Whose God and Whose Stewardship?

Published on: 14:14PM Apr 23, 2009

During World War II, the Wehrmacht soldiers often sported a belt buckle with the phrase “Gott Mit Uns,” which means God Is With Us.  Even though the Nazi regime was officially atheistic, they weren’t above proclaiming that God was on their side as they conducted an unholy rampage across Europe.


We saw that same type of religious fervor in the attitudes of the 9/11 hijackers, who apparently were convinced that killing thousands with weapons of mass destruction was part of their God’s plan.


And now we come to Rush Limbaugh, the Humane Society of the U.S., and modern agriculture.  As I recently blogged about, there are certain people who care deeply about where their food comes from, and how it was raised.  For those who, for whatever religious or philosophical reason, choose not to consume animal products, well, bless their hearts.  It’s a free country. 


But freedom of thought and freedom of choice shouldn’t be confused with the right to play fast and free with the facts, and co-opt the scripture to support such a perspective.  Unfortunately, that’s what seems to have happened recently with Mr. Conservative Talk Radio himself, Rush Limbaugh, who basically endorsed the Human Society’s perspective that animal agriculture today is a violation of God’s law. 


The source for this opinion, apparently, is a recent book by former Bush Administration speechwriter Matthew Scully, who in Dominion, asserts that livestock production today violates religious edicts to be good stewards of all the Earth and its creatures.  Limbaugh is exceedingly generous when he says that the Humane Society deserves credit for its support of “traditional values” and “morality” as it bonds with faith-based organizations that support the rights of animals and believe in stewardship. 


I can say without hesitation that every dairy farm I’ve visited seriously believes in the concept of stewardship of his/her herd.  This doesn’t necessarily mean treating them as pets, giving them names, or imbuing them with anthropomorphic qualities.  They are animals, not two-dimensional, four-legged copies of people.  But having well-treated cows is good business, common sense, and is mutually beneficial for both farmer and the farm animals.  That is the essence of faithful stewardship, and it is both preached and practiced daily on farms of all sizes in America.


Are there occasional bad apples in the farming community?  Obviously, we’re not all saints, regardless of our vocation.  But the truth – if the truth truly will make us free – is that farmers don’t need lectures from disingenuous animal rights activitists, with their distortions and phony rhetoric, nor do they need lectures on what’s moral from talk show hosts.


That said, what farmers do need is yet another reminder – which this situation provides us – of the fact that they have to communicate with language and values that focus on compassion, morality and stewardship.  In this day and age, with the megaphone that social media offers, it’s sadly too easy to let our opponents vilify us, the same way that all soldiers have to vilify their enemies in order to trample over them.