Human Animals — Who’s Eating your Meow Mix

Many years ago we learned that Princeton’s own Professor Peter Singer had devised a method by which to excuse some human persons from the human race and welcome into it other entities which were in fact animals, not humans. As Professor Dianne Irving pointed out in a speech on the topic,  “Princeton’s Peter Singer—a ‘preference’ utilitarian…argues that some animals have more moral value than young human children or ill, disabled human adults.”

Of course Singer is not alone. Most recently he has been joined by a cadre of animal rights activists who have brought their own spin to the question of what it means to be a person. York County SPCA executive director Melissa Smith, for example, explained to her local newspaper that she took her lead from veterinarian Elliot Katz, who recommended some years ago that, if the owner of a dog or a cat is referred to as the “guardian” instead of the “owner,” a higher level of moral responsibility is required of that individual.

Katz, founder of the international organization In Defense of Animals, is convinced that, by changing the language that describes the pet caretaker, the caretaker’s behavior toward that animal will also change. He could be onto something, of course. As we know in America, since pregnancy has fallen into disrepute and is viewed as a disease instead of a natural state of expectation, millions of human persons have been killed by abortion.

Having said this, let me add that Katz and his fellow animal lovers are using some terminology that should send shivers down your spine. Rutgers law professor Gary Francione, who has written extensively on animal rights, is convinced that rhetorical modification is not enough, but rather what is needed is a change in the legal status of animals. According to Francione, “You don’t go from non-personhood to personhood through incremental changes … (including) language changes. Once somebody has achieved personhood, then you can improve that status and ameliorate the lack of equality through various means.”

What? Yes, in his latest book, Animals as Persons, Francione sets forth the argument that “nonhuman animals should be regarded as ‘persons’—full members of the moral community.”

The attitude about animals is even changing among Americans. In an introduction to one of his books on animal rights, Francione writes, “Two-thirds of Americans polled by the Associated Press agree with the following statement: An animal’s right to live free of suffering should be just as important as a person’s right to live free of suffering.”

What’s wrong with this picture? We should reflect briefly on something Wesley Smith said regarding animal rights activists/liberationists (ARLists):

We have to understand that ARLists do not share a common frame of moral reference with the rest of society.

Whereas most of us believe that humans have the highest moral value, it is an article of faith among ARLists that no moral distinction exists between humans and animals; “a rat, is a dog, is a boy,” in one animal liberationist’s infamous assertion. Thus, while most of us believe that we have a positive moral duty to treat animals humanely and support punishing people that abuse them, ARL movement devotees believe—not metaphorically, but literally—that we have no right to use animals for any purpose, not even as seeing-eye dogs.

While I have no tolerance for those who abuse animals or wildlife in general, I see nothing commendable in the philosophical position that my cat or your dog should be recognized as a human person in the same way that some of us are. Yes, SOME, not all! Let’s not forget that America has already dehumanized preborn children, denying their human personhood in the law and the culture.

This is why our first priority as pro-life Americans must be the pursuit of HUMAN personhood—not animal, not vegetable, not corporate.

So the next time you step near your cat’s Meow Mix bowl, take care. Some may argue that you are invading a person’s space down there, rather than ensuring that Tabby has enough to eat!

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  • Instead of focusing on people as animals, and extreme statements, why not visit Catholic Concern for Animals Our General Secretary, Dr. Deborah Jones recently wrote a book ‘The School of Compassion: A Roman Catholic Theology of Animals’. We are not only pro-life, but we extend our pro-life beliefs for all life. You can’t put compassion in a box.

    Personally, I believe that animals were created by God who created humans made in his image. If we are truly made in his image, we as followers of Jesus, should also have his compassion for His creatures.

    I would rather see an article about how we have strayed from God’s image when we support the global affects of billions of animals in factory farms for our greedy appetites (see Numbers 11:31-33). Someday we will be held accountable for every creature as Hebrews 4:13 states.

    What we eat and drink, should give glory to God as 1 Cor. 10:31-33 states.

    We, as people of ‘God’ have neglected our commission to be God’s creatures’ protectors. This is what should be focused on. God’s creatures are still being neglected. It’s time to speak out.

    Please write an article about our responsibility towards animals. How we treat them affects and reflects our relationship with God. I think that is more important.

