“This has been our tradition for 44 years. This is our big draw for our parish picnic. If we don’t have the pig rassle down here, we don’t hardly see any people come to our church,” said Bruce Learman, pig rassle co-chair.
Over the weekend, St. Patrick’s Parish in Wisconsin hosted it’s 44th annual “pig rassle,” in which participants — young and old — “rassled” pigs in mud and barrels. Almost 40 pigs were forced to participate, and over 60,000 people signed the petition against the event. A group of protesters were there to document the event and to bear witness to the cruelty. In a day or two, I’ll be posting the observations and experiences of the protesters who attended.
Regarding the above quote, I have some thoughts. Justifying that animal cruelty is necessary to keep the local church popular is ludicrous. Across the United States, churches of all kinds and sizes are able to maintain followers and community support by holding events that don’t rely on something like a pig “rassle.” If Learman was trying to evoke sympathy from people, then unfortunately he failed. The church is not the victim here — the animals are.
And maybe, if the local community is losing interest in the church, that’s simply a sign of the times.
Additionally, the argument that the rassle is simply “tradition” is weak and dismissible. After all, this is one in which sentient beings are exploited and harmed. Society progresses when we abandon these kinds of traditions and expand our circle of moral concern. Therefore, tradition is never a good reason to continue to harm others.
Bottom line: Exploiting animals to get money and keep the public interested in your church is morally corrupt. I want to know how the people who promoted and attended the event reconcile the cruelty with their “Christian” values, and how they would respond to the following:
Animals are God’s creatures, not human property, nor utilities, nor resources, nor commodities, but precious beings in God’s sight. …Christians whose eyes are fixed on the awfulness of crucifixion are in a special position to understand the awfulness of innocent suffering. The Cross of Christ is God’s absolute identification with the weak, the powerless, and the vulnerable, but most of all with unprotected, undefended, innocent suffering. — Rev. Andrew Linzey