People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, is defending its use of a billboard comparing a pig to Jesus Christ, saying its “Christian vegan campaign director” believed it was important to use the ad.
PETA links pigs to Jesus in billboard campaign
While apologizing to readers who were offended by the billboard, PETA’s e-mail response to complaints pleads, “We hope that you will take just a moment to consider why our Christian vegan campaign director felt that it was important to use this image and phrase.
“A growing number of Christians are embracing vegetarianism,” the note continues. “Books have been written, and multiple websites launched, to address Christian vegetarianism. There are even groups all over the world that are devoted to this growing trend.
“Many adopt a vegetarian diet for health reasons, following the teachings of Dr. Robert Schuler (sic) and others, but many others decide to forgo meat simply because they feel that the cruelty-free diet that God prescribed in the Garden of Eden is best and that what happens to animals on factory farms is wrong in that it violates the Bible’s command that ‘a righteous man has concern for the welfare of his beasts.'”
Saying male pigs on farms are castrated without painkillers, PETA claims when Christian eat meat they are supporting “animal abuse.”
Says the animal-rights group: “When PETA went undercover on pig farms, we found horrible animal abuse: workers bludgeoning pigs with metal poles, slamming pigs’ heads against concrete floors and skinning sows who were fully conscious.”
PETA also claims female pigs are treated as “inanimate ‘meat machines,’ squeezed into metal stalls barely larger than their own bodies and kept constantly pregnant. Mother pigs are immobilized and unable even to nuzzle their piglets.”
The National Pork Producers counter charges of cruelty to sows. On its website, the group defends the use of gestation stalls:
- Pigs reared outdoors must deal with extreme changes in temperature, snow, rain, mud and parasites. Pigs housed in gestation stalls in modern buildings are provided with a more uniform temperature and protection from the weather.
- Pigs are aggressive animals; when housed in pens as a group they have an established order of dominance. Pigs at the lower end of the pecking order can suffer severe bites from more dominate animals, and subordinates will have less access to their daily diet unless steps are taken to minimize these conflicts. Gestation stalls are one way in which farmers can provide more individual attention to pregnant sows as well as provide protections from other pigs.
- In addition to keeping sows from biting one another, nutritional programs can be individually designed for sows that need more or less feed, depending on their body type. Record keeping that can trace medicines used and feed additives also is easier when sows are kept in stalls.
The animal-rights group claims the man who helped develop the faith-based billboards is a Christian, as are several other members of PETA’s staff.
PETA urges complainants to check out Christian vegetarianism on the Web at JesusVeg.com and Christianveg.com.