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UK Christian Veg Conference

Christian Vegetarian Association UK (CVAUK) | via IVU | 04/23/10

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Christian Vegetarian Association UK
Working towards a violence-free world
Home of Veg4Lent

CVAUK UNIVERSITY OF LEEDS
Christianity and Vegetarianism

Nature, Creation and the Peaceable Kingdom
14th & 15th August 2010
Leeds Humanities Research Institute
Clarendon House, 29-31 Clarendon Place, Leeds
Registration: 09.30 to 10.30 each day
Conference and workshops
Saturday: 10.30 to 16.30 & Sunday: 10.30 to 16.00

A two day Conference
This two-day conference will unite Christian Vegetarians and academics working in the field of religion and diet to reflect on the relationship between Christianity and vegetarianism and consider how the call to a diet of meat-abstention might manifest in Christian life, belief and practice.

The exploration of these issues will be facilitated by ample discussion time, with the added opportunity to engage in discussion groups to enable those not speaking to get 'hands-on' with what is often (regrettably) a controversial issue within the churches.

For resources & updates visit: www.caninestyle.co.uk/leeds

Booking Fee: £15 per day, £8 unwaged (includes buffet lunch)

CVAUK is a member of the International Vegetarian Union: www.ivu.org



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Aside from the Pharisees, the gospels and Book of Acts mention the Sadducees as the only other major school of Judaic thought. The Sadducees tended to be rich, nationalist and secularist.

The Jewish historian Josephus, who lived during the time of Jesus, wrote that the "Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many observances...which are not written into the laws of Moses and" which "the Sadducees reject," but they "are able to persuade none but the rich," whereas "the Pharisees have the multitude on their side."

Thus Jesus never rejected Mosaic Law (Matthew 5:17-19; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 16:17); only the excesses of the Pharisees with regard to its observance.

Obviously, Jesus was neither Pharisee nor Sadducee. No analysis of the history of Christianity and the teachings of Jesus can ignore the Essenes. The Jewish historian Josephus, who lived during the time of Jesus, wrote that there were but three Jewish sects in his day: the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Essenes. Josephus actually spent time in an Essene monastery and compiled a detailed account of their doctrines and way of life--similar to primitive Christianity.

New Testament scholars such as Bahrdt (1784-1792), Venturini (1800), Gfoerer (1831-38), Hennel (1840) and von der Alm (1863), have all suggested that Jesus may have been an Essene. The Pharisees and Sadducees appear in the gospels and book of Acts as parties inimical to the new church, but no mention is made of the Essenes. It is quite possible Christianity grew out of Essenism. Essenism began around 180 BC as a reaction to Hellenistic influence among the Jewish people. They called themselves the Zadokites or the Hasidim (pious). In addition to the canonical books of the Old Testament, they composed and studied their own scriptures, commentaries and prophecies, written between 170 and 60 BC. These scriptures were uncovered by modern archaeology in the Essene monastery at Khirbet-Qumran, west of the Dead Sea. The Essenes flourished until 69 AD, when they were killed by the Romans.

The Essene community called itself by the same name ("Edah") used by the early Christians to denote the church. The same term used to designate its legislative assembly was also used to denote the council of the early Christian church. There were twelve "men of holiness" serving as general guides for the community--strikingly similar to the twelve apostles. These men had three superiors, designated as pillars of the community--exactly the positions held by John, Peter and James in the early Christian church. (Galatians 2:9)

Both the Essenes and the earliest Christians referred to themselves as "the poor in the world," "the sons of light" and "the chosen of God who shall judge the nations at the end of time." The earliest Christians called themselves "the saints," "the brethren," "the elect," "the believers," "those in Messiah," "those of the Lord," "the sons of peace," "the disciples" and "the poor." The word most used to refer to Christians in the New Testament is "brethren." The Manual of Discipline and other Essene texts, found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, indicate that they spoke of each other as "brethren."

During the Last Supper, Peter motioned to one of the disciples "to ask who it was of whom he (Jesus) spoke." (John 13:24) This was consistent with the practice of the Essenes when they met together in sessions: "Nor shall a man speak in the midst of the words of his neighbor, before his brother finishes speaking. Neither shall he speak before his proper order." It appears the disciple next to Jesus held a higher rank in the group than Peter, and was the one posing the question to Jesus.

The Essene monastery communal meal resembles the Last Supper of the New Testament. In both meals, only men participated in a large upper room. (Mark 14:15) In both groups the recognized leader presided over the meal. Lastly, the leader blessed both the bread and the drink. Because of these close parallels, the depiction of the Last Supper more closely resembles the communal meals of the Essenes than it does the Passover meal, which is traditionally a patriarchal family rite in which the father of a family presides.

The epistle of James is regarded as one of the earliest epistles in the New Testament. It is addressed to the twelve Jewish tribes of the Dispersion. Its writer, James the Just, the brother of Jesus (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; Galatians 1:19), held a leading position at the Church in Jerusalem. (Acts 12:17, 15:13, 21:13) James (4:5) appears to quote directly from Essene scripture.

He asks, "Do you think that scripture says in vain, 'The spirit which God made to dwell in us lusteth to envy?'" The scripture he refers to are not the canonical books of the Old Testament, because such a statement cannot be found in them. However, a similar statement can be found in the Manual of Discipline: "God has made two spirits to dwell in us, each rivaling the other; the evil one lusteth and envies the good." Jesus' instructions in Matthew 18:15-17 concern disputes among the brethren. He mentions evidence, witnesses and an already existing church hierarchy. Jesus was quoting a set of Essene rules which can also be found in the Manual of Discipline.

John the Baptist is said to have been raised in the desert from childhood. The Essene monastery was not far from where John supposedly lived. The Essenes were the only Jewish sect with a celibate priesthood, practicing baptism. The Manual of Discipline says they followed Isaiah 40:3, "go to the wilderness to prepare there the way...make level in the desert a path for the Lord."

This was John's description of himself, as found in the canonical gospels (John 1:23). "Repent," he preached, "for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 3:2) The Essenes believed they belonged to a "covenant of repentance." (Zadokite Document) John the Baptist said that one greater than he would baptize with fire and the Holy Spirit. The Manual of Discipline declares that the time would come when God would cleanse man through the Holy Spirit and through His Messiah, God would make His chosen know the Holy Spirit.

Josephus writes that the Essenes adopted children and brought them up in God's service. According to the gospels, John the Baptist was in the desert from boyhood until the day of his showing in Israel. The gospels are also silent about Jesus' life from the age of twelve to thirty. Both Jesus and his relative John were about the same age. According to Jewish tradition, a student must reach his thirtieth birthday before he can qualify as a priest or rabbi. Both Jesus and John met this requirement. John, a few months older than Jesus, was the first to preach. Jesus followed shortly thereafter.

The title of "Rabbi" was conferred by the priests of the synagogue or temple. Neither Jesus nor John received this honor from either the Pharisees or the Sadducees. Joesphus mentions only three sects: the Pharisees, Sadducees and the Essenes. (Antiquities G.13,1,2; Antiquities B.13,5,9; Wars of the Jews B.2,8,2)

"Both Mark and Matthew describe the Baptist as eating 'locusts and wild honey' (Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6)," writes Joseph A. Grassi in his 1975 work, Underground Christians in the Earliest Church. "This is the typical diet of a vegetarian who took seriously the injunction in Genesis that God had originally created the plants of the earth as man's food, and had only reluctantly permitted him later to kill animals for meat. (Genesis 1:29, 9:3) Jesus' first disciples came from John the Baptist (John 1:35-51; Acts 1:21-22). Jesus was influenced enough by John to be baptized by him."

The Essenes were vegetarian. One of their earliest scriptural texts, the Zadokite Document proclaims: "Let not a man make himself abominable with any living creature or creeping thing by eating them."

"Thou hast created plants
for the service of man
and all things that spring from the earth
that he may be fed in abundance
and to them that acknowledge Thy truth
Thou has also given insight
to divine Thy wondrous works."

---Hymns of the Initiates
X,14 - XI,2

These verses appear to be based on Genesis 1:26-31 and Daniel 1:9-21. Epiphanius, a Christian bishop during the fourth century, wrote that "the Essenes eschewed the flesh of animals." According to Josephus, "they all sit down together to one sort of food...live the same kind of life as those whom the Greeks call Pythagoreans."

The French philosopher Voltaire observed, "It is well known that Pythagoras embraced the humane doctrine of anti-flesh-eating. There was a rivalry as to who could be the most virtuous--the Essenes or the Pythagoreans." Philo of Alexandria wrote, "They live the longest lives...about a hundred years, owing to the simplicity of their diet." The Roman teacher Porphyry, a vegetarian, also spoke of the Essene meals as a "single simple dish of pure, clean food." St. Jerome admired the Essenes: "those men who perpetually abstained from meat and wine and had acquired the habit of everyday fasting."

According to Philo, "Not a single slave is to be found among them, but all are free, exchanging services with each other, and they denounce the owners of slaves...they have shown themselves especially devout in the service to God, not by offering sacrifices of animals, but by resolving to sanctify their minds." Josephus writes, "they do not offer sacrifices because they have more pure lustrations of their own; on which account they are excluded from the common court of the temple."

The Essenes were pacifists. "As for darts, javelins, daggers, or the helmet, breastplate or shield," Philo explained, "you could not find a single manufacturer of them nor, in general, any person making weapons or engines or plying any industry concerned with war; nor, indeed, any of the peaceful kind which easily lapse into vice."

These descriptions parallel Jesus' teachings (Matthew 5:9,39,43-44, 26:52) where he blesses the peacemakers, tells his followers to "turn the other cheek" if attacked, to bless and pray for their enemies and to refrain from taking up arms.

"They do not hoard gold and silver," continues Philo, "but provide what is needed for the necessary requirements of life...they have become moneyless and landless by deliberate action..." Jesus also told his followers to seek the treasures in heaven, calling for the renunciation of earthly possessions and family ties. (Matthew 6:19-21, 6:25-34, 10:34-39, 19:20-21,29; Luke 9:57-62, 14:25-26,33)

The Essenes observed the Sabbath in synagogues and shared their homes and possessions. These were the practices of the apostles and the earliest Christian communities. (Acts 1:13, 2:44,46, 4:32-37) According to Philo, "They are trained in piety, holiness, justice, domestic and civil conduct, knowledge of what is good through the love of God, love of virtue, and love of men. Their love of God they show by a multitude of proofs: by religious purity constant and unbroken throughout their lives, by abstinence from oaths, by veracity...by their freedom from the love of either money or reputation or pleasure; by self-mastery and endurance; again by frugality, simple living, contentment, humility, respect for the law; steadiness and all similar qualities."

Like the Essenes, Jesus taught his followers not to use oaths (Matthew 5:33-37), to serve God rather than Mammon (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13), and to respect both civil and religious authorities. (Matthew 22:21, 23:1-3) Jesus also emphasized humility and servitude over glory, honor and exaltation. (Matthew 20:24-28; Mark 10:41-45; Luke 9:46-48, 14:7-11, 17:7-10; John 13:3-17)

Josephus wrote that the Essenes faced death calmly and joyfully at the hands of the Romans, knowing "their bodies shall decay and become dust...the souls are immortal, and shall live eternally." The Essenes, said Josephus, taught that in worldly existence, the soul is chained to the body like a prisoner to his cell, but when set free from the flesh, then "already tasting heavenly bliss, it soars up to the bright kingdom of joy and peace." (Compare Matthew 13:43)

Around 1830, Thomas de Quincey wrote an essay claiming the Essenes never existed; that Josephus merely mistook early Christians for these godly people. It would be sacreligious, he argued, to accept the existence of such large communities of worshipers, with doctrines and practices identical to those found in Christianity, prior to Jesus' life and ministry!

No historical evidence proving a relationship between the Essenes and early Christianity has ever been found. The striking similarities between the two faiths, however, strongly suggests that the earliest Christians were influenced by the Essenes. No serious student of Christian thought can ignore the direct influence of Judaism and the possible influence of the Essenes (and the Dead Sea Scrolls) upon the theological development of early Christianity.

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Although it is an agnostic moral philosophy (i.e., no recognition of a personal God) a few centuries older than Christianity, Buddhism teaches a consistent ethic of reverence for all life. No wars have ever been waged in the name of Buddhism. Similarly, the act of abortion is explicitly condemned in the Buddhist canonical scriptures. Sir Edwin Arnold’s poetic biography on Siddhartha Gautama, The Light of Asia, caused quite a controversy in Victorian England: centuries before Jesus, an earlier teacher lived “the Christ life.”

The ethical teachings of the Buddha are quite similar to those found in the Gospel of Jesus: One must never be proud nor harbor anger against anyone. He who humbles himself shall be exalted, while the one who exalts himself shall be degraded. Harsh language must never be used against anyone.

Avoid lust, anger and greed. One should not scrutinize the mote in a neighbor’s eye without first noticing the beam in one’s own. One must “turn the other cheek” if attacked or abused. One’s own possessions must be shared with the less fortunate. If a man obtained the whole world and its riches, he still would not be satisfied, nor would this save him.

In 261 B.C., the Indian emperor Ashoka witnessed firsthand the innumerable casualties he caused during one of his many military campaigns. His heart was filled with grief. He converted to Buddhism. 19th century scholar and writer H.G. Wells considered Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism one of the most significant events in world history.

Ashoka, formerly a bloody and ruthless emperor, became a remarkably kind and gentle leader. Ashoka established some of the first animal rights laws. He stopped the royal hunt, stopped the sacrifice of animals in his capital city, stopped the killing of animals for food in the royal kitchens, and gave up the eating of meat. Ashoka made it illegal to kill many species of animals, such as parrots, ducks, geese, bats, turtles, squirrels, monkeys and rhinos. He forbade the killing of pregnant animals, or animals that were nursing their young. He declared certain days to be “non-killing days,” on which fish could not be caught, nor any other animals killed. He established wells and watering holes, places of rest and hospitals for humans and animals alike.

Ashoka educated his people to have compassion for animals, and to refrain from killing or harming them. He sent missionaries to all the neighboring kingdoms to teach mercy, compassion and nonviolence. Through Ashoka’s patronage, Buddhism was spread all over the Indian subcontinent. Buddhism would eventually reach the rest of Asia; today there are an estimated 300 to 600 million Buddhists worldwide.

The first precept of Buddhism is: “Do not kill, but rather preserve and cherish all life.” There is an ancient poem, reputed to be the only text ever written by the Buddha himself, which states:

“Let creatures all, all things that live, all beings of whatever kind, see nothing that will bode them ill. May naught of evil come to them.”

The Buddhist emperor Ashoka (268-223 BC) declared in one of his famous Pillar Edicts: “I have enforced the law against killing certain animals..The greatest progress of Righteousness among men comes from the exhortation in favor of non-injury to life and abstention from killing living beings.”

The Dalai Lama has said, “I do not see any reason why animals should be slaughtered to serve as human diet when there are so many substitutes. After all, man can live without meat.”

Mahayana Buddhism supports the vegetarian way of life. According to the Mahaparinirvana Sutra: “The eating of meat extinguishes the seed of great compassion.”

The Lankavatara Sutra says:

“For the sake of love of purity, the bodhisattva should refrain from eating flesh, which is born from semen, blood, etc. For fear of causing terror to living beings let the bodhisattva, who is disciplining himself to attain compassion, refrain from eating flesh…It is not true that meat is proper food and permissible when the animal was not killed by himself, when he did not order others to kill it, when it was not specifically meant for him…Again, there may be some people in the future who…being under the influence of the taste for meat will string together in various ways many sophisticated arguments to defend meat-eating…But…meat-eating in any form, in any manner, and in any place is unconditionally and once and for all prohibited…Meat-eating I have not permitted to anyone, I do not permit, I will not permit…”

The Surangama Sutra says:

“The reason for practicing dhyana and seeking to attain samadhi is to escape from the suffering of life. But in seeking to escape from suffering ourselves, why should we inflict it upon others? Unless you can control your minds that even the thought of brutal unkindness and killing is abhorrent, you will never be able to escape from the bondage of the world’s life…After my parinirvana in the final kalpa different kinds of ghosts will be encountered everywhere deceiving people and teaching them that they can eat meat and still attain enlightenment…How can a bhikshu, who hopes to become a deliverer of others, himself be living on the flesh of other sentient beings?

