A Mormon Image: PETA Goes After the Mormons

March 9, 2004 | 47 comments
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Vegetarians seems to be making a serious bid for Mormon converts. Check out this story and this bill board:

I can only assume that they have been reading T&S. For extended commentary, including links to the Church PR Deptartment’s reaction go to A Soft Answer.

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47 Responses to A Mormon Image: PETA Goes After the Mormons

  1. brayden on March 9, 2004 at 10:22 pm

    Is that God or Gandalf?

  2. Kaimi on March 9, 2004 at 10:32 pm

    It looks vaguely like Saruman the White (the wizard who was originally good, but who eventually joined the Dark Lord Sauron and betrayed Gandalf).

  3. Charles on March 9, 2004 at 10:45 pm

    I thought it was Charleston Heston, “You can have these carrots when you pry them from my cold dead hands.”

  4. cooper on March 10, 2004 at 12:10 am

    Rude comment: doesn’t PETA stand for people eating tasty animals?

    Really. Vegetarinism isn’t a billboard kind of thing. The people I know who are vegetarians haven’t chosen the lifestyle because of PETA.

    But I guess like they say “everybody’s gotta have an angle”.

  5. brayden on March 10, 2004 at 3:16 am

    I think their angle is to generate controversy, and I say that respectfully. If there is controversy, there will be discussion. And if there is discussion, perhaps a few people will change their ways and go vegan. Who knows though? If I were their PR guy I would have chose a different cover boy.

  6. Joseph N on March 10, 2004 at 10:34 am

    I’d like to see someone put 1 tim 4:1-3 on a billboard next to that one…

    1 NOW the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

    2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

    3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

  7. Renee on March 10, 2004 at 11:51 am

    I said it at A Soft Answer and I’ll say it here. If you’re going to use scripture to defend eating meat, be prepared to have someone point out scriptures to defend drinking wine.

    I’m not a vegetarian but their billboard could and should provoke discussion.

  8. BDemosthenes on March 10, 2004 at 12:23 pm

    But provoking discussion and just being provoking aren’t quite the same thing. LDS have a distinct cultural hostility to outside authority telling them what their scriptures *really* mean, which, I suspect, will severely limit the usefulness of this approach in changing hearts and minds in the LDS mainstream.

    If PETA wants to be effective in changing the way mainstream LDS look at their meat-eating habits [a not necessarily useless goal, though I suspect other causes warrant more anxious engagement], it will have to rely far more on persuasion than on in-your-face authoritative ‘we’re right, you’re wrong’ tactics. Thus, I have a hard time seeing this as a ‘serious bid.’

  9. Adam Greenwood on March 10, 2004 at 12:36 pm

    Renee, I think your overdoing the analogy:

    1) The scriptures about wine aren’t primarily from modern revelation.

    2) None of these scriptures, either from modern revelation or the old, actually enjoin someone from condemning the drinking of wine.

    3) The prohibition against wine comes from scripture AND from the practice sanctioned by the living prophets. It would be a different thing if PETA were calling us to repentance on a commandment that we acknowledged.

  10. Joseph N on March 10, 2004 at 12:59 pm

    What’s wrong with wine? I drink it all the time (albeit, the fresh, unfermented fruit of the vine… never from concentrate either). :-P

  11. Brent on March 10, 2004 at 1:13 pm

    Also look at D&C 49:18 “And whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God;

    For behold, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of many for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance.”

    Should we exercise wisdom in our diets? Of course. PETA doesn’t advocate reducing meat eating, they want it eliminated. They distort the understood meaning of Section 89 and advocate something that is not in accordance with our beliefs. That said, I thought the PETA ad simply a humorous attempt to engage members of the Church, probably put together with the aid of a member or members who is/are animal rights extremist(s).

  12. William Morris on March 10, 2004 at 1:26 pm

    As a sidenote:

    One of my favorite quirky Brigham Young moments from the Journal of Discourses is where he starts lambasting the saints for eating too much lamb and beef and tells them to start eating more poultry and fish.

