by Allen Leigh, contributor
The Fall 2013 issue (pp. 4-5) of the Bostonia, the Boston University (BU) Alumnus magazine, has an interesting article entitled Should Chimps Have the Rights of People? This article concerns the activities of Steven Wise, a BU law graduate (1976), who is the author of two books entitled Rattling the Cage and Drawing the Line. Wise is also president of the NonHuman Rights Project. Wise says animals deserve legal personhood.
In answer to a question from Bostonia, Wise said the following.
There are a million species of animals. I have studied fewer than a dozen. Based on my research and discussions with scientists, it appears likely that at least some great apes, cetaceans, and elephants posses cognitive abilities that the Nonhuman Rights Project believes are sufficient for legal personhood. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list.
As an active Latter-day Saint, I disagree with Wise. I believe animals are not humans, regardless of their cognitive abilities. The basis for my belief is from the LDS definition of a “soul” that is given in the Doctrine and Covenants.
And the spirit and the body are the soul of man. (D&C 88:15)
I believe the “spirit” referred to is the spirit child of our Father in Heaven, and I don’t believe that animals have a spirit child of God. I do believe that we should protect and care for animals, but I don’t believe animals are humans and thus deserve the rights of humans. Animals do have bodies composed of physical and spirit matter, but they do not have spirit children of God. People have all three.