Contemporary Hindu spiritual masters have taught us that if one wishes to eat cow’s flesh (or the flesh of any other animal for that matter), one should wait until the animal dies of natural causes, rather than take the life of a fellow creature. This indicates that we are vegetarian first and foremost out of nonviolence toward and compassion for animals, rather than because we follow “dietary laws.”

Avoidance of onions and garlic is not limited to Hindus in India following an Ayurvedic diet; there is a tradition of avoiding these foods in China, antedating the arrival of Buddhism. ‘Enjoy’ Vegetarian Restaurant in San Francisco, CA is run by Chinese Buddhists, and they do not serve onions or garlic in any of their preparations. However, they do serve mushrooms!

In Theravada Buddhist countries (Burma, Ceylon, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Tibet, Malaya), although the monks are forbidden to kill animals, they beg for food and are expected to eat whatever is offered them. Contrasting the Mahayana Buddhist countries (e.g., China) with the Theravada, in A Vegetarian Sourcebook, author Keith Akers writes:

“In the Mahayana countries, the custom regarding monks is completely different, reflecting a different attitude towards meat consumption. The Mahayana Buddhist monks do not beg for food at all; they prepare their own food, which is either bought, grown, or collected as rent. The Mahayana monks in China were strictly vegetarian in ancient times and remain so today.

“Dietary abstinence from meat was an ancient Chinese tradition that antedated the arrival of Buddhism. In China, all animal foods, onions, and alcohol were either forbidden or customarily avoided. Animal products were avoided in dress as they were in diet. There was a prohibition on the use of silk or leather (not observed in Theravada countries).

“Not only are the Mahayana Buddhist monks vegetarian, but so are many Buddhist lay people in China. Lay people usually receive a lay ordination, in which they must take from one to five vows. Almost everyone takes the first vow, which is not to take the life of any sentient creature.”

In 502 AD a Chinese prince named Hsaio-Yen became the first emperor of the Liang Dynasty. His name as emperor was Wu-Ti. In his youth, he was a Taoist, a follower of the contemplative and nonviolent religion founded by Lao Tzu. Impressed by Chinese Buddhist monks, he converted to Buddhism.

In 511, he stopped the use of meat in the palace kitchens. In 517 he forbade the use of animals in religious sacrifices. He commanded that people should make vegetarian offerings--fruits and vegetables--in place of animals, or make sacrificial animals out of dough.

The emperor sometimes wore a Buddhist monk's robe and performed menial work in a temple for a few days. He was compassionate towards criminals, and disliked punishing or executing people.

The emperor Yuan, also of the Liang Dynasty, began ruling in 552. He was also impressed by Buddhist teachings. He especially believed it was a moral duty to help and rescue living beings. He built a pavilion with a fresh water pond in it. This pond is the first of its kind in recorded history of the famous "fang-sheng chih" ("ponds for releasing life"). They were usually built by devout Buddhists. People brought shrimp, fish, turtles and other small water animals from the food merchants, saved them from being killed and eaten, and released them in the ponds.

The practice of building these ponds and releasing living creatures in them became popular in China. Emperor Su-tsung of the T'ang Dynasty ordered the building of eighty-one such ponds.

Misturu Kakimoto of the Japanese Vegetarian Society writes: “A survey that I conducted of 80 Westerners, including Americans, Englishmen and Canadians, revealed that approximately half of them believed that vegetarianism originated in India. Some respondents assumed that vegetarianism had its origin in China or Japan. It seems to me that the reason Westerners associate vegetarianism with China or Japan is Buddhism. It is no wonder, and in fact we could say that Japan used to be a country where vegetarianism prevailed.”

Gishi-wajin-denn, a history book on Japan written in China around the third century BC, says, “There are no cattle, no horses, no tigers, no leopards, no goats and no magpies in that land. The climate is mild and people over there eat fresh vegetables both in summer and in winter.” It also says that “people catch fish and shellfish in the water.” Apparently, the Japanese ate fresh vegetables as well as rice and other cereals as staple foods. They also took some fish and shellfish, but hardly any meat.

Shinto, the prevailing religion at the time, is essentially pantheistic, based upon the worship of the forces of nature. According to writer Steven Rosen, in the early days of Shinto, no animal food was offered in sacrifice because of the injunction against shedding blood in the sacred area of the shrine.

Several hundred years later, Buddhism came to Japan and the prohibition of hunting and fishing permeated the Japanese people. In 7th century Japan, the Empress Jito encouraged “hojo,” or the releasing of captive animals, and established wildlife preserves, where animals could not be hunted.

There are many similarities between the Hindu literature and the Buddhist religions of the Far East. For example, the word "Cha’an" of the Cha’an school of Chinese Buddhism is Chinese for the Sanskrit word “dhyana”, which means meditation, as does the word “Zen” in Japanese. In 676 AD, then Japanese emperor Tenmu proclaimed an ordinance prohibiting the eating of fish and shellfish as well as animal flesh and fowl.

During the twelve hundred years from the Nara period to the Meiji restoration in the second half of the 19th century, Japanese people enjoyed vegetarian style meals. They usually ate rice as staple food and beans and vegetables. It was only on special occasions or celebrations that fish was served. Under these circumstances the Japanese people developed a vegetarian cuisine, "Shojin Ryori (ryori" means cooking or cuisine), which was native to Japan.

The word “shojin” is a Japanese translation of “vyria” in Sanskrit, meaning “to have the goodness and keep away evils.” Buddhist priests of the Tendai-shu and Shingon-shu sects, whose founders studied in China in the ninth century before they founded their respective sects, have handed down vegetarian cooking practices from Chinese temples strictly in accordance with the teachings of the Buddha.

In the 13th century, Dogen, the founder of the Soto sect of Zen, formally established "Shojin Ryori" or Japanese vegetarian cuisine. Dogen studied and learned the Zen teachings abroad in China, during the Sung Dynasty. He fixed rules aiming to establish the pure vegetarian life as a means of training the mind.

One of the other influences Zen exerted on the Japanese people manifested itself in "Sado", the Japanese tea ceremony. It is believed that Esai, founder of the Rinazi-shu sect, introduced tea to Japan and it is the custom for Zen followers to drink tea. The customs preserved in the teaching of Zen lead to a systematic rule called Sado…a "Cha-shitsu" or tea ceremony room is so constructed as to resemble the Shojin, where the chief priest is at a Buddhist temple.

Food served at a tea ceremony is called "Kaiseki" in Japanese, which literally means a stone in the breast. Monks practicing asceticism used to press heated stones to their bosom to suppress hunger. Then the word Kaiseki itself came to mean a light meal served at Shojin, and Kaiseki meals had great influence on the Japanese.

The “Temple of the Butchered Cow” can be found in Shimoda, Japan. It was erected shortly after Japan opened its doors to the West in the 1850s. It was erected in honor of the first cow slaughtered in Japan, marking the first violation of the Buddhist tenet against the eating of meat.

An example of a Buddhist vegetarian in the modern age: Kenji Miyazawa, a Japanese writer and poet of the early 20th century, who wrote a novel entitled Vegetarian-Taisai, in which he depicted a fictitious vegetarian congress…His works played an important role in the advocacy of modern vegetarianism. Today, no animal flesh is ever eaten in a Zen Buddhist monastery, and such Buddhist denominations as the Cao Dai sect (which originated in South Vietnam), now boasts some two million followers, all of whom are vegetarian.

The Buddhist teachings are not the only source contributing to the growth of vegetarianism in Japan. in the late 19th century, Dr. Gensai Ishizuka published an academic book in which he advocated vegetarian cooking with an emphasis on brown rice and vegetables. His method is called Seisyoku (Macrobiotics) and is based upon ancient Chinese philosophy such as the principles of Yin and Yang and Taoism. Now some people support his method of preventative medicine. Japanese macrobiotics suggest taking brown rice as half of the whole intake, with vegetables, beans, seaweeds, and a small amount of fish (optional, not required).

In his 1923 book, The Natural Diet of Man, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg writes: “According to Mori, the Japanese peasant of the interior is almost an exclusive vegetarian. He eats fish once or twice a month and meat once or twice a year.” Dr. Kellogg writes that in 1899, the Emperor of Japan appointed a commission to determine whether it was necessary to add meat to the nation’s diet to improve the people’s strength and stature. The commission concluded that as far as meat was concerned, “the Japanese had always managed to do without it, and that their powers of endurance and their athletic prowess exceeded that of any of the Caucasian races. Japan’s diet stands on a foundation of rice.”

According to Dr. Kellogg: “the rice diet of the Japanese is supplemented by the free use of peanuts, soy beans and greens, which… constitute a wholly sufficient bill of fare. Throughout the Island Empire, rice is largely used, together with buckwheat, barley, wheat and millet. Turnips and radishes, yams and sweet potatoes are frequently used, also cucumbers, pumpkins and squashes. The soy bean is held in high esteem and used largely in the form of miso, a puree prepared from the bean and fermented; also tofu, a sort of cheese; and cho-yu, which is prepared by mixing the pulverized beans with wheat flour, salt, and water and fermenting from one and a half to five years.

“The Chinese peasant lives on essentially the same diet, as do also the Siamese, the Koreans, and most other Oriental peoples. Three-fourths of the world’s population eats so little meat that it cannot be regarded as anything more than an incidental factor in their bill of fare. The countless millions of China,” writes Dr. Kellogg, “are for the most part flesh-abstainers. In fact at least two-thirds of the inhabitants of the world make so little use of flesh that it can hardly be considered an essential part of their dietary…”

Misturu Kakimoto concludes: “Japanese people started eating meat some 150 years ago and now suffer the crippling diseases caused by the excess intake of fat in flesh and the possible hazards from the use of agricultural chemicals and additives. This is persuading them to seek natural and safe food and to adopt once again the traditional Japanese cuisine.”

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One widespread rationalization in Christian circles, often used to justify humanity's mistreatment of animals, is the erroneous belief that humans alone possess immortal souls, and only humans, therefore, are worthy of moral consideration. The 19th century German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, condemned such a philosophy in his On the Basis of Morality.

"Because Christian morality leaves animals out of account," wrote Schopenhauer, "they are at once outlawed in philosophical morals; they are mere 'things,' mere means to any ends whatsoever. They can therefore be used for vivisection, hunting, coursing, bullfights, and horse racing, and can be whipped to death as they struggle along with heavy carts of stone. Shame on such a morality that is worthy of pariahs, and that fails to recognize the eternal essence that exists in every living thing, and shines forth with inscrutable significance from all eyes that see the sun!"

According to the Bible, animals have souls. Texts such as Genesis 1:21,24 are often mistranslated to read "living creatures." The exact Hebrew used in reference to animals throughout the Bible is "nephesh chayah," or "living soul." This is how the phrase has been translated in Genesis 2:7 and in four hundred other places in the Old Testament.

God breathed the "breath of life" into man, and caused him to become a living soul. (Genesis 2:7) Animals have the same "breath of life" as do humans. (Genesis 7:15, 22) Numbers 16:22 refers to the Lord as "the God of spirits of all flesh." In Numbers 31:28, God commands Moses to divide up among the people the cattle, sheep, asses and human prisoners captured in battle and to give to the Lord "one soul of five hundred" of both humans and animals alike. Psalm 104 says God provides for animals and their ensoulment:

"O Lord, how innumerable are Thy works; in wisdom Thou hast made them all! The earth is full of Thy well-made creations. All these look to Thee to furnish their timely feed. When Thou providest for them, they gather it. Thou openest Thy hand, and they are satisfied with good things. When Thou hidest Thy face, they are struck with despair. When Thou cuttest off their breath, in death they return to their dust. Thou sendest Thy Spirit and more are created, and Thou dost replenish the surface of the earth."

Similarly, the apocryphal Book of Judith praises God, saying, "Let every creature serve You, for You spoke and they were made. You sent forth Your Spirit and they were created." Job 12:10 teaches that in God's hand "is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind."

Ecclesiastes 3:19-20 says humans have no advantage over animals: "They all draw the same breath...all came from the dust, and to dust all return."

The verse that immediately follows asks, "Who knows if the spirit of man goes upward, and the spirit of the beast goes down to the earth?" The exact Hebrew word for "spirit," "ruach," is used in connection with animals as well as humans. Ecclesiastes 12:7 concludes that "the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."

This position was taken by Paul, who called himself an apostle to the gentiles. Paul spoke of God as the "giver of life and breath and all things to everyone." (Acts 17:25) In his epistle to the Romans 8:18-25, Paul wrote that the entire creation, and not just mankind, is awaiting redemption.

Revelations 16:3 also refers to the souls of animals: "The second angel poured out his bowl upon the sea, so that it turned to blood as of a corpse, and every living soul that was in the sea died." The exact Greek word for soul, "psyche," was used in the original texts.

Jesus repeatedly spoke of God's tender care for the nonhuman creation (Matthew 6:26-30, 10:29-31; Luke 12:6-7, 24-28). Jesus taught that God desires "mercy and not sacrifice." (Matthew 9:10-13, 12:6-7; Mark 2:15-17; Luke 5:29-32) The epistle to the Hebrews 10:5-10 suggests that Jesus did not come to abolish the Law and the prophets (which Paul, and not Jesus, regarded as "so much garbage"), but only the institution of animal sacrifice, as does Jesus' cleansing the Temple of those who were buying and selling animals for sacrifice and his overturning the tables of the moneychangers in the Temple. (Matthew 21:12-14; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46; John 2:14-17)

Jesus not only repeatedly upheld Mosaic Law (Matthew 5:17-19; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 16:17), he justified his healing on the Sabbath by referring to commandments calling for the humane treatment of animals!

When teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath, Jesus healed a woman who had been ill for eighteen years. He justified his healing work on the Sabbath by referring to biblical passages calling for the humane treatment of animals as well as their rest on the Sabbath. "So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham...be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?" Jesus asked. (Luke 13:10-16)

On another occasion, Jesus again referred to Torah teaching on "tsa'ar ba'alei chayim" or compassion for animals to justify healing on the Sabbath. "Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?" (Luke 14:1-5)

Jesus compared saving sinners who had gone astray from God's kingdom to rescuing lost sheep. He recalled a Jewish legend about Moses' compassion as a shepherd for his flock.

"For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. What do you think? Who among you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?

"And when he has found it," Jesus continued, "he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'

"I say to you, likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance ...there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (Matthew 18:11-13; Luke 15:3-7,10)

"The compassionate, sensitive heart for animals is inseparable from the proclamation of the Christian gospel," writes the Reverend Andrew Linzey in Love the Animals. "We have lived so long with the gospel stories of Jesus that we frequently fail to see how his life and ministry identified with animals at almost every point.

"His birth, if tradition is to be believed, takes place in the home of sheep and oxen. His ministry begins, according to St. Mark, in the wilderness 'with the wild beasts' (1:13). His triumphal entry into Jerusalem involves riding on a 'humble' ass (Matthew 21). According to Jesus, it is lawful to 'do good' on the Sabbath, which includes the rescuing of an animal fallen into a pit (Matthew 12). Even the sparrows, literally sold for a few pennies in his day, are not 'forgotten before God.' God's providence extends to the entire created order, and the glory of Solomon and all his works cannot be compared to that of the lilies of the field (Luke 12:27).

"God so cares for His creation that even 'foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.' (Luke 9:58) It is 'the merciful' who are 'blessed' in God's sight and what we do to 'the least' of all we do to him. (Matthew 5:7, 25:45-46) Jesus literally overturns the already questionable practice of animal sacrifice. Those who sell pigeons have their tables overturned and are put out of the Temple (Mark 11:15-16). It is the scribe who sees the spiritual bankruptcy of animal sacrifice and the supremacy of sacrificial love that Jesus commends as being 'not far from the Kingdom of God.' (Mark 12:32-34)

"It is a loving heart which is required by God, and not the needless bloodletting of God's creatures," concludes Reverend Linzey. "We can see the same prophetic and radical challenge to tradition in Jesus' remarks about the 'good shepherd' who, unlike many in his day, 'lays down his life for the sheep.' (John 10:11)"

English theologian Joseph Butler (1692-1752), a contemporary of John Wesley's, was born in a Presbyterian family, joined the Church of England, and eventually became a bishop and dean of St. Paul's. In his 1736 work, The Analogy of Religion, Bishop Butler became one of the first clergymen to teach the immortality of animal souls. "Neither can we find anything in the whole analogy of Nature to afford even the slightest presumption that animals ever lose their living powers, much less that they lose them by death," he wrote.

