Friday Challenge: Bless the Beasts and the Children

2009-08-16 Puppy at Duke East 1
(photo by Ildar Sagdejev)

I was thinking this morning about animals in fundyland and the way that nature is perceived. It seems that some fundies take a sort of pride in constantly pointing out that animals are not as important as human beings and that it doesn’t really matter how we treat them. From Jack Decoster’s heinous treatment of his factory farm chickens to the sadistic missionary who would routinely brutally kick his dogs just because he could. The very idea of a church service to bless animals would be unthinkable.

Today’s challenge is to remember pets or other animals from your time in fundamentalism. Has your perspective of nature changed since you left?

174 thoughts on “Friday Challenge: Bless the Beasts and the Children”

  1. DeCoster is a piece of work. He treated his workers worse than his chickens, having them live in trailers with no water, heat or electricity. And then donates millions to Hyles plus funding his own personal IFB church in his small town.

  2. I remember people in my IFB church who placed as much importance on training their pets as training their children. It was a barometer of sorts: the better trained the pets were, the stricter the household. If the dog listened and obeyed commands right away, you could guarantee the kids did too.

        1. And for the record, upon further investigation of the link I just posted, I’d like to say that I don’t read this site. Just googled “should Christians own cats?” and this came up. I feel weird about it now, having browsed the rest of the website! 😳

        2. Really? I don’t really know what to say about that article. Cats are not evil! Dogs are not evil! Cows are not evil! Salamanders are not evil!

        3. All five of my cats think that guy is nuts.
          And evil.

          “About the Author: Stephenson Billings is an Investigative Journalist, Motivational Children’s Party Entertainer and Antique Soda Bottle Collector all in one special, blessed package!”

          Yeah, well, ’nuff said.

  3. My attitude toward animals hasn’t really changed; the rather extremist fundamental church I used to go to had plenty of faults, but no one there advocated cruelty to animals (or if they did, it was kept quiet). The pastor said on a few occasions that it was un-Christ-like to be cruel to animals.

    1. Same here. Most people I knew were very balanced; I never saw anyone treat animals badly or excuse doing so.

      I don’t see how anyone who is truly following the Christ who says He knew when sparrows fall could be cruel to an animal. No one filled with the fruit of the Spirit of patience and gentleness would deliberately mistreat animals.

        1. I don’t think it’s a reach because some of us HAVE come across fundies, even ones in authority, who are extremely callous toward animals and often act proud of that. I am very thankful though that it seems that most of us didn’t experience that as typical behavior in fundamentalism; that even there it was more of an abberation.

          However, it’s certainly legitimate to question, because often fudamentalism, in seeing things as black or white and in valueing “avoiding all appearance of evil,” has been known to go to extremes to show that they are separating from something they disagree with. Thus in order to show that they are not in agreement with pentecostal doctrine, they forbid all show of emotion in their churches, inhibiting worship and judging the motivation of those who are more expressive. Since fundamentalists disagree with the extremism of left-wing environmentalism, one certainly might wonder how far they go in the other direction in order to show their opposition to it.

          Thankfully most of the fundamentalists I know were balanced in this area, understanding biblically that 1) we are to be responsible stewards of what God has given us and 2) we are to be gentle, compassionate loving people and thus can’t go around kicking dogs.

        2. Well then this opens up awhole plethora of things we can make fun of then. Let’s see, I have met fundies that:

          1) trim fingernails in church (very distracting and gross
          2) drive dirty cars
          3) talk during the sermon
          4) curse
          5) swat flies, mosquitos etc
          6) fart and blame it on someone else
          7) drive over posted speed limit
          8) use parents handicap parking sticker
          9) have junk mail sent to enemies
          10)mistreat their plants
          11)not pray over meals
          12)disrespect phone solicitors that don’t speak English
          13)sneeze without covering mouth, then shaking hands (yuck)
          14)not giving money to begging bums

          I would expect fundies commit the above “offenses” with vastly more regularity than kicking poor ol Rover!

        3. There was someone who would snip their fingernails in my little church when I was a kid. It drove my dad Cah-Ray-Zee!!!

          The shortest answer I can give is Mt. 7:2: “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” When fundies go around acting like no one else is as biblically pure and holy and spiritual as they are, they should expect to be called on their inconsistencies.

        4. I don’t believe fundies mistreat their pets anymore than any other religious group!

          That’s why I thought Darrell was reaching. I call Bullgipp on this one!

        5. That makes sense, Greg.

          I guess it could come down to two questions:

          1. Do fundies tend to be more abusive towards animals than other religious groups or more than non-religious people? I don’t think they are.

          2. Do those fundies who DO abuse animals get a pass on it? In an atmosphere where child abuse has been covered up, why would not the abuse of animals be excused? Those whose love of independence, lack of accountability, and desire for control is higher than their love for Christ, coupled with a doctrine that animals don’t have souls, could have a personality tendency to treat pets badly.

