During my time at peta2, I’ve come to realize that animal rights is a global concept. It’s not an ideal that is isolated to your hometown punk-rock scene or to certain sects of people holding specific beliefs. The notion that animals have an equal capacity as humans to feel pain, experience fear, and show emotion—and that we should therefore treat them with compassion—is understood and practiced in all parts of the world by people from all backgrounds.
There is one trend in the animal rights movement, however, that made me wonder if certain people are more inclined to be sensitive to the plight of animals. Which brings me to this question—is there a correlation between animal rights and Christianity? We’ve seen how bands emerging from a straight-edge, hardcore background tend to carry their strength of conviction into their animal rights beliefs—so what about bands coming from a Christian background? In the eyes of God, are all humans created equal or are all beings created equal? Without bias or misgivings, I took these questions to some of the most popular up-and-coming bands in today’s Christian metal scene to get their thoughts on their faith and how it relates to their views on animal rights.
Here they are in their own words:
How did you first become aware of peta2?
Patrick Meadows, guitar for Gwen Stacy: I first became aware of PETA while I was in high school. I remember going to the Warped Tour every summer and seeing their tents, though I never really put much thought into it until I went to college.
Eric Gregson, guitar for Sleeping Giant: I have been vegan for about 12 years now. I became aware of PETA in the late ’90s as a result of my passion to end animal cruelty.
Joe Lengson, bass for MyChildren MyBride: I first heard about peta2 at, I think, Warped Tour in Pomona, California. I saw the tents and the people trying to get signatures and I signed up. They gave me the DVD and all the booklets. … Then I started meeting people, and they started sending me stuff. Over the years I became aware of animal rights and turned veg[etarian] and vegan for a while.
Would you define your band as a Christian band?
Warth: I feel that we are more of Christians in a band—rather than a “Christian band”—that want to send a positive message to kids.
Meadows: We’re definitely a faith-based band, for sure. We try very hard not to be pushy about it though. We’re more about mutual respect and building relationships with people.
Gregson: Yes, I would consider Sleeping Giant a Christian band.
Lengson: We are. When I first joined the band there was an atheist in the band, and then we all didn’t really care. We were all just a bunch of Christians in the band …. We’re all more open about being a Christian band these days.
How do you feel that Christianity and protecting animals from suffering go together?
Warth: I think that protecting animals is a big part of Christianity. Animal abuse is a big problem in the world today, especially in animal fighting and animal testing. I feel animals shouldn’t be used for these things. God did not intend for it to be this way, and humans should not take advantage of God’s gift.
Meadows: To me, a big part of Christianity is love, and I don’t stop at just loving people, I guess.
Gregson: Along with Sleeping Giant, I also pastor a church in Redlands, California. As I have studied the Bible, the nature and character of God has become more apparent to me. In Genesis, we see that God created a perfect world, and in that world animals were not mistreated, abused, or used for human consumption. That being said, I believe that God cares about all of His creation (including animals), and it was never in His heart or will for them to be mistreated. Jesus died to regain what was lost in that perfect world. Christians have much to learn about the heart of God.
Lengson: I was an animal rights activist before I was a Christian, so that kind of made things hard, because all my other Christian friends would be like, “Why don’t you eat meat? It’s made for us.” I’m like “How is that made for us?” I just don’t see it. … But … I don’t really relate the two anymore. … I don’t consider vegetarianism or veganism a part of Christianity anymore. It is kind of hard to contrast the two, you know?
Of all of the major animal protection issues, is there one that you feel most strongly about, and why?
Meadows: [T]he idea of factory farming has always disgusted me.
Gregson: Factory farming is the issue that I feel most strongly about. Out of all the animal rights issues, I believe factory farming causes the most pain and does the most damage to animals and people. Millions of animals are mistreated and destroyed every year for the sake of our comfort. It is appalling.
Lengson: Probably animal testing and the fur issue. Maybe about two years ago, a friend of mine from PETA sent me a bunch of stuff when you guys were doing the “Fur [Is] Dead” campaign. … I looked into it and I was like, “That is so messed up.” There are so many other things you can wear that are just the same [as fur]. I ended up wearing [that Fur Is Dead shirt] for a whole tour on stage ….
If a fan were to ask you how to get more involved in protecting animals, what would your advice to them be?
Warth: I would tell them to get involved with Action for Animals. From what I’ve heard it’s a very informative program and will give anyone any information they need on preserving animal rights.
Meadows: As with most things in life, look into it and read as much information as you can concerning it. That way, you can make an informed decision and have a clear direction.
Gregson: Every person is different, so every answer would be different. Eventually our conversation would lead [to] the core issue of their conviction, and from that place I feel I could direct them [to] the proper groups or organizations.
Lengson: [A]t least try out being a vegetarian—that even makes a difference. … [E]ducate yourself about the topic and learn what to give a crap about.