The Reverend John George Wood (1827-89) was an eloquent and prolific writer on the subject of animals. A popular lecturer on the subject of natural history, he wrote several books as well, such as My Feathered Friends and Man and Beast--Here and Hereafter. Wood believed most people were cruel to animals because they were unaware that the creatures possessed immortal souls and would enjoy eternal life.

One of the most scholarly studies on the issue of animal souls was undertaken by Elijah D. Buckner in his 1903 book The Immortality of Animals. He concluded: "...The Bible, without the shadow of a doubt, recognizes that animals have living souls the same as man. Most of the quotations given are represented as having been spoken by the Creator Himself, and he certainly knows whether or not He gave to man and lower animals alike a living soul, which of course means an immortal soul."

Influenced by Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas, the Church of Rome maintained for centuries that animals lack souls or divinity, even though such a doctrine contradicts many biblical passages. Previously, during the Synod of Macon (585 AD), the Church had debated whether or not women have souls! Women in the Western world (in the East, the situation is worse!) are finally being recognized as persons in every sense of the word--social, political and spiritual. Animals have yet to be given the same kind of moral consideration.

Jewish writer Mark Matthew Braunstein writes in his 1981 book, Radical Vegetarianism:

"Pope Innocent VIII of the Renaissance required that when witches were burned, their cats be burned with them; Pope Pius IX of the 19th century forbade the formation of an SPCA in Rome, declaring humans had no duty to animals; Pope Pius XII of World War II stated that when animals are killed in slaughterhouses or laboratories, '...their cries should not arouse unreasonable compassion any more than do red-hot metals undergoing the blows of the hammer;' and Pope Paul VI in 1972, by blessing a battalion of Spanish bullfighters, became the first Pope to bestow his benediction upon one cruelty even the Church had condemned.

In Christianity and the Rights of Animals, the Reverend Andrew Linzey, an Anglican priest, responds to the widespread Christian misconception that animals have no souls by taking it to its logical conclusion:

"But let us suppose for a moment that it could be shown that animals lack immortal souls, does it follow that their moral status is correspondingly weakened? It is difficult to see in what sense it could be. If animals are not to be recompensated with an eternal life, how much more difficult must it be to justify their temporal sufferings?

"If, for an animal, this life is all that he can have, the moral gravity of any premature termination is thereby increased rather than lessened...In short, if we invoke the traditional argument against animals based on soullessness, we are not exonerated from the need for proper moral justification.

"Indeed, if the traditional view is upheld, the question has to be: How far can any proposed aim justify to the animal concerned what would seem to be a greater deprivation or injury than if the same were inflicted on a human being?"

"Mark Twain remarked long ago that human beings have a lot to learn from the Higher Animals," writes Unitarian minister Gary Kowalski, in his 1991 book, The Souls of Animals. "Just because they haven't invented static cling, ICBM's, or television evangelists doesn't mean they aren't spiritually evolved."

Kowalski's definition of "spiritually evolved" includes "the development of a moral sense, the appreciation of beauty, the capacity for creativity, and the awareness of one's self within a larger universe as well as a sense of mystery and wonder about it all. These are the most precious gifts we possess...

"I am a parish minister by vocation," Kowalski explains. "My work involves the intangible and perhaps undefinable realm of spirit. I pray with the dying and counsel the bereaved. I take part in the joy of parents christening their newborns and welcoming fresh life into the world.

"I occasionally help people think through moral quandaries and make ethical decisions, and I also share a responsibility for educating the young, helping them realize their inborn potential for reverence and compassion. Week after week I stand before my congregation and try to talk about the greatest riddles of human existence. In recent years, however, I have become aware that human beings are not the only animals on this planet that participate in affairs of the spirit."

Kowalski notes that animals are aware of death. They have a sense of their own mortality, and grieve at the loss of companions. Animals possess language, musical abilities, a sense of the mysterious, creativity and playfulness. Animals possess a sense of right and wrong; they are capable of fidelity, altruism, and even self-sacrifice.

"Animals, like us, are microcosms," says Kowalski. "They too care and have feelings; they too dream and create; they too are adventuresome and curious about their world. They too reflect the glory of the whole.

"Can we open our hearts to the animals? Can we greet them as our soul mates, beings like ourselves who possess dignity and depth? To do so, we must learn to revere and respect the creatures, who, like us, are a part of God's beloved creation, and to cherish the amazing planet that sustains our mutual existence.

"Animals," Kowalski concludes, "are living souls. They are not things. They are not objects. Neither are they human. Yet they mourn. They love. They dance. They suffer. They know the peaks and chasms of being."

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Why aren't the Christians becoming vegetarian?

Vegetarianism and concern for animals can be found in Protestant Christianity as well.

Commenting on Deuteronomy 22:6, which forbids harming a mother-bird if her eggs or chicks are taken, Martin Luther (1483-1546) wrote: “What else does this law teach but that by the kind treatment of animals they are to learn gentleness and kindness? Otherwise it would seem to be a stupid ordinance not only to regulate a matter so unimportant, but also to promise happiness and a long life to those who keep it.”

According to Luther, Adam “would not have used the creatures as we do today,” but rather, “for the admiration of God and a holy joy.” Referring to passages from Scripture concerning the redemption of the entire creation and the Kingdom of Peace, Luther taught that “the creatures are created for an end; for the glory that is to come.”

British historian William Lecky observed that, “Luther grew sad and thoughtful at a hare hunt, for it seemed to him to represent the pursuit of souls by the devil.” Author Dix Harwood, in Love for Animals, depicts a grieving young girl being comforted by Luther. Luther assures her that her pet dog who died would certainly go to heaven. Luther tells her that in the “new heavens and new earth...all creatures will not only be harmless, but lovely and joyful...Why, then, should there not be little dogs in the new earth, whose skin might be as fair as gold, and their hair as bright as precious stones?”

Biblical teachings on human responsibilities towards animals were not lost on John Calvin (1509-1564). According to Calvin, animals exist within the framework of human justice: “But it must be remembered that men are required to practice justice even in dealing with animals. Solomon condemns injustice to our neighbours the more severely when he says, ‘a just man cares well for his beasts’ (Proverbs 12:10). In a word, we are to do what is right voluntarily and freely, and each of us is responsible for doing his duty.”

John Wray (1627?-1705), the “father of English natural history,” made the first systematic description and classification of animal and vegetable species. He wrote numerous works on botany, zoology, and theology. In 1691, Wray published The Wisdom of God Manifest in the Works of His Creation, which emphasized the sanctity and value of the natural world.

Wray advocated vegetarianism and made two points in his book. The first was that God can best be seen and understood in the study of His creation. “Let us then consider the works of God and observe the operation of His hands,” wrote Wray. “Let us take notice of and admire His infinite goodness and wisdom in the formation of them. No creature in the sublunary world is capable of doing this except man, and yet we have been deficient therein.” Wray’s second point was that God placed animals here for their own sake, and not just for the pleasure of humans. Animals have their own intrinsic value. “If a good man be merciful to his beast, then surely a good God takes pleasure that all His creatures enjoy themselves that have life and sense and are capable of enjoying.”

Thomas Tryon’s lengthy The Way to Health, Wealth, and Happiness was published in 1691. Tryon defended vegetarianism as a physically and spiritually superior way of life. He came to this conclusion from his interpretation of the Bible as well as his understanding of Christianity. Tryon wrote against “that depraved custom of eating flesh and blood.” The opening pages of his book begin with an eloquent plea for mercy towards the animals:

“Refrain at all times such foods as cannot be procured without violence and oppression, for know, that all the inferior creatures when hurt do cry and fend forth their complaints to their Maker...Be not insensible that every creature doth bear the image of the great Creator according to the nature of each, and that He is the vital power in all things. Therefore, let none take pleasure to offer violence to that life, lest he awaken the fierce wrath, and bring danger to his own soul. But let mercy and compassion dwell plentifully in your hearts, that you may be comprehended in the friendly principle of God’s love and holy light. Be a friend to everything that’s good, and then everything will be a friend to thee, and co-operate for thy good and welfare.”

In The Way, Tryon (1634-1703) also condemned “Hunting, hawking, shooting, and all violent oppressive exercises...” On a separate occasion, he warned the first Quaker settlers of Pennsylvania that their “holy experiment” in peaceful living would fail unless they extended their Christian precepts of nonviolence to the animal kingdom:

"Does not bounteous Mother Earth furnish us with all sorts of food necessary for life?” he asked. “Though you will not fight with and kill those of your own species, yet I must be bold to tell you, that these lesser violences (as you call them) do proceed from the same root of wrath and bitterness as the greater do.”

“Thanks be to God!” wrote John Wesley, founder of Methodism, to the Bishop of London in 1747. “Since the time I gave up the use of flesh-meats and wine, I have been delivered from all physical ills.” Wesley was a vegetarian for spiritual reasons as well. He based his vegetarianism on the Biblical prophecies concerning the Kingdom of Peace, where “on the new earth, no creature will kill, or hurt, or give pain to any other.” He further taught that animals “shall receive an ample amends for all their present sufferings.”

Wesley’s teachings placed an emphasis on inner religion and the effect of the Holy Spirit upon the consciousness of such followers. Wesley taught that animals will attain heaven: in the “general deliverance” from the evils of this world, animals would be given “vigor, strength and swiftness...to a far higher degree than they ever enjoyed.”

Wesley urged parents to educate their children about compassion towards animals. He wrote: “I am persuaded you are not insensible of the pain given to every Christian, every humane heart, by those savage diversions, bull-baiting, cock-fighting, horse-racing, and hunting.”

In 1786, Reverend Richard Dean, the curate of Middleton, published An Essay on the Future Life of Brute Creatures. He told his readers to treat animals with compassion, and not to “treat them as sticks, or stones, or things that cannot feel...Surely ...sensibility in brutes entitles them to a milder treatment than they usually meet from hard and unthinking wretches.”

The Quakers have a long history of advocating kindness towards animals. In 1795, the Society of Friends (Quakers) in London passed a resolution condemning sport hunting. The resolution stated in part, “let our leisure be employed in serving our neighbor, and not in distressing, for our amusement, the creatures of God.”

John Woolman (1720-72) was a Quaker preacher and abolitionist who traveled throughout the American colonies attacking slavery and cruelty to animals. Woolman wrote that he was “early convinced in my mind that true religion consisted in an inward life, wherein the heart doth love and reverence God the Creator and learn to exercise true justice and goodness, not only toward all men, but also toward the brute creatures...”

Woolman’s deep faith in God thus led to his reverence for all life. “Where the love of God is verily perfected and the true spirit of government watchfully attended to,” he taught, “a tenderness toward all creatures made subject to us will be experienced, and a care felt in us that we do not lessen that sweetness of life in the animal creation which the great Creator intends for them.”

Joshua Evans (1731-1798), a Quaker and a contemporary of Woolman’s, stated that reverence for life was the moral basis of his vegetarianism. “I considered that life was sweet in all living creatures,” he wrote, ‘and taking it away became a very tender point with me...I believe my dear Master has been pleased to try my faith and obedience by teaching me that I ought no longer to partake of anything that had life."

The “Quaker poet” and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-92), wrote: “The sooner we recognize the fact that the mercy of the Almighty extends to every creature endowed with life, the better it will be for us as men and Christians.”

One of the most respected English theologians of the 18th century, William Paley (1743-1805), taught that killing animals for food was unjustifiable. Paley called the excuses used to justify killing animals “extremely lame,” and even refuted the rationalizations concerning fishing.

The founder and first secretary of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) was an Anglican priest, the Reverend Arthur Broome. The RSPCA was originally founded as a Christian society “entirely based on the Christian Faith, and on Christian Principles,” and sponsoring sermons on humane education in churches in London. The Society formed in 1824, and its first Prospectus spoke of the need to extend Christian charity and benevolence to the animals:

“Our country is distinguished by the number and variety of its benevolent institutions...all breathing the pure spirit of Christian charity...But shall we stop here? Is the moral circle perfect so long as any power of doing good remains? Or can the infliction of cruelty on any being which the Almighty has endued with feelings of pain and pleasure consist with genuine and true benevolence?”

This Prospectus was signed by many leading 19th century Christians including William Wilberforce, Richard Martin, G.A. Hatch, J. Bonner, and Dr. Heslop.

The Bible Christian Church was a 19th century movement teaching vegetarianism, abstinence from intoxication, and compassion for animals. The church began in England in 1800, requiring all its members to take vows of abstinence from meat and wine. One of its first converts, William Metcalfe (1788-1862), immigrated to Philadelphia in 1817 with forty-one followers to establish a church in America. Metcalfe cited numerous biblical references to support his thesis that humans were meant to follow a vegetarian diet for reasons of health and compassion for animals.

German composer Richard Wagner (1813-1883) believed flesh-eating to be responsible for the downfall of man. He felt vegetarianism could help mankind return to Paradise. He wrote: “Plant life instead of animal life is the keystone of regeneration. Jesus used bread in place of flesh and wine in place of blood at the Lord’s Supper.”

General William Booth (1829-1912), founder of the Salvation Army, practiced and advocated vegetarianism. Booth never officially condemned flesh-eating as either cruelty or gluttony, but taught that abstinence from luxury is helpful to the cause of Christian charity. “It is a great delusion to suppose that flesh of any kind is essential to health,” he insisted.

“If you want to pass from the consciousness of flesh into the consciousness of Spirit, you must withdraw your attention from the things of the flesh,” taught Dr. Charles Filmore, founder of Unity. “You must recognize that there is but one universal life, one universal substance, one universal intelligence, and that every animal is contending for its life and is entitled to that life.

“But in the matter of animal slaughter, who countenances it or defends it after his eyes have been opened to the unity of life? Let us remember that the right kind of food will give our minds and our spirits opportunity to express that which is one with ideal life.”

Founded in the 19th century at Lee’s Summit, Missouri, the Unity School teaches that the time will come when man will look back upon eating animal flesh as he now looks upon cannibalism:

“As man unfolds spiritually he more and more perceives the necessity of fulfilling the divine law in every department of his life. From experience and observation Unity believes that somewhere along the way, as he develops spiritually, man comes to question seriously the rightness of meat as part of his diet. Man is naturally loathe to take life, even though the idea of killing animals for food has so long been sponsored by the race that he feels it is right and proper to do so.

“However, the Commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ considered in its fullest sense, includes the killing of animals...There is a kindred spirit in all living things—a love for life. Any man who considers honestly the oneness of life feels an aversion to eating meat: that is a reaction of his mind towards anything so foreign to the idea of universal life.”

“The moral evils of a flesh diet are not less marked than are the physical ills,” wrote Ellen White, founder of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. “Flesh food is injurious to health, and whatever affects the body has a corresponding effect on the mind and soul.”

Although Seventh-Day Adventists strongly recommend vegetarianism for reasons of health and nutrition, White also espoused the belief that kindness to animals should be a Christian duty. In Ministry of Healing, she urged the faithful to:

“Think of the cruelty that meat eating involves, and its effect on those who inflict and those who behold it. How it destroys the tenderness with which we should regard these creatures of God!”

In Patriarchs and Prophets, White referred to numerous passages in the Bible calling for kindness to animals, and concluded that humans will be judged according to how they fulfill their moral obligations to animals:

"It is because of man’s sin that ‘the whole creation groaneth and travaileth together in pain’ (Romans 8:22). Surely, then, it becomes man to seek to lighten, instead of increasing, the weight of suffering which his transgression has brought upon God’s creatures. He who will abuse animals because he has them in his power is both a coward and a tyrant. A disposition to cause pain, whether to our fellow men or to the brute creation is satanic.

