Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), has joined the initiative to strengthen a law against cockfighting in South Carolina – calling the blood sport a "pornography of violence."
The House Judiciary Committee is set to consider Bill H. 3564, which would charge those involved in cockfighting with a felony, instead of a misdemeanor. Perpetrators found guilty of participating in the illegal event could face one to five years in jail.
Under the bill, anyone who acquires a bird with the intention of making the animal fight would also be punished – not just those who engage in or attend a fight.
Land, who is also CP's Executive Editor, speaks out against the animal cruelty in a video recently released by the Palmetto Family Council, a faith-based educational foundation. The Columbia, S.C., organization produced the footage in an effort to highlight the brutality of cockfighting and to help raise support to end it.
"We don't have the right to treat living things like they were inanimate objects," said Land. "We don't have the right to cause them needless pain for frivolous reasons, such as our entertainment. And I can think of [a] more frivolous argument for causing pain than to watch two animals try to claw each other to death."
The blood sport sees two roosters, specifically bred for aggressiveness, placed in a small ring where they are pitted to fight to the death. The birds are equipped with a knife or artificial gaff – a long sharp, dagger-like attachment – that is strapped to their legs.
According to Palmetto Family President and CEO Oran Smith, the gaff proves the purpose of the cockfight.
"This was attached by someone with a very specific purpose – to provide blood, to provide opportunities for gambling, and to provide death as the ultimate end for animals that were created by God," Smith stated.
Dr. Land pointed out that animal cruelty is inconsistent with Christian teachings, saying in reference to Genesis 9, "God made a covenant between himself and every living thing. We are to respect every living thing.
"Cockfighting is a pornography of violence and the people who watch it are going to be brutalized by it."
Smith shared similar sentiments saying that God, the creator of all life, has a specific role in mind for animals. "And just watching cruelty towards animals is frankly unbiblical and un-Christian," he relayed.
"You're betting on the outcome of some cruel, ugly scene. This speaks volumes in a lot of different ways of what children are witnessing in those cases."
According to Land, God never intended for "his chickens to be abused in this manner."
"I would defy anyone who defends cockfighting to say that they would take Jesus to a cockfight," he countered.
Cockfighting is illegal in the U.S. and is a felony in 39 states and a misdemeanor in 11 – including South Carolina – the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) reported. The blood sport is a lucrative gambling opportunity and HSUS, along with the Palmetto Family Council, aims to make it a felony in every state.
The Palmetto Family video, featuring Dr. Richard Land and Oran Smith, can be viewed below.