The plight of animals might not seem like a pressing issue during a time of terrorism, war, and famine. And it's not typically an issue that's on the radar screen of many Christians. But author Matthew Scully thinks it should be. In his recent Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy (St. Martin's Press), Scully explores several forms of animal cruelty from a Christian perspective: factory farming, canned hunting, whaling, and animal experimentation. He not only exposes these practices for what they are, but also offers solid arguments for showing mercy toward animals.

Scully, a vegetarian, Christian, and conservative, serves as senior speechwriter for President Bush. When freelance writer Karen Beattie spoke to Scully on the eve of war with Iraq, world events had not distracted him from animal suffering.

Why do you think the issue of animal cruelty has been overlooked by many Christians?

Christians tend to think of it as a modern, secular cause that's antithetical to their own, more traditional beliefs. But it's not. In my book, I try to remind readers of the very venerable and beautiful tradition in Christianity that calls upon us to respect animals as fellow creatures, and to view them as a part of creation, bearing the mark of their maker.

Another reason is the belief that people who care about animals tend to do so at the expense of their concern for human beings. I think that's an entirely false choice. For instance, you can avoid eating meat, or you can give your business to small, more humane farms without affecting your treatment of other people.

Do you think most people are unaware of what goes on in factory farms or science labs?

I think the average adult is vaguely aware of the horrors ...

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