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.
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.”
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!
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
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
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
Return to Summer 2012 Issue