Animal Padre's
Christians Against All Animal Abuse
"Christ’s redemption is for the whole of creation!"

Summer 2012

The Flock that Christendom Forgot: An Animal Padre's Uphill Pilgrimage

Episode 13 - Denouncing the Wearing of Fur

My new boss, proving remarkably tolerant to my animal concern, was one who gave me freedom to visit whom I wished, and to also have a considerable period of time off from parish duties. The latter I used mostly to further the animal cause, even though he constantly warned both myself - and my new friend Doreen! - that such involvement could very much go against future preferment within the church.

Indeed, my father confessor and spiritual advisor, a monk, was of a like mind. “To hit out verbally was not a Christian thing to do... Was it because you’ve been so deeply hurt in the past yourself? You must seek to overcome such a nasty trait... Lashing out against abuses is surely a poor substitute to kindness, gentleness, loving care, compassion and refusal to judge others for what they did or did not do.”  

Well, I listened to such advice; assessed it well, wrestled in prayer, and then frequently went ahead.  But this would often be followed by quaking at the thought of repercussions, which might follow from the hierarchy; and sometimes I did stir up a hornet's nest!

Carshalton had been visited by both myself as well as by my new friend, Doreen. The Manchester Guardian^ reporter there asked for a copy of the speech I would be making. As I always spoke 'off cuff (in line with Mark 13:11), I could only tell her what I there and then had in mind. So she thanked me profusely and hurried away. Well, regrettably - due to later hustles with the police - no speeches actually ever materialized, except my own in quite some detail within the next morning's Guardian!

Another protest had been a militant one by the Anglican Study Circle for Animal Welfare when I'd represented Eddie Carpenter, then the Dean of Westminster Abbey, by handing a petition to Margaret Thatcher, for there was little love between them! However, leading a demo through Leeds city centre - at which I  denounced ladies who attend church in animal fur - created a most  forceful backlash. My immediate boss had always been the fairest of men, but this time the press had published only part of what I'd uttered at the demonstration. So what hit the headlines was more than a trifle offensive to one of our regular worshippers who was a most generous giver.

The press caption, if honest, should have read something like this: "Women attending church in animal fur - knowing the appalling cruelty involved in its manufacture - have morals much lower than a prostitute." However, the italic section was left out and, consequently, one worshipper (a local and leading butcher's wife), with a close friend affiliated to a mink farm, threatened to withdraw her financial support for the Minster:  "unless the Reverend Thompson called round to apologize!"

Well, I certainly called round and told of the newspaper's fault in not publishing the whole of my statement. I used the opportunity to tell of the type of cruelty that occurred. Consequently, we parted on amicable terms, but be that as it may, she used the occasion to transfer her allegiance to another church: one in a rural setting and supportive of the  'tally ho' brigade.  In all fairness, the Dean could have blown his top, but being the gentleman he was suggested I'd done my part and ‘running round folk to get them back’ was never a commendable thing to do. In fact, he proved to be the nicest cleric that I ever had the honour and privilege to work alongside of.

 - to be continued 

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