HARARE, Zimbabwe (BP) -- With mainstream and social media in an uproar over the apparently illegal killing of Cecil the lion, Baptist leaders have underscored the legitimacy of legal hunting and condemned the hypocrisy of valuing wildlife over unborn children.
"The Bible says much about hunting and without one derogatory word," said Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. "But it is not just hunting at issue. Fishing and the eating of any kind of meat is at issue since [with] all of these, [animals] must die in order to feed people. The Bible makes it clear that the animals were given to men to meet their various needs including food. I do distinguish between killers and hunters. I always taught my children that we use every animal taken. Skinning a rattlesnake, a porcupine and a skunk underscored all of this for my children. They discovered that clothing and in many cases food can be gained but that each creature is God's artistic creation."
The preciousness of God's creation requires that humans "not just go out and shoot up the countryside," Patterson, a veteran of some 20 African hunts, told Baptist Press in written comments. "Almost all the animals taken in Africa go to the poor of the countries to eat, for which, particularly in Zimbabwe, they are most grateful."
Cecil, a 13-year-old Zimbabwean lion, was killed in early July by American dentist Walter Palmer after the animal was lured out of Hwange National Park, where hunting is illegal, the New York Times reported. Zimbabwean officials say they want to extradite Palmer to face charges, but Palmer claims he was following the lead of professional guides and did not know his actions were illegal, USA Today reported.
Patterson denounced illegal hunting and said if any laws were broken related to Palmer's hunt, "the local outfitter and professional hunter" should be prosecuted. He added that "a man is innocent until proven guilty and rush to judgment is in this case, as [in] all others, unwise."
Most hunting outfits in Africa "are run by men of high ethical and moral conduct and in accordance with the laws of the land," Patterson said. Hunters "are normally your leading conservationists. After all, they are dependent upon the prosperity of the herds. That is why almost all forms of African and Indian game thrive in Texas today. Well regulated practices of hunting guarantee their survival."
Patterson called much of the press' outrage over Cecil's death "the ultimate in hypocrisy," noting the relative lack of concern for aborted babies whose body parts have been sold by Planned Parenthood and for the evils perpetrated against the Zimbabwean people by President Robert Mugabe.
"Little or no outrage at the butchering of human babies and the selling of body parts by Planned Parenthood, but the death of a lion in Zimbabwe merits the ink," Patterson said. "And what about Zimbabwe itself? Why no furor over Mugabe's disregard for human life, the stealing of property by the government and the violence toward opposition leaders? What of the thousands of people that he has starved to death uselessly? And why not report on what hunters do to conserve the lions, elephants and rhinos both monetarily and in parks like Antelope Park in Zimbabwe where we have replaced every lion taken with multiple lions born and released into the wild? Why not tell people the truth about what happens in countries that stop hunting like Kenya and consequently lose all their rhinos to poachers?"
Mark Keith, pastor of Elkton (Ky.) Baptist Church and an avid hunter, told BP God has given humans responsibility to care for animal life, but that does not preclude hunting. He said humans should consume animals they kill during hunts and not engage in "the senseless killing of animals."
Patterson and Keith both cited hunting as a valuable means of building relationships between fathers and sons. Patterson added that speaking about hunting at men's banquets has allowed him to lead "several thousand" men and boys to saving faith in Jesus Christ.
See entire Baptist Press story by David Roach:
-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, August 5, AD 2015.
Cecil The Lion And Big Game Hunting
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