Skip the circus.

Gen 1.26: Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earch, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

Gen 2.15: The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. (NRSV)

According to the Chicago Tribune, the Kelly Miller Circus is coming to Deerfield, and some of the local residents are pissed. A group called ‘Skip the Circus‘ has organized in opposition to Kelly Miller, citing a history of cruel treatment towards elephants and other animals in captivity.

Perhaps most disturbing is this video which clearly shows a trainer as he beats and screams at captive elephants during a training session, while cajoling other trainers into doing the same. ‘Skip the Circus’ has done their homework–their documentation names the abuser in the video, links to the fine he received from the US Department of Agriculture (a measley $400), and worst of all, shows that he’s still working as an elephant trainer–for a company that provides elephants to–you guessed it–Kelly Miller Circus.

Given the aforementioned quotes from Genesis, it isn’t difficult to see the theological implications here. We humans are the caretakers of the garden of Eden. We have “dominion” over the Earth, not for the purpose of being able to rape and pillage it, but to care for it as God’s appointed workers. Abusing animals for entertainment purposes is ungodly and completely unacceptable. Hopefully, this boycott will flourish and raise additional awareness for the need to repair our relationship with all of God’s creation.

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5 Responses to “Skip the circus.”

  1. Jenna Says:

    Great post Tom!

  2. Liz Says:

    When I (or some of my friends) try to talk about animal cruelty in moral or theological terms — especially recently in light of the Michael Vick case — we get accused of valuing animals over people. “How can you care so much about animals when there are people suffering cruelty and violence every day?”

    What I always have difficulty explaining to them is that cruelty is wrong no matter the species that it’s directed at — and it’s not like we’re in an either-or situation — either we’re cruel to animals or we’re cruel to people. Oppression of the weak by the strong is ALWAYS wrong. Well written post.

  3. Tom Hoberg Says:

    You know, now that you mention it, I think that’s merely a convenient excuse: we shouldn’t bother with the plights of animals, because there are worse things happening to humans. (Subtext being, ‘I don’t want to have to think about that anyway.’)

    You’re absolutely right, Liz: if we only ever acted or spoke out on the world’s most pressing thing at any given moment, we’d never act on anything whatsoever, because, goodness knows, there’s always more important things to worry about. Essentially, it’s a built-in excuse for good people who mean well, but who are also lazy.

  4. Mark Says:

    I think there’s another issue here too. There are a lot of people who consider themselves ‘pro-life’ out there. It’d be nice to see some of them value all life and speak up for the rights of God’s creatures who’re already born.

  5. Tom Hoberg Says:

    Right on, Mark. It bothers me that so many anti-choice politicians demonstrate no concern for the mother except in order to deny her the choice to have an abortion. There are many variables that could help reduce the number of abortions: comprehensive sex education, maternity leave, access to quality health care, being able to make a living wage, and the list goes on.

    Yet, many anti-choice politicians oppose these and other measures which could reduce the number of abortions and unwanted pregnancies. It’s a shame that they are merely “pro-fetus” instead of being concerned with the life of the mother.


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