Land: Human rights trump animal rights
Posted on Jul 9, 2002 | by Dwayne Hastings
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--An unhatched sea turtle in Florida, an unhatched spotted owl in Oregon and an unhatched snail darter fish in Tennessee have more legal protection under the law than a partially born human being in the United States of America, lamented Richard Land on his weekly "Richard Land Live!" radio program July 6.
And Land, who also hosts the daily "For Faith & Family" radio program from his Nashville studio, said while animal life is to be respected, only human life is to be revered.
Reacting to news reports from the national Animal Rights 2002 conference June 29 in McLean, Va., the president of the SBC's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission said human beings are superior to all other species because they are created in the image of God.
Land took Peter Singer, a prominent animal rights activist and professor at Princeton University, to task. According to press reports, during the conference Singer said Christianity was a "problem" for the animal rights movement.
"Peter Singer is right when he says Christianity has been a problem for the animal rights movement," Land said. "We have been almost as big a problem for the animal rights movement as Peter Singer has been for the human rights movement.
"As Christians, we believe that the Bible teaches clearly, forthrightly and directly that God created human beings in his image, not any other part of creation," Land continued, on Richard Land Live!, a caller-driven, midday talk show he hosts. The program airs noon to 3 p.m. Eastern time over the Salem Radio Network each Saturday.
Singer, author of the book, "Animal Liberation," criticized American Christianity for its "fundamentalist strain" that takes the Bible too literally, thereby promoting speciesism, Land explained. He defined speciesism as the belief that being the member of a certain species "makes you superior to any other being that is not a member of that species."
"I have news for you, Peter. We are superior. God says so. I know that doesn't mean much to you, but it means a lot to me and to a lot of other people," Land said, noting that it troubles him that Singer and others like him don't recognize the "vast difference between human beings and all other created things."
"Human beings have a soul; cows don't; apes don't; dolphins don't. We are the only ones who are created in the image of God," Land said, while admitting that Bible-believing Christians have not done all they could to respect and protect God's creation.
"The Bible tells us in Genesis chapter 9 that God made a covenant with every created living thing. That means we do not have the right to utterly disrespect an animal and to cause it needless pain or to treat it as if it were an inanimate object," Land explained.
Yet a line has to be drawn between animals and humans, Land said. "While we do not have the right to cause needless pain and suffering to animals to create cosmetics, we do have the right to cause pain, while attempting to minimize it, and to cause harm, even the death of animals, in attempts to find cures for diseases that cause suffering and death for humans."
God's creation is valuable to him; God called it good before he created human beings, yet man is most important, Land said, noting in Genesis chapter 1 God gave man dominion, literally "to rule" over the created order. "These are strong dominant words in the biblical text that leave no room for doubt that God has placed human beings first in the created order," Land said.
"Clearly God expects human beings to manage the land and to cause it to bring forth its fruit but at the same time to act as good stewards," Land said. "As stewards of God's property, we are responsible for protecting his creation."
Land said Singer also took the opportunity of the conference to reiterate his controversial position that a severely disabled infant may be killed up to 28 days after its birth if the parents deem that the baby's life is not worth living.
"It is terribly disconcerting to hear someone allege that human beings don't have rights that non-humans have," Land said. "He would give more respect to the life of an adult chimpanzee than he would give to a newborn baby."
A caller to the program from Germantown, Tenn., cited news reports that during the conference Singer defended his view that humans and animals can engage in "mutually satisfying" sexual relationships.
"This is sick, really sick. That is bestiality and it is horribly wrong," Land responded. "It shows you once again what happens when you start saying there are no essential differences between human beings and animals. You do not elevate animals; you end up debasing human beings.
"You either take the biblical view or you are left to your own devices," he continued. "And once you are left to your own devices, no telling where the fallen human imagination will go.
"This guy is a danger to human rights," Land insisted of Singer.