(Not Enough) Focus on the Family

Gary Bauer penned a rather odd op-ed in today’s Christian Science Monitor complaining that Americans are too attached to their pets: 

We’re treating animals as humans, and in some cases preferring pets to people. But an excess of affection per se isn’t the problem – it’s the lopsided moral framework that it reveals.

As one would expect, any piece written by Bauer undoubtedly will suggest that whatever issue he’s discussing is in some way really a sign of some sort of social breakdown:

It’s partly due to the growing share of people choosing pets over children.

Census Bureau data reveal that the proportion of childless women 15 to 44 years old reached an all-time high of 45 percent in 2004. Moreover, the National Center of Health Statistics confirms that the percentage of women who choose to be “child-free” has swelled 160 percent in a generation.

Standard reasons for choosing pets over people include the rising costs of raising children, and careers and social standing taking precedence over family life.

Such an attachment to pets is dangerous, Bauer suggests, because pets inhabit “a different moral universe than man” and are incapable of demonstrating forgiveness or compassion … or something like that:

Human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. And though capable of monstrous acts, human beings also have the ability – unique in creation – to demonstrate heroic forgiveness and compassion. Witness Holocaust survivor and professor Liviu Librescu, who heroically gave his life during the Virginia Tech shootings. Witness, too, the tremendous outpouring of sympathy for the loved ones of those killed.

Some of those most deeply affected by the shootings even extended the hand of forgiveness to the killer. Clearly, even in the face of brutality, man – when he appeals, as Lincoln admonished, to the better angels of his nature – is capable of exhibiting a humanity toward his fellow man that should make countless thousands rejoice.

Your pet did not survive the Holocaust or give its life to protect students at Virginia Tech, nor did it grieve or have sympathy for those who died and so, apparently, you shouldn’t be so attached it.

How on Earth did Bauer convince the Christian Science Monitor to run this?