    I think that it’s reasonable to suggest that Mormons should cut back on their red meat and sugar intakes [I've done the former but have a hard time with latter], but I have no illusions about that actually happening. Mormon cuisine is based on the mid-West farmer’s diet (with a few of its own adjustments, of course). If you’ve ever worked on a farm or lived around farmers, it’s obvious why the diet is the way it is. Unfortunately for us desk-bound workers, there’s a lag in eating habits/practices. All I can say is that thank goodness my parents moved us from Utah to California when I was a teenager and that my mom made major adjustments to her repertoire. My wife and I still cook some of those heavy mid-West comfort foods, but we’ve also adopted much of the California-Meditteranean style diet.

  13. Renee on March 10, 2004 at 4:48 pm

    >It would be a different thing if PETA were calling us to repentance on a commandment that we acknowledged.

    Adam, it sounds like you are saying we pick and choose what scriptures we acknowledge. That may well be the case. If so, then PETA and any other organization has the right to pick apart our incogruency when our defense is flawed.

  14. Adam Greenwood on March 10, 2004 at 5:05 pm

    That would be the case if we were scriptural inerrantists, who believed in once and for all revelation. But we aren’t. We don’t.

  15. lyle on March 10, 2004 at 5:22 pm

    Shouldn’t someone sue PETA for violating the Church-State doctrine? Can’t someone make an argument that billboards are a state licensed activity that shouldn’t be used to promote religion…kinda like how scholarships should never ever be used to promote religion?

  16. Steve Evans on March 10, 2004 at 5:31 pm

    lyle: “Shouldn’t someone sue PETA for violating the Church-State doctrine?”

    No.

    “Can’t someone make an argument that billboards are a state licensed activity that shouldn’t be used to promote religion?”

    No.

  17. Ady Hahn a.k.a. Fly Killa on March 10, 2004 at 5:56 pm

    I love animals, they’re delicious!

    If God didn’t want us to eat animals, He wouldn’t have made them out of meat.

    /cheesy meatloving jokes

  18. Renee on March 10, 2004 at 6:02 pm

    Adam, if you are saying that anything in modern scripture supercedes anything written prior, then no one should use biblical or BoM scriptures to argue against PETA. PETA is citing a modern scripture.

    If someone wants to logically argue against PETA, they need to elaborate on why the *specific scripture* which PETA cites does not support vegetarianism except in times of famine.

  19. Brent on March 10, 2004 at 7:12 pm

    How about the fact that modern prophets have indicated that the verse cited does not require vegetarianism. Also how do you square the PETA verse with D&C 49:18-19 cited above?

  20. Steve Evans on March 10, 2004 at 7:42 pm

    Sure, PETA wants people to stop eating meat altogether. Everybody knows their agenda. But that’s not what this ad says. What this ad does is cite a scripture that is pretty plain to read. While it’s true that the verse does not require vegetarianism, it’s not right to completely disregard it. At the very least it’s an entirely appropriate call to a reduction of meats in our diet.

    As for D&C 49 cited above, it doesn’t conflict at all with the WoW. It’s a call to moderation and wisdom in our diets. PETA is right to rub it in our faces — LDS diets are notoriously unhealthy despite being alcohol and tobacco-free.

    Adam, where are you getting the idea that D&C 89:15 is a commandment that we don’t acknowledge?

    I side with Renee — the ad is an effective means of causing discussion on the WoW. Perhaps we should take D&C 89 in its entirety rather than picking out the more sexy “thou shalt nots”. It’s sad that an extremist group such as PETA should be the ones to call scriptures to our remembrance, and even sadder that we should justify poor eating habits by gutting this part of the Word of Wisdom.

    For the record, I’m not a vegetarian. Thank goodness we’re in a time of winter!

  21. cooper on March 10, 2004 at 9:15 pm

    Ady – LOL! ;-))

  22. brayden on March 10, 2004 at 9:53 pm

    I’m not sure if Lyle was being sarcastic in his comment or not. I’ll take it as sarcasm.

  23. Renee on March 11, 2004 at 10:19 am

    Brent, I don’t need to square anything. I’m not arguing against PETA. I’m simply pointing out that if we want to defend what we do, don’t defend it using weapons that can be used against you as well.

