Christian ethicists, pastors, and other leaders have called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to close the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) after an exposé in The New York Times revealed shocking details of cruelty and neglect at a government-run facility in Nebraska.

MARC is hell on Earth for animals. Severely deformed animals are denied basic veterinary care or relief from their suffering, while untrained workers operate on and kill animals. Crowding is so severe that workers are unable to clean barns properly, resulting in rampant respiratory disease and diarrhea. Lambs are purposely left out to die in open fields, their bodies ravaged by predators and harsh weather. At least one cow was restrained and gang-raped by bulls in a libido experiment. Her broken body gave out after hours of abuse, and she died. Although the details are shocking, they’re not unlike abuses uncovered by PETA’s undercover investigators at factory farms and slaughterhouses throughout the U.S.

One former MARC director used Genesis 1 as justification for the center’s horrific abuse and neglect, citing human “dominion” over animals. It’s a tired argument that Christians today know doesn’t fly. The dominion with which God privileged humans in Genesis is nothing like what is seen at MARC or other factory farms across the country. “Dominion” means good stewardship, not abuse. The scripture is replete with the clear message that animals should be treated well, cared for, and protected from suffering.

 Read the full text of the letter.

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