    Jan Fredericks
    Founder, God’s Creatures Ministry
    Wayne, NJ

  • Why don’t you write it if it is so important to you?

    You won’t find many people around here though who think that helping the animals is “more important” than what this author does — saving the unborn humans.

    But if you submit an article to CE about the animals and it isn’t nutty, we will see about publishing it.

    Mary Kochan, Senior Editor, Catholic Exchange

  • I think everyone who has ever owned–yes, “owned” is the proper term–a dog or cat has seen them as “little persons” much as St. Francis of Assisi referred to the creatures as his little brothers and sisters. I love the stuffing out of my puppy and my cat, talk to them in complete sentences, and get disappointed when they can’t talk back. But to really love them, we have to respect them for what they are: creatures lower in the hierarchy than we (however much some might wish to make them otherwise), just as, like it or not, we are (for now at least) lower than the angels.

    The best explanation of the purpose of animals and how they fit into our lives that I’ve seen comes from the Catechism: “Animals are God’s creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals” (2416). Animals bless God and give him glory–that’s quite a vocation for our four-footed friends, and it’s something better than even the most ardent animal-rights activist can give a creature.

  • “You won’t find many people around here though who think that helping the animals is “more important” than what this author does — saving the unborn humans”

    I didn’t say that animals are more important than humans. I meant that our relationship with God and fulfiling his commission to care about His creatures is more important than writing about whether animals are people and publishing extreme quotes outside of the Catholic faith.
    I’m a pro-life Christian for the unborn, the elderly, the disabled and for God’s animals. I do not put people below or on equal importance of animals.
    Helping humans doesn’t mean to neglect God’s creatures (especially when it is so easy not to support their suffering by avoiding eating their flesh and products).

    A 30 minute online video “Christian Concern for All God’s Creatures” I produced and directed from a conference we had has Deborah Jones in it and many others.

    If we truly care about the hungry in the world, we would not support using their food and water and destroying their habitat to raise cattle for our beefstakes, etc. Father John Dear, S.J. writees: ‘While people suffer and die of starvation in Central and South America, these regions ship their grain to the U.S. to feed our cows, pigs, and chickens so that we can satisfy our desire for animal flesh, milk, and eggs.’ (from Christianity and Vegetarianism: Pursuing the Nonviolence of Jesus)

    So, if we truly care about people, we would care about what we eat.
    Jan Fredericks

  • sillyfuzz

    Man is made to worship God. Are animals? I never witnessed an non-human creature worship God. I find it difficult to put anything on par with man. Are animals not put on earth to serve man? What are people to do if they have allergies that rule out many non-animal foods.

  • c-kingsley

    No, animals do not “worship” God, but their nature and being gives Him glory and reflects His glory. I believe this can be found in the bible, though I can’t tell you where just now. It’s along the lines of God reflecting on His creation and seeing that it was good.

  • Psalm 150:6 “Let everything that has breath give praise to the Lord! Hallelujah!”
    I think we need to ‘let’ God’s creatures praise him.
    Psalm 145:9-10
    “The Lord is good to all, compassionate to every creature. All you works give you thanks, O Lord…”
    Animals are waiting for us to set them free: “All of creation is groaning in labor pains waiting for the revelationn of the children of God–hoping to be set free from slavery to corruption” (see Romans 8:19-22)
    Jesus actually died for the ‘whole world’.
    Colossians 1:19-20 “For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross (through him), whether those on earth or those in heaven.”

  • Jan,

    I’m writing this with my cat, Tiger, on my lap.

    I think there’s something missing in your analysis. Christ did indeed come to save the whole world, and all Creation is reconciled in Him: but it is in Him, a man, that the reconciliation happens. And because His Body the Church is joined to him inseparably, the reconciliation of the Creation happens through Christians. I mean through our work, through our prayer, through our longings; through everything we do and are. Man is inescapably at the summit of the Creation, which is why, incidentally, it is okay for us to eat animals that we deem are appropriately eaten (cows, but not dogs in our culture).

    I believe that it is through the Eucharistic miracle flowing into the world from the Holy Mass that the Creation will be transformed at the end of the age. Then God will be all-in-all, and we may well see something new for our animal friends, not to mention ourselves. I think the best thing that someone can do for animals is to be a faithful member of the Church, tend that part of the vineyard that it is given to you to tend, and pray always.