          So perhaps the question is not really do they do it more but when they do it, is it excused?

  4. The local Lutheran church had a “bless the animals” service last year. They’ve also had a clown, though, and other strange things, so it’s a challenge for me to take them too seriously.

    That said, I love dogs, tolerate cats, and… well… fish are awesome (to watch, and to eat, but not the same fish for both!). :mrgreen:

    1. “The Blessing of the Animals” comes from Saint Francis of Assisi. Churches that practice this sweet little custom (Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran) usually hold the ceremony on or around October 4, Saint Francis’s Feast Day. Sometimes they combine it with a free or low-cost rabies/spay/neuter clinic. :mrgreen:

      1. Some United Methodist churches also hold Blessing of the Animals services (generally on or near Saint Francis of Assissi’s day).

        My wife attended one at an Episcopal Cathedral where there was even a bowl of microbes to be blessed.

        Anyhow, my experience as a mainstream Protestant was that we were taught from early childhood that all of God’s creation, including animals, was to be cherished and taken care of. This was part of what my church calls “stewardship,” a subject on which great emphasis is laid.

        I also happen to come from an animal-loving family. I’ve had a lot of pets– birds, lizards, dogs, a turtle, hamsters, and even insects. Right now, I have cats and aquarium fish, plus a lot of wild animals residing in the yard. I would not like to live without animals in my life.

  5. I seem to remember a phrase used from the pulpit often to describe hypocrisy: something about blessing God at church and then going home to kick the dog? Anyone else ever hear that one? Either way, I don’t remember every hearing anything positive about animal abuse from the pulpit.

    Although I did have Sunday School teachers who were quick to point out that our dead pets were NOT in heaven. πŸ™„

      1. Agreed. I’ve been horribly allergic to pet dander my whole life. I’ve never gotten to play with kittens or have a dog without being itchy and sneezy and miserable. I look forward to Heaven for a lot of reasons, but being able to play with fuzzy critters is definitely on the list!

    1. elfdream, there is a marvelous P.G. Wodehouse story — actually two interconnected stories — with Cat-as-Minor-Prophet-Rebuking-the-People theme. You’ll find these tales in a little book called Mulliner Nights, which I assume is available at Amazon. (Isn’t everything?) The stories are very funny and kind of sweet. πŸ™‚

      Wodehouse wrote about animals a lot. His descriptions of Bartholomew the Scottie in several of his Jeeves and Bertie novels are priceless.

  6. My own mother admits she used to get into terrible arguments with her own mother, a Presbyterian in faith but quite Fundy in attitude, over whether animals go to heaven Needless to say, my mother believes no Heaven worthy of being so is going to omit the most innocent creatures, our four-footed (or feathered or scaly) friends. πŸ™‚
    Does anyone know who wrote the Rainbow Bridge? I’d like to think it was a clergyman. 😎

        1. That was a great episode. Earl Hamner, Jr. wrote that episode before going on to write The Waltons. I remember watching an interview with him on the Twilight Zone DVDs, and I believe he mentioned training to be a Baptist minister before deciding to become a scriptwriter.

        2. Second Adam, I’ve been meaning to thank you for that fascinating info. I’d never heard of Hammer. Thanks!

    1. When my Cini-Mini passed I got to thinking about The Rainbow Bridge. I am now convinced she is spending her time playing with fluffy stuffed ice monsters and rests comfortably during her nap times curled up on Odins lap. So now when you think of Odin, think of him carrying around a small apricot toy poodle everywhere he goes. Yes, it does make him more bad-ass lol.

      Seriously though, sometimes a pet and pet parent connect on such a deep level it is almost spiritual in itself. That is how it was with me and my Cini-Mini. She was my everything and I was hers. If we could not be reunited that would be the cruelest thing I could imagine for any god/s/ess to do to a spirit.

  7. The church I grew up in had a habit of blessing the animals, particularly the fried chicken “to the nourishment of our bodies and the hands that prepared it”.

    1. By the way I’ve been a Vegan for 2 years, I love my cats, so this is not an agenda for me. I just think if we can tease Fundies for extra-Biblical commands then we have to include ourselves as well “Be kind to animals” is not in the Bible. Which is why people draw the line arbitrarily. Killing a virus in your body with medicine is ok but killing your pet cat with poisen is wrong? Stepping on a cokcroach is ok but stomping on a puppy is wrong? Smacking flies with a flyswatter is ok but smacking your pet hamster with a flyswatter is wrong?

      1. The resurrected Jesus ate fish. I don’t think it’s because he enjoys cruelty. I tried going vegan many years ago, still have some cookbooks. My body functioned very poorly from it. Ultimately, I could see that it wasn’t actually alleviating the suffering of this world and realized it wasn’t necessary. I didn’t have to do penance like that.