    All, I think there’s just a lot of pride going around and people are pissed off that a group like PETA is the one pointing out things we should know. Anyone who doesn’t think we are breaking the WoW by the excess of what we *do* eat (myself included) is blinded by their own pride.

    Considering how much T&S regulars like to consider themselves so open to debate everything and get frustrated that others aren’t willing to entertain different perspectives, it’s sad/funny that the same spirit of reasonable discussion is mostly lacking in response to PETA’s ad.

  24. Brent on March 11, 2004 at 10:35 am

    I don’t think anyone is upset at PETA because they used the scripture. At least I am not. In fact, as I noted above, I found their use of scripture to be quite humorous. That said, there are real issues that can and should be raised about (a) the group’s distortion of the scripture and (b) the legitimacy of the use of LDS scripture in its ad.

    I think what people are reacting to is not just the ad, but the group itself. I, at least, have a huge problem with PETA. I think the group’s overall position is completely inconsistent with reality–its positions are ludicrous. I also think their views are inconsistent with LDS religious beliefs about the purposes of animal life, which is why I quoted D&C 49. I also have a problem with a group whose members champion the rights of fish, while at the same time championing abortion rights. When such a group attempts to wield LDS scripture to further its cause, it is going to rankle some people. This is especially true in light of other scriptural pronouncements and explanations of the the very scripture the group quotes. While we have been encouraged to eat meat sparingly, which we may be doing already more than we realize based on the amount of meat eaten by earlier generations, I have not read anywhere where we are in fact, in this day and age only to eat meat during winter and times of famine. Besides, even that would go against what PETA is calling for, which is vegetarianism. I understand your concern that we all probably could better adhere to the positive rules contained in the Word of Wisdom, but I think you are giving PETA much too much credit for supposedly raising our awareness or calling us to repentance. The group and its message is not ordained of God, and not worth listening to.

  25. lyle on March 11, 2004 at 10:36 am

    re: pride & WoW. Shot in the heart…but ’tis not too late. I actually like and applaud PETA for its ad. at least this time…it doesn’t involve destroying the private property of others…and hopefully we are all thinking about how to ‘translate’ the 1830s WoW into our own lives today; i.e. maybe no atkins diet, maybe we should eat less meat, maybe only meat if other food is scarce, maybe only meat if it is beef jerky made in the winter, etc.

    brayden/darth_flannel:

    um…whoa on the sarcasm. why? cuz:
    1. it was a good faith argument for extending the current law of the land.
    2. my sincerity in making the good faith argument can’t be questioned though…unless you want to question the ACLU, and every other legal group trying to use the courts to further its politics rather than turning to the polls.

  26. Steve Evans on March 11, 2004 at 11:13 am

    Lyle: “whoa on the sarcasm.”

    None of my posts on this thread have been sarcastic. Promise.

    As for your post, your sincerity/good faith re: the claims you suggest is irrelevant, in light of the sheer ridiculousness of the legal assertions therein. I would also suggest, for numerous reasons, that you not tie your claims to actions brought by the ACLU.

    Strangely, however, I agree with the 1st paragraph of your most recent post.

  27. Kaimi on March 11, 2004 at 11:29 am

    Brent,

    PETA does not advocate abortion rights. Its official position is:

    “There are people on both sides of the abortion issue in the animal rights movement, just as there are people on both sides of animal rights issues in the pro-life movement. And just as the pro-life movement has no official position on animal rights, neither does the animal rights movement have an official position on abortion.”

    See http://www.peta.org/fp/faq.html

    As for me, I agree that the WOW meat provisions are usually ignored by members. If PETA is reminding us of a commandment that we tend to ignore, it doesn’t strike me as a bad thing.

  28. Kaimi on March 11, 2004 at 11:39 am

    I disagree with statements that the meat section is not enforced or not a commandment. It seems clear from modern discussion that it is part of the Word of Wisdom.

    See, e.g.,

    http://tinyurl.com/2gw9n
    http://tinyurl.com/2x3kp
    http://tinyurl.com/7luj

  29. Brent on March 11, 2004 at 12:08 pm

    Kaimi, I did not claim that PETA had an official pro-abortion position but rather that many of its members did. Besides, the group’s statement you cited above proves the point that I make, and does condemn the organization. It is morally repugnant to me that a group that fights for the right of trout finds itself unable to adopt an official position on the rights of unborn human beings.