“Many do not realize that their cruelty will ever be known because the poor dumb animals cannot reveal it. But could the eyes of these men be opened, as were those of Balaam, they would see an angel of God standing as a witness to testify against them in the courts above.

“A record goes up to heaven, and a day is coming when judgement will be pronounced against those who abuse God’s creatures.”

In Counsels on Diet and Foods, White referred to the Garden of Eden, a Holy Sanctuary of God, where nothing would ever die, as the perfect example of humans in their natural state:

“God gave our first parents the food He designed that the race should eat. It was contrary to His plan to have the life of any creature taken. There was to be no death in Eden. The fruit of the tree in the garden was the food man’s wants required.”

“Tenderness accompanies all the might imparted by Spirit,” wrote Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science, in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. “The individuality created by God is not carnivorous, as witness the millennial estate pictured by Isaiah (11:6-9). All of God’s creatures, moving in the harmony of Science, are harmless, useful, indestructible. A realization of this grand verity was a source of strength to the ancient worthies. It supports Christian healing, and enables its possessor to emulate the example of Jesus. ‘And God saw that it was good.’”

Congregational minister Frederic Marvin preached a Christmas Eve sermon in 1899 entitled, “Christ Among the Cattle.” Marvin regarded Jesus’ birth in the manger as that of God incarnate teaching humanity by dramatic example. Birth among the cattle was a sign for people all over the world to follow—a lesson teaching the need to show compassion towards the animals.

At the close of the 19th century, Reverend Thomas Timmins of Portsmouth, England, helped organize what may have been the first mass effort in America to teach kindness to animals. Reverend Timmins worked with George T. Angell (1823-1909) to organize American students into “Bands of Mercy,” based on a similar movement taking place in England at the same time.

By 1912 there were over three million elementary school students enrolled in over 85,000 chapters. They all wore badges and pledged: “I will try to be kind to all living creatures, and try to protect them from cruel usage.” This movement reached global proportions before declining after the Second World War.

In his 1923 work, The Natural Diet of Man, Adventist physician Dr. John Harvey Kellogg observed:

“The attitude of the Bible writers toward flesh-eating is the same as toward polygamy. Polygamy as well as flesh-eating was tolerated under the social and religious systems of the old Hebrews and even during the early centuries of the Christian era; but the first man, Adam, in his pristine state in the Garden of Eden was both a monogamist and a flesh-abstainer. If the Bible supports flesh-eating, it equally supports polygamy; for all the patriarchs had plural wives as well as concubines. Christian ethics enjoin a return to the Edenic example in matters matrimonial. Physiologic science as well as human experience call for a like return to Eden in matters dietetic.”

An essay on “The Rights of Animals” by Dean William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) can be found in his 1926 book, Lay Thoughts of a Dean. It reads in part:

“Our ancestors sinned in ignorance; they were taught (as I deeply regret to say one great Christian Church still teaches) that the world, with all that it contains, was made for man, and that the lower orders of creation have no claims upon us. But we no longer have the excuse of saying that we do not know; we do know that organic life on this planet is all woven of one stuff, and if we are children of our Heavenly Father, it must be true, as Christ told us, that no sparrow falls to the ground without His care. The new knowledge has revolutionized our ideas of our relations to the other living creatures who share the world with us, and it is our duty to consider seriously what this knowledge should mean for us in matters of conduct.”

Dean Inge is reported to have said, “Whether animals believe in a god I do not know, but I do know that they believe in a devil—the devil which is man.”

“The day is surely dawning,” wrote the Reverend V.A. Holmes-Gore, M.A., “when it will become clear that the idea of the Blessed Master giving His sanction to the barbaric habit of flesh-eating, is a tragic delusion, foisted upon the Church by those who never knew Him.”

Author of Those We Have Not Loved, Reverend Holmes-Gore called vegetarianism “absolutely necessary for the redemption of the planet. Indeed we cannot hope to rid the world of war, disease and a hundred other evils until we learn to show compassion to the creatures and refrain from taking their lives for food, clothing or pleasure.

“The Church is powerless to free mankind from such evils as war, oppression and disease,” insisted the Reverend Holmes-Gore, “because it does nothing to stop man’s oppression of victimizing living creatures...Every evil action, whether it be done to a man, a woman, a child, or an animal will one day have its effect upon the transgressor. The rule that we reap what we sow is a Divine Law from which there is no escape.

“God is ever merciful,” Reverend Holmes-Gore explained, “but he is also righteous, and if cruel men and women will learn compassion in no other way, then they will have to learn through suffering, even if it means suffering the same tortures that they have themselves inflicted. God is perfect Love, and He is never vengeful or vindictive, but the Divine Law of mercy and compassion cannot be broken without bringing tremendous repercussions upon the transgressor.”

Reverend Holmes-Gore acknowledged that a great deal of social progress has been made, but injustices continue to flourish:

“...we have made many great reforms, but there remains much to be done. We have improved the lot of children, of prisoners, and of the poor beyond all recognition in the last hundred years. We have done something to mitigate the cruelties inflicted upon the creatures. But though some of the worst forms of torture have been made illegal, the welter of animal blood is greater than ever, and their sufferings are still appalling.

“What we need is not a reform of existing evils,” concluded Reverend Holmes-Gore, “but a revolution in thought that will move Christians to show real compassion to all God’s creatures. Many people claim to be lovers of animals who are very far from being so. For a flesh-eater to claim to love animals is as if a cannibal expressed his devotion to the missionaries he consigns to the seething cauldron.

“Dear God,” began the childhood prayers of Dr. Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965), “please protect and bless all living things. Keep them from evil and let them sleep in peace.” This noted Protestant French theologian, music scholar, philosopher and missionary doctor in Africa won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952.

Schweitzer preached an ethic of reverence for life: “Not until we extend the circle of compassion to include all living things shall we ourselves know peace.” When a man questioned his philosophy, saying God created animals for man to eat, Schweitzer replied, “Not at all.”

Schweitzer reflected, “How much effort it will take for us to get men to understand the words of Jesus, ‘Blessed are the merciful,’ and to bring them to the realization that their responsibility includes all creatures. But we must struggle with courage.” According to Schweitzer, “We need a boundless ethics which will include the animals also.”

Schweitzer founded the Lambarene Hospital in French Equatorial Africa in 1913, managing it for many years. “I never go to a menagerie,” he once wrote, “because I cannot endure the sight of the misery of the captive animals. The exhibiting of trained animals I abhor. What an amount of suffering and cruel punishment the poor creatures have to endure to give a few minutes of pleasure to men devoid of all thought and feeling for them.”

Schweitzer taught compassionate stewardship towards the animal kingdom: “We...are compelled by the commandment of love contained in our hearts and thoughts, and proclaimed by Jesus, to give rein to our natural sympathy to animals,” he explained. “We are also compelled to help them and spare suffering as far as it is in our power.”

In a sermon preached in Bath Abbey, Reverend Bromwich taught: “Our love of God should be extended as far as possible to all God’s creatures, to our fellow human beings and to animals...In His love, God caused them all to exist, to express His feelings for beauty and order, and not merely to provide food and companionship for man. They are part of God’s creation and it is God’s will that they should be happy, quite as much as it is His will that we should be happy. The Christian ought to be bitterly ashamed for the unnecessary suffering that men still cause their animal brothers.”

According to the Reverend Lloyd Putman: “In the beautiful story of creation in Genesis, God is pictured as the Creator of all Life—not just of man. To be sure, man is given ‘dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth,’ but far from being a brutal dominion, man is to view the animal world with a sense of stewardship and responsibility. If man lives recklessly and selfishly with no regard for animals, he is denying that God is to be seen as the creator of all life, and he is forgetting that God beheld not only man, but all creation and said that 'it was very good.' He is omitting the Biblical emphasis on man and animals sharing a common creation.”

On June 5, 1958, the Reverend Norman Vincent Peale stated, “I do not believe a person can be a true Christian, and at the same time engage in cruel or inconsiderate treatment of animals.”

One of the leading Protestant thinkers of the 20th century, Karl Barth (1886-1968), wrote in The Doctrine of Creation (1961):

“If there is a freedom of man to kill animals, this signifies in any case the adoption of a qualified and in some sense enhanced responsibility. If that of his lordship over the living beast is serious enough, it takes on a new gravity when he sees himself compelled to suppress his lordship by depriving it of its life. He obviously cannot do this except under the pressure of necessity.

“Far less than all the other things which he dares to do in relation to animals, may this be ventured unthinkingly and as though it were self-evident. He must never treat this need for defensive and offensive action against the animal world as a natural one, nor include it as a normal element in his thinking or conduct. He must always shrink from this possibility even when he makes use of it.

“It always contains the sharp counter-question: who are you, man, to claim that you must venture this to maintain, support, enrich and beautify your own life? What is there in your life that you feel compelled to take this aggressive step in its favor? We cannot but be reminded of the perversion from which the whole historical existence of the creature suffers and the guilt which does not really reside in the beast but ultimately in man himself.”

Responding to a question about the Kingdom of Peace, Donald Soper was of the opinion that Jesus, unlike his brother James, was neither a teetotaler nor a vegetarian, but, “I think probably, if He were here today, He would be both.” In a 1963 article on “The Question of Vivisection,” Soper concluded: “...let me suggest that Dr. Schweitzer’s great claim that all life should be based on respect for personality has been too narrowly interpreted as being confined entirely to the personality of human beings. I believe that this creed ‘respect for personality’ must be applied to the whole of creation. I shouldn’t be surprised if the Buddhists are nearer to an understanding of it than we are.

“When we apply this principle, we shall be facing innumerable problems, but I believe we shall be on the right track which leads finally to the end of violence and the achievement of a just social order which will leave none of God’s creatures out of that Kingdom which it is our Father’s good pleasure to give us.”

In 1970, the Church of England Board of Social Responsibility issued the following indictment of man’s relationship with the animal kingdom:

“We make animals work for us, carry us, amuse us and earn money for us. We also make them die for us, sometimes in ways which would be rapidly rejected if we could readily see it done. In many fields we use them, not with gratitude and compassion, but with thoughtlessness, arrogance and complete selfishness.”

In 1977, at an annual meeting in London of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), Dr. Donald Coggan, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said: “Animals, as part of God’s creation, have rights which must be respected. It behooves us always to be sensitive to their needs and to the reality of their pain.”

“Honourable men may honourably disagree about some details of human treatment of the non-human,” wrote Stephen Clark in his 1977 book, The Moral Status of Animals, “but vegetarianism is now as necessary a pledge of moral devotion as was the refusal of emperor-worship in the early church.” According to Clark, eating animal flesh is “gluttony,” and “Those who still eat flesh when they could do otherwise have no claim to be serious moralists.”

“Clark’s conclusion has real force and its power has yet to be sufficiently appreciated by fellow Christians,” says the Reverend Andrew Linzey. “Far from seeing the possibility of widespread vegetarianism as a threat to Old Testament norms, Christians should rather welcome the fact that the Spirit is enabling us to make decisions so that we may more properly conform to the original Genesis picture of living in peace with creation.”

The contemporary Christian attitude towards vegetarianism is perhaps best expressed by Kenneth Rose, in a 1984 essay entitled “The Lion Shall Eat Straw Like the Ox: The Bible and Vegetarianism.”

“At present,” Rose acknowledges, “vegetarianism among those who base their lives on the Bible is quite rare. Nevertheless, vegetarianism remains God’s ultimate will. Since, according to the Bible, the goal of history is the transformation of the predatory principle in the principle of universal love, it seems reasonable to suppose that people who take the Bible seriously should strive to bring their lives into accordance with the righteousness and nonviolence that will prevail in God’s kingdom. Surely we can’t in this life fully escape the consequences of the Fall, but we can try, with God’s grace, to live in accordance with God’s perfect will.

“...no rational or scriptural reason can be discovered,” Rose observes, “that would prohibit the teacher of Christian truth from encouraging believers to go beyond the concession to human weakness granted in Genesis 9:3 so that, even now, before the full dawning of God’s kingdom of peace, they may begin living according to the ethics of that kingdom. To live in this way must be considered as part of God’s ultimate intention for humanity, for how else can one account for the fact that the Bible both begins and ends in a kingdom where the sound of slaughter is unknown?

“For those of us who take the Bible seriously,” Rose concludes, “our obedience to God will then become greater as it aspires to live out the vision of the peaceable kingdom the Bible points to. To the degree that we stop slaughtering innocent creatures for food, to that degree we will nullify the predatory principle, a principle that structures the injustices characteristic of this fallen age. And seeing all creatures with equal vision, we will enter more deeply into the kingdom of God.”

In 1986, Dale and Judith Ostrander, ministers in the United Church of Christ issued a biblical call for stewardship, in which they concluded: “For Christians the Scriptures contain the Word of God. And there is a particular conviction about Jesus Christ being the normative Word through whom all scriptural words are interpreted—the central meaning of Love and reconciliation of all creation. Therefore, all other biblical themes and all specific pieces of Scripture become authoritative for the Christian insofar as they affirm or are consistent with God’s reconciling purpose.

“The role of Christians is to help God’s reconciling purpose become a reality. This means, among other things, living out our calling to care for God’s creation. It means taking seriously the interconnectedness of all life and our kinship with all living things. If Christians accept God’s loving dominion, then, created in God’s likeness, we are called to exercise our given ‘dominion’ over creation with the same kind of love. And if the great commandment is to love God, we must love God also through the complex ecological relationship of all living things.

“To misuse our delegated authority over the creation in exploitative, abusive, cruel or wasteful ways is to live as if we did not love God. We are led, therefore, as Christians to raise questions about our attitudes toward and treatment of animals. A growing number of ‘voices crying in the wilderness’ are calling us to take more seriously the ways in which we are despoiling the Earth and threatening its ability to sustain and support life. These voices are calling us to rethink our attitudes and our treatment of animals as we consider anew what it means to be faithful stewards of creation.”

In 1987, the Reverend Carolyn J. Michael Riley declared Unity Church in Huntington, N.Y. a fur-free zone. Reverend Riley, a vegetarian since 1982, remains committed to her position.

“I really do believe,” she says, “that everyone is able that much more to feel the Spirit, because there are no longer vibrations of death.” Reverend Riley says she wants to “help raise the consciousness of the suffering going on in the animal kingdom.”

According to the Reverend James Caroll, an Episcopal priest in Van Nuys, California, “A committed Christian, who knows what his religion is about, will never kill an animal needlessly. Above all, he will do his utmost to put a stop to any kind of cruelty to any animal. A Christian who participates in or gives consent to cruelty to animals had better reexamine his religion or else drop the name Christian.”

In 1992, members of Los Angeles’ First Unitarian Church agreed to serve vegetarian meals at the church’s weekly Sunday lunch. This decision was made as a protest against animal cruelty and the environmental damage caused by the livestock industry.

Vegetarianism and ethical concern for animals are consistent with Protestant Christianity:

“It is not a question of palate, of custom, of expediency, but of right,” wrote the Reverend J. Tyssul-Davies, B.A., on the subject of vegetarianism. “As a mere Christian Minister, I have had to make my decision. My palate was on the side of custom; my intellect argued for the expedient; but my higher reason and conscience left me no alternative. Our Lord came to give life, and we do not follow Him by taking life needlessly. So, I was compelled, against myself, to eschew carnivorism.”

The Reverend George Laughton taught that: “The practice of kindness towards dumb creatures is a sign of development to the higher reaches of intelligence and sympathy. For, mark you, in every place there are those who are giving of their time and thought and energy to the work of protecting from cruelty and needless suffering the beasts of the field and streets. These are the people who make the earth clean and sweet and more like what God intended it to be.”

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"There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be kind to beasts as well as man, it is all a sham."

---Anna Sewell
author, Black Beauty

"I care not for a man's religion whose dog or cat are not the better for it...I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being."

