Do all animals have the same rights as humans? The close ties between humans and animals dates back many centuries. From horses pulling carriages and farm equipment, to dogs herding sheep, animals have helped to build lives and support families. Yet, Animal Rights are much more of an issue today compared to centuries ago. Today, animals are still a big part of numerous humans’ lives, acting as sources of food, protection, work, and in some sad cases research. However, recently, animals have begun to be taken for granted and used with disrespect. Theoretically, Animal Rights are recognized as the rights to humane treatment claimed on behalf of animals, especially the right not to be exploited for human purposes. These rights are such important issues because both humans and animals exist together and depend upon each other for survival. This complicated problem contains many different views by activists, religious groups, and philosophical organizations, making them one of the most controversial and debated issues of today. For example, many animal rights activists believe that animals have the same legal and moral rights that humans do. According to this viewpoint it is unethical to use animals for any purpose, whether for pets, research, recreation, clothing, or as food. However, According to the Bible, God created both animal kingdom and human beings, but he specified that human beings are to be the masters of all the animals, giving them the ability to kill them for food and resources only through respect of his creations. Other cultural and religious traditions stress the continuity of all living things. Each of these views contain standpoints that are confusing and contradictive, bringing about the question, which view is correct? When examining Animal Rights, one can generally draw mixed conclusions when looking at the legal, social-philosophical, and religious, positions.
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The Roman Catholic Church’s views on Animal Rights are very simple and well founded. The primary belief by the Church is rooted in God’s teaching of “Respect for the integrity of all creation.” God’s care and respect for animals is very evident in many Biblical stories such as Noah’s Arc and the Sacrificial Lamb. Never once did Jesus misuse animals during his time on earth. He continually acknowledged them with care, compassion, and respect. It first has to be known that under the law, animals are not persons. Therefore, animals only have some legal protections from mistreatment. The government takes it upon itself to monitor society, ensuring that humans do not violate the rules of animal mistreatment. Because animals are not human, they are not able to protect their own personal interests in a court of law, taking away their opportunity to sue. To the law, animals are property: they are goods to be bought and sold, acquired and maintained. Treating animals as property is not only a matter of law, as it is also seen in Western religion. Also, the Old Testament, states that animals are goods over which humanity has dominion. Philosophers, too, have considered the property status of animals. John Locke, for example, wrestled with the nature of humanity’s interactions with animals. To him, animals were something common to the world, not unlike the air we breathe. Animals have the potential and perhaps the purpose of serving humanity. Thus, to the law, animals are property whose future is directed by humans.