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CHRISTIANITY DISCRIMINATES AGAINST ANIMALS: PETER SINGER

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MCLEAN, Va., July 2, 2002 (LSN.ca) - Princeton University philosopher Peter Singer told a national meeting of animal rights activists that “mainstream Christianity is a problem for the animal movement.” Singer, who has won notoriety for his belief that homo sapiens (mankind) has no right to claim superiority over other animals, singled out “more conservative mainstream fundamentalist views” that “want to make a huge gulf between humans and animals”—a form of discrimination he calls “speciesism.”  Singer is also famous for endorsing “consensual” sexual relationships between animals and people, and for arguing that parents should be allowed to kill an unwanted or deformed child up to 28 days after birth. (He recently renounced such a cut-off as arbitrary, stressing that the decision should be made as early as possible in the child’s life, including in the womb.)  As reported by CNS News, Singer asserted that the Judeo-Christian ethic teaches “not only that humans have souls and animals don’t, but that humans are made in the image of God and that God gave mankind dominion over the animals.” In fact, historic Christianity has taught that animals do have a significant value above lower creation, but of a different kind than man according to nature—and that man’s ability to reason and to exercise power over animals obliges people to treat animals kindly.  Some of Singer’s remarks appeared to endorse this thinking: “Animals generally are not making moral choices,” he told CNS News. “Animals are not the same as humans. They can’t reflect on what they are doing and think about the alternatives. Humans can. ... We’re the ones who have to have the responsibility for making those choices.”  However, other remarks betrayed something less than the cold logic he claims to embrace. When asked if animal rights include insects, rodents or shellfish, he stumbled: “I think insects are, you are right, the toughest conflicts we generally face. ... I wouldn’t kill a spider if I can avoid killing a spider and I don’t think I need to,” he said. What if termites were threatening his home? “With termites that are actually eating out the foundation of my home, and this happens, this is a more serious problem and I think at that point, I would feel that I need to dwell somewhere and if I can’t drive them away in some way, I guess I would end up killing them,” he said. Asked if it would be acceptable to kill humans in order to protect geese from being killed and eaten, Singer replied: “For starters, I think it would be a very bad thing to do to the [animal rights] movement.” He says he does not support violence to further the cause, preferring civil disobedience, such as “entering property, trespassing in order to obtain evidence.”  For CNSNews coverage see:  http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewCulture.asp?Page=\Culture\archive

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