---Abraham Lincoln

French philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes (1596-1650) taught that animals are simply machines, without souls, reason or feeling. The cry of a dog in pain, according to Descartes, is merely a mechanical noise, like the creak of a wheel. His beliefs found acceptance in ecclesiastical and scientific circles. Science was progressing quite rapidly in the 17th century; Descartes effectively removed all moral objections to animal experimentation.

One voice of objection was that of Henry More (1614-1687), a Cambridge Platonist. In a series of letters with Descartes, More wrote that no one can prove animals lack souls or experience an afterlife. He regarded animal souls and immortality as consistent with the inherent goodness of God. He wrote that people deny the animals souls and an afterlife out of "narrowness of spirit, out of overmuch self-love, and contempt of other creatures."

More wrote further that this world was not made for man alone, but for other living creatures as well. He taught that God loves the animals and is concerned about their welfare and happiness. More believed that humans were meant to rule over the animals with compassionate stewardship. He quoted Proverbs 12:10 from the Old Testament: "The good man is merciful to his beasts."

A distinguished philosopher and an eloquent writer, More believed unrestrained human violence and abuse towards animals would cause humans to likewise deal with one another. "I think that he that slights the life or welfare of a brute Creature," wrote More, "is naturally so unjust, that if outward laws did not restrain him, he would be as cruel to Man."

In 1776, Dr. Humphrey Primatt, an Anglican priest, published A Dissertation on the Duty of Mercy and the Sin of Cruelty to Brute Animals. This may have been the first book devoted to kindness to animals. Dr. Primatt believed that cruelty towards animals leads inevitably to human violence: "if all the barbarous customs and practices still subsisting amongst us were decreed to be as illegal as they are sinful, we should not hear of so many shocking murders and acts as we now do."

According to Primatt, "Love is the great Hinge upon which universal Nature turns. The Creation is a transcript of the divine Goodness; and every leaf in the book of Nature reads us a lecture on the wisdom and benevolence of its great Author...upon this principle, every creature of God is good in its kind; that is, it is such as it ought to be."

Primatt drew no distinction between the sufferings of animals and those of men: "Pain is pain, whether it is inflicted on man or on beast; and the creature that suffers it, whether man or beast, being sensible of the misery of it whilst it lasts, suffers Evil..."

Primatt wrote with a vision of universal emancipation: "It has pleased God the Father of all men, to cover some men with white skins, and others with black skins; but as there is neither merit nor demerit in complexion, the white man, nonwithstanding the barbarity of custom and prejudice, can have no right, by virtue of his colour, to enslave and tyrannize over a black

"Now, if amongst men, the differences of their powers of the mind, and of their complexion, stature, and accidents of fortune, do not give any one man a right to abuse or insult any other man on account of these differences; for the same reason, a man can have no natural right to abuse and torment a beast, merely because a beast has not the mental powers of a man.

"For, such as the man is, he is but as God made him; and the very same is true of the beast. Neither of them can lay claim to any intrinsic Merit, for being such as they are; for, before they were created, it was impossible that either of them could deserve; and at their creation, their shapes, perfections or defects were invariably fixed, and their bounds set which they cannot pass.

"And being such, neither more nor less than God made them, there is no more demerit in a beast being a beast, than there is merit in a man being a man; that is, there is neither merit nor demerit in either of them.

"We may pretend to what religion we please," Primatt concluded, "but cruelty is atheism. We may boast of Christianity; but cruelty is infidelity. We may trust to our orthodoxy; but cruelty is the worst of heresies.

"The religion of Jesus Christ originated in the mercy of God; and it was the gracious design of it to promote peace to every creature on earth, and to create a spirit of universal benevolence or goodwill in men.

"And it has pleased God therein to display the riches of His own goodness and mercy towards us; and the revealer of His blessed will, the author and finisher of our faith, hath commanded us to be merciful, as our Father is also merciful, the obligation upon Christians becomes the stronger; and it is our bounded duty, in an especial manner, and above all other people, to extend the precept of mercy to every object of it. For, indeed, a cruel Christian is a monster of ingratitude, a scandal to his profession and beareth the name of Christ in vain..."

Christian writer C. S. Lewis noted that animals were included in the first Passover. The application of the "blood of the lamb" on the doorposts, not only saved a man and his family from death that night in Egypt, it saved his animals as well. Lewis put forth a rational argument concerning the resurrection of animals in The Problem of Pain. His 1947 essay, "A Case for Abolition," attacked vivisection (animal experimentation) and reads as follows:

"Once the old Christian idea of a total difference in kind between man and beast has been abandoned, then no argument for experiments on animals can be found which is not also an argument for experiments on inferior men. If we cut up beasts simply because they cannot prevent us and because we re backing up our own side in the struggle for existence, it is only logical to cut up imbeciles, criminals, enemies, or capitalists for the same reason. Indeed, experiments on men have already begun. We all hear that Nazi scientists have done them. We all suspect that our own scientists may begin to do so, in secret, at any moment.

"The victory of vivisection marks a great advance in the triumph of ruthless, non-moral utilitarianism over the old world of ethical law; a triumph in which we, as well as animals, are already the victims, and of which Dachau and Hiroshima mark the more recent achievements. In justifying cruelty to animals we put ourselves also on the animal level. We choose the jungle and must abide by our choice."

"I am not a Christian," wrote one animal rights activist in Animals, Men and Morals (1971), "but I find it incomprehensible that those who preach a doctrine of love and compassion can believe that the material pleasures of meat-eating justify the slaughter it requires."

In 1977, at an annual meeting in London of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), Dr. Donald Coggan, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said, "Animals, as part of God's creation, have rights which must be respected. It behooves us always to be sensitive to their needs and to the reality of their pain."

Dr. L. Charles Birch, an Australian "eco-philosopher," has long urged the churches to preach conservation of nature and respect for other living creatures. In July 1979 he argued at a conference of the World Council of Churches in Cambridge, Massachussetts, that all living creatures should be valued because of their "capacity for feeling." Dr. Birch has also condemned "factory farming" -- the overcrowded, confinement methods of raising and killing animals for food as "unethical," and declared that "the animal rights movement should be supported by all Christians."

Christians have mobilized on abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment and other sanctity-of-life issues. While a rational case can be made for the rights of preborn humans, a stronger, more immediate, self-evident and compelling secular case exists for the rights of animals. Animals are highly complex creatures, possessing a brain, a central nervous system and a sophisticated mental life. Animals suffer at the hands of their human tormentors and exhibit such "human" behaviors and feelings as fear and physical pain, defense of their children, pair bonding, group/tribal loyalty, grief at the loss of loved ones, joy, jealousy, competition, territoriality, and cooperation.

Can organized religion give its massive support to the struggle for animal rights? Today we find churches spearheading social change, calling for civil rights, the protection of unborn children, an end to human rights abuses in other countries, etc. This has not always been the case. It has often been said that on issues such as women's rights and human slavery, religion has impeded social progress.

The church of the past never considered slavery to be a moral evil. The Protestant churches of Virginia, South Carolina, and other southern states actually passed resolutions in favor of the human slave traffic.

Human slavery was called "by Divine Appointment," "a Divine institution," "a moral relation," "God's institution," "not immoral," but "founded in right." The slave trade was called "legal," "licit," "in accordance with humane principles" and "the laws of revealed religion."

New Testament verses calling for obedience and subservience on the part of slaves (Titus 2:9-10; Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-25; I Peter 2:18-25) and respect for the master (I Timothy 6:1-2; Ephesians 6:5-9) were often cited in order to justify human slavery. Some of Jesus' parables refer to human slaves. Paul's epistle to Philemon concerns a runaway slave returned to his master.

"Paul's outright endorsement of slavery should be an undying embarrassment to Christianity as long as they hold the entire New Testament to be the word of God," says contemporary Quaker physician Dr. Charles P. Vaclavik. "Without a doubt, the American slaveholders quoted Paul again and again to substantiate their right to hold slaves.

"The moralist movement to abolish slavery had to go to non-Biblical sources to demonstrate the immoral nature of slavery. The abolitionists could not turn to Christian sources to condemn slavery, for Christianity had become the bastion of the evil practice through its endorsement by the Apostle Paul. Only the Old Testament gave the abolitionist any Biblical support in his effort to free the slaves. 'You shall not surrender to his master a slave who has taken refuge with you.' (Deuteronomy 23:15) What a pittance of material opposing slavery from a book supposedly representing the word of God."

In 1852 Josiah Priest wrote Bible Defense of Slavery. Others claimed blacks were subhuman. Buckner H. Payne, calling himself "Ariel," wrote in 1867, "the tempter in the Garden of Eden...was a beast, a talking beast...the negro." Ariel argued that since the negro was not part of Noah's family, he must have been a beast. Eight souls were saved on the ark, therefore, the negro must be a beast, and "consequently he has no soul to be saved."

The status of animals in contemporary human society is not unlike that of human slaves in centuries past. Quoting Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:18, Colossians 3:11, Galatians 3:28, or any other biblical passages in favor of liberty, equality and an end to human slavery in the 18th century would have been met with the same response animal rights activists receive today if they quote Bible verses in favor of ethical vegetarianism and compassion towards animals.

Dr. Tom Regan, the foremost intellectual leader of the animal rights movement and author of The Case for Animal Rights, notes that animals "have beliefs and desires; perception, memory, and a sense of the future, including their own future; and emotion life together with feelings of pleasure and pain; preference and welfare interests; the ability to initiate action in pursuit of their desires and goals; a psychophysical identity over time; and an individual welfare in the sense that their experiential life fares well or ill for them, logically independently of their being the object of anyone else's interests."

Similarly, research psychologist Dr. Theodore Barber, writes in his 1993 book, The Human Nature of Birds, that birds are intelligent beings, capable of flexible thought, judgment, and the ability to express opinions, desires, and choices just as humans do. According to Dr. Barber, birds can make and use tools; work with abstract concepts; exhibit grief, joy, compassion and altruism; create musical compositions, and perform intricate mathematical calculations in navigation.

If animals have rights, then the widespread misconception amongst Christians, that compassion for animals and vegetarianism are solely "Jewish" concerns, becomes as absurd as saying, "it's only wrong to own slaves if you're a Quaker." Suffering and injustice concern us all. Christian clergy have begun to seriously address the issue of animal rights. The Reverend Dr. S. Parkes Cadman has been quoted as saying:

"Life in any form is our perpetual responsibility. Its abuse degrades those who practice it; its rightful usage is a signal token of genuine manhood. If there be a superintending Justice, surely It takes account of the injuries and sufferings of helpless yet animate creation. Let us be perfectly clear about the spirituality of the issue before us. We have abolished human bondage because it cursed those who imposed it almost more than those who endured it. It is now our bounded duty to abolish the brutal and ferocious oppression of those creatures of our common Father which share with man the mystery of life...this theme is nothing if not spiritual: an acid test of our relation to the Deity of love and compassion."

In a 1985 paper entitled "The Status of Animals in the Christian Tradition" (based on a September 1984 talk at a Quaker study center entitled "Non-violence: Extending the Concept to Animals"), the Reverend Andrew Linzey redefined the traditional understanding of human "dominion" over the animal kingdom:

"...scholarly research in the modern period interprets the notion of dominion in terms of early kingship theology in which man is to act as God's vice-regent in creation, that is with authority, but under divine moral rule. We are therefore not given absolute or arbitrary power over animals but entrusted with God-like power which must be exercised with responsibility and restraint.

"...for centuries Christians have misinterpreted their own scripture and have read into it implications that were simply not there. The idea that human beings have absolute rights over creation is therefore eclipsed. The vital issue that now confronts moral theologians is how far and to what extent we may use animal life and for what purposes."

After citing Scripture and many positive instances of concern for animals in the Christian tradition, Reverend Linzey concludes that the Christian basis for animal rights includes the following points:

1. Animals are fellow creatures with us and belong to God.

2. Animals have value to God independently of their value or use to us.

3. Animals exist in a covenant relationship with God and mankind and therefore there is a moral bond between us.

4. Human beings are set in a position of responsibility to animals.

5. Jesus Christ is our moral exemplar in his sacrifice of love for creation.

6. God's redeeming love extends to all creation.

7. We have duties to animals derived from our relationship of responsibility to them.

In a sermon preached in York Minster, September 28, 1986, John Austin Baker, the Bishop of Salisbury, England, attacked the overcrowded confinement methods of raising and killing animals for food, choosing as his example, the treatment of chickens.

"Is there any credit balance for the battery hen, denied almost all natural functioning, all normal environment, lapsing steadily into deformity and disease, for the whole of her existence?" he asked. "It is in the battery shed and the broiler house, not in the wild, that we find the true parallel to Auschwitz. Auschwitz is a purely human invention."

On another occasion, Bishop Baker taught: "By far the most important duty of all Christians in the cause of animal welfare is to cultivate this capacity to see; to see things with the heart of God, and so to suffer with other creatures."

On World Prayer Day for Animals, October 4, 1986, Bishop Baker preached against indifference to animal pain and lauded the animal welfare movement: "To shut your mind, heart, imagination to the sufferings of others is to begin slowly but inexorably to die. It is to cease by inches from being human, to become in the end capable of nothing generous or unselfish--or sometimes capable of anything, however terrible. You in the animal welfare movement are among those who may yet save our society from becoming spiritually deaf, blind and dead, and so from the doom that will justly follow..."

According to Bishop Baker: "...Rights, whether animal or human, have only one sure foundation: that God loves us all and rejoices in us all. We humans are called to share with God in fulfilling the work of love toward all creatures...the true glory of the strong is to give themselves for the cherishing of the weak."

In October, 1986, on the Feast Day of St. Francis, the Very Reverend James Morton in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City, made this observation: "We don't own animals, any more than we don't own trees or own mountains or seas or, indeed, each other. We don't own our wives or our husbands or our friends or our lovers. We respect and behold and we celebrate trees and mountains and seas and husbands and wives and lovers and children and friends and animals...Our souls must be poor--must be open--in order to be able to receive, to behold, to enter into communion with, but not to possess. Our poverty of soul allows animals to thrive and to shine and be free and radiate God's glory."

A 1980 United Nations report states that women constitute half the world's population, perform nearly two-thirds of its work hours, yet receive one-tenth of the world's income and own less than one-hundredth of the world's property. The impact of the women's movement upon the church is being heralded as a Second Reformation. Women are now being ordained as priests, pastors and ministers, while patriarchal references to the Almighty as "Father" are replaced with the gender-neutral "Parent." Jesus Christ is designated the "Child of God."

The words of Scripture--perhaps, more accurately, the words of the apostle Paul--on this subject are seen today not as a divine revelation, but rather as an embarrassment from centuries past:

"Let the women keep silent in the churches, for they are not allowed to speak. Instead, they must, as the Law says, be in subordination. If they wish to learn something, let them inquire of their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church...let a woman learn quietly with complete submission. I do not allow a woman to teach, neither to domineer over a man; instead she is to keep still. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman, since she was deceived, experienced the transgression. She will, however, be kept safe through the child-bearing, if with self-control she continues in faith and love and consecration." (I Corinthians 14:34-35; I Timothy 2:11-15)

Many churches now claim these instructions were merely temporary frameworks used to build churches in the first century pagan world--they are not to be taken as universal absolutes for all eternity. If churches, Scripture and Christianity can adapt and be redefined or reinterpreted in a changing world to end injustices towards women, they can certainly do the same towards animals.

The International Network for Religion and Animals (INRA) was founded in 1985 by Virginia Bouraquardez. Its educational and religious programs are meant to "bring religious principles to bear upon humanity's attitude towards the treatment of our animal kin...and, through leadership, materials, and programs, to successfully interact with clergy and laity from many religious traditions."

According to INRA:

"Religion counsels the powerful to be merciful and kind to those weaker than themselves, and most of humankind is at least nominally religious. But there is a ghastly paradox. Far from showing mercy, humanity uses its dominion over other animal species to pen them in cruel close confinement; to trap, club, and harpoon them; to poison, mutilate, and shock them in the name of science; to kill them by the billions; and even to blind them in excruciating pain to test cosmetics.

"Some of these abuses are due to mistaken understandings of religious principles; others, to a failure to apply those principles. Scriptures need to be fully researched concerning the relationship of humans to nonhuman animals, and to the entire ecological structure of Nature. Misinterpretations of scripture taken out of context, or based upon questionable theological assumptions need to be re-examined."

