The Bible mentions both lambs and lions, so it's certainly appropriate for Christians to discuss these animals in relevant sermons. But, on Easter Sunday, one preacher in Grapevine, Texas, took allegory and mixed it with a startling dose of reality. Pastor Ed Young of the Fellowship Church is being criticized by animal rights activists after bringing both a lion and a lamb -- literally -- on stage during his sermon.
You may recall that Young and his wife captured headlines last year after engaging in a "sex-periment" of sorts on their church's rooftop. In this latest incident, which Young dubbed a creative way of tackling Biblical truths, rights groups called it cruel. According to WFAA-TV, the pastor was attempting to showcase how Jesus Christ is both a lion and a lamb.
"The handlers of the lion ran around the cage, sort of poking at him and taunting him to get him to lunge around," said Stacy Smith, who works for the Humane Society of Flower Mound. "Thousands and thousands of churches are able to convey the same exact message without using live animals."
Smith attended the service after hearing that Young would be using the live animals during service and she decided to record the spectacle on her cell phone. She believes that the incident is an example of the mistreatment of animals.
The pastor, though, says that the animals weren't mistreated. In an interview with News 8, he explained his side of the debate.
"We would never do anything to endanger our people," Young said. "Also, we would never do anything to endanger an animal. We love animals."
And while detractors and those opposed to this teaching method claim that the animal use is unnecessary and unwarranted, Young says the church plans to continue utilizing wildlife throughout it's "Wild" sermon series. This teaching series will continue over the next few weeks.
Here's how the church describes the series on its web site:
Wild. The stampede of an elephant. The echo of a gorilla’s roar. The unflinching courage of a lion. There are so many aspects of the animal world that take our breath away, that cause us to stand in awe and wonder.
In this series, Ed Young is joined by some of the most powerful animals in the world. And as they work together to communicate biblical truths into our lives, we discover that God has a powerful and awe-inspiring plan for every one of us.
We are passionate about partnering with people and organizations who share God's standard and respect for animals, and have a long history of doing so. And we look forward to the amazing life change that we believe this series will bring about.
"I think it's great to expose our kids, to expose our church to that," the pastor said. "I think for far too long, the church has stifled creativity."
Police are currently looking into whether the church violated any laws with its use of animals.