      2. There are tons of verses out that that at the very least imply that we should treat animals with kindness and respect. The most direct vers is Proverbs 12:10:

        “The righteous care for the needs of their animals,
        but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel”

        Interestingly enough, that’s not a command; it is an assumption that the righteous person will automatically have a certain attitude toward animals.

      3. If you’re going to keep cats, dogs, or other carnivores, you’ve got to face the fact that they eat meat. My veterinarian friend tells me he sees some cats whose owners have made them very sick by giving them a vegetarian diet. (Cats are more obligate carnivores than dogs. Dogs can eat a diet with a high vegetable content if they have to, although they also need at least some meat.)

        1. Amen! My adopted stray (lab/terrier/who-knows-what) has a very strong prey drive. We live in the woods, and we get every sort of wild critter hereabouts — bunnies, squirrels, mice, possums (both babies and grownups), deer, you name it. Coco goes ballistic every time she sees a possum clinging to a treetop. And she’s off like a shot after every squirrel or bunny. I love the way she barks her head off and growls angrily at critters because they refuse to sit still and let her kill them. LOL. Cracks me up every time.

          She is such a carnivore. She will eat leftover tater-tots, but she much prefers leftover chicken or hamburger. (I tried her on a raw diet, but she prefers cooked, so now–to the chagrin of the fanatical raw-feeding purists–I feed her some raw, some cooked; mostly meat. Heavy on the el-cheapo chicken, but I also feed her pork butt and some cheaper ground beef. She is healthy as a horse and very energetic, so I must be doing something right.)

        2. My guinea pigs eat 1/8 cup pellets a day. The rest of their diet consists of tons of timothy hay (as in, I have it delivered on a schedule so that I don’t have to keep buying it), several types of lettuce, bell peppers, grape tomatoes, corn, wheat grass, radishes, grapes, carrots, apple slices, parsley, cilantro, mint, cucumber, zucchini … um … iow, pet food makes such a tiny percentage of their diet that I don’t even worry about it. My sows are healthy as little, erm, pigs, too, even my precious little special needs one. πŸ˜€

          Cats get pet food. But they aren’t fat or unhealthy, so I don’t worry about their diet too much. Oh, they get wheat grass too, sometimes, and hay when they can get into it. 😯

      4. Just a medical aside – viruses are not living creatures. They are probably better thought of in the same category as a trap. When triggered, they cause destruction of living creatures, but are not themselves living creatures.

    2. One is pestilence, and the other is a working animal that can benefit man if properly trained (though its population also has to be controlled). The Christian POV is that the Fall of man did screw up our relationship with nature in a lot of ways, and also screwed up nature itself. Stepping on roaches and eating the flesh of animals are not prohibited to us because of the necessity imposed upon us by the Fall of Man. But mankind still has a certain degree of sovereignty, and he has declared enmity with pestilence and vermin; and friendship with a select few breeds of mammals, reptiles, and fish. So in the end, it is OK to step on roaches because we say it is okay. And it is OK to befriend puppies because we say it is okay. (And they have such cute noses!)
      Here is my puppy dancing the Harlem Shake:
      http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xy2sm5_lucky-dance_animals#.UTte1ldXrTA

      1. I’ve always thought part of it too was that we are not to cause suffering just for suffering’s sake. Thus I would step on a roach (OK, I used to just drop a big heavy book on anything scary and wait until my husband came home to take care of it) but NOT use a magnifying glass to burn ants.

  8. And, they take the word “dominion” to mean that they can treat animals however they want. Not true. Dominion is responsibility.

    But, I really don’t understand pet blessing services. Animals didn’t sin against God; therefore, they don’t need to be blessed. Besides, a doggie cookie and A Dingo bone given to my dogs, and they seem pretty blessed.

    1. I don’t think the blessing has anything to do with Redemption, either special or general. The standard prayer is for relief from suffering, God’s Fatherly care, and celebrating this special love between human and domestic animal. A touching and utterly appropriate service, IMHO.

        1. I agree with you, Natalie… it seems a little odd, but if that were the only thing I disagreed with, it wouldn’t bother me enough not to attend there.

      1. I agree with Der Berater.

        Blessings are not only for the remission of sins. We can celebrate the gift of animals in our lives, and invoke God’s care for them and our relationship with them.

    2. I’ve never been to one. But our kids regularly pray for our cats and our guinea pigs. I’ve even done it a time or two when very concerned about their well-being for whatever reason. I’ve prayed for other people’s animals, too. Our animals play an important role in our family, and I have great responsibilities for keeping them safe and happy.

        1. Amen!

          A friend of mine breeds Miniature Australian Shepherds. One of her bitches was whelping the other day and having a very hard, protracted labor. My friend asked everyone she knew for prayers — and she got ’em!

