Sunday, April 01, 2007

A question that needs a better answer

In the current issue of Best Friends magazine, Best Friends Animal Society executive director Paul Berry asks a question I asked in this blog a year and a half ago: "Why don't churches preach compassion for animals?" The answer of course, isn't that obscure: To do so would require church members to oppose factory farming, change their diets, spay and neuter their pets, and take a close look at the use of laboratory animals. That would make them "extremists" or "crazy" as those of us involved in animal liberation are called on a daily basis.

Says Berry, "...the churches continue to treat concern for animals as a non-issue. Worse yet, the world of animal "rights" is often shunned by the evangelical movement as being "liberal"--even atheistic."

Berry also mentions Matthew Scully, George W. Bush's former speechwriters, who wrote Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy. What a pity that this book isn't a vital part of church study groups.

8 Comments:

With the exception of the Seventh Day Adventists, of course, who often provide small town America with its only vegetarian products in their shops.

By Anonymous KathyF, at 1:30 AM  

There's also the problem that including animals in the sphere of moral obligation raises awkward questions about the relationship between humans and animals, and between humans and God.

The strongest argument for animal rights is that animals are moral persons - that they have moral interests that deserve to be recognized within our code of moral behavior, that harming them is not just a misuse of property but a moral transgression against the animal in its own right. This line, or some variation of it, is that taken by Peter Singer (regarded as the philosophical voice of the animal-rights movement) and hard-line animal activist groups such as PETA.

Accepting that claim raises all sorts of problems for conservative Christians: it suggests that humans aren't unique in their relationship to God, but share their moral status (supposedly granted by God) with animals; it implicitly strengthens the evolutionary perspective on human history (since it is physiological capacities that they share with humans - sentience and intelligence - that give animals their moral standing); it implicitly strengthens the liberal case on all the hot-button "ends of life" issues - embryos, abortion, terminal care, euthanasia - by elevating mental capacities over species membership as a criterion of moral personhood. In addition, of course, there are all the practical inconveniences you note.

It is obviously these concerns that lead Scully to formulate his argument in terms of mercy on the part of humans, not moral rights on the part of animals. But mercy is a highly porous sentiment - Christians are well-practiced in overcoming the obligation of mercy in the cases of capital punishment, war, "terrorism", and so forth. Admitting animals to the ranks of those protected by the moral absolutes of ethics generally is probably a more likely means of securing their welfare, but, as noted above, comes at a cost for those who are ideologically committed to seeing humans as unique, and moral status as descending by fiat, not arising from internal capacity.

By Blogger Kevin T. Keith, at 12:49 PM  

You are absolutely right. It still amazes me, though, that groups such as Farm Sanctuary, HSUS and PETA are considered "hard-line." Of course, PETA gets all the mud slung at it, but all three groups, plus DDAL, have the same values.

By Blogger Diane, at 1:44 PM  

Coincidentally, I just spotted this post on a liberal message board:

It's sad when people treat animals as the moral equal to people....

... it points to the existence of a gaping lack in their lives.

By Blogger Diane, at 2:30 PM  

michael kors handbags, kate spade, nike air max, michael kors outlet online, nike air max, replica watches, cheap oakley sunglasses, uggs on sale, louis vuitton outlet online, ralph lauren outlet, ralph lauren polo, ray ban sunglasses, michael kors outlet online, michael kors outlet, burberry factory outlet, burberry outlet, oakley sunglasses, louboutin uk, nike outlet, uggs on sale, oakley sunglasses, tiffany jewelry, cheap jordans, tiffany jewelry, prada handbags, michael kors outlet store, louis vuitton, longchamp bags, louis vuitton outlet, gucci handbags, oakley sunglasses, louis vuitton handbags, christian louboutin, louboutin shoes, tory burch outlet, christian louboutin, prada outlet, oakley sunglasses, michael kors, uggs on sale, longchamp outlet, uggs outlet, ray ban sunglasses, uggs outlet, replica watches, nike free

By Blogger oakleyses, at 9:49 PM  

coach outlet, new balance, louboutin pas cher, polo lacoste pas cher, nike roshe run pas cher, lululemon outlet, true religion jeans, coach purses, coach outlet, sac guess pas cher, vanessa bruno pas cher, polo ralph lauren uk, kate spade outlet, nike free, burberry pas cher, longchamp pas cher, nike air max, true religion outlet, nike tn pas cher, hollister uk, michael kors, michael kors, north face pas cher, true religion outlet, timberland pas cher, coach outlet store online, nike air max uk, north face uk, nike free pas cher, abercrombie and fitch, hermes pas cher, vans pas cher, converse, mulberry uk, abercrombie and fitch UK, jordan pas cher, nike air max pas cher, michael kors outlet online, nike roshe uk, michael kors uk, ray ban uk, true religion outlet, lunette oakley pas cher, lunette ray ban pas cher, nike air max uk

By Blogger oakleyses, at 9:52 PM  

new balance shoes, iphone cases, asics running shoes, babyliss pro, ipad cases, mac cosmetics, s6 cases, nfl jerseys, salvatore ferragamo, iphone 6 cases, abercrombie, iphone 5s cases, mont blanc, bottega veneta, softball bats, reebok outlet, oakley, insanity workout, soccer jerseys, soccer shoes, nike air huarache, celine handbags, nike roshe run, instyler ionic styler, nike air max, beats by dre, hermes handbags, jimmy choo outlet, iphone 6s plus cases, herve leger, abercrombie and fitch, giuseppe zanotti, mcm handbags, iphone 6s cases, ghd hair, hollister clothing, nike trainers uk, louboutin, longchamp uk, p90x workout, iphone 6 plus cases, polo ralph lauren, north face outlet, chi flat iron, vans outlet, valentino shoes, lululemon outlet, wedding dresses, timberland boots, north face outlet

By Blogger oakleyses, at 9:56 PM  

swarovski jewelry, thomas sabo uk, lancel, moncler jackets, michael kors outlet, sac louis vuitton, louis vuitton uk, canada goose, swarovski uk, louis vuitton, vans scarpe, gucci, canada goose uk, links of london uk, wedding dresses uk, ugg pas cher, michael kors handbags, karen millen uk, pandora jewelry, pandora uk, nike air max, louis vuitton, bottes ugg pas cher, hollister, ugg uk, barbour jackets uk, canada goose pas cher, coach outlet, sac louis vuitton, juicy couture outlet, montre pas cher, supra shoes, ray ban, moncler outlet, pandora jewelry, moncler, doke & gabbana, moncler, canada goose, replica watches, toms shoes, juicy couture outlet, moncler uk, barbour, michael kors outlet online, moncler, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, converse shoes outlet, moncler, marc jacobs, ugg,uggs,uggs canada

By Blogger oakleyses, at 10:02 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home