The controversy surrounding the shooting of a gorilla in order to save a child's life at the Cincinnati Zoo is evidence of America's skewed perception of human life, megachurch Pastor Perry Noble argues.
Noble, who heads the 27,000-member NewSpring Church in Anderson, South Carolina, says in his blog post on Tuesday that he believes "Americans have officially lost our freakin' minds" over the uproar concerning the death of Harambe, a 17-year-old gorilla who was shot at the Cincinnati Zoo in Ohio on Saturday after a 3-year-old toddler fell into the animal's enclosure.
Zoo officials have explained that they made the decision to shoot the gorilla because they feared for the boy's life.
Noble writes that even though he feels pity for the gorilla, he believes human life is simply more valuable, citing Genesis 1:27 which states that God created humans, but not animals, in his own image.
"So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them," the verse reads.
Psalm 139 also discusses the amount of thought and effort put into our creation by God: " ... For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
The megachurch pastor adds that the uproar over the gorilla's death is a clear example of hypocrisy, in which Americans are focusing on the wrong values.
Noble references a Change.org petition that calls for "justice for Harambe," asking Cincinnati police to investigate the parents of the boy who fell into the gorilla enclosure.
"Let me be clear — if the mom and dad thought it would be awesome to toss their toddler into the gorilla's playground then something SHOULD be done. However, I would be willing to bet that's not the case!," Noble writes.
The evangelical leader then argues that while people are concerned over the death of a gorilla, they are willing to ignore a multitude of other important issues, including the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, as well as controversial topics here at home, such as abortion.
"Let me be very clear — this does NOT mean we can be cruel to animals (even cats)! However, it was very clear in this situation that a human life was at stake and when you consider that life against the feelings of some people who most likely never even saw the gorilla, putting the gorilla down, though tragic, was absolutely the right call," Noble concludes.
Cincinnati Zoo officials released a statement Sunday mourning the death of the western Iowaland gorilla, with zoo director Thane Maynard explaining that although they are "heartbroken" over the animal's death, "a child's life was in danger and a quick decision had to be made."
Still, the gorilla's death has gained widespread criticism on social media, with some calling for the parents of the unnamed child to be held responsible for failing to prevent the 3-year-old from falling into the animal's enclosure.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals organization released a statement on Sunday, calling the gorilla's death an example of the greater issue of animal captivity.
"Yet again, captivity has taken an animal's life. The gorilla enclosure should have been surrounded by a secondary barrier between the humans and the animals to prevent exactly this type of incident," the statement from primatologist Julia Gallucci for PETA reads.
"Even under the 'best' circumstances, captivity is never acceptable for gorillas or other primates, and in cases like this, it's even deadly. This tragedy is exactly why PETA urges families to stay away from any facility that displays animals as sideshows for humans to gawk at," the statement adds.