By Jim Whitt, Contributing Editor

In 1999, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) posted this message on a billboard near Oral Roberts University (ORU) in Tulsa: “Jesus Was a Vegetarian.” Their intent was to convince students at ORU, a Christian University, that Jesus was a member of a religious sect that rejected animal sacrifice. PETA failed to consider that ORU students actually study the Bible. I never heard of any student at ORU validating PETA’s claim and converting to vegetarianism, which some would consider a form of religion itself.

Nevertheless, PETA, which has never been deterred by facts, claimed the billboard was such a success that they bought billboard space in Tulsa the following year for a second campaign. This billboard featured an image of Jesus with this admonition: “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” PETA might get by with blasphemy, but they couldn’t get by with copyright infringement. It seems that the Priests of the Sacred Heart, who number about 130 in the United States, owned the copyright to the image and demanded that PETA discontinue its use in their campaign.

PETA eventually gave up on Jesus. This year, they decided to crucify Oklahoma’s governor, Kevin Stitt, on a billboard in Oklahoma City. The governor committed vegetarianism’s unpardonable sin. He had the audacity to declare the week beginning March 22, 2021, as “Meat All Week.” PETA’s billboard features a Holstein proclaiming, “Oklahoma, Home of Meathead Gov. Stitt!”

Governor Stitt decided to take PETA’s lemon and make lemonade. He responded with a photo of the billboard on his Twitter account accompanied by this comment, “Looks like a good spot to grill some burgers.”

And that’s just what the governor did. With PETA’s billboard as his backdrop, he grilled hamburgers and steaks and used the occasion to promote animal agriculture. “Thanks to my friends at the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association for a great night! As governor, I will always stand with our beef, chicken and pork producers and protect and defend Oklahoma’s entire agriculture industry.”

It was a priceless photo op that got under PETA president Ingrid Newkirk’s skin. “PETA is sending the Governor a back brace, since he must be in agony from all the bowing and scraping he has to do to keep his meat-industry backers happy.”

The Governor cheerfully declared, “It’s all in good fun. Oklahomans know that we’re going to stand by our agriculture industry and our personal freedoms – and the freedom to go vegan if you want and the freedom to eat hamburgers if you want.” What a novel concept – personal freedom!

PETA must be elated with Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who declared March 2 as “Meat Out Day.” It seems he wanted Coloradans to give up meat as an offering to climate change, a religious sect closely aligned with vegetarianism. This is what inspired Gov. Stitt’s “Meat All Week” week. Now, which governor do you think got the most mileage out of this tit for tat? I’m sure the ag industries in each state will make their preferences known in the next gubernatorial election. Of course, Gov. Polis can count on the vegetarian vote.

But there’s more to this story. While the National Western Stock Show in Denver was postponed due to the pandemic this year, Oklahoma hosted the first ever Cattlemen’s Congress in January. The 12,000-plus entries exceeded the entries in last year’s National Western. And guess who was helping hand out awards at the event? Gov. Stitt, who announced, “When other states said ‘no,’ they’re shut down, in Oklahoma, we said, ‘Let’s go, let’s make it happen.’ In Oklahoma, we’re always going to fight for the ag community and this way of life.”

Gov. Stitt’s support for animal agriculture has paid dividends for other industries. It’s estimated the Cattlemen’s Congress boosted Oklahoma’s economy to the tune of $30 million. Organizers are pushing for it to become an annual event.

You’d think PETA would learn that it’s not smart to insult Bible-believing people and those who make their living feeding the world. Or call their governor meathead. But I’m sure I speak for all Oklahomans when I say, “Thank you PETA – and Governor Polis.”

E-mail comments to jim@purposeunlimited.com

Article is sponsored by Capital Land & Livestock