People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has been widely criticized for its campaign comparing Nazi Holocaust victims to farm animals, its blind insistence that Jesus was a vegetarian, and it callous attempts to cheapen the symbols and rituals of Roman Catholicism. But a new report from the Center for Consumer Freedom indicates that these offensive gestures are just the tip of a larger iceberg.
This eye-opening report includes an inventory of scripture contradicting PETA’s claim that only vegetarians can be observant Christians, Jews, Mormons, and Muslims.
A limited number of bound, printed copies are available to religious leaders and credentialed journalists. Just drop us an e-mail, and include your affiliation and postal mailing address.
“[H]owever sympathetically you interpret the Judeo-Christian religious tradition, it puts animals in a fundamentally different category from human beings … I think in the end we have, reluctantly, to recognize that the Judeo-Christian religious tradition is our foe.”
– Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation and PETA’s philosophical godfather
At the “Animal Rights 2002” national convention, Animal Liberation author and avowed atheist Peter Singer lamented that “mainstream Christianity has been a problem for the animal movement.” Two days later at the same event, a program director with the Fund for Animals issued a warning: “If we are not able to bring the churches, the synagogues, and the mosques around to the animal rights view,” he cautioned, “we will never make large-scale progress for animal rights in the United States.”
In the hope of converting Planet Earth’s religious majority into vegetarians, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has taken these challenges seriously. The group regularly searches for “faith-based campaigners” to spread the gospel of vegetarianism. And like Peter Singer, acknowledged by PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk as her life’s inspiration, the group’s own odd evangelism actively seeks to confront and challenge the beliefs of Jews, Catholics, Protestant Christians, Mormons, and Muslims — often in deliberate defiance of their respective scriptures.
PETA generally avoids alienating Hindus, whose “bad karma” prohibitions against killing most animals have endeared them to animal rightists. But Hindu law expressly permits eating meat. Similarly, the Buddhist world has (so far) been spared PETA’s impious tantrums, although many Buddhists eat meat — including the Dalai Lama.
In its religious outreach, as with everything else the group attempts, PETA has blindly pursued offensive strategies without regard for the consequences. Instead of earning a reputation for “kindness,” “compassion,” and other qualities associated with religious faithfulness, PETA pursues campaigns that offend, provoke, and otherwise show contempt for the faithful.
PETA claims — despite ample evidence to the contrary — that Jesus Christ was a vegetarian. (The six-volume, 7,000-page Anchor Bible Dictionary doesn’t even include an entry for “vegetarianism.”) A PETA website urges Muslims to eat no meat, in open contradiction to the Qur’an.
PETA holds protests at houses of worship, even suing one church that tried to protect its members from Sunday-morning harassment. Its billboards and advertisements taunt Christians with the message that livestock (not Jesus) died for their sins.
PETA declares, contrary to a wealth of rabbinical teaching, that ritual kosher slaughter is inherently cruel and barbarous. It directs its Jewish members (and any other Jews who will listen) to abstain from eating lamb during the Passover seder. And the group’s infamous “Holocaust on Your Plate” campaign crassly compares the Jewish victims of Nazi genocide with farm animals.
Along the way, PETA has considered “Thou Shalt Not Steal” a commandment of convenience, lifting copyrighted materials without permission from a Catholic religious order, a popular television show, and even the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. PETA’s mission to bring carnivores under the tofu tent routinely ignores prohibitions against “taking the Lord’s name in vain.” And the group’s official endorsement of arson and other violence against animal-rights targets comes most often from its leading parsnip pulpitarian, a man who publicly holds himself up as an example of “Christian mercy” while privately advocating “blowing stuff up and smashing windows” and “burning meat trucks.”
Because of PETA’s obnoxious and often hateful rhetoric (and its brazen association with the violent underbelly of the animal rights movement), its voice is frequently condemned by mainstream religious leaders and increasingly unwelcome among worshippers.