    3. I believe scripture talks about all of creation groaning under the curse of sin, so animals can indeed benefit from blessing. There would be no starved horses with uncared-for-feet in a filthy paddock without the curse of sin, for example.

      I’ve been to my episcopal church’s blessing of the animals twice now, and both times were a joy. Here’s my account of the first time (sorry, shameless blog promotion):

      http://desertpetrichor.blogspot.com/2011/10/blessing-of-animals.html

      1. There would be no starved horses with uncared-for-feet in a filthy paddock without the curse of sin, for example.

        So true!! Agree 100%.

        Both abuse and neglect of animals are results of Original Sin.

        I read recently about such a horrific case of abuse: a little shih tzu that wandered away from home and returned with its eyes gouged out. Poor little critter had been tortured by some maniac and then set free again. Fortunately, after surgery and much TLC, the now-blind poochie is pain-free and happy. But oh my gosh, how can anyone do such a thing?

        I remember reading somewhere that people who torture animals are usually sadistic toward human beings as well. IIRC, many psychopaths were cat-torturers as children.

        OK, now I will check out your blog entry. :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

        P.S. Your neglected-horse example made me think of the opening scene in Amazing Grace, where the young William Wilberforce has his carriage stopped so he can get out and rescue a horse whose owner is mercilessly beating it. Apparently Wilberforce was an animal-lover, so we pet-lovers are in good company. πŸ˜€

        1. How can anyone do such a thing?

          I can’t imagine–but I didn’t have to imagine the ten year old breeder chihuahua that I had for four years after she was rescued from an Amish puppy mill in Pennsylvania. The poor thing had spent her entire life in a cage. She was nearly blind from the ammonia in the urine that fell into her cage from the cages above hers, and absolutely filthy from never being bathed or groomed. She didn’t even know she was a dog, really. We named her Lola, and whatever she wanted, she got.

          It took eighteen months of patience and effort before she would walk up to her food dish instead of running away when we fed her, and nearly two years before she would take a treat from my hand. Her progress was very slow, but considering where she started, it was amazing.

          The last two years, before she succumbed to congestive heart failure, though, were so much better. She would actually walk toward the person who called her, and expect to have her ears scratched, and would race to the door when we came home, keeping up with our other two dogs. When she figured out that she was a dog, she really got into it. Despite being abused most of her life, she was a sweet little thing.

          Sorry about the rant. I don’t have anything printable to say about the Amish or anyone else who keeps animals in terrible conditions or treats them badly. I trust they will have to account for their actions eventually.

        1. I love Neil Finn and Crowded House too, but this one was written by Howard Jones (another 80s artist I still enjoy).

          I’m enjoying the discussion on this topic. And as to whether there’ll be animals or pets in Heaven, I think there will be. God will recreate and restore not just us, but the earth as well. Why would he not include restored animals as well?

          Back to lurking now. πŸ™‚

        2. Hi Cap’t, I did not know Howard Jones wrote that song. Speaking of Howard Jones, Mindy Smith just released a cover of “No One is to Blame” It’s great.

  9. I suspect most of us that grew up in an IFB church were taught that animals don’t have a soul, therefore they won’t go to Heaven. I also remember being specifically taught one step further: that there will be no animals in Heaven.

    Randy Alcorn had something different to say in his book “Heaven” however – he postulates that Heaven (the New Earth) will be full of animals, including ones that don’t exist now. He also suggests that God may choose to bring our pets to Heaven, since they bring us so much joy. I think he’s probably more right than what I was taught previously.

    1. I can’t recommend that book highly enough, BTW. A lot of speculation, but it achieves the author’s purpose of getting believers to actually look forward to eternity with Christ.

    2. I believe fundies don’t want to acknowledge that animals have feelings, emotions and problem solving abilities because it could point that these attributes are encoding into human and animal DNA and could lead to a belief in evolution.

      1. Yes, I think that’s part of it.
        I would go further and say that refusing to accept that we are part of nature and dependent on nature leads to very irresponsible attitudes about nature that are contributing to the destruction of our natural environment.

    3. Mag, we were told that animals have a soul (they certainly have a mind & a will – ask any cat “owner”), and they have emotions. But they were not creating with spirits.

      We know little of heaven for certain — other than it is far better and joyous than any human can imagine in his mind.

      I’m certain that the New Earth will have animals, as they existed in the Garden of Eden before the fall. In heaven (God’s abode), I am less certain, but I know that God is good and entirely worthy of my trust that it will be far better than anything I can imagine.

  10. I always tell children that ‘God has promised that no good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly’. If God decides that you having Fluffy in heaven is a good thing…then there are pets in Heaven.

    Its the best I can do.

      1. I sure hope they do. We have a cat who follows my kids around like she thinks they’re her kittens, and my kids dote on her as much as she does on them. If any cat is worthy of heaven, she is.

