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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Schism Sunday Vol. VI: Animal Rights

That's me participating in a traditional Maasai dance
When I was in Tanzania I learned about the strict hunting laws they had in place to protect the animals. To be able to kill an animal you had to pay the government large fees and then hire a legal hunting guide to take you in their 4 wheel drive Jeep with your big guns to shoot old or injured animals. Then you take pictures with them and if you’re a big spender you might have the animal stuffed. But that is the extent of legalized hunting. Poaching is illegal and punishable with fines or jail time. The native pastoral tribes that are allowed to continue to live in the “conservation” areas are considered poachers if they kill an animal and feed it to their families. The Maasai, Tatoga, Hazabe and other tribes are allowed to continue to live traditionally if they follow certain mandates. They must send their children to school, they can only plant a 1 hector garden, they can’t burn the prairie grass, they can only herd their cattle in certain places, and they aren’t allowed to hunt. This pretty much means that these people are usually malnourished and struggle to survive. But we can rest assured that the animals are protected. We must save the animals.

As Christians should we be committed to animal rights? What exactly is the right of an animal and can these rights be found in any constitution? Should we support the cause of humane treatment of animals? Can we treat animals, which are not human, humanely? What does humane treatment of animals look like exactly?
Did this monkey deserve this "research"?
If you are an eater of tasty animals who believes in the Word of God how do we become stewards of this earth and all that roam it? Should we be allowed to use animals for research? Using animals for research has allowed medical advances in horrendous diseases, it is also cheaper to use rodent models instead of attempting to grow a human cell line, and of course it is safer to try drugs on animals than on people. But what about cosmetics or other consumer researchers? What about researchers who abuse their authority? And what about the production of meat? In the US we like to squeeze a lot of cattle onto small plots of land where they shit on each other and breed super forms of E.coli that are harmful if consumed by humans. We also have streamlined the killing and butchering of cattle in the name of profit. We are full of beefy goodness while the skinny cattle of Africa and Asia do little to provide sustenance to the people there.

So chime in, what are your views on animal rights? Should we strive to protect animals? Are you a card holding member of PETA? Should we be concerned with how animals are killed or just enjoy our summer barbecues?

Delicious animals cooked over fire. YUM.

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