It’s easy to sympathize with the animal rights movement. It really is. When you own a cat or a dog, it’s hard to not think of that furry critter as a member of your family, and harder to not become disgusted by some of the grotesque medical experiments that are performed on animals. The pro-life movement is all about saving innocent lives from the perversions of science, so what’s wrong with giving money to both Campaign Life Coalition and the Animal Liberation Front?

Well plenty, as a matter of fact. The salient fact that pro-lifers and social conservatives need to understand is that the animal rights movement is largely anti-Christian, anti-human, and tolerates a violent fringe within itself.

If that sounds harsh, consider the words of Princeton University Professor Peter Singer, considered by many to be the “godfather” of animal rights. The author of AnimalLiberation addressed the Animal Rights 2002 conference in McLean, Va. this past summer and blasted mainstream Christianity as “a problem for the animal movement.” Judeo-Christian teachings claim that humans are made in the image of God, humans have souls but animals don’t, and that God gave mankind dominion over the animal world. “All three taken together do have a very negative influence on the way in which we think about animals,” said the self-described atheist.

Singer defends his worldview on the basis that animals are sentient beings and should be treated as such, yet he doesn’t place much value on human life. The man who claims he would be reluctant to kill a colony of termites feasting upon the foundation of his house also believes parents should have the right to kill a newborn baby if the child is disabled. “If you have a being that is not sentient, that is not even aware, then the killing of that being is not something that is wrong in and of itself,” said Singer. “I think that a chimpanzee certainly has greater self-awareness than a newborn baby – (and) there are some circumstances, for example, where the newborn baby is severely disabled and where the parents think that it’s better that the child should not live, when killing the newborn baby is not at all wrong – not like killing the chimpanzee would be. Maybe it’s not wrong at all.”

Think about that for a minute. Even most pro-abortion advocates acknowledge that killing a newborn baby isn’t a “choice,” but an act of cold-blooded murder.

Equally bizarre is Singer’s argument that humans and non-humans can engage in “mutually satisfying” sexual relations as long as they are consensual. When asked how animals could consent to inter-species sex, Singer answered: “Your dog can show you when he or she wants to go for a walk and equally for non-violent sexual contact. Your dog, or whatever else it is, can show you whether he or she wants to engage in a certain kind of contact.”

Say what? You know our universities are in trouble when professors start to acquire new ideas from Tom Green movies.

For all of his eccentricities, Singer at least doesn’t support violence in defence of animal rights, but some groups, such as the Animal Liberation Front, the Environmental Liberation Front, and Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty have resorted to death threats, harassment, fire bombings, and physical assaults to get their message out. “The evidence is indisputable that they’re turning more and more to violence,” said Mark Potok, editor of the Southern Poverty Law Centre’s Intelligence Report to the Christian Science Monitor recently. “When you start burning buildings, it just seems to me obvious that, at some point, some night watchman is going to get burned up.”

Unfortunately, even “respectable” groups within the movement have shown a disturbing tolerance for these violent lunatics.

The U.S. tax-exempt status of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, better known as PETA, is currently being challenged because it paid $1,500 to the ELF. The Southern Poverty Law Centre further adds that PETA shelled out $7,500 to a woman named Fran Trutt, who was convicted of attempting to murder a medical executive.

Look, there’s nothing wrong with loving your cat (although not in the “mutually satisfying” way Singer talked about), or with wanting to prevent cruelty to animals, but the issue isn’t nearly as black and white as the PETA crowd would like us to think. Thanks in part to some of the methods used in so-called factory farming, the world can more than feed itself, meaning poor Canadians don’t have to go without meat or necessary proteins. Thanks to animal-testing procedures, there’s no chance the mascara your daughter is wearing will blind her if it accidentally gets in her eyes.

It’s not pro-life to value the lives of lab rats and termites more than a disabled newborn baby. It’s just sick and demented.

Eli Schuster is a frequent contributor to The Interim. Formerly a staff writer for Report newsmagazine, his commentary has appeared recently in the Ottawa Citizen, Calgary Herald and Vancouver Sun.