        1. I don’t intend any negativity towards cats or cat lovers. My husband loves them. I know of several nice ones, I’m just scared of them. If my miscreant dog who likes to pee on my other dog’s head will be there, I’m sure cats will be, too.

  11. I lived with a fundy lite family on a farm for a while. We treated the animals really well, we were all very protective of the animals. But every once in a while, one of the dogs would attack one of the sheep or chickens, so it wasn’t unheard of to boot the dog off the sheep and drag him into his kennel. Also, since we let the chickens free range, shooting foxes from the porch wasn’t uncommon. I feel like this is farm mentality more so than fundyism, tho.

  12. I immediately know whether I can respect someone by observing how they talk about / treat animals. Most IFB types are beneath contempt for their attitudes in this area. I walked into the home of a prominent member of our church, I felt honored to be getting so close to her that I was actually walking into her home. A little toy poodle started happily bouncing at our feet. She scooted him away, apologized to me, and said, “This is our dog. We don’t really like him. I’d like to get rid of him but the kids would be upset. I’ll lock him away from us, be right back.” *LOSER*

    In our SS class, one member seems to keep putting his foot in his mouth. Stray cat problem? No problem — just shoot ’em. When he found out we were offended by that, he tried to back pedal. Well, I didn’t mean “shoot”. Sorry, yes you did. *LOSER* Same guy, talking about how he needs to watch his kids every second. Why, his youngest just put his grandma’s little chihuaha in the microwave. Poor little dog hasn’t been the same since…I stared at him and said, “You need to stop talking to me right now.” *LOSER*

    The moment a mannagawd makes some ignorant remark about cats (it’s always cats)….he’s toast in my book.

    God gave us dominion over them MEANING they need our care. Our love. Our respect. Our attention. They can’t speak for themselves. They are innocent. God created them. He loves them.

    God pity us for our inhumanity.

    1. I seriously believe that cat-haters have defective personalities. Especially those who love dogs AND hate cats (not counting people who just have never known any cats– they’re a different category).

      Here’s my thinking on this: Dogs are extremely sycophantic and servile. They are constantly fawning on people. They are animal yes-men. People whose egos need constant reinforcement can get it from dogs. People who need total submission can get it from dogs (at least some dogs).

      Cats, on the other hand, are more cautious. You can only really bond with a cat if you treat it as an equal. And cats pay attention to you when they want to, but not constantly. You can train cats if you keep it interesting for the cat, but most cats won’t do things just to please people. A relationship with a cat comes closer to unconditional love.

      I should make it clear that I do like dogs (and cats). I’m not really talking about the animals here, I’m talking about how people’s egos approach the animals.

      1. I’ve thought this myself. Dogs offer blind hero worship. Cats treat you as their equal. They offer a different kind of love, and it’s no less real simply because it’s different.

    2. It makes me sad when I go to someone’s house and they put their animals up, because I just want to play with them. πŸ™‚ We go to the pet store sometimes just to play with the pets up for adoption. I only ever put my dogs up if someone asks me to. My dogs live here, they don’t.

  13. I never heard animal abuse advocated or excused while in the IFB. In fact, my pastor talked about how God saw even the sparrow. My parents believed that animals would be with us in the new earth.

    1. mkxcomm, I visited your blog and read your story over the weekend. It was riveting (and horrifying!). I couldn’t stop reading. You have a real gift for engaging — nay, engrossing! — your readers.

      All I can say is: WOW! And I thought my family was dysfunctional! Oy!!!!

      As I read, I kept thinking, “When will she escape from this?? Please let her escape from this!!”

      And you did. Amazing! Thank God!

  14. If I was a farmer relying on animals for power, for food, or for economic gain (dairy farmers, beef cattle, etc) for survival, I sure would want God’s blessing on them. We bless many things. While not animals, in societies where fishing fleets and their abundance is the difference of life or death, there are blessings of the Fleet. God is sovereign over all and that includes animals and inanimate objects.

    And in war, it is the same.

    Please look at this web site, the Animals in War Memorial in London UK, next to Hyde Park. This says so much and is so moving. We saw it a year ago and still remember it well.

    http://www.animalsinwar.org.uk

  15. My 10 year old yellow lab is a precious member of the family. She feels and understands. She too is a creature of God and when her journey here on Earth is done, heaven is waiting for her. Dogs go to heaven. Fundy preachers who teach otherwise are full of it.
    Wait a minute. Dogs also bring heaven a little closer to us while we are here also!

  16. The time and place I grew up there were a fair number of families, including my own, who ran what might be termed “hobby farms” – small acreages with a few animals meant for food and maybe a large vegetable garden. So yeah, we treated the animals well. We enjoyed their company for many Sundays afterward πŸ˜€ My main memory for anything weird with animals would be when an evangelist would harp on about “and we spend ten bajillion dollars a year in this country on dog food!” I always felt like yelling “SO??” right back at him.