  30. Kaimi on March 11, 2004 at 12:18 pm

    Brent,

    Most single-purpose, non-abortion-related organizations don’t have a position on abortion. I don’t believe the NRA has a position on abortion. The libertarian party has no official position on abortion. I’m pretty sure that Americans for Tax Reform has no abortion position. Et cetera.

  31. Brent on March 11, 2004 at 12:29 pm

    Kaimi, the NRA and Americans for Tax Reform aren’t in the business of championing life for any other living creature. A group whose purpose is to promote the ethical treatment of animals ought not to be indifferent to the the ethical treatment of the highest form of animal life on the planet–human life. The libertarian party also should have a position on this issue as it is an important issue to voters, and voters deserve to know where a party whose candidates seek office stand on this important issue.

  32. Kim Siever on March 11, 2004 at 6:10 pm

    I hate animals; so I dissect them and eat the pieces.

  33. Renee on March 11, 2004 at 6:38 pm

    Brent, ergo, the pro-life groups need to start supporting the rights of trout, eh?

  34. Adam Greenwood on March 11, 2004 at 7:02 pm

    Renee,
    You’re off track. If you’re trying to advocate, as PETA does, that all life, not just human life, deserves respect and protection, than you should at least give human life the same respect you give to trout. The converse isn’t true.

  35. Kaimi on March 11, 2004 at 7:14 pm

    Guys,

    I’ve heard the “animal rights groups should be pro-life” theme before. I don’t buy it.

    It’s usually couched in the kind of rhetoric like “they won’t let you kill turtle eggs but they’ll let you kill babies!” Implied is that turtles are more important than people.

    All of this is, of course, garbage. The turle egg and the person are not similarly situated. Fetuses are not killable-on-sight because they are considered lesser creatures than animals. Laws allow abortion to protect women.

    A similarly-situated fetus is never given less legal protection than a similarly situated turtle egg. If fetuses were laying independently on the beach, abortion laws would not allow people to go destroy them.

    Similarly, if a trout or a turtle egg were implanted in a woman, and would be there for months, drawing on her resources, she would have every medical and legal right to remove it, of necessary by destroying it.

  36. Steve Evans on March 11, 2004 at 7:18 pm

    I agree with Kaimi. Trout/turtle succubi and their half-human offspring have equal legal protection to beached fetuses.

    Kidding aside, I still agree with Kaimi’s analysis of the argument that animal activists need be pro-lifers.

  37. Renee on March 11, 2004 at 8:32 pm

    Adam, no I’m not off track. If a person wants to argue that PETA needs to treat all life equally, then it is absolutely legitimate to suggest that this same person should expect a pro-life group to treat all life equally as well.

    The tongue in cheek point being, it’s *not* the same thing. Therefore PETA doesn’t have to support or not support human pro-life groups. That’s not the cause they are engaging in. If that’s how the game was played then pro-life groups would also have to be anti death penalty.

  38. Brent on March 11, 2004 at 10:38 pm

    Kaimi/Renee, only if we engage in the most simplistic of reasoning do your arguments hold up. It is not simple rhetoric to say that human life is more valuable than animal life. The law allows abortion not only to protect women, but also for convenience. Besides nearly everyone would agree that abortions could/should be allowed to save the life of the mother or in cases of incest or rape. Most abortions are performed only for convenience. It makes no sense for people, and I said before that my problem is not just with PETA but with PETA supporters, to protect the life of animals and then be indifferent to the plight of innocent unborn HUMAN BEINGS. I really can’t believe that you would actually suggest that because turtle eggs lay on a beach they are entitled to more protection than an unborn child. I mean I am just shaking my head. I can’t believe how successful the pro-abortion crowd has been at spreading their anti-life, immoral message.

