard of right and wrong.
2 Timothy 3:16,17 - The Scriptures inspired by God instruct in righteousness and provide to all good works.
Jeremiah 10:23 - The way of man is not in himself.
Proverbs 14:12 - Ways that seem right to man end up in death.
Galatians 1:8,9 - Any doctrine different from the gospel is accursed.
2 John 9-11 - If we don't abide in Christ's doctrine, we have not God.
Bible inspiration is validated by fulfilled prophecy, eyewitness testimony of miracles and the resurrection, etc. But examining that evidence is beyond the scope of this study.
Human wisdom contradicts the Bible, but animal liberation is based on human wisdom. So we should expect animal liberation to contradict Biblical teaching on many basic points.
[Colossians 3:17; 1 Cor. 1:18-25; Revelation 22:18,19; 1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:13 Matthew 15:9,13; Prov. 3:5,6]
Do animals have rights like people do, or are humans superior to animals? Are we created in the image of God, so we have dominion over animals?
May people own, control, and confine animals? May we use them as property? May we make clothing from leather and fur? What about hunting, fishing, trapping, and farming?
Is it moral and ethical for people to eat meat, fish, and poultry? What about eggs and dairy products? Was Jesus a vegetarian? Does the Bible permit meat eating or does it require vegetarianism?
How do PETA and Animal Liberation leaders view religion and the Bible? Is the Bible an infallible, absolute standard of morals and ethics, or should we follow man-made morality and ethical views?
We encourage you to study all these informative articles.
Note: For evidence that God exists, the Bible is God's Divine revelation, and Jesus is God's Son, please consider our extensive articles of evidences. Click on this link: Evidences for God, Jesus, & the Bible
Copyright 2003, David E. Pratte
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