  17. I saw plenty of animal cruelty in our IFB, particularly with dogs. Beating them, hanging them in trees for punishment, etc. Children were generally treated somewhat better πŸ™„

    Now my family has one cat, one leopard gecko, one crested gecko, and two hermit crabs. And they are all completely spoiled πŸ˜€

    1. I should clarify that animal cruelty was not advocated from the pulpit in our IFB; in fact, the MOG was surprisingly tolerant of his wife’s cat addiction πŸ™‚

      But animal cruelty and abuse were fairly common among the church families, including my own. The worst I witnessed, though, was the hanging and killing of dogs (pit bulls mostly) by the man who eventually abused me, so I have personal knowledge of the connection between animal abuse and other types of criminal behavior. It’s definitely a warning sign.

  18. Does anybody remember the Bible Conference speaker at BJU where the guy talked about hating his dachshund and stapling his ears together? I couldn’t take anything he said seriously after that.

  19. When I was staying in a women’s shelter, they handed out a LOT of literature about warning signs regarding abusive people. One of the things that surprised me was that people who abuse animals will frequently also abuse people.

    1. Also, I don’t know of anyone who advocated direct abuse of animals, however environmentalists were preached against from the pulpit. Apparently they all want to kill off the human population. So the fundies I were with were perfectly happy to see wild animals driven to extinction.

    2. It’s not unusual for abusers to steal, torment, beat, injure, or kill pets or other animals as a WAY of abusing humans. Abusers will kidnap, kill, or harm animals in attempts to frighten or get back at the people they are trying to control.

    3. I’m in the midst of a criminology degree, and yes, cruelty to animals is a HUGE warning sign, for so many things. They refer to it as the criminal career – moving on from minor crimes to larger crimes. In this case it would be moving on from hurting animals to hurting people, and in some cases, moving on from hurting animals to killing people. There’s even something colloquially known as the ‘serial killer trifecta’ – three things that are often found in the histories of serial killrs. These are arson, bed-wetting, and cruelty to animals.
      Basically, someone who hurts an animal, and enjoys doing it, lacks empathy. They hurt an animal, they are probably quite capable of moving on to hurting humans.

      1. The connection between animal abuse and psychopathic behavior toward humans was recognized as far back as the eighteenth century. The great English artist William Hogarth made a series of engravings with the title “The Four Stages of Cruelty,” first published in 1751.
        In the first picture, the anti-hero and some other boys are busy torturing animals:
        http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cb/Cruelty1.JPG

        He goes on to progressively worse crimes, until he is finally hanged for murder:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Four_Stages_of_Cruelty

        That Hogarth in 1751 would portray so accurately the pattern now recognized by criminologists the world over partly shows that it was a well-known idea at the time, but is also a sign of William Hogarth’s singular brilliance as an artist.

    1. What a pompous ass. The people laughing and heymening also so their ignorance. I laughed at his comment that he could take on 2 young guys. He must have to do this to make up for his low testosterone levels. When he called the dog retarded, I would have walked out if the service. http://www.r-word.org
      It’s a word that I never allowed at youth group.

    2. I was pretty annoyed with this shit. I remember this kind of speeching from my fundy days. Do you notice the (not too subtle) doublethink, where he says one thing and completely contradicts it, much to the delight of the audience? “I’m normally the quiet type” “I know we don’t war according to the flesh, but…” Very sad that this kind of behavior is taken seriously by grown humans; but the fact that he is supposed to be a missionary is disturbing.

  20. We used to have a blessing of the pets during our village celebration days, sponsored by the UM church I worked at. When the pastor did it, she would pray over each animal.

    I remember learning that it was stupid to have an endangered animals list. If God wanted them to be protected, God would take care of them. I also remember hearing Tony Campolo saying how sad it would be when a species went extinct, because it could no longer praise God with its voice.

  21. I worked at New Life Island in New Jersey one summer (1979, I think). It was a GARBC Christian camp. We had this douche bag pastor of Langhorne Terrace Baptist Church in Langhorne PA come. He and his jackass brother would sit around in front of the young women workers at the camp and talk about how they burned birds alive, pulled off their wings, etc., when they were kids. One unhappy weekend he gave a few of us a ride home. Two hours of this douche bag rambling on about how he tortured birds and small animals. Believe me, if I could remember his name, I would post it. He was very big into order of authority and all that, pontificating to me one day abotu how his daughter could do what I told her to because he had first told her to follow my directions. My guess is that by now he is a car sales man or the head of a Mega Church. One or the other.

    1. I am familiar with the song (I have a CD of Hymns from England), and this is on it. I think perhaps it is more common over there than here.

      But, to my recollection, I’ve never heard it sung in the churches I’ve been in.

      There were a LOT of verses to that song!

