It’s Time for Evangelicals to Speak Out Against Animal Abuse


‘Every Living Thing’ campaign calls evangelicals to condemn abuse of God’s animal creation.

Barrett Duke didn’t grow up with pets and never gave the welfare of animals any serious thought. Then he met Rusty — the golden retriever who stole his heart.

Duke discovered what most animal lovers know: that Rusty was more than just a random assortment of cells wrapped in fur. He had a personality and intelligence and a will that was all his own. When he lost Rusty to cancer, it was like losing a family member.

“Rusty was such an incredible animal, it changed my perspective on God’s creation,” Duke told me.

The wonder of this creature sent Duke, a devout Southern Baptist, to his Bible searching for answers about how to best care for animals. He became convicted of the importance of humane treatment for what Duke now calls our “co-inhabitants” on Earth.

Animal welfare was an issue on which every major American Christian denominationhad taken an official position. No such guidance existed for evangelicals.

Until now.

Born of Duke’s search for answers, an “Evangelical Statement on Responsible Care for Animals” was released Wednesday at the National Press Club.

Duke, a vice president at the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission joined with Ethics and Public Policy Center Vice President Michael Cromartie and The Clapham Group’s Mark Rodgers to develop a clear biblical statement to guide the religious faithful on animal care.

It has garnered the signatures of a who’s who of evangelical leaders including Richard Land of the Southern Evangelical Seminary, Willow Creek Community Church pastor Bill Hybels and Southern Baptist leaders Russell Moore and Albert Mohler. The Humane Society of the United States has affirmed the statement.

The proclamation, which provides extensive scriptural citation, asserts, “God has given all animals the breath of life, that He sustains them… they belong ultimately to Him, and… He has declared them ‘good,’ indicating they have value to Him independent of human use.”

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Kirsten Powers

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