I don’t normally talk politics here, but an issue facing Ohio voters illustrates for me what is most hypocritical about a wide swath of American Evangelicalism. And it’s a stupid, mindless hypocrisy at that.
Stick with me for what seems like a political tangent at the beginning of this post, because it ultimately leads into a skewering of that hypocrisy.
Ohio Issue 2 affects farmers who own animals, pushing for the creation of a state animal husbandry oversight commission comprised of in-state farming reps to ensure the humane care of farm animals. Beyond the “fox guarding the henhouse” nature of the bill, many supporters are claiming it’s a first strike to keep such control in-state, preempting similar (and possibly more draconian) measures by PETA, HSUS, or the feds.
I live in a farming area and would like to own animals some day. I have yet to see a “Vote NO on Issue 2” sign anywhere in my area, and I would suppose that’s largely because farmers around here are scared to death of anything that smacks of commie pinko environmentalists.
Sadly, Issue 2 is akin to being given a choice of which of your feet you would prefer to be shotgunned. Adding more bureaucracy, whether it comes from the state, feds, PETA, or HSUS, is really no choice at all. My choice is that all the bureaucrats would make like lemmings and find a high, oceanside cliff from which to pierce the veil. (Okay, so I’m a wee bit libertarian in that regard.)
I can easily see a future under a YES vote on Issue 2 where it would cost me thousands of state-induced “convenience fees” and a hundred pages of yearly paperwork just to own a couple goats and a half dozen chickens. Let’s be honest: Government loves getting its cut. Problem is, for small farmers like me, it’s death by a thousand cuts. The monstrosity known as agribusiness can absorb this without a blink, but I can’t—and neither can a bunch of my neighbors who have “YES on 2” signs in their front yards.
Which leads me to the question of why we need Issue 2 in the first place.
Obviously, some farmers in this state did NOT treat their animals humanely. And given that I have yet to meet an Ohio farmer who doesn’t swear some sort of allegiance to Jesus, I’ve got to believe that many of the same people who are upstanding members of their churches are also taking a blasé approach to caring for their farm animals. This holds true for nonfarmers, as a friend sent me a link to a missive circulating on Facebook wherein the conservative, homeschooling, nonfarming author talked about “dumb animals” and the stupidity of caring about their “emotional well-being.”
I am not a vegetarian. I have no ethical problems consuming food animals. I also believe that human beings, who are made in the image of God, are of infinitely more value than animals or plants. That anyone should blur those lines of value is anathema to me.
But I also get a little sick of folks, especially Christians (who should know better), who turn beet red over the issue of killing the unborn yet who seem to have no qualms despoiling Creation. How can a person claim to be pro-life yet show so little care for nonhuman life? I mean, it makes little sense to me to sob over the killing of babies then turn around and hack to pieces a black rat snake in one’s garden for no reason other than not liking snakes. Yet I see such disregard all the time.
Maybe it’s the prevalence of hyperdispensationalism, which fosters a mentality that “it’s all gonna burn some day” and turns some Christians into abusers of Creation. “Tear down the forest and fill in the wetlands so we can make way for the Christian amusement park. Animals don’t have souls anyway, so if we kill ’em, even indiscriminately, what difference does it make? Why are all those environmental wackos up in arms about another extinct species? And who needs a rainforest anyway if Jesus is coming back to tomorrow? I mean, I just L-O-V-E the rosewood flooring on my 5,500 square foot home I share with my wife and daughter!”
Issue 2 in Ohio would have no reason to be if all “Christian” farmers treated their animals—even those destined for the dinner table—with the respect we should afford living creatures. That many didn’t pretty much ensured that someone with a more holistic view on life was going to step in sooner or later to clean up the mess. In other words, we pooped in our own sandbox and someone finally noticed. Now we’re all in trouble.
It saddens me to no end that we Christians, the ones who more than others should understand our charge to steward the Earth, are often the people who relentlessly abuse Creation. Most of us show little respect for the land, for the plants and animals that live on it. They seem to be a means to an end only, lacking any greater meaning than to fill our guts.
That’s a sad, expedient way of looking at life. All life. And it says something about how little care and the lack of thought we give to the life placed on this small globe by a loving Lord, who said:
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.
If we say we are pro-life, then let us respect all life, for all life comes from God and has meaning—even if we are too self-centered to see it.