The ever-inventive animalists at PETA are out with a new beef, er, gripe: The Bible.

It seems in this 400th anniversary year of the venerable King James Version, PETA wants to jump on the bandwagon for some free publicity. Heres the news item:

Animal activists say the Bible needs to be more considerate of Gods furry friends. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, has asked the Committee on Bible Translation to update the New International Version Bible to include more animal-friendly language, according to CNN. In a letter to translators, the group called the Bibles current text speciesist and requested that pronouns like he and she be used instead of it when referring to animals...Language matters, Friedrich told CNN. Calling an animal it denies them something. They are beloved by God. They glorify God.

Actually, PETA folks get this one wrong, too, as they get most things wrong. The Bible is most considerate of Gods creatures. The Bible tells us that all Creation groans, awaiting its savior. As C.S. Lewis helpfully informs us, Nature is not our mother, shes our sister. Nature, like us, is in need of redemption. Thats why, when Jesus was born, Heaven and Nature sang.

Rembrandt's BalaamAs it happens, my mens Bible study just this week delved into the remarkable story of Balaams ass. Its in the book of Numbers 22:21-38. In brief, Balaam is a pagan priest on his way to curse Israel. Apparently, Balaam is considered a champion curser. He mounts his she-ass and heads off to do evil. But the Angel of the Lord appears and blocks the path. Balaams poor donkey sees the angel and balks at going to the left or the right. Despite Balaams beating her, she refuses to aid him in his wickedness. She lies down before the Angel. She even talks to Balaam. She asks him how he can be so cruel to her. Never before had I encountered talking animals in Scripture. No wonder C.S. Lewis peoples his books with talking creatures, two- and four-legged. Balaams ass is a touching story. Even the donkey acknowledges the God of Israel.

I was once taught a lesson in the differences between men and beasts. Boarding a Soviet trawler in the Bering Sea, my party of ten Coast Guardsmen quickly finished our inspection of their catch of fish. I was serving as the Russian language interpreter for the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell.

As I was about to go back over the side, I offered this last word to the Soviet skipper. Naoborot, spaceetyay kitov. (By the way, save the whales.) Whales, like all marine mammals are a protected species. My Greenpeace friends ashore had given me that Russian line to use.

The Soviet skipper laughed: We know whut you mean, he said, but you cant say eet zat way, he said in heavily accented English. He smiled through stainless steel teeth.

Spaceets means to save as in save ones soul. Whales dunt haff souls, only people haff souls.

I looked up at the trawlers smokestack. It had a yellow profile of Lenin, the top Communist revolutionary. Lenin had said any religious sentiment, however slight, was unspeakably vile. Yet here was one of his own Communistswearing a furry shapka on his head that bore the red star, hammer and sickle deviceand telling me that only people had souls. I half expected that smokestack to tumble into the sea!

If Balaams ass can acknowledge the God of Israel, and if this official representative of the atheist USSR knows that only people have souls, there may be hope for PETA yet.