The Church of PETA has, once again, demanded conversion to its gospel of animal worship, and called for outrage against those who refuse to be proselytized. Of course the bulk of humanity laughs. But we laugh because we don't see it for what it is, a replacement faith for a faithless society.
You see, we Christians believe God exists. And with that comes certain natural ramifications, such as the human tendency to be drawn toward worshipping the Creator. When folks refuse to worship the creator, as often as not they will end up worshipping the created, one way or another. Even atheists can turn their own atheism into a religion to be worshipped, or so say modern atheists who explain away the atrocities committed by atheists by stating that those atheists treated atheism like a religion.
So in our post-modern, post-Christian society, did we really think religion would go away? No, it's still here. People will worship something: sex, football, money, themselves, animals, the environment, Mother Earth, whatever. They will cleave unto ancient heathen gods, make up their own religions, something. People will worship.
Since most of our legal definitions of religion were formed back when the Judeo-Christian faith was the default religious setting, we tend to imagine religion looking like a church with a Bible and people praying and singing hymns. And because we tend to see 'religion' in such a narrow way, proud, enlightened post-moderns are blind to the rise of religious alternative religions that are rising up. And they are rising up with a zeal and a fanaticism that could shame a medieval inquisitor.
And that's the funny thing. The reason why most Westerners tossed out the Christian heritage of our civilization was, let's face it, for a good lay, a good romp in the sack, a few drugs, some bathroom humor, parties, greed, and narcissism galore. The idea was that if we could just get rid of 'religion', we would be free, free, free! And yet, new religions are rising that should make it clear to thinking people what the Bible always taught, that we are never free. We simply trade servitude from one thing (the Creator of Heaven and Earth) for something else (animals, the state, government, baseball, you name it)*. And those neo-faiths appear to leap over any evangelistic zeal yet seen when it comes to converting society, or demanding conformity to their dogmas if conversion eludes them. Laugh all we want at PETA and their ilk, but be warned.
*See Paul's letter to the Romans for an excellent unpacking of worshipping created things, and being slaves to God as opposed to slaves to sinful ways.