    1. This hymn is very, VERY popular in Methodist churches. I think it’s fair to say that almost every Methodist has sung it (sometimes in other arrangements) in Sunday School and in church. And, indeed, it presents an important element of Weslyan theology.

      1. IMHO the Wesleys were closet Catholics. πŸ˜‰ Without realizing it, of course. If they’d been born three or four centuries earlier, they might have been Franciscan friars, perhaps running a charity hospital for leprosy patients. Or some such thing. :mrgreen:

        Some of the Wesleyan hymns we used to sing at our shape-note sings were just sooooo Catholic. There was one about the Crucifixion, in particular, that just dripped Catholic pietism.

    1. I’ve heard this one in many different churches– especially Catholic churches, with the St. Francis connection, but also various Protestant churches. It’s a great hymn.

  22. We boarded horses at a local barn, when the owner died his son (Baptist preacher, youth pastor, etc) and his wife inherited the property. One of the first things they did was toss his dad’s beloved house cats out. These poor bewildered cats had to adjust to living outside, in hot Pennsylvania summers and cold winters, and would huddle at the door only to be kicked when they tried to get back into the house. Even worse, this couple shunned their oldest son for being gay. Living in SE PA, we see all too often how religious folk treat animals, namely amish puppy mills.

    1. Makes me sad about the Amish, why they’d be so callous to their animals. πŸ™ And not even Mother Teresa can get away with running a puppy mill. πŸ‘Ώ
      That that Baptist preacher rejected both the helpless cats and his own son speaks volumes. Here’s a link that may cheer you up, http://www.theatlantic.com/daily-dish/archive/2010/11/how-jesus-kicked-ass-on-the-cross-ctd/179483/ with Christ getting really pissed by now, “Okay, buddy, you still don’t get it. Am I gonna have to come down and MAKE you understand about Love Thy Neighbor??!” 😈 :mrgreen:

    2. Wow. Even if you have no compassion, that would seem bad for business.
      Who wants to board a horse with someone who kicks cats and leaves them outside to freeze? What do they do with the horses when no one is watching?

    3. Gosh. I’d never even heard of Amish puppy mills.

      Everyone thinks the Amish are so quaint and “crunchy.” But there’s a dark side, apparently. I’ve heard of cases of Amish child abuse (both physical and sexual). And now puppy mills. Of course the child abuse is a million times more serious. But puppy mills are no joke, either. How sad!

      We had a puppy-mill bust in our little rural NC county last year. The perps were fined and closed down temporarily — but they can start anew in a few years if they want. Makes me so mad I could spit!

        1. I think people want to believe that there is a quaint, unspoiled little bit of heaven on earth somewhere. We want to believe it can exist. Our hearts are always longing for Eden. (My belief is that it WILL exist someday, but not until Christ reigns.)

  23. I was raised ELCA (then ALC) and my public school education included elementary logic and ethics, so I was completely floored to meet a former homeschooler in 7th grade who confidently said that it was OK if hunters killed every deer on our island because God would just make more for them. The shock and derision with which her fellow 12-year-olds greeted that statement probably contributed to her going right back to homeschooling. (She is now fundie-lite.) For a double dose of stupid, her parents hadn’t even bothered to read the Fish & Game handouts that came with their hunting licenses–in which it is clearly stated that there were no deer on this island until hunters brought some over on a steamship in the early 20th century!

    Gobble up all the good things in the world. Trash them, waste them, gather them all for yourself. God will just make more. πŸ™„

  24. I have heard repeatedly from various types of IFB pulpits (college chapel, campmeeting, conferences, church etc.)where the preacher would “JOKE” about killing cats:

    Microwaving cats
    stuffing cats
    using cats for target shooting
    smashing cats skulls
    putting cats in a bag to kill each other
    tying their tails together and setting them on fire
    on and on.

    It was the “cool” thing to hate cats and kill cats….always in a joking manner, so that no one could accuse them of actually advocating violence against cats.

    Typical hypocritical fundamental phariseeism.

  25. True story. I used to hang out at the ‘Family Life’ forums where, periodically, the question of who would be excluded from heaven would be raised. So one day someone asked, “what about the kids who never had the chance to get saved, what would / should be their fate”? The majority of reponders soon replied that, like it or not, the only way to heaven was through the process of getting saved and if the little ones hadn’t done that, then they wouldn’t get there. Well a couple of weeks passed and someone asked “What about my pet dog Goldy – it wouldn’t be paradise with out him – would we meet our pets again beyond the pearly gates”? All of them responded, to a man, that yes our pets would all go to heaven. Go figure.

    1. Compassion toward dogs, cold-hearted toward children. Wow.

      All I know of God is in the Bible where He says, “And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their leftβ€”and also many animals?” (Jonah 4:11) God cares for little ones, the weak and the helpless. His grace is great enough to cover them.