In the winter of 1990, INRA's Executive Director, the Reverend Dr. Marc A. Wessels of the United Church of Christ wrote: "As a Christian clergyman who speaks of having compassion for other creatures and who actively declares the need for humans to develop an ethic that gives reverence for all of life, I hope that others will open their eyes, hearts and minds to the responsibility of loving care for God's creatures."

In a pamphlet entitled "The Spiritual Link Between Humans and Animals," Reverend Wessels writes: "We recognize that many animal rights activists and ecologists are highly critical of Christians because of our relative failure thus far adequately to defend animals and to preserve the natural environment. Yet there are positive signs of a growing movement of Christian activists and theologians who are committed to the process of ecological stewardship and animal liberation.

"Individual Christians and groups on a variety of levels, including denominational, ecumenical, national and international, have begun the delayed process of seriously considering and practically addressing the question of Christian responsibility for animals. Because of the debate surrounding the 'rights' of animals, some Christians are considering the tenets of their faith in search for an appropriate ethical response."

According to Reverend Wessels, "The most important teaching which Jesus shared was the need for people to love God with their whole self and to love their neighbor as they loved themselves. Jesus expanded the concept of neighbor to include those who were normally excluded, and it is therefore not too farfetched for us to consider the animals as our neighbors.

"To think about animals as our brothers and sisters is not a new or radical idea. By extending the idea of neighbor, the love of neighbor includes love of, compassion for, and advocacy of animals. There are many historical examples of Christians who thought along those lines, besides the familiar illustration of St. Francis. An abbreviated listing of some of those individuals worthy of study and emulation includes Saint Blaise, Saint Comgall, Saint Cuthbert, Saint Gerasimus, Saint Giles, and Saint Jerome, to name but a few."

Reverend Wessels notes that: "In the Bible, which we understand as the divine revelation of God, there is ample evidence of the vastness and goodness of God toward animals. The Scriptures announce God as the creator of all life, the One responsible for calling life into being and placing it in an ordered fashion which reflects God's glory. Humans and animals are a part of this arrangement. Humanity has a special relationship with particular duties to God's created order, a connection to the animals by which they are morally bound by God's covenant with them.

"According to the Scriptures, Christians are called to respect the life of animals and to be ethically engaged in protecting the life and liberty of all sentient creatures. As that is the case, human needs and rights do not usurp an animal's intrinsic rights, nor should they deny the basic liberty of either individual animals or specific species. If the Christian call can be understood as being a command to be righteous, then Christians must have a higher regard for the lives of animals.

"Jesus' life was one of compassion and liberation;" concludes Reverend Wessels, "his ministry was one which understood and expressed the needs of the oppressed. Especially in the past decade, Christians have been reminded that their faith requires them to take seriously the cries of the oppressed.

"Theologians such as Gutierrez, Miranda, and Hinkelammert have defined the Christian message as one which liberates lives and transforms social patterns of oppression. That concept of Christianity which sees God as the creator of the universe and the One who seeks justice is not exclusive; immunity from cruelty and injustice is not only a human desire or need--the animal kingdom also needs liberation."

A growing number of Christian theologians, clergy and activists are beginning to take a stand in favor of animal rights. In a pamphlet entitled Christian Considerations on Laboratory Animals Reverend Marc Wessels notes that in laboratories animals cease to be persons and become "tools of research." He cites William French of Loyala University as having made the same observation at a gathering of Christian ethicists at Duke University--a conference entitled "Good News for Animals?"

On Earth Day, 1990, Reverend Wessels observed:

"It is a fact that no significant social reform has yet taken place in this country without the voice of the religious community being heard. The endeavors of the abolition of slavery; the women's suffrage movement; the emergence of the pacifist tradition during World War I; the struggles to support civil rights, labor unions, and migrant farm workers; and the anti-nuclear and peace movements have all succeeded in part because of the power and support of organized religion. Such authority and energy is required by individual Christians and the institutional church today if the liberation of animals is to become a reality."

The Reverend Dr. Andrew Linzey's 1987 book, Christianity and the Rights of Animals, may be regarded as a landmark in Christian theology as well as in the animal rights movement. Linzey responds to criticism from many of the intellectual leaders of the animal rights and environmental movements--Peter Singer, Richard Ryder, Maureen Duffy, Lynn White, Jr.--that Christianity has excluded nonhumans from moral concern, that Christian churches are consequently agents of oppression, and that Christian doctrines are thus responsible for the roots of the current ecological crisis.

"We do not have books devoted to a consideration of animals," he acknowledges. "We do not have clearly worked-out systematic views on animals. These are signs of the problem. The thinking, or at least the vast bulk of it, has yet to be done."

Dr. Tom Regan calls Reverend Linzey, an Anglican clergyman, "the foremost theologian working in the field of animal/human relations." Christianity and the Rights of Animals, a must-read for all Christians, certainly clears the ground.

According to Reverend Linzey:

"It does seem somewhat disingenuous for Christians to speak so solidly for human rights and then query the appropriateness of rights language when it comes to animals...the Christian basis for animal rights is bound to be different in crucial respects from that of secular philosophy. But because Christians (as we see it) have a good, even superior, basis for animal rights, that in no way precludes others from utilizing the terminology."

Linzey acknowledges that the gospel is ambiguous on ethical questions such as animal rights. "When it comes to wanting to know the attitude that Jesus may have taken to a range of pressing moral issues today, we are often at a loss to know precise answers. But we can at least be clear about the contours. The lordship of Christ is expressed in service. He is the one who washes dirty feet, heals the sick, releases individuals from oppression, both spiritual and physical, feeds the hungry, and teaches his followers the way of costly loving..."

Linzey justifies compassion for animals through the example of Christ. "If God's self-revealed life in Jesus is the model of how Christians should behave and if, crucially, divine power is expressed in service, how can we disregard even 'the least among us'? It may be that in the light of Christ we are bound to say that the weakest have in fact the greater claim upon us.

"In some ways," Linzey continues, "Christian thinking is already oriented in this direction. What is it that so appalls us about cruelty to children or oppression of the vulnerable, but that these things are betrayals of relationships of special care and special trust? Likewise, and even more so, in the case of animals who are mostly defenseless before us.

"Slowly but surely," Linzey explains, "having grasped the notion of dominion means stewardship, we are now for the first time seeing how demanding our lordship over creation is really meant to be. Where once we thought we had the cheapest ride, we are now beginning to see that we have the costliest responsibilities...Lordship without service is indeed tyranny."

Discussing the finer points between human "dominion" over animals, versus humane stewardship, Linzey says, "the whole point about stewardship is that the stewards should value what God has given as highly as they value themselves. To be placed in a relationship of special care and special protection is hardly a license for tyranny or even... 'benevolent despotism.' If we fail to grasp the necessarily sacrificial nature of lordship as revealed in Christ, we shall hardly begin to make good stewards, even of those beings we regard as 'inferior.'"

Linzey sees divine reconciliation through Christ. The "hidden purpose" of God in Christ was "determined beforehand," and consists of bringing "all in heaven and on earth" into a "unity in Christ." (Ephesians 1:9-11) Linzey notes that in Ephesians, as in Colossians and Romans, the creation is "foreordained in Christ."

"Since it is through man's curse that the creation has become estranged from its Creator," Linzey asserts, "it is only right that one important step along the road to recovery is that man himself should be redeemed. The salvation of human beings is in this way a pointer to the salvation of all creation...For it must be the special role of humans within God's creation to hasten the very process of redemption, by the power of the Spirit for which God has destined it.

"Human beings must be healed," Linzey insists, "because it is their violence and disorder which has been let loose on the world. Through humans, liberated for God, we can glimpse the possibility of world redemption. Can it really be so difficult to grasp that the God who performs the demanding and costly task of redeeming sinful man will not also be able to restore the involuntary animal creation, which groans under the weight of another's burden?"

Linzey thus sees Jesus Christ as the only hope for animal liberation. "In Christ, God has borne our sufferings, actually entered into them in the flesh so that we may be liberated from them (and all pain and all death) and secure, by his grace, eternal redemption.

"In principle the question of how an almighty, loving God can allow suffering in a mouse is no different to the same question that may be posed about man. Of course there are important differences between men and mice, but there are no morally relevant ones when it comes to pain and suffering. It is for this reason alone that we need to hold fast to those cosmic strands of the biblical material which speak of the inclusive nature of Christ's sacrifice and redeeming work."

Linzey finds two justifications for a Christian case for vegetarianism:

"The first is that killing is a morally significant matter. While justifiable in principle, it can only be practically justified where there is real need for human nourishment. Christian vegetarians do not have to claim that it is always and absolutely wrong to kill in order to eat. It could well be that there were, and are, some situations in which meat-eating was and is essential in order to survive. Geographical considerations alone make it difficult to envisiage life in Palestine at the time of Christ without some primitive fishing industry. But the crucial point is that where we are free to do otherwise the killing of Spirit-filled individuals requires moral justification. It may be justifiable, but only when human nourishment clearly requires it, and even then it remains an inevitable consequence of sin.

"The second point," Linzey explains, "is that misappropriation occurs when humans do not recognize that the life of an animal belongs to God, not to them. Here it seems to me that Christian vegetarianism is well-founded. For while it may have been possible in the past to rear animals with personal care and consideration for their well-being and to dispatch them with the humble and scrupulous recognition that their life should only be taken in times of necessity, such conditions are abnormal today."

In Christianity and the Rights of Animals, the Reverend Dr. Andrew Linzey not only makes a very sound Christian theological case for animal rights, but states further that animal slavery may be abolished on the same grounds that were used in biblical times to abolish human sacrifice and infanticide:

"...it may be argued that humans have a right to their culture and their way of life. What would we be, it may be questioned, without our land and history and ways of life? In general, culture is valuable. But it is also the case that there can be evil cultures, or at least cherished traditions which perpetuate injustice or tyranny.

"The Greeks, for example, despite all their outstanding contributions to learning did not appear to recognize the immorality of (human) slavery. There can be elements within every culture that are simply not worth defending, not only slavery, but also infanticide and human sacrifice."

"With God, all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 18:27) Linzey urges Christian readers to think in terms of future possibilities. "For to be committed to Jesus involves being committed not only to his earthly ministry in the past but also to his living Spirit in whose power new possibilities are continually opened up for us in the present. All things have yet to be made new in Christ and we have yet to become perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. Making peace is a dynamic possibility through the Spirit."

Frances Arnetta founded Christians Helping Animals and People Inc. (CHAP), a New York-based ministry. "I believe Jesus Christ is the only hope for ending cruelty towards animals," she says. The end of animal cruelty will coincide with Jesus' Second Coming, when the Kingdom of Peace will reign. Arnetta lives her life in preparation for that day. Arnetta cites Psalm 50:10-11 and Revelations 4:11, insisting animals belong to God and are not here for human exploitation.

"Compassion towards people and compassion towards animals are not mutually exclusive," Arnetta writes. "A truly sympathetic person cannot turn his or her feelings on and off like a faucet, depending on the species, race, sex or creed of the victim. God teaches us in Psalm 36:6 and in Matthew 6:26 and 10:29 that his compassion encompasses all creatures, human and animal. Shall we not imitate our Heavenly Father?"

In a pamphlet entitled Animal Rights: A Biblical View, Arnetta cites Genesis 1:20-22. God creates animals and blesses them; animals have the right to be blessed by God. After creating the nonhuman world, God "saw that it was good." (Genesis 1:25) "Here, God gave the animals their own intrinsic value; the Creator and Lord of the universe called them good! Now they had the right to be viewed as individuals with inherent qualities of goodness and worth, independent of human beings, who had not yet been created!

"Next," Arnetta continues, "God brought the animals to Adam to be named. This naming gave status to the animals...God saw to it that every living creature had a name. (Genesis 2:19) here God gave them the right to personhood and respect...God has also used the animals as His messengers. The first time Noah sent forth the dove from the ark, her return told him that the waters had not receded enough for the occupants of the ark to leave it. The second time she returned with an olive leaf, telling him that the waters were abated. During the drought and resulting famine in Israel under Ahab's reign, God sent ravens to feed the prophet Elijah. (I Kings 17:4-6)"

On the issue of animal sacrifice, Arnetta notes that, "Without the shedding of innocent blood, there can be no forgiveness of sin (Hebrews 9:22). I believe that death was the price exacted by Satan for the return of creation into fellowship with God...The sacrificial animal was an Old Testament symbol of Christ, the Redeemer: 'Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, ye shall have no life in you.' (John 6:53) I believe God dearly loves the animals, because they are innocent--only their innocent blood could cover sin until Jesus shed His innocent blood to wash away sin. With Jesus' death, the need for animal sacrifice was done away with."

Arnetta supports this position, as well as her view that animals are included in God's kingdom, by citing John 3:16:

"'For God so loved the world (not just humankind), that He gave His only begotten Son...' The word 'world' used here in the original Greek means 'cosmos'--all of creation! (See also I Corinthians 15:16-28 and Colossians 1:15-20). And so, through Jesus Christ, the animals have a right to eternal life!

"Revelations 5:13 tells of the coming worship of Jesus," explains Arnetta. "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, 'Blessing and honour and glory and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb (Jesus) for ever and ever.'"

Arnetta regards animal rights not as a form of "good works," but rather as a fundamental Christian concern: "Why worry about the unwanted unborn? Why worry about the starving peoples of the world? Here's why: We are to 'occupy' until Jesus returns...the salvation of souls is our first priority. But we can't help souls if we're one-dimensional. Jesus commands us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, and in general practice all the works of mercy.

"In our present world," Arnetta admits, "human problems will never be solved. Jesus said, 'For ye have the poor always with you...' (Matthew 26:11) What we must do is try to relieve suffering wherever we find it, regardless of the nature of the victim, until Jesus comes back. Only His return will eliminate all suffering forever (see Isaiah 11:6-9).

"Revelations 12:12 specifically states that the devil causes suffering to animals, and Ephesians 4:27 warns us not to give him any place. Genesis 1:20-25 declares that as God created each creature 'He saw that it was good.' In this way, God gave every creature its own intrinsic worth, before man was even created...Some years ago, the FBI did a study on the link between a child's cruelty to animals and his/her tendency toward violent crime in adulthood. A direct relationship was proven beyond doubt..."

According to Arnetta, "As humanism and speciesism took hold in the 'Age of Reason,' Descartes declared that animals are only machines. And so, Western civilization took a tragic detour from Biblical compassion--a detour that is with us to this day."

Arnetta rejects the idea that biblically-based respect for the sanctity of all life will lead to pantheism or the deification of animals, as is the case with certain non-Christian faiths. "When we Christians are compassionate to animals," she says, "we are imitating our Heavenly Father. If non-Christian people are leading the way in respect for the lives of animals, it is because we Christians have failed to be the light Jesus commanded us to be. We should be an example of boundless mercy."

In a pamphlet entitled What the Bible Says About Vegetarianism: God's Best for All Concerned, Arnetta writes that Christians should be "harmless as doves," and describes vegetarianism as "God's best for good health," "God's best for the environment," and "God's best to feed the hungry."

She writes:

"Vegetarianism is the diet that will once again be given by God. Jews look forward to that time as the coming of the Messiah; Christians see it as the return of the Messiah--Jesus Christ. It is prophesied in Isaiah 11:1-9 and in Isaiah 65--a time when, under His lordship, predator and prey will lie down side by side in peace and once again enjoy the green herb and the fruit of the seed-bearing tree.

"In the New Testament, Revelation 21:4 describes this as the time when 'God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.'

"Not only is it totally Scriptural to be a vegetarian," Arnetta concludes, "but when done in service to the true and living God, it may well be as close to a heavenly lifestyle as one can get!"

Clive Hollands of the St. Andrew Animal Fund in England, wrote in a 1987 paper entitled "The Animal Kingdom and the Kingdom of God" that animal rights "is an issue of strict justice," and one that calls for Christian compassion:

"As Christians we believe that God gave us dominion over His Creation and we used that authority, not to protect and safeguard the natural world, but to destroy and pollute the environment and, worse, we have deprived animals of the dignity and respect which is due to all that has life.