    I will agree that if we value human life, we ought to place some value on animal life, but clearly animal life does not have the same value. I am not advocating indiscriminate killing of animals or their mistreatment. The scriptures clearly advocate respecting animal life. Joseph Smith taught the participants of Zion’s camp that they should respect animal life. However, saying we should respect animal life does not require supporting PETA which is a fanatical extremist organization. All life (i.e. human and animal) need not be treated equally.

    As for not being pro-death penalty, again there are a host of other issues involved. Murderers are not the same as innocent unborn children, so no, a pro-life person need not be anti-death penalty.

  39. Kaimi on March 11, 2004 at 11:02 pm

    Brent,

    You write:

    “I really can’t believe that you would actually suggest that because turtle eggs lay on a beach they are entitled to more protection than an unborn child.”

    Come on — please be honest with the arguments that are being made.

    When a creature — whether a turtle egg or an unborn child — is inside another (to use your capitalization) HUMAN BEING, then it is not unreasonable to hold that that HUMAN BEING’s interests also come into play.

    In both cases, there is some kind of balancing. Animals may deserve protection when their interests (including those of animals society has labeled for special protection) are weighed against lesser human interests.

    The equation in that case is typically:

    Life of turtle versus property right of person. Depending on society’s judgment, it may not be unreasonable to grant greater weight to the life of the turtle.

    In abortion, the equation is:

    Life of fetus versus liberty and privacy right of woman.

    Take a look — there are human beings on both sides of that equation.

  40. Renee on March 11, 2004 at 11:11 pm

    >As for not being pro-death penalty, again there are a host of other issues involved. Murderers are not the same as innocent unborn children, so no, a pro-life person need not be anti-death penalty.

    Exactly. There are a host of other issues involved which is exactly why PETA doesn’t have to take any kind of stand about abortion simply because they take a stand for animals. There are a host of other issues involved with abortion.

    You don’t have to sell me on being pro-life. I am. I also know vegetarians (including 2 LDS ones) who are also pro-life.

    The core issue, as I see it is, does PETA have a right to raise the issue of whether or not we follow a scripture in our canon? I say yes.

  41. Brent on March 12, 2004 at 3:12 pm

    What do you make of this:

    http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2004/3/12/134849.shtml

    PETA is accusing Mel Gibson of hypocrisy for his movie The Passion of the Christ which portrays the death of “innocent life” while owning a cattle ranch. What business do they have commenting on the movie if they only are worried about animals? Or could it be, arguments about human life will only be used by the group to further their cause, and its members don’t really care about human life.

  42. Adam Greenwood on March 12, 2004 at 3:25 pm

    Kaimi,
    I’m sorry but there’s a human on the other end of the turtle equation too. PETA’s not trying to legally restrict animal behavior. They’re trying to take away liberty from people in the name of ‘protecting life.’ It’s certainly valid to ask why they’ll sacrifice human liberty to animal life but won’t even pay lip service to preserving human life.

  43. Renee on March 12, 2004 at 4:26 pm

    I don’t think I’m stating anything shocking to say that PETA has a right to condemn or complain about anything they want.

    We have that same right. I’ll defend PETA’s right to accuse, question, defend,and debate all day – because I never want that same right to be taken away from me.

  44. Brian Zobell on August 3, 2004 at 4:09 pm

    Does the Word of Wisdom have a restriction on meat?
    Yes. The Lord states that the “flesh…of beasts and fowls of the air…are to be used sparingly.” He goes further on to say that they should be eaten in times of winter (cold) or famine.

    There is no mention of a restriction on poultry (fowl of the ground), seafood, eggs or dairy products.

    Are the terms “cold” and “winter” referring to something different than how we interpret it today?
    When the Word of Wisdom was revealed, methods for preserving meat were still primitive. Spoiled meat can be fatal if eaten, but the chance of spoilage is not as great in winter as in summer. Modern methods of refrigeration now make it possible for meat to be frozen and thereby preserved for later use in any season. The key word with respect to the use of meat is ‘sparingly’” (Student Manual, Religion 324-325, p. 210).

    Doesn’t the revelation say that meat “should not be used only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine”?
    Often some people forget the comma between “used” and “only” and thus misinterpret the entire verse. The sentence fragment following the commandment is further conditions from the Lord to the instructions he has given concerning the consumption of flesh of beasts and flying fowl.

