Dear Deacon Ken Bilgrien, The recent heat your parish has received regarding your pig wrestling event has moved me to contact you. I'm sure that many animal rights organization have already contacted you, but I wanted to write you a letter from mine. My Organization is Leviathan Project, a faith-based, Christian animal protection project.
The mission of your Parish is, "to be one with Christ in making the reign of God a reality." I would like to remind you that the Bible tells us that God wishes for His people to protect animals.
In Leviticus and Deuteronomy we see that God created the Sabbath, not just for people, but also for animals so that they could rest. In Deuteronomy and Exodus God tells us that if we come across a donkey or ox that has fallen under its load, even if it belongs to our enemy, we are commanded to help it up and eliminate its suffering. In Proverbs 12:10 we are told, "the righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel."
As far as being "one with Christ" we must remember His teachings. In the book of Matthew Jesus tells us that we shouldn't worry. He teaches this by pointing out what great care God provides for animals. In Luke Jesus points out that not one sparrow is forgotten by God.
Your mission also states that your parish, "aspires to be responsible stewards of time, talent, and treasure." In the garden, God called mankind to be stewards of His creatures and creation. This was not a command to subjugate; it was a passing of responsibility to care for creation as God does.
I'm sure that there has been some misinformation circulating regarding your Pig Rassle event. I also understand that local authorities were consulted prior to the event and that supposedly no laws were broken. As followers of Christ I remind you that we should not operate by the laws of man, but should hold our actions to the ethical standards of God.
I watched the video of your pig wrestling event that took place last week and it deeply grieved my spirit. I observed the pig's head being forced underwater into the mud, under the weight of several large men. The pig was forcefully dragged by its hind legs, and limped away when it was finished. The bloodcurdling screams of the pig were proof enough that the animal was terrified and distressed.
It is my life's work to inspire Christians to care for God's creation. I strive for people of faith to become examples of compassion towards animals for the rest of the world to follow.
Your Pig Rassle, regardless of the level of cruelty, is cruel. It is a damaging portrayal of Christ's followers as uncaring and heartless. You must ask yourself if you could envision Jesus getting into a pit of mud and tormenting an animal in such a way.
I understand that this event has been a tradition at your Parish for 44 years. I hope that you can acknowledge that some traditions must be retired for the greater good, as we grow more aware and compassionate. The Church once condoned slavery, a practice that is now viewed as ethically abhorrent. Just as we have recognized the need to address the treatment of people, we must be mindful of the treatment of animals.
I would like to encourage your congregation to not only discontinue this event, but to use the current media attention to take a stand for animals. There is a great deal of animal suffering in the world that your Parish could help alleviate.
For more information on animal issues that could use your help, please visit our website: www.leviathanproject.us
God bless you and your congregation, and may the Lord guide your decision regarding this matter.
Sincerely, Jillian Barnhart Leviathan Project Video of the 2014 Pig Rassle can be viewed HERE