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CVA Weekly Newsletter
July 25, 2012

  1. Upcoming Activist Opportunities
  2. Essay: Conservatives, Liberals, and Animal Protectionism
  3. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman

1. Upcoming Activist Opportunities

8/1-4         NH Gilford              HUGE - SoulFest
8/2-4         PA Hershey              Joyce Meyers Conference