"Let us then thank God for the unending wonder of the created world, for the oneness of all life--for the Integrity of Creation. Let us pray for all living creatures, those in the wild that may never even see man and in whose very being worship their Creator.

"Let us think and pray especially for all those animals who do know man, who are in the service of man, and who suffer at the hands of man. Let us pray to the God who knows of the fall of a single sparrow, that the suffering, pain and fear of all animals may be eased.

"Finally, let us pray for all those who work to protect animals that their efforts may be rewarded and the time may come when animals are granted the dignity and respect which is their due as living beings created by the same hand that fashioned you and me."

The Glauberg Confession is a theological statement of faith made before a God whose love extends to all His creatures. It reads as follows:

"We confess before God, the Creator of the Animals, and before our fellow Men; We have failed as Christians, because we forgot the animals in our faith.

"As theologians we were not prepared to stand up against scientific and philosophical trends inimical to life with the Theology of Creation. We have betrayed the diaconical mission of Jesus, and not served our least brethren, the animals.

"As pastors we were scared to give room to animals in our churches and parishes.

"As the Church, we were deaf to the 'groaning in travail' of our mistreated and exploited fellow-creatures.

"We justify the Glauberg Confession theologically.

"We read the statements in the Bible about Creation and regard for our fellow-creatures with new eyes and new interest. We know how tied up we are with Nature, linked with every living thing--and under the same threat.

"The rediscovery of the theology of Creation has also turned our regard upon the animals, our poorest brothers and sisters. We perceive that as theologically thinking and working Christians we owe them a change of attitude.

"We justify our Confession pastorally.

"For years many people actively engaged in animal welfare have been waiting for us ministers of religion to take up the cause of animal rights. Many of them have quit the Church in disappointment because no clear witness was given for the animals in the field of theology, in the Church's social work or in the parishes, either in word or in deed. The task of winning back the trust of these people who dedicate their time, money, energy and sometimes their health to reconciliation with the animals, is a pastoral challenge to us."

Reverend Marc Wessels says of The Glauberg Confession:

"It speaks simply but eloquently on behalf of those who have determined that they will no longer support a theology of human dictatorship that is against God's other creatures...

"This brief statement was written during the spring of 1988 and was signed by both Roman Catholic and Protestant clergy who participated in its framing.

"It was signed by men and women of religious orders, as well as by laity. Both academics and average church members have indicated their support for the document by signing it.

"Growing numbers of people around the globe are also adding their own personal declaration of support by forwarding their names to the covenors of the confession."

"Increasingly, during this century Christians have come to understand the gospel, the Good News, in terms of freedom, both freedom from oppression and freedom for life with God and others. Too often, however, this freedom has been limited to human beings, excluding most other creatures, as well as the earth.

"This freedom cannot be so limited because if we destroy other species and the ecosystem, human beings cannot live. This freedom should not be so limited because other creatures, both species and individuals, deserve to live in and for themselves and for God. Therefore, we call on Christians as well as other people of good will to work towards the liberation of life, all life."

---World Council of Churches
"The Liberation of Life," 1988

In "The Liberation of Life," the World Council of Churches, a politically left-liberal organization with worldwide influence, has taken the strongest animal protection position of any Christian body.

This document urges parishioners to avoid cosmetics and household items that have been tested on animals; to buy "cruelty-free" products, instead. This document urges parishioners to boycott animal furs and skins, and purchase "cruelty-free" clothing as a humane alternative. This document asks that meat, eggs and dairy products be purchased from sources where the animals have not been subject to overcrowding, confinement and abuse, and reminds parishioners they are free to avoid such products altogether. Parishioners are also asked not to patronize any form of entertainment that treats animals as mere objects of human usage.

In a paper presented before the Conference on Creation Theology and Environmental Ethics at the World Council of Churches in Annecy, France in September, 1988, American philosopher Dr. Tom Regan (the foremost intellectual leader of the animal rights movement), expressed opposition to discrimination based upon genetic differences:

"...biological differences inside the species Homo sapiens do not justify radically different treatment among those individual humans who differ biologically (for example, in terms of sex, or skin color, or chromosome count). Why, then, should biological differences outside our species count morally? If having one eye or deformed limbs do not disqualify a human being from moral consideration equal to that given to those humans who are more fortunate, how can it be rational to disqualify a rat or a wolf from equal moral consideration because, unlike us, they have paws and a tail?"

Dr. Regan concluded:

"...the whole fabric of Christian agape is woven from the threads of sacrificial acts. To abstain, on principle, from eating animals, therefore, although it is not the end-all, can be the begin-all of our conscientious effort to journey back to (or toward) Eden, can be one way (among others) to re-establish or create that relationship to the earth which, if Genesis 1 is to be trusted, was part of God's original hopes for and plans in creation.

"It is the integrity of this creation we seek to understand and aspire to honor. In the choice of our food, I believe, we see, not in a glass darkly, but face to face, a small but not unimportant part of both the challenge and the promise of Christianity and animal rights."

In a 1989 interview with the Animals' Agenda, Reverend Linzey insisted, "...my primary loyalty is to God, and not to the church. You see, I don't think the claims of the church and the claims of God are identical...The church is a very human institution, a frail human institution, and it often gets things wrong. Indeed, it's worse than that. It's often a stumbling block and often a scandal."

Linzey expressed optimism from a study of history: "Let's take your issue of slavery. If you go back in history, say 200 years, you'll find intelligent, conscientious, loving Christians defending slavery, because they hardly gave it two thoughts. If they were pressed, they might have said, 'Slavery is part of progress, part of the Christianization of the dark races.'

"A hundred or perhaps as little as 50 years later, what you suddenly find is that the very same Christian community that provided one of the major ideological defenses of slavery had begun to change its mind...here is a classic example of where the Christian tradition has been a force for slavery and a force for liberation.

"Now, just think of the difficulties that those early Christian abolitionists had to face. Scripture defended slavery. For instance, in Leviticus 25, you're commanded to take the child of a stranger as a slave...St. Paul simply said that those who were Christian slaves should be better Christians. Almost unanimously, apart from St. Gregory, the church fathers defended slavery, and for almost 1800 years, Christians defended and supported slavery. So, in other words, the change that took place within the Christian community on slavery is not just significant, it is historically astounding.

"Now, I give that example because I believe the case of animals is in many ways entirely analogous. We treat animals today precisely as we treated slaves, and the theological arguments are often entirely the same or have the same root. I believe the movement for animal rights is the most significant movement in Christianity, morally, since the emancipation of the slaves. And it provides just as many difficulties for the institutional church..."

Christians have found themselves unable to agree upon many pressing moral issues--including abortion. Exodus 21:22-24 says if two men are fighting and one injures a pregnant woman and the child is killed, he shall repay her according to the degree of injury inflicted upon her, and not the fetus. On the other hand, the Didache (Apostolic Church teaching) forbade abortion.

"There has to be a frank recognition that the Christian church is divided on every moral issue under the sun: nuclear weapons, divorce, homosexuality, capital punishment, animals, etc.," says Reverend Linzey. "I don't think it's desirable or possible for Christians to agree upon every moral issue. And, therefore, I think within the church we have no alternative but to work within diversity."

In a 1989 article entitled, "Re-examining the Christian Scriptures," Rick Dunkerly of Christ Lutheran Church notes that, "Beginning with the Old Testament, animals are mentioned and included everywhere...and in significant areas."

According to Dunkerly, God's solution to the problem of human loneliness "was to bring the animals to the man for personalized naming and for a restorative, unconditional, and loving relationship with them all. Animals are specifically included in the covenant given by God to Noah in the aftermath of the Flood, with God as the sole contracting party.

"Animals portray Jesus Christ in the covenant with Abraham: Three animals are included as the intermediary. Each animal is a willing servant of man and each was to be three years old; the same duration as the earthly ministry of the Messiah."

Dunkerly cites Romans 8:18-25, which describes the entire creation awaiting redemption:

"What Saint Paul is saying in the Romans 8 passage is that the death of Jesus upon the cross not only redeems every human being who willingly appropriates it unto him/herself, it also redeemed the entire creation as well, including the animals who were subjugated to the Adamic curse without choice on their part...each element of the ancient Curse would be reversed...Satan would be denied all aspects of victory.

"In light of this," he concludes, "...the Bible-believing Christian, should, of all people, be on the frontline in the struggle for animal welfare and rights. We who are Christians should be treating the animal creation now as it will be treated then, at Christ's second coming. It will not now be perfect, but it must be substantial, otherwise we have missed our calling, and we grieve the One we call 'Lord,' who was born in a stable surrounded by animals simply because He chose it that way."

Dunkerly teaches Bible studies at his home church and is actively involved in animal rescue projects.

1991 marked the publication (in England) of Using the Bible Today, a collection of essays by distinguished clergy, theologians, and Christian writers on the relevance of the Bible to contemporary issues such as ecology, human suffering, animal rights, the inner city, war and psychology. An essay by the Reverend Andrew Linzey, "The Bible and Killing for Food" makes the following observations:

"...we have first of all to appreciate that those who made up the community whose spokesperson wrote Genesis 1 were not themselves vegetarian. Few appreciate that Genesis 1 and 2 are themselves the products of much later reflection by the biblical writers themselves. How is it then that the very people who were not themselves vegetarian imagined a beginning of time when all who lived were vegetarian by divine command?

"To appreciate this perspective we need to recall the major elements of the first creation saga. God creates a world of great diversity and fertility. Every living creature is given life and space (Genesis 1:9-10, 24-25). Earth to live on and blessing to enable life itself (1:22). Living creatures are pronounced good (1:25). Humans are made in God's image (1:27) given dominion (1:26-29), and then prescribed a vegetarian diet (1:29-30). God then pronounces that everything was 'very good' (1:31). Together the whole creation rests on the Sabbath with God (2:2-3).

"When examined in this way, we should see immediately that Genesis 1 describes a state of paradisal existence. There is no hint of violence between or among different species. Dominion, so often interpreted as justifying killing, actually precedes the command to be vegetarian. Herb-eating dominion is hardly a license for tyranny. The answer seems to be that even though the early Hebrews were neither pacifists nor vegetarians, they were deeply convinced of the view that violence between humans and animals, and indeed between animal species themselves, was not God's original will for creation.

"But if this is true, how are we to reconcile Genesis 1 with Genesis 9, the vision of original peacefulness with the apparent legitimacy of killing for food? The answer seems to be that as the Hebrews began to construct the story of early human beginnings, they were struck by the prevalence and enormity of human wickedness.

"The stories of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and his descendants are all testimonies to the inability of humankind to fulfill the providential purposes of God in creation. The issue is made explicit in the story of Noah: Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. And God said to Noah, 'I have determined to make an end of all flesh; for the earth is filled with violence through them.'" (Genesis 6:11-14)

"The radical message of the Noah story (so often overlooked by commentators) is that God would rather not have us be at all if we must be violent. It is violence itself within every part of creation that is the pre-eminent mark of corruption and sinfulness. It is not for nothing that God concludes: 'I am sorry that I have made them.' (Genesis 6:7)

"It is in this context--subsequent to the Fall and the Flood--that we need to understand the permission to kill for food in Genesis 9. It reflects entirely the situation of the biblical writers at the time they were writing. Killing--of both humans as well as animals--was simply inevitable given the world as it is and human nature as it is. Corruption and wickedness had made a mess of God's highest hopes for creation. There just had to be some accommodation to human sinfulness...

"Meat eating has become the norm. Vegetarians, especially Christian vegetarians, have survived from century to century to find themselves a rather beleaguered minority."

Reverend Linzey studies the messianic prophecies concerning the future Kingdom of Peace: "It seems...while the early Hebrews were neither vegetarians nor pacifists, the ideal of the peaceable kingdom was never lost sight of. In the end, it was believed, the world would one day be restored according to God's original will for all creation...we have no biblical warrant for claiming killing as God's will. God's will is for peace.

"We need to remember that even though Genesis 9 gives permission to kill for food it does so only on the basis that we do not misappropriate God-given life. Genesis 9 posits divine reckoning for the life of every beast taken under this new dispensation (9:5)."

Linzey concludes his essay by examining the current trends in vegetarianism and animal rights in contemporary society: "...it often comes as a surprise for Christians to realize that the modern vegetarian movement was strongly biblical in origin. Inspired by the original command in Genesis 1, an Anglican priest...founded the Bible Christian Church in 1809 and made vegetarianism compulsory among its members. The founding of this Church in the United Kingdom and its sister Church in the United States by William Metcalfe, effectively heralded the beginning of the modern vegetarian movement."

In a 1991 article entitled "Hunting: What Scripture Says," Rick Dunkerly observes:

"There are four hunters mentioned in the Bible: three in Genesis and one in Revelation. The first hunter is named Nimrod in Genesis 10:8-9. He is the son of Cush and founder of the Babylonian Empire, the empire that opposes God throughout Scripture and is destroyed in the Book of Revelation. In Micah 5:6, God's enemies are said to dwell in the land of Nimrod. Many highly reputable evangelical scholars such as Barnhouse, Pink and Scofield regard Nimrod as a prototype of the anti-Christ.

"The second hunter is Ishmael, Abraham's 'son of the flesh' by the handmaiden, Hagar. His birth is covered in Genesis 16 and his occupation in 21:20. Ishmael's unfavorable standing in Scripture is amplified by Paul in Galatians 4:22-31.

"The third hunter, Esau, is also mentioned in the New Testament. His occupation is contrasted with his brother (Jacob) in Genesis 25:27. In Hebrews 12:16 he is equated with a 'profane person' (KJV). He is a model of a person without faith in God. Again, Paul elucidates upon this model unfavorably in Romans 9:8-13, ending with the paraphrase of Malachi 1:2-3: 'Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.'

"The fourth hunter is found in Revelation 6:2, the rider of the white horse with the hunting bow. Scholars have also identified him as the so-called anti-Christ. Taken as a group, then, hunters fare poorly in the Bible. Two model God's adversary and two model the person who lives his life without God.

"In Scripture," notes Dunkerly, "the contrast of the hunter is the shepherd, the man who gently tends his animals and knows them fully. The shepherds of the Bible are Abel, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and David. Beginning in the 23rd Psalm, Jesus is identified as 'the Good Shepherd.'

"As for hunting itself, both the Psalms and Proverbs frequently identify it with the hunter of souls, Satan. His devices are often called 'traps' and 'snares,' his victims 'prey.' Thus, in examining a biblical stance on the issue of hunting, we see the context is always negative, always dark in contrast to light...premeditated killing, death, harm, destruction. All of these are ramifications of the Fall. When Christ returns, all of these things will be ended...

"Of all people," Dunkerly concludes, "Christians should not be the destroyers. We should be the healers and reconcilers. We must show NOW how it will be THEN in the Peaceable Kingdom of Isaiah 11:6 where 'the wolf shall lie down with the lamb...and a little child shall lead them.' We can begin now within our homes and churches by teaching our children respect and love for all of God's creation..."

"We do not know how to celebrate, rejoice, and give thanks for the beautiful world God has made," wrote the Reverend Dr. Andrew Linzey in 1992. "If we treat it as trash it is because so many of us still imagine the world as just that. For too long Christian churches have colluded in a doctrine that the earth is half-evil, or unworthy, or--most ludicrous of all--'unspiritual.'

"The Church needs to teach reverence for life as a major aspect of Christian ethics...So much of Christian ethics is pathetically narrow and absurdly individualistic... One of the major problems with St. Francis...is that the Church has not taken any practical notice of him. St. Francis preached a doctrine of self-renunciation, whereas the Church today remains concerned with its own respectability. St. Francis lived a life of poverty, whereas the modern Church is as ever concerned about money. St. Francis, like Jesus, associated with the outcasts and the lepers, whereas the Church today consists predominately of the middle class."

Linzey cites Paul's epistle to the Romans, which describes the creation itself in a state of childbirth. "The creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God." According to the Christian scheme of things, Linzey explains, "the world is going somewhere. It is not destined for eternal, endless suffering and pain. It has a destiny. Like us, it is not born to die eternally.

