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Five years ago I warned in this space about an aggressive animal-rights movement that seeks to blur the distinction between animals and humans. Since then it has gained steam, even unwittingly drawing some Christians into its orbit.

I know of a Bible study group in Los Angeles that recently laid hands on a sick dog, praying God would heal her—and if not, receive her into heaven. A Christian veterinarian administers healing sessions for patients. And dozens of websites offer biblical "proof" that animals are resurrected, as if Christ's atonement somehow included them.

Well-meaning evangelical authors write of their hopes that God will admit their beloved dogs into heaven: at Amazon.com, the list of books maintaining that pets are heaven-bound is long and furry. (My personal favorite: Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates, "a beautifully written book from a Christian perspective about our beloved pets" going to heaven.)

Are these merely examples of overzealous animal lovers—or signs of the latest "rights" campaign gaining steam?

Of course, Christians have a specific command to care for the creation. Genesis records that God, after forming every living creature and calling this "good," entrusts to Adam the task of ruling over them in a responsible way. William Wilberforce, demonstrating this duty, founded the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1824. As such, we should delight in the unique joy that animals bring, and support the work of local shelters that care for abused and abandoned animals.

But that's not what we're witnessing here. These are signs of Christians weakening their best defense against activists on what constitutes the distinctiveness of humans.

Christianity teaches that humans are unique in all ...

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April 2008

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