Christianity and Animal Rights, Part 9:
Facing the Truth

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Christianity and Animal Rights, Part 9:
Facing the Truth

[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 10

The human capacity for self-delusion is strong, and (as I’ve discussed in previous essays), the human mind is often a slave to human passions. If we are to avoid self-deception, we must recognize that our self-centered hopes, fears, and desires can obscure the truth.

One of the most prevalent lies relates to animal issues. Most people oppose cruelty to animals and claim to “love animals.” Yet most people directly or indirectly participate in animal exploitation and abuse. When confronted by animal activists, many people claim that they don’t want to know what happens to animals on modern factory farms.

In recent essays, I have been arguing that animal rights are crucial for human rights. This week, I will start to explore spiritual aspects of animal rights.

If we are to grow spiritually, we must be honest with ourselves. The human capacity for self-delusion is strong, and (as I’ve discussed in previous essays), the human mind is often a slave to human passions. If we are to avoid self-deception, we must recognize that our self-centered hopes, fears, and desires can obscure the truth. Otherwise, we will tend to serve our own needs and be blind to the needs of others. To the degree that we allow our own passions to cloud the truth about the needs of others, we will fail in our Christian calling to serve others.

Though it is often easy to see how other people delude themselves, it is always difficult to see our self-delusions. These delusions are lies, and lies are crucial to a demonic mindset. Jesus said, “You are of your father the devil . . . He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

One of the most prevalent lies relates to animal issues. Most people oppose cruelty to animals and claim to “love animals.” Yet most people directly or indirectly participate in animal exploitation and abuse. When confronted by animal activists, many people claim that they don’t want to know what happens to animals on modern factory farms. I think this is largely because they strongly suspect that terrible abuses occur, and they wish to remain ignorant about details. They want to avoid the “cognitive dissonance” of trying to fuse their self-image as a compassionate person who loves animals with the reality of funding animal abuse.

We can only serve God faithfully if we are honest with ourselves. If we avoid or ignore facts and choose obvious self-delusions that help make us complicit in evil, our claim to love God is a sham. And if abusing God’s innocent, defenseless creatures isn’t evil, I don’t know what evil is. In my view, when Christian churches endorse animal abuse, they have fundamentally failed to transmit the message of God’s love that Jesus tried to teach 2000 years ago. Next week, I’ll explore this theme further.