One of the most effective profit centers for the animal rights groups has been their save the seals campaign. Seals are the perfect poster-animal for fund raising. They have big eyes and cute fur combine to make people’s hearts melt and their wallets open when they hear of the “alleged” horrors of seal hunting. Christians should make sure that they are not spending the Lord’s money on these anti-sealing groups.
Here are a couple of reasons why Christians should not be supporting animal rights groups that oppose sealing. First, Canada maintains one of the finest natural resources policies in the world. While no agency is perfect, I have confidence that they know how many seals can be safely harvested without endangering the sustainability of the species. Second, seal harvesting creates wealth by utilizing the natural abundance of the earth. Responsible harvest of wildlife is about as green of an industry as you can get. With all the attention on green jobs, it would seem to me that consistent environmentalists would recognize that hunting, trapping, and sealing should be high on the list of jobs the government should encourage.Third, Christians should question the reasons why nations oppose seal hunting, especially when seals don’t reside in their lands. It is easy for countries to express moral outrage at killing species that don’t exist their countries. Creating such laws constitute an easy political win with no negative consequences for the politician because he doesn’t have to worry about offending an interest group that might vote against him.
Finally, Christians should ask the animal rights groups why they don’t fight for the protections of rats as much as they do for the cute baby seal. Isn’t it speciest for animal rights groups to do this? Have they sold out their principles or have they just succumbed to the marketing needs to a meat-eating public? I will let others decide. But I think Christians should think carefully about notions of animals being ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ God made them all. They all have their place. We should harvest animals based on our needs and desires and the needs of the environment that God has entrusted to our care.
Christians should oppose seal hunting ONLY if it can be shown that the seal hunt threatens the viability of the species. Clubbing a seal is not a pretty sight, particularly for people who eat meat that comes wrapped in cellophane. But properly trained people can quickly kill seals with a blow to the head. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. No harvesting of a free-ranging species is ever “clinically perfect.” We must be careful though. Veterinarians are not perfect either, even though they work under pristine conditions of their office.
Stephen M. Vantassel is tutor of Theology at King’s Evangelical Divinity School
Copyright 2009 Stephen M. Vantassel