Video: A Biblical Perspective on Animal Rights

My latest YouTube video builds off the theme of my previous blog post,  exploring the biblical perspective on animal rights.

Animal rights are often ignored by those who argue God gave us “dominion” over animals. This video examines that argument in greater depth. It also demonstrates there are plenty of verses in the bible that support animal rights

In fact, my research indicates points in a different direction. Modern factory farming would not survive if Christians actually followed biblical guidelines concerning animal treatment.

We want our belief system to support our prejudices

Of course, we tend cherry-pick the parts of our belief system that work best for us. We choose the parts that are easy and discard the rest.

This is a common thread amongst all belief systems, whether religious or political. For example, gun-loving Americans like to emphasize the second amendment (the right to bear arms). But they are considerably less vocal about the first amendment (freedom of speech and religion). Especially where it conflicts with their beliefs (flag-burning).

I realize many religious people feel human beings hold a special place in creation. I don’t think the concept of animal rights contradicts this view (although I personally disagree with the way it is often stated).

Humans are uncomfortable with being closely connected to the rest of the natural world. Divisions between us and the rest of the planet makes it easier for us to deny others basic rights, whether they be other humans or other animals. Feeling superior to the rest of creation definitely makes it easier for us to abuse the planet.

In the case of animals, I think it’s hypocritical to posit speciesism as a biblical perspective on animal rights. If we’re honest, I think we’ll realize  it’s just a convenient justification for prejudice. We might not care about the birds, for example, but god sees every sparrow that falls…do you really think he wouldn’t care about how we treat animals? Or groundwater?

As I mentioned before, I’m not religious. But religious texts tell us a lot about the development of human values. If people were concerned about how animals were treated thousands of years ago, how much more should we prioritize that conversation today?

Thanks for watching,


2 Responses to “Video: A Biblical Perspective on Animal Rights

  • I just wrote a long paper about this for my Masters degree; Andrew Linzey has written a lot about animal rights and the Judeo-Christian religious traditions. Most of the Eastern traditions are a lot kinder to animals (though still put humans at the top of the hierarchy). My conclusion in exploring whether the modern animal rights movement ‘owes’ anything to the Abrahamic religions was, across 4k words, “heck no”.

    • I completely agree, Jenny. The modern animal rights movement really owes zero to Abrahamic religions. But, at the same time, you can’t use following an Abrahamic religion as an excuse not to go vegan 😉

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