Can Christianity Be Redeemed?
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


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

Can Christianity Be Redeemed?

Christianity, in general, has a poor track record when it comes to animal issues. Some Christians, inspired by their faith, have been great champions of nonhumans, but most Christians have used the Bible as a shield against animal protectionism. Indeed, many animal advocates are hostile to Christianity, because they see the faith as an impediment to the liberation of animals from human tyranny and abuse.

I think that, as with nearly all social justice issues, the Bible provides support for both sides. There are many passages that describe nonviolence towards animals as ideal and others that prohibit specific cruel practices. Yet, the Bible also endorses animal sacrifices, and many passages describe using animals for labor or food without evident reservations.

I think the overriding biblical message is one of love and compassion, and Christians who have endorsed animal abuse have largely defended their position with selective readings taken out of context. Given that a strong majority of people agrees that we should avoid cruelty to animals and that an animal-friendly reading of the Bible is reasonable, what has prevented Christianity from taking a leadership role in animal protectionism? I will consider this in the next essay.

Go on to: Does Christian Mercy Inspire Compassion for Animals?
Return to: Reflections on the Lectionary, Table of Contents

Return to Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion