by Lee Hall
Barrett Duke, a founding fellow of the Research Institute at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, on March 17, 2015 received accolades from Humane Society of the United States president Wayne Pacelle in his personal blog “A Humane Nation.”
Explained Pacelle, “It’s part of my commitment, and that of The HSUS, to integrate – or to reintegrate – other voices and perspectives within the humane movement.”
This is the same Barrett Duke who warned Baptist Press readers: “Imagine what will happen if the government feels compelled to indoctrinate our children about the new civil right of ‘same-sex marriage.'” But Duke didn’t leave it to the imagination:
“If the radical homosexual agenda is codified into law,” Duke said, “our own government will be arrayed against us and our struggle to protect our religious freedom. We can fight this battle now or we can fight it later, but we are going to fight this battle.”
Duke insists laws to prevent hate crimes will be used “to harass those who hold religious convictions about the sinfulness of homosexual behavior.” To Duke, the Supreme Court’s examination of gay marriage in Hollingsworth v. Perry was the banana peel on the slippery slope to mother-son matings.
HSUS president Pacelle pointed out that Duke’s group endorsed a Tennessee bill that raises penalties for attending animal fights. Maybe somebody needs to tell HSUS that Dr. Duke has no use for legislation unless it co-incidentally fits the Southern Baptist Convention’s world view. In The Radical Homosexual Agenda and the Threat to Religious Liberty, Duke exhorts readers: “We must stand up and protect our freedom to believe and to practice our faith according to God’s leading, not governments’.”
Pacelle wrote: “Voices like Dr. Duke’s are extremely important to our movement: the ERLC [Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission] engages in public policy on behalf of the Southern Baptist Convention, which is the largest Protestant religion in the United States, with over 16 million members in over 46,000 churches.”
The logic seems to be that if a hater belongs to a group with “over 16 million members” and has anything in common with you, it’s time to kiss up.
Subjugation & slaughter
“I was struck by a powerful exposition,” Pacelle declared, wherein Barrett Duke proclaimed “Biblical truths” about animals. In Duke’s piece, animals are property of God: “He has allowed humans to subjugate and even to consume them, but that does not include wanton abuse.”
Subjugate away! Slaughter on! For Heaven’s sake, just don’t degrade Tennessee with animal fighting.
Concerned that animal welfare is unjustifiably pegged by right-leaning people as a liberal cause, Pacelle gently nudged the powerful expositor: “What is the sort of approach on animal welfare that puts conservatives more at ease?”
Duke responded by recommending allegiance to a hierarchical view of creation, with humans above other animals. Pacelle apparently agreed. Regarding the growing body of work deconstructing that hierarchical model, Pacelle said, “I don’t think this helped much in our outreach to faith-based people.”
Rusty the golden retriever
Pacelle then reprinted Duke’s “powerful exposition.” It invoked “a golden retriever named Rusty that I got for my children in 2004…the dog everyone should have—loving, playful, and eager to please.”
After the saccharine opening, Duke offered several reasons that animals matter. Noah’s Ark, for example. Plus, Psalm 104 says God “causes” the grass to grow for the cattle.” So, Duke claimed, “God isn’t simply passively watching nature take care of its own.”
Animals bring glory to God by their very existence, Duke asserts, and have “innocence and vulnerability”—concepts connected to the human impulse to establish a criminal-justice system.
Yet Duke believes animal sacrifice, as practiced in Biblical times, was a sensible requirement: “Either the guilty person or an acceptable substitute must answer for human sin.” God therefore created the sacrificial system in Israel and “commanded that this system regularly kill innocent animals in order to satisfy the demands of his divine justice.”
Such is the commentary now enshrined on the personal blog of president of the Humane Society of the United States. According to Duke, when it comes to biblical references, “we are to accept their infallible guidance and truth.”
That would explain why the “Southern Baptists’ man in Washington” also states: “Our faith and the radical homosexual agenda are on track for a cataclysmic conflict.”
In short, Barrett Duke is a merchant of hate. And just as you can’t say your chosen animal processors are “humane,” simply because some are worse to animals than others, you can’t say, just because some hate mongers are not the worst, that your preferred hate monger is humane.
Lee Hall, an adjunct professor of environmental law, is the author of numerous books and articles on animal rights, including the new On Their Own Terms: The Handbook. Animal Rights for the Classroom and the Community (forthcoming, 2015). On Twitter: @Animal_Law
A historical postscript:
The humane movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries accepted, lauded, and celebrated the leadership of the openly lesbian Carolyn Earle White in the 19th century, the lesbian couple Alice Morgan Wright & Edith J. Goode, whom Humane Society of the U.S. historian celebrates at http://www.humanesociety.org/about/history/goode-and-wright-page1.html, and the openly if quietly gay couple Eric Hansen and William Alan Swallow.
Among the organizations these leaders founded and/or later headed were the Women’s Humane Society, the American Anti-Vivisection Society, the National Humane Education Society, the humane foundations named after Wright and Goode, the Missouri Humane Society, the American Humane Association, and the Massachusetts SPCA.
The American SPCA and the American Humane Association also had other openly if quietly gay leadership.
If the humane movement of a much less culturally tolerant era could demonstrate tolerance and acceptance to that extent then, how can it be that the president of the Humane Society of the U.S. embraces and lauds a Barrett Duke today?
––Merritt & Beth Clifton, editors, ANIMAL 24-7
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