WASHINGTON (BP) — The Southern Baptist Convention’s ethics entity has joined in an effort to strengthen a South Carolina law against cockfighting.
Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, appears in a new video produced by the Palmetto Family Council that is designed to help build support for an anti-cockfighting initiative.
In cockfighting, two roosters — sometimes wearing knives or gaffs strapped to their legs — fight while spectators bet on the result. The outcome often is death for one of the birds, which are referred to as gamecocks.
While all 50 states have outlawed the practice, it is only a misdemeanor in South Carolina and 10 other states. The Palmetto Family Council, a pro-family organization based in Columbia, and the Humane Society of the United States are promoting legislation to make cockfighting a felony in the remaining states.
“There is no question that [South Carolina] is now the ‘go-to’ location for animal fighting on the Eastern Seaboard,” Palmetto Family Council President Oran Smith said in a written release.
In the same news release, Land urged Christians to “speak out against this barbaric practice which horrendously abuses God’s creatures.”
In the video, Land and Smith give biblical reasons for opposing cockfighting.
“We do not have the right to treat living things as if they were inanimate objects,” Land says on the video. “We don’t have the right to cause them needless pain for frivolous reasons, such as our entertainment, and I can think of no more frivolous argument for causing pain than to watch two animals try to claw each other to death.”
Land says “being cruel to animals is inconsistent with Christian teaching … because the Bible tells us in Genesis 9 that God made a covenant between Himself and every living thing. We are to respect every living thing.”
Smith says, “It is very clear that God Himself, the Lord, the Creator, has a specific role in mind for animals, and this wanton cruelty toward animals is frankly unbiblical and un-Christian.”
Land describes cockfighting as “pornography of violence, and the people who watch it are going to be brutalized by it.”
Children sometimes are among those attending cockfights.
Land says he “would defy anyone who defends cockfighting to say that they would take Jesus to a cockfight.”
The video, which is about three minutes long, may be viewed online at http://www.youtube.com/palmettofamily.
Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).