    In this case, as in many instances of its usage within the scriptures, “only” is used as an adversative, being synonymous with “save” or “except.” In other words, it “should not be used, [except] in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.” A handful of other occasions of this usage can be found within the following passages:

    Gen 19:8
    Num. 18:3
    2 Kgs 21:8
    1 Cor 7:39
    Mosiah 3:17,21-22
    Moro 10:19
    D&C 59:13
    D&C 63:11
    Notice in these verses, as well as in the others which have a similar usage of the word, that the placement of punctuation is nearly identical to that of D&C 89:13.

    Does this mean that vegetarianism is a preferred diet for the Lord’s people?
    Perhaps. However, in previous revelations, He counseled that animals have been ordained for our use for food and clothing (see D&C 49:19; 59:16-20).

    Of course the Lord advised eating meat sparingly, but He did not ban it altogether” (Elder Mark E. Peterson, Patterns for Living [Bookcraft, 1962], pp. 235-37).

    Didn’t Paul teach that vegetarianism is a sign of apostasy?
    No. He taught that commanding to abstain from meats was a sign of apostasy (1 Tim. 4:3).

    Do you have another question? Be sure to ask me, and I will try to find the answer.

  45. Marco Olson on November 17, 2004 at 12:58 pm

    You can all try and justify it to yourselves and others that eating meat is ok, god said it was, but you’re not fooling anyone, and I’d be surprised if you were even fooling yourselves. These are lives we are talking about, no not human lives but lives non the less. I do agree that at one point in history animals were here for us to eat, just like in the wild a bird will eat a worm. But we’re civilized creatures and there are substitutes out there, soy and tofu for example. I’m a vegetarian on my way to becoming vegan because I have a conscience and I don’t just eat what’s put in front of me. I researched the meat industry and I promise …. PROMISE that if you or anyone else does the same, you will see why so many people are beginning to leave meat and dairy out of their diets. For moral and health issues please don’t just live the life of a default meat eater. If you do all the research and still decide to eat meat, then it’s on your shoulders.

  46. Michaela Stephens on December 13, 2004 at 12:34 am

    It seems to me that when it says meat should be used sparingly and only in times of famine, cold, or excess of hunger, we can turn it around to figure out exactly when we should NOT use it – in times of plenty or bounty, when the temperatures are moderate or hot, and when we are only moderately hungry or slightly hungry. I would say that the miracles of modern transportation bring fresh fruits and vegetables to us all year around, creating amazing plenty. I would say that when temperatures are moderate or hot, there’s no way you can interest me in a hamburger; what my body wants most is a fruit salad or a cool pasta salad at those times. But in the dead of winter when the snow is on the ground and I have to shovel the walk and the driveway in a blinding blizzard… brrrrr. Give me a steak. Salad is nice for an appetizer, but steeeeak is what I’ll want. As for excess of hunger, the only time I know an excess of hunger is when I fast. Other times I only get moderately or mildly hungry.
    Now, the fact that the PETA is quoting the D&C is significant, because they are citing an authority we recognize. Furthermore, they are not telling us to become vegetarians. They are merely asking us to live our religion more carefully. That is perfectly reasonable and respectful.
    The ability to eat meat truly sparingly is something that grows on a person. You know when you’re getting there, because you find yourself not taking any fried chicken… or not taking any bacon or ham… or ignoring the hamburgers… and taking other stuff instead. Or you permit yourself only a very small piece. Your body knows when it is appropriate to have meat and when it isn’t. When it’s hot outside, nothing but something cool and refreshing will do. When it is cold outside, you want something warm, like cooked meat. If you listen to your body, it will tell you what kind of food it needs.

  47. spencer bingham on August 17, 2005 at 2:16 pm

    AT the end of the word of wisdom it is saying things that creepeth the earth meaning wild animals are to only be eaten during times of hunger and famine. In an article about keeping the sabbathday holy president benson said hunting animals what are to be used for famine should not be done on that day. I believe somewere else that is what he meant by cold and famine that was the reference and not to cattle chicken or pigs that are raised for the purpose of providing food.