The Value of Humanity


People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have made another bid for media attention by filing a lawsuit seeking to extend the 13th Amendment (banning slavery) to whales at SeaWorld. PETA argues that the 13th Amendment does not specifically limit is application to humans, and therefore other species should be granted constitutional protection.

It can be argued that PETA’s lawsuit is simply the latest in a long string of publicity stunts. It is that, of course, but the philosophy behind the suit is nonetheless significant for apologetics.

It has long been noted by people involved in pro-life work that PETA does not take an official position on abortion (in fact, PETA formally states that it is neutral regarding abortion issues). PETA’s refusal to protect infant humans is more than slightly hypocritical, given that they’ve taken interspecies protection so far as to label President Obama’s killing of a pesky fly during an interview as an “execution.”

Interestingly, PETA has been noted not only for its disregard for human infants, but has also been accused of racism, sexism, and even of being “sizest” and “fatphobic.”

Despite their presence in this article, I’m not actually focusing on PETA, but instead on the devaluing of humans by extremist groups (of which this lawsuit is simply the latest example).

There are countless examples of world and new religions devaluing humans (or, at least, humans who do not belong to their specific religious group). The Qur’an says Christians and Jews who refuse to convert to Islam are “the worst of creatures” (98:6). Jehovah’s Witnesses – as we noted in an earlier article – say former members are demonic and “mentally diseased.” The LDS Church taught that people of African descent are cursed by God. The Church of Scientology even refers to non-members as “WOGS” and “raw meat,” and L. Ron Hubbard said that some non-Scientologists “should not have, in any thinking society, any civil rights of any kind.”

Christian apologists must take seriously the challenge extremist groups – both religious and secular – present to the essential value and dignity of every human being. True, faithful apologetics exists, not to attack groups or people, but instead to defend not only the name of our God, but also the value of the people He wants to save (see John 3:16). Christian apologetics needs to always promote the value described by J.I. Packer and Thomas Howard, “To the Christian, every human being has intrinsic and inalienable dignity by virtue of being made in God’s image and realizes and exhibits the full potential of that dignity only in the worship and service of the Creator.”