Santa Clara Church’s Animal-Free Nativity Nabs PETA Praise

Group’s Christian Outreach Division Encourages First Baptist Church to Make the Decision Permanent

For Immediate Release:
December 9, 2020

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Santa Clara, Calif.

A box of delicious vegan chocolates is on the way from LAMBS—PETA’s Christian outreach division—to Pastor Wungreiso Valui, senior pastor of Santa Clara First Baptist Church, along with a letter thanking the church for not using live animals in this year’s drive-through Nativity.

“Sparing vulnerable animals the stress, confusion, and potential injury of being put on display is a wonderful way to honor the Christmas message of peace on Earth and goodwill to all members of creation,” says PETA Vice President Daniel Paden. “LAMBS hopes that Santa Clara First Baptist Church will make kindness to animals a tradition by keeping them out of all future events.”

LAMBS—which takes its name from Matthew 25:40 (“Whatever you do unto the least among my brothers and sisters, you do as unto me”) and whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram.

LAMBS’ letter to Valui follows.

December 9, 2020

The Reverend Wungreiso Valui
Senior Pastor

Santa Clara First Baptist Church

Dear Pastor Valui:

I’m writing on behalf of LAMBS—the Christian outreach division of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which has more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide, including many thousands across California—in response to Santa Clara First Baptist Church’s decision not to use live animals in your Nativity display this Advent. Thank you for making this compassionate choice and for focusing on the true message of Christmas, which has nothing to do with exploiting God’s creatures. In recognition of this action, we’ll be sending you some delicious vegan chocolates, and we strongly urge you to continue on this path by leaving animals out of all future events.

Many people are not aware of the suffering that animals used for performances have to endure. Forcing animals to participate in Nativity scenes and festive shows contradicts everything that the season represents: peace on Earth and goodwill to all members of creation. Indeed, in Matthew 25:40—the verse that inspired LAMBS—Jesus says, “Whatever you did for the least among my brothers and sisters, you did for me.” With so few legal protections, animals are truly “the least” among us and are in dire need of our compassion and mercy. What better time is there than Christmas to show kindness to all God’s creatures?

Animals used in public displays, such as live Nativity scenes, are denied everything that’s natural and important to them. All animals experience joy, fear, sadness, pain, and grief and have complex social and emotional lives—but the animals who are exploited for these displays are sentenced to a life of deprivation. They’re hauled from venue to venue inside cramped trailers in all weather conditions. When they aren’t on the road, they may be chained or confined to small holding pens, without ever being able to experience true kinship or select a lifelong mate.

In 2017, a cow escaped from a live Nativity in Philadelphia twice in one night. She walked on icy roads and through a parking garage. Luckily, she didn’t sustain any injuries, but she could easily have been hit by a car or otherwise harmed. In 2016, a live Nativity in Pikeville, Kentucky, was canceled after the shocking video of an animal handler punching a camel surfaced online. The man was trying to make the camel lie down through the use of force—including punching the animal in the face.

Ironically, live Nativity displays that use animals aren’t even historically accurate. Contrary to popular belief, there were no oxen, camels, donkeys, or other animals of any kind in the manger.

Santa Clara First Baptist Church has set a meaningful example this year by not using live animals. May I please hear back that you’ve made the compassionate decision never to use animals again in future events? Thank you for your consideration. May you, your family, and your flock have a blessed Advent and Christmas.

Yours in Christ,

Daniel Paden

Vice President

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