Christianity and Animal Rights, Part 10

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Christianity and Animal Rights, Part 10

[Ed. Note: Please visit Animals - Tradition, Philosophy, Religion for many articles about animals and religious beliefs: Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam and more.]

By Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

Denial of rights invariably involves denial of kinship, and such denial of kinship alienates us from the nonhuman world. Many people find great inner peace when among nonhuman friends. However, if we treat most animals with violence and contempt, then any outward showing of friendliness toward them is a sham.

Our faith teaches that God’s ideal is a peaceful, harmonious world. We can derive a sense of meaning and direction in life by working toward this ideal. Regarding animals as “other” and worthy of abuse is incompatible with this worldview.

This week, I will conclude my reflections on how we harm ourselves when we deny rights to nonhuman beings. Denial of rights invariably involves denial of kinship, and such denial of kinship alienates us from the nonhuman world. Many people find great inner peace when among nonhuman friends. However, if we treat most animals with violence and contempt, then any outward showing of friendliness toward them is a sham.

Finally, our faith teaches that God’s ideal is a peaceful, harmonious world. We can derive a sense of meaning and direction in life by working toward this ideal. Regarding animals as “other” and worthy of abuse is incompatible with this worldview. Further, it can easily lead to a sense that life consists of struggles toward largely meaningless goals. What good is wealth and power when life is short and all wealth and power evaporates at death? What sense of meaning can be found in momentary pleasures? How content can one be if one knows, at some level of consciousness, that these brief pleasures cost other innocent individuals pain, suffering, and their very lives? In contrast, I think that participating in the reconciliation of all creation is an important life project. It gives life direction and purpose, which are crucial to a general sense of satisfaction and peace-of-mind.

This ends my essays on Christianity and animal rights. I don’t think Christian scriptures explicitly demand endorsement of animal rights. However, I do think that adoption of an ethic that respects animals’ rights not to be abused by humans is essential for the full realization of the moral, spiritual, and practical goals to which Jesus directed his disciples.