Some animal rights and environmental extremists have moved from the fringe to violence.

Such groups as the so-called “Earth Liberation Front” (ELF) have gone beyond the ballot box and political rhetoric to express their opinions through criminal acts.

ELF claimed responsibility for torching houses in Michigan, reports the Associated Press.

$400,000 dollars in damage was the end result of ELF’s latest hit and run guerrilla warfare. And this is not the first time they have committed arson to make a political point.

But even more troubling is the possibility that ELF may be recruiting minor children.

Authorities in California picked up a juvenile runaway, she had been traveling with an ELF group.

The 16-year-old girl was ultimately booked, reports the Napa Valley Register.

It seems that ELF is willing to work with minor children without parental consent.

The organization might be recruiting through the Internet.

Web surfers can see photos of recent fires they claim responsibility for on the ELF official website.

Some families say such extremist groups have “brainwashed” their children, not unlike destructive cults.

Groups like ELF are one more reason for parents to closely monitor the Internet use of their minor children.

Some say that certain animal rights groups have crossed the line from activism to “cult like” behavior. And former members have claimed that they were subjected to an extreme process of indoctrination.

Now a family in Ohio says their teenage daughter was “brainwashed” by radical animal rights activists, reports WCPO TV in Cincinnati.

The teen first hooked up with the extremists on-line at home through the Internet. Subsequently she descended into an increasingly obsessive and fanatical state of mind, her parents said.

Ultimately the girl left home with an unknown companion.

It is disturbing to think that such extreme and often criminal groups, frequently linked to violence, are now recruiting minor children.

Apparently parent’s rights and the values of families don’t count much to some of these so-called “animal rights” activists.

The so-called “Animal Liberation Front” (ALF), closely associated with the “Earth Liberation Front” (ELF), set fire to a mink farm in Pennsylvania, reports the Associated Press.

Apparently the activists are not concerned with the rule of law or the democratic process and have instead once again opted for criminal acts like anarchists.

The farm owner said, “They put the lives of our animals, our family and the firefighters at risk.”

It seems ironic that people, who claim they want to preserve life, have such little real meaningful concern about the lives they put in danger through their criminal acts. Thankfully, this time no one was hurt.

Critics of ALF and ELF have pointed out that radical groups like these often operate much like a “guru cult” dominated by a charismatic leader, who heavily indoctrinates followers. Subsequently, the disciples of such a leader appear to largely lose their ability to critically and independently examine the ramifications of the group’s behavior.

When examining the carnage wrought by such extremists, this observation seems to ring true.

Obviously, most animal rights advocates and environmentalists are not violent and instead chose to work within the context of democracy, much like the historic Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

It is sad that fringe groups like ALF and ELF have so little faith in the established American ideals of peaceful protest and democracy. But prefer instead to largely function like totalitarian terrorists such as Osama bin Laden, who want to force change unilaterally through violence.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has put a church on notice regarding its planned pig roast at an annual country fair. The animal rights activists even threatened the Methodist congregation with a protest that might include “turning over tables,” reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

A PETA spokesperson said, “Christians…should be adopting a vegetarian diet.” Apparently, Jesus must have eaten only veggies for his Last Supper.

Radical groups like PETA seem to think they have the right to dictate dietary rules to everyone else. Do they also have a plan for what to do with all the farm animals that they hope to protect? Will PETA soon provide funding for a pig preserve or a shelter for homeless cows?

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) would prefer college students drink beer instead of milk.

A PETA spokesperson said, “Even one glass of milk supports animal abuse,” reports the Montreal Gazette.

PETA now promotes the pun “Got Beer,” which mocks the dairy industry’s “Got Milk” slogan. But binge drinking and drunken behavior at college and university campuses is not funny. Despite this, PETA now plans to place “Got Beer” ads in college papers.

Amongst animal rights advocates PETA continues to gain a growing reputation for fanaticism. And if not for the violence that has at times been the result of such extremism, maybe they could be written off as just a joke.

This latest PETA campaign demonstrates how out of touch the organization is with reality and the type of cult-like obsessive focus they often promote.