"The fundamental thing to grasp," Linzey declares, "is that we have responsibility to cooperate with God in the creation of a new world.

"I believe then that the Church must wake up to a new kind of ministry," Linzey concludes, "not just to Christians or to human beings, but to the whole world of suffering creatures. It must be our human, Christian task to heal the suffering in the world."

Linzey notes that "humans are made in the image of God, given dominion, and then told to follow a vegetarian diet (Genesis 1:29). Herb-eating dominion is not despotism." However, Linzey acknowledges the need for a new theology, an animal liberation theology, which would revolutionize our understanding of humanity's place in creation and relationship to other species, just as the Copernican picture of a sun-centered universe replaced the earth-centered picture.

"We need a concept of ourselves in the universe not as the master species but as the servant species--as the one given responsibility for the whole and the good of the whole. We must move from the idea that animals were given to us and made for us, to the idea that we were made for creation, to serve it and ensure its continuance. This actually is little more than the theology of Genesis chapter two. The Garden is made beautiful and abounds with life: humans are created specifically to 'take care of it.' (Genesis 2:15)

"A great wickedness of the Christian tradition," observes Reverend Linzey, "is that, at this very point, where it could have been a source of great blessing and life; it has turned out to be a source of cursing and death. I refer here to the way Christian theology has allowed itself to promulgate notions that animals have no rights; that they are put here for our use; that animals have no more moral status than sticks and stones.

"Animal rights in this sense is a religious problem. It is about how the Christian tradition in particular has failed to realize the God-given rights of God-given life. Animal rights remains an urgent question of theology.

"Every year," says Dr. Linzey, "I receive hundreds of anguished letters from Christians who are so distressed by the insensitivity to animals shown by mainstream churches that they have left them or on the verge of doing so. Of course, I understand why they have left the churches and in this matter, as in all else, conscience can be the only guide. But if all the Christians committed to animal rights leave the church, where will that leave the churches?

"The time is long overdue to take the issue of animal rights to the churches with renewed vigor. I don't pretend it's easy but I do think it's essential--not, I add, because the churches are some of the best institutions in society but rather because they are some of the worst. The more the churches are allowed to be left to one side in the struggle for animal rights, the more they will remain forever on the other side.

"I derive hope from the Gospel preaching," Linzey concludes, "that the same God who draws us to such affinity and intimacy with suffering creatures declared that reality on a Cross in Calvary. Unless all Christian preaching has been utterly mistaken, the God who becomes incarnate and crucified is the one who has taken the side of the oppressed and the suffering of the world--however the churches may actually behave."

The Bible teaches God's love and compassion for humans, animals and all creation; beginning and ending in a vegetarian paradise. Christianity teaches not just the redemption of man, but that of the entire creation. Jesus taught nonviolence and performed acts of mercy and self-sacrifice. Jesus opposed the buying and selling of animals for sacrifice in the Temple. He substituted a sacrament of bread and drink offered to God in place of such a ritual, and finally offered himself as a divine sacrifice before God. Christ is the savior of all flesh-and-blood creatures. All flesh shall be redeemed, and the entire creation awaits resurrection.

According to Church history, the first apostles, including Jesus' very own brother, were vegetarian. The New Testament teaches compassion, mercy, repentance, faith in God, baptism, rejoicing, refraining from gratifying fleshly cravings (Romans 13:14), and not being a slave to one's bodily appetites (Philippians 3:19).

Some of the most distinguished figures in the history of Christianity have been vegetarian or at least sympathetic to animal rights. Many Christian thinkers are beginning to seriously address the moral issue of animal rights. The Catholic periodical America has run articles on animal rights, as has the Protestant publication Christian Century. Compassion towards animals--to the point of not killing and eating them merely to satisfy one's taste buds--is consistent with Christian teaching.

Perhaps the real question true believers should be asking themselves on issues such as animal rights and vegetarianism is not, "Why should Christians abstain from certain foods?" but rather, "Why should Christians want to unnecessarily harm or kill God's innocent creatures in the first place?"

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As progressive Christians respond to serious discussions on becoming locavores, purchasing only cruelty-free cosmetics, factory farming, fair trade, global hunger and global warming, conservative Christians act as if they've never encountered a vegetarian before!

It's already common knowledge that the Eastern religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism) teach nonviolence towards humans and animals alike -- to the point of not eating them. And this is a serious point of contention between the Eastern religions and the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam).

Dr. Bernard Nathanson (co-founder of NARAL; a physician who presided over some 60,000 abortions before changing sides on the issue), wrote in his 1979 book, Aborting America:

"The Right-to-Lifers are not in favor of all 'life' under all circumstances. They are not in the forefront of the save-the-seals crusade. They are not devotees of Albert Schweitzer's 'reverence for life,' or its equivalent in Eastern religions, in which the extinction of cows or flies somehow violates the sanctity of the cosmos.

"Turning to the human species, they do not necessarily oppose the taking of life via capital punishment. Where were they when Caryl Chessman was executed for a crime he did not likely commit--and a rape at that, not a murder?

"They were likely not notably in the opposition while the United States was sacrificing lives on both sides of a questionable war in Viet Nam.

"They are not 'pro-life'; they are simply anti-abortion."

As far as everyday ethics are concerned, there are no morally relevant differences between humans and other animals. Respect for animal life means respect for human life!

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, worshiped worldwide by millions of Vaishnavaite Hindus (myself included) as a saktyavesa-avatar (or empowered representative of God), briefly mentioned the killing of unborn children in 1974, when discussing the institutionalized killing of animals in slaughterhouses:

"Who are these children being killed? They are these meat-eaters. They enjoyed themselves when so many animals were killed, and now they're being killed by their mothers.

"People do not know how nature is working. If you kill, you must be killed. If you kill the cow who is your mother, then in some future lifetime your mother will kill you. Yes. The mother becomes the child, and the child becomes the mother."

In a 1979 essay entitled "Abortion and the Language of Unconsciousness," Ravindra-svarupa dasa (Dr. William Deadwyler) explains:

"A conscious person will not kill even animals (much less very young humans) for his pleasure or convenience. Certainly the unconsciousness and brutality that allows us to erect factories of death for animals lay the groundwork for our treating humans in the same way."

A contemporary Hindu spiritual master, Srila Hridayananda dasa Goswami, comments on this shortcoming of the anti-abortion movement:

"Insisting that human life begins at conception, the anti-abortion movement seeks to shock us into the awareness that abortion means killing--killing a human being rather than an animal, a bird, an insect, or a fish. Thus although the movement calls itself 'pro-life,' it is really 'pro-human-life.' Its fudging with the terms 'life' and 'human life' reveals a disturbing assumption: that nonhuman life is somehow not actually life at all, or, if it is, then it is somehow not as 'sacred' as human life and therefore not worth protecting....If the pro-life movement can become part of a broader struggle to recognize the sacredness of all life...then undoubtedly it will attain great success."

Again: conservative Christians act as if they've never encountered a vegetarian before, even though vegetarianism has attracted some of the greatest minds in history.

In the Table of Contents to Rynn Berry's 1993 book, Famous Vegetarians and Their Favorite Recipes: Lives & Lore from Buddha to the Beatles, Pythagoras is described as an ancient Greek religious teacher. Gautama the Buddha is similarly described as an ancient Indian savant and religious teacher. Mahavira is described as the historical founder of the world's oldest vegetarian religion---the Jains of India. Plato (and Socrates) are described as Pythagorean philosophers who are the founders of the Western philosophical tradition. Plutarch is described as an ancient essayist and biographer, famous for his Lives of notable Greeks and Romans.

Leonardo da Vinci is described as an "Italian Renaissance man; Leonardo is one of Western Civilization's greatest geniuses." Percy Shelley is described as a "scientist, classicist, aesthete, Shelley was probably the most gifted English Romantic poet." Leo Tolstoy: "Nineteenth century Russian author, Tolstoy is considered to be the world's greatest novelist." Annie Besant: "Nineteenth century English social reformer and spiritual leader...at once a feminist, a labor leader, a theosophist, a freethinker, a devoted mother and a founder of the planned parenthood movement. She is one of the most remarkable women of modern times."

Mohandas Gandhi: "Indian civic and spiritual leader; inventor of the hunger strike; architect of Indian independence; father of modern India." George Bernard Shaw: "Celebrated wit; peerless music and drama critic; essayist and dramatist of genius." Bronson Alcott: "American transcendentalist philosopher; father of Louisa May Alcott; founder of the first vegetarian commune, Fruitlands." Dr. John Harvey Kellogg: "World-class surgeon, pioneering nutritionist, and food inventor extraordinaire. Kellogg invented peanut butter, flaked cereals, and the first meat substitutes made from nuts and grains."

Henry Salt: "Venerable figure in the vegetarian movement; author of such vegetarian classics as Seventy Years Among the Savages, and Animal Rights." Frances Moore Lappe: "Author of Diet for a Small Planet, Lappe's two million copy bestseller put vegetarianism on the map, and awakened Westerners to the nutritional and economic benefits of a vegetarian diet." Isaac Bashevis Singer and Malcolm Muggeridge are described as the first major literary figures in the West to turn vegetarian since Tolstoy. Brigid Brophy: "Noted for her formidable intellect, Brigid Brophy is an English novelist, biographer, and critic of the first rank. She is the first major woman novelist to become a vegetarian."

Ethical considerations influenced Benjamin Franklin, who became a vegetarian at age sixteen. Franklin noted "greater progress from that greater clearness of head and quicker apprehension." In his autobiographical writings, he called flesh-eating "unprovoked murder."

The poet Percy Shelley was a committed vegetarian. In his essay, "A Vindication of Natural Diet," he wrote, "Let the advocate of animal food...tear a living lamb with his teeth and, plunging his head into its vitals, slake his thirst with the steaming blood...Then, and only then only, would he be consistent."

Shelley's interest in vegetarianism began when he was a student at Oxford, and he and his wife Harriet took up the diet soon after their marriage. In a letter dated March 14, 1812, his wife wrote to a friend, "We have forsworn meat and adopted the Pythagorean system."

Shelley, in his poem "Queen Mab," described a world where humans do not kill animals for food:

"...no longer now
He slays the lamb that looks him in the face,
And horribly devours his mangled flesh,
Which, still avenging Nature's broken law,
Kindled all putrid humors in his frame,
All evil passions, and all vain belief
Hatred, despair, and loathing in his mind,
The germs of misery, death disease and crime."

"It is necessary to correct the error that vegetarianism has made us weak in mind, or passive or inert in action," wrote Mohandas Gandhi. "I do not regard flesh-food as necessary at any stage." Gandhi wrote several books in which he discussed vegetarianism. His own daily diet included wheat sprouts, almond paste, greens, lemons, and honey. He founded Tolstoy Farm, a community based on vegetarian principles. In his Moral Basis of Vegetarianism, Gandhi wrote, "I hold flesh-food to be unsuited to our species. We err in copying the lower animal world if we are superior to it...I do feel that spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants."

"If you could feel or see the suffering, you wouldn't think twice. Give back life. Don't eat meat."

---actress Kim Basinger

Describing his reaction to a visit to a slaughterhouse, Canadian tennis champion Peter Burwash wrote in A Vegetarian Primer: "I'm no shrinking violet. I played hockey until half of my teeth were knocked down my throat. And I'm extremely competitive on a tennis court...But that experience at the slaughterhouse overwhelmed me. When I walked out of there, I knew all the physiological, economic, and ecological arguments supporting vegetarianism, but it was firsthand experience of man's cruelty to animals that laid the real groundwork for my commitment to vegetarianism."

"...the whole point of life is to harmonize with everything, every aspect of creation. That means down to not killing the flies, eating the meat, killing people or chopping the trees down."

---George Harrison

Kim Bartlett of Animal People in Clinton, WA, similarly writes:

"Something to think about: We believe that the Golden Rule applies to animals, too. We don't accept the prevailing notion that 'people come first' or that 'people are more important than animals.' Animals feel pain and suffer just as we do, and it is almost always humans making animals suffer and not the other way around. Yet in spite of how cruelly people behave towards animals -- not to mention human cruelty to other humans -- we are supposed to believe that humans are superior to other animals. If people want to fancy themselves as being of greater moral worth than the other creatures on this earth, we should begin behaving better than they do, and not worse. Let's start treating everyone as we would like to be treated ourselves."

Food expert Frances Moore Lappe, author of the bestseller Diet for a Small Planet, once said in a television interview that we should look at a piece of steak as if it were a Cadillac. "What I mean," she explained, "is that we in America are hooked on gas-guzzling automobiles because of the illusion of cheap petroleum. Likewise, we got hooked on a grain-fed, meat-centered diet because of the illusion of cheap grain."

The process of using grain to produce meat is incredibly wasteful: the USDA's Economic Research Service shows that we receive only one pound of beef for each sixteen pounds of grain. In his book Proteins: Their Chemistry and Politics, Dr. Aaron Altschul notes that in terms of calorie units per acre, a diet of grains, vegetables, and beans will support twenty times as many people than a meat-centered diet.

As it stands now, about half of the harvested acreage in America and in a number of European, African, and Asian countries is used to feed animals. If the earth's arable land were used primarily for the production of vegetarian foods, the planet could easily support a human population of twenty billion or larger.

Facts and points such as these have led food experts to point out that the world hunger problem is largely illusory. The Global Hunger Alliance writes: "Most hunger deaths are due to chronic malnutrition caused by inequitable distribution and inefficient use of existing food resources. At the same time, wasteful agricultural practices, such as the intensive livestock operations known as factory farming, are rapidly polluting and depleting the natural resources upon which all life depends. Trying to produce more foods by these methods would lead only to more water pollution, more soil degradation, and, ultimately, more hunger."

A report submitted to the United Nations World Food Conference concurs: "The overconsumption of meat by the rich means hunger for the poor. This wasteful agriculture must be changed--by the suppression of feedlots where beef are fattened on grains, and even a massive reduction of beef cattle."

"A diet that can lead to heart attacks, cancer, and numerous other diseases cannot be a natural diet," writes Keith Akers in A Vegetarian Sourcebook (1983). "A diet that pillages our resources of land, water, forests, and energy cannot be a natural diet. A diet that causes the unnecessary suffering and death of billions of animals each year cannot be a natural diet."

I understand there are conservative Christians who fear vegetarianism...which is kind of like being afraid of nonsmoking, nondrinking, or recycling. Ronald J. Sider of Evangelicals for Social Action, in his 1977 book, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, pointed out that 220 million Americans were eating enough food (largely because of the high consumption of grain fed to livestock) to feed over one billion people in the poorer countries.

A pamphlet put out by Compassion Over Killing says raising animals for food is one of the leading causes of both pollution and resource depletion today. According to a recent United Nations report, Livestock's Long Shadow, raising chickens, turkeys, pigs, and other animals for food causes more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars, trucks and other forms of transportation combined. Researchers from the University of Chicago similarly concluded that a vegetarian diet is the most energy efficient, and the average American does more to reduce global warming emissions by not eating animal products than by switching to a hybrid car.

"Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today's most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation."

---Union Nations' Food and Agriculture Association

70% of the grain grown and 50% of the water consumed in the U.S. are used by the meat industry. (Audubon Society)

Over 260 million acres of U.S. forest have been cleared to grow grain for livestock. (Greenpeace)

It takes nearly one gallon of fossil fuel and 5,200 gallons of water to produce just one pound of conventionally fed beef. (Mother Jones)

Farmed animals produce an estimated 1.4 billion tons of fecal waste each year in the U.S. Much of this untreated waste pollutes the land and water.

According to Dr. Richard Schwartz: the number of animals killed for food in the United States is 70 times larger than the number of animals killed in laboratories, 30 times larger than the number killed by hunters and trappers, and 500 times larger than the number of animals killed in animal pounds.

“If anyone wants to save the planet,” says Paul McCartney in an interview with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) from 2001, “all they have to do is stop eating meat. That’s the single most important thing you could do. It’s staggering when you think about it. Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty. Let’s do it! Linda was right. Going veggie is the single best idea for the new century.”

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