Christianity and Animals
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from All-Creatures.org
Dominating, exploiting and killing the helpless,
because we have the power to do so, is not Christian. Our only superiority,
our only boast and justification, lies in sacrificing ourselves for others
who are more weak, helpless and needy. That is our glory and our privilege.
Whatever we do to the least of God’s creatures, we do to Christ.
If we confine justice, compassion and rights to our own kind we are no
better than ‘the publicans and the pagans’; don’t they do as much as that?
Dominating, exploiting and killing the helpless, because we have the power
to do so, is not Christian. Our only superiority, our only boast
and justification, lies in sacrificing ourselves for others who are more
weak, helpless and needy. That is our glory and our privilege.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan, for those who have eyes to see, means for
us now that any creature in need is our neighbour.
If we can exploit animals for our gain (because we are more intelligent,
have a superior soul, are only obliged to show justice to our own kind etc…)
then it follows that the angels can exploit us for their gain for the exact
Shouldn’t the strong have concern for the weak, and the privileged for the
VICES CAUSE US TO EXPLOIT ANIMALS
- Lack of compassion
VIRTUES CAUSE US TO OPPOSE EXPLOITATION
- Simple living
- Good example
- Doing unto others as we would be done by
- Seeing the presence of God in all things, and treating everything with
IT HARMS THE PLANET
Growing animals for food involves destruction and pollution of the land,
forests, waters and atmosphere. For instance:
- Farm animals are a major cause
of global warming.
- Rainforests are being destroyed
to raise cattle.
- Livestock grazing is causing
- Livestock are a major cause of acid rain and water pollution.
Growing animals for food involves waste of food, water, land and other
precious resources (money, time, energy etc…).
These resources are taken away from the poor to grow meat for the rich,
causing starvation.For instance:
- Amount of grain needed to end extreme hunger – 40 million tonnes.Amount of grain fed to animals in the West – 540 million tonnes (ref. United
- Nearly ½ of the world’s grain harvest is fed to farm animals.
The resulting meat gives us back only about 10% of the calories and protein
which was fed to the animals (ref. MCL/Viva!).
- The U.K. imports about 90% of its protein animal feed from poor countries (ref. Viva!).
- 10 acres of land growing cattle will feed 2 people; growing soya 10
acres will feed 61 people (ref. Vegfam).
- Corn produces 211 lbs. of edible protein per acre; rice produces
265 lbs.; beef produces only 20 lbs. (ref. USDA/FAO/WHO/UNICEF Protein
Advisory Group 2004).
- It takes 25 gallons of water to produce 1 lb of wheat or
vegetables; it takes between 2,500 and 5,000 gallons to produce 1 lb. of
beef (ref. University of California).
Outstanding people throughout the ages have shown concern for all life (e.g.
St Francis of Assisi, Albert Schweitzer, Leonardo da Vinci, Gandhi).
The Gita says ‘The whole of creation is divinely related’ and ‘Sages look
equally on a Brahmana endowed with learning and humility, a cow, an elephant
and even a dog and an outcaste, visualising the presence of the Supreme Lord
in all of them’
But religion in general has made God into a tyrant who excludes all life
forms, all species except one, its own, from justice and compassion.
During the 2000 years since Jesus Christ, my church has done almost nothing
to oppose animal abuse, on the contrary.
There are notable exceptions of course, but during the decades I have
attended Mass, the sermons have urged me to live a good Christian life –
but only toward my own species
Religions tend to give to animals with one hand, and take back with the
other. They pay lip service to respect for animals, but condone almost
Civilisation, with religion at its core, is generally based on the mass
exploitation of other life forms. We eat them, we wear them, we test
things on them, we use them for sport and entertainment, and we destroy
their habitats, putting profit before pain.
Isn’t it better not to kill than to kill, given the choice? And don’t
we almost always have the choice?
Speciesism is basically exactly the same as racism. The root for both is
xenophobia – excluding those that are different
Our obsession with hierarchy on earth and in heaven blinds us to the fact
that hierarchy is basically an animal behaviour pattern which aids survival,
and all that should concern us in this context is that we should be humble
and put ourselves last, or we may find that ‘inferior’ species will be entering heaven before
us ‘superior’ humans.
People are animals and animals are persons. Animals have personality,
memory, understanding and will. Pope John Paul II has proclaimed that
animals have souls. All these attributes may be limited, but they are
also limited in humans. We are a species of animal, and all animals
are created, sustained and loved by God.
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