As the Christmas holiday season begins this week, the animal rights nuts at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) remind us all that their ridiculous philosophy knows no bounds. No longer satisfied with merely intimidating fur shoppers or recruiting grade-school children into its vegetarian army, PETA has begun attacking churches that re-enact the Nativity scene with live animals. Or at least that’s what PETA’s leaders thought they were doing.

Reverend Jason Armstrong of the Anchorage (Alaska) First Free Methodist Church was understandably mystified last week, when PETA tried to talk him out of including flesh-and-blood animals in his congregation’s outdoor display. As Rev. Armstrong told the Anchorage Daily News, no live animals were involved in the first place:

“We have some puppet camel things we put out,” Armstrong said. “We have a cow hood thing that a person will wear that actually just looks spooky … No one’s come by protesting or thrown blood-stained fur at us or anything. We even use a plastic baby.”

Memo to PETA: The centerpiece of most Christian Nativity re-enactments is the manger, an animal feeding-trough converted into an infant’s crib. No animals? No manger. No manger? No Christmas.

Just wait ’til self-styled PETA holy man Bruce Friedrich learns that this year’s widely publicized Nativity Story movie includes footage of Mary riding a donkey. The opportunities for another religious flare-up of PETA’s chronic foot-in-mouth disease are endless.