  26. Several people on this thread have said “we never learned cruelty to animals”–but eating animals IS cruel. You have to kill them to eat them, and killing is cruel. It is not necessary (in which case I would make an exception for myself) and is just for the purpose of pleasuring the palate. How is killing animals simply to increase pleasure, morally acceptable? (rhetorical question; I have had this discussion approx 15,000 times)

    I haven’t eaten meat since 1998, and I am alive and well. Lots of Buddhists, Jains, Hindus and Sikhs also forego meat; its very easy to do, and there are many cultural precedents for it.

    I confess to surprise when people say cruelty to animals is bad, and then see no problem with eating meat. Illogical; does not compute. (Why not eat dogs and cats, in that case? They do in the Philippines and Malaysia.) I find eating a cow as gross as eating a dog. Not sure what the difference is supposed to be? Why is one acceptable and the other not?

    Again, if I was starving and needed to eat a dog or cow because there was no other protein, I would certainly do so. But what other reason is there to do it? ❓

    1. OK, let’s go whole-hog (excuse the pun) to cruelty-free green eating on my island. Locavore, the works.

      First we have to decide what to grow. The nutritional powerhouses are strictly limited. Most are impossible, others are marginal. The only dependable fill-your-bowl crops are potatoes, peas, runner beans, and fava beans. Vegetables: assorted root crops, dark green vegetables, members of the onion family, and lettuce. Fruit: assorted berries, hardy kiwis, and crabapples, plus rhubarb–but there is no local source of sugar, so you will have to pucker up and eat the stuff plain.

      Okay, that’s a tolerable diet; if you added eggs from contented hens, you could get some fat, which otherwise would be available only from marginal crops. Gathering wild berries, greens, roots, and seaweed would increase the variety still further, and some herbs could be grown.

      But there’s a catch. Where is all this stuff going to grow? This place is as rugged as a piece of crumpled newspaper.

      Well, there is some flat land available, nearly all of it down by the rivers. But removing all forests and houses from all of the well-drained riparian land with a southern exposure near our towns wouldn’t provide enough farmland. We would have to cross the borders of the wildlife refuge and take as much land as we could get there. And every one of those rivers is a salmon stream. Even with best farming practices, runoff from the fields would silt over the gravel beds the salmon need in order to spawn . . . so much for living without killing animals.

      Okay, throttle back. Let’s just go vegan (or vegan with happy hens) and not worry about being locavores. We could supplement with crops grown on the nearby mainland–more grain, more oil crops, more variety in legumes, vegetables, fruits. But they would have to chop out wilderness and endanger not only anadromous fish species, but also winter habitat for moose, old-growth forest, and so on, and so on.

      Okay, forget even trying to get food from the nearest possible place. Let’s just get it from places where the farms have existed for so long that nobody even knows what the wilderness looks like. Let’s eat soy and rice. Let’s eat lentils, corn, and millet.

      Except that it has to get here somehow. Some mechanical how.

      So much for being green.

      It is possible to live without killing a single animal in some parts of the world, but only some.

      By the way, there are inhabited parts of the world in which surviving on locally produced food without killing animals is impossible even with a greenhouse.

    2. Daisy, as a species we have been eating meat for the last 1.5 million years – in fact, meat-eating made us human, in the sense that it facilitated brain expansion etc. The idea that killing is cruel is interesting, because it means that a large part of the animal kingdom is cruel as well. You might retort that yes, but we should no better, since we are cognizant of these matters.

      The evolution of morality has a lot to do with optimal survival of the community – cruel communities self-destruct. The key is that there is a major difference between utilitarian killing (for meat), and cruelty, which is a delight in suffering. I support the former, not the latter. Therefore I also oppose factory farms, and care about the source of the animal products I consume.

      In a more practical sense, mixed farming is key to the ecological sustainability of the land, as well as the economic sustainability. We need animals to keep the land healthy. I spent some years on my own organic farm, so I know about this. Of course, there are problems with the way the “organic” system is run and defined. I’m more supportive of farming which takes nature and the environment into account, in the BIG picture.

  27. I read the factory farm article and was repulsed. Thankfully, I never ran into that attitude in my fundy-lite church. We were taught to be good stewards of the earth and it’s resources including animals. Here’s a link to Joel Salatin’s Polyface farm and his principles on farming and stewardship. It’s a far cry from the article Darrel posted. http://www.polyfacefarms.com/principles/

      1. He did use the second one correctly, but I think the one he was correcting was the one in the third sentence.

        The Punctuation Police are always happy to have another dedicated person on the force. πŸ™‚

  28. Meant to mention:

    Last Sunday the Gospel reading was the parable of the Prodigal Son.

    The visiting priest (a real sweetie-pie) was talking about how upset the older brother was at the younger brother’s return.

    “Do you know who was even more upset at the younger brother’s return?” he asked.

    We shook our heads.

    “The fatted calf!”

    πŸ˜€ πŸ˜†

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