In my inbox there are messages from friends, emails with photos included of Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin posing with her son and a recently killed moose, shot by her, with blood all over his neck and muzzle, his head turned at an awkward angle as they are crouched in the snow behind his body. I’ve also got messages about her bounty of $150 for every left foreleg of an Alaskan wolf, and her $400,000 state campaign to promote the aerial hunting of wolves and bears, something so sickeningly cruel and unsportsmanlike I can’t even begin to comprehend how a self-respecting hunter would support it*.
Try as hard as I might, I can’t help but be confused by how many Christians will not only kill one of God’s creatures unnecessarily, but how they can also derive pleasure from it. I understand that because of the ingrained dominionist views in which those of us Judeo/Christian and Muslim traditions have been steeped, we think that animals were put here for human disposal and whim as though this were fact. [As an interesting side note, Republican speechwriter Matthew Scully, ethical vegetarian and author of Dominion, the highly regarded book exploring and criticizing our cruel treatment of animals, wrote Sarah Palin’s RNC acceptance speech. Despite his work on behalf of non-humans, his hypocrisy is staggering.] I can accept that this is the mindset in which people have been raised and, though I heartily disagree with its arrogance, I understand that how we are encultured to accept self-serving beliefs.
What does not compute for me is how the benevolent and all-knowing God Christians worship (as well as Jews and Muslims) could create beings with central nervous systems and the capacity to suffer only to have them all at our questionable mercy. This, and the incomprehensible suffering most non-humans must bear at our hands, is what turns many vegans into atheists. Why would such an exalted, wise being, the holiest spirit imaginable, create these complex, dynamic bodies, wired to experience pain and the desire to avoid it, when a different food and materials source, one without sentience, could also have been created? (Of course, we have that – they’re called plants – but knowing that omnivores see animals also as food, this is what I am talking about.) The question of how God could betray and shun the animals so nakedly is one for individuals and theologians to sort out. What I am asking here is how Christians like Sarah Palin can take such delight in brutalizing their Lord’s creation. Isn’t killing a magnificent being, one that a Christian accepts is of the Lord’s careful and perfect design, a slap in the face to its creator? Doesn’t that imply disrespect for God’s perfect creation?
As I said, I don’t understand. Or is her brand of Christian more in the Ann Coulter camp, who wrote in one of her books (I will not promote it even slightly by giving the title), “God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, ‘Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It’s yours.” Really, Ann. Really? How beautiful. There is either a serious (and most likely deliberate) misinterpretation of the Bible at work here or God is nothing but a sadistic bully. I choose to believe the former. Or does the vengeful, angry God of the Old Testament cause confusion for Christians, providing for them an example of the kind of being who would flood and plague a whole population because of a few infidels? A God who is willing to kill everyone but Noah to make a grand, sweeping point? This must be Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter’s God: surly, irrational, cruel.
Increasingly, I am thinking that the evangelistic, right-wing, fire-and-brimstone Christians should be identified as something other than the word ‘Christian’. Could they be called Old Testamentists or something like that? Because Christ, well, I can only think that Christ would not want to lend his name to someone who kills innocent beings and then smiles for a picture. I think that those of us who are vegan (but not necessarily Christian) are better examples of Christ’s teachings than any damn Scripture-quoting earth- and animal-destroyer like Sarah Palin. Maybe Matthew Scully can set me straight on this.
*I do acknowledge that hunting is a more honest way of eating meat than simply going to the grocery store or the drive-though, and though I do not endorse animals being killed at all, I think that anyone who wants to eat it should have to hunt for it. One, at least the animals would have lived a more natural life until it was needlessly killed, and, two, there would be a lot fewer animals consumed. So hunters still suck, but all meat-eaters need to examine their habits.