Slowly, yet ever so steadily, the animal rights movement continues to influence how you raise your animals. The movement, now decades old, has raised the level of concern for animal welfare on nearly every livestock operation in the U.S. Indeed, we must consider that a good thing.
But make no mistake, the goal of most animal rights organizations—including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)—is to end food animal production. That’s why it is critical for you to recognize the movement’s incremental successes as mere strides toward their ultimate goal.
In recent months activists have been buoyed by statements from religious leaders they see as support for their cause. Pope Francis, for instance, issued an encyclical in June calling on the faithful and world leaders to reduce pollution and human impact on the environment. Addressing the United Nations in September, Pope Francis encouraged leaders to choose environmental justice over a “boundless thirst for power and material prosperity.”
A more direct assault on your business came from a group of evangelical Christian leaders in late September. They launched an initiative—Every Living Thing—which seeks the “protection and preservation of all the kinds of animals God has created, while prioritizing human needs.” It’s a year-long effort to “engage Christians” in what they described as a “biblical mandate to care for animals.”
Such statements from religious leaders may seem benign at first glance. After all, they probably coincide with your moral and ethical obligations to care for your animals. Yet the forces behind the evangelical animal welfare campaign represent the reddest of flags for all livestock producers.
The evangelical animal welfare initiative is a result of a 2011 meeting of faith leaders organized by HSUS. Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and CEO, wrote in a blog post, “The plan is to appeal to evangelical leaders throughout the nation to sign on to the statement, so that we can develop a consensus among Christians on the need for human responsibility toward animals.”
The very day the Every Living Thing initiative was unveiled, USA Today columnist Kirsten Powers, an evangelical Christian, wrote the “added voice of America’s 100 million evangelicals in (animal’s) defense could be a game changer” for the animal welfare movement.
“Make no mistake,” Powers wrote. “The brutal, torturous treatment of animals as they are raised to provide food is a real evil that demands confrontation.”
That statement provides the smoking gun. Powers clearly believes you are “evil” for the “brutal and torturous” way you raise the animals in your care. And it was no accident Powers’ column coincided with the announcement of Every Living Thing. It was orchestrated by HSUS—just as clearly as they orchestrated the meeting of evangelical leaders four years earlier.
Inch by inch, HSUS and their ilk are creeping into American society. Their message is often subtle, though always with the ultimate goal in mind: end animal agriculture.
Speak with your church and religious leaders and let them know you oppose this thinly-veiled assault on your farm or ranch. Speak out against false prophets who charge you with animal torture yet have never sat all night with a calving heifer or chopped ice during a blizzard so God’s creatures could drink.