The Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission recently posted a video online in which theologian and ethicist Charles Camosy called for the ethical treatment of animals. He argued that people who are “pro-life” should care about “vulnerable” and “voiceless” animals who also deserve dignity.
You may disagree with the sentiment or reasoning, but it’s not that hard to see where he’s coming from. At the very least, it would make for an interesting discussion.
Instead, the ERLC took down the video as if some horrendous mistake was make. (But not before we saved a copy of it.)
Well, it’s one of those more interesting issues that the pro-life movement doesn’t generally take up. But I’ve done a little bit of my own work on this, and I think non-human animals, though obviously not as important as human animals, merit our serious attention.
They’re also vulnerable. They’re also voiceless. They also are pushed to the margins because they’re inconvenient, interestingly, just like prenatal children are.
And there’s a growing number of people who are pro-life in that they’re anti-abortion, but also pro-life in that they want to stand up for the dignity of non-human animals. And that’s a leading edge — a growing edge, if you will — of the pro-life movement in 2018.
See? Was that so controversial?
Yes it was, if you’re the ERLC’s vice president for communications, Daniel Darling, who wrote a post explaining why the video had to come down.
… the views in that video do not reflect the views of ERLC. We believe what the Bible says about the unique dignity of human life. Only humans are created in the image of God. Only humans were described by Scripture as having been sculpted by God from the dust of the ground and knit together in the womb. Only humans are the objects of Christ’s sacrificial love on the cross. This is a particularly embarrassing mistake for me because I just finished writing a book on the image of God that makes the exact opposite argument from the one seen in the video.
To put that another way, suggesting animals should have the same dignity that humans and fetuses do is an affront to God!
Also, it challenges an opinion Darling holds, so it had to go.
While animal rights aren’t a huge issue in evangelical circles, there are a few biblical ways to approach this. Some Christians argue strongly in favor of eating meat, claiming that God gave humans dominion over the Earth, which includes all animals. (It’s why there’s no problem serving meat in the cafeteria at Ark Encounter.) Others, who tend to be at the more liberal end of the spectrum, argue that Christians should eat less meat in order to follow God’s command to be good stewards over the Earth. Also, meat-farming, particularly with cows, produces methane gas, which is one of the biggest catalysts for global warming.
The point is: This isn’t a make-or-break theological issue. It’s an argument that could cut both ways, and Christians of all stripes could easily point to a set of biblical passages to justify their opposing positions. (No surprise there at all.)
It would be interesting to see more Christians engage with this issue — especially those who call themselves “pro-life.” If inflicting needless suffering is wrong, why would hunting for sport be okay? Why eat meat when alternatives are available? On what grounds can conservative Christians argue that taking a morning-after pill is the equivalent of murder but eating a fully-formed animal is perfectly okay?
These are questions worth discussing. It’s too bad the ERLC felt threatened by the possible conversation.
(via the Washington Post)