Pardon my language as I say "What the fuck?"
As far as I'm able to discern, this is a real event that happened with the Main Street Christian Church in Russiaville, Indiana. I don't have a lot of details since they've turned their profile to private and I can't see the original thread (though it's been linked to on numerous different sites, just do a google search for any or all of the above text), though, so I can't confirm. I'd like this to be a joke of some kind designed to make religious zealots look foolish, but I suspect it's all too true.
The really bad thing I see about this is how it related to the children. The animals themselves suffered needlessly, which is bad, but the children were directly confronted with this pain, which was worse. I remember my time in catholic elementary school, and I clearly remember that my pastor was a man who could do no wrong. I was taught he was a holy man with a connection to God, and it wasn't until I grew older that I came to accept him as a man and not some divine figure. The fact that it was this pastor who was deliberately cruel to these animals tells the children that it's okay to be deliberately cruel, especially if it's to make a point related to God. How will that message be received by these children?
The torture of the animals directly is a more tricky subject. We utilize animals for a number of purposes in our lives, from food to clothing to scientific experimentation, and it's not always pleasant for them. I've looked at live goldfish under microscopy before, and I doubt the experience was a pleasant one for them, but it aided my learning and I feel no guilt for causing them temporary discomfort for the sake of furthering my education. Animal experimentation in major laboratories is a very real thing, and people fish with live worms as bait. Still, I think what really gets me about this case is the vast number of animals brought to suffer for a purpose that could just as easily be demonstrated by words or even in a way that utilized animals but brought no lasting harm to any of them. To talk about a "mass execution" and tie it in as a "big hit" seems a break in thinking to me, not because animals were harmed but because the animals were harmed without any regard to their well-being.
It's ok that we use animals for a variety of things in our daily lives, but I worry about the philosophy that leads to the willful disregard for the suffering of any creatures. Our willingness to cause harm to any animal without respect for life numbs us to suffering, and we should be aware of that. Animals suffer due to our advances and our well-being, but those who work with them should always treat them with respect and minimize suffering as much as is realistic.
As a final point, the argument the pastor made was a very weak one at that. The goldfish were not capable of telling these children to leave them alone, and probably would not have done so if they could. The analogy to "friends dying without Christ" is flawed here because we are perfectly capable of telling people to leave us alone. I respect a person who believes that I'm going to suffer forever trying to reach out to me, but when I say I'm not interested, I expect you to respect me in return by not pressing the issue.
In happier news, here's some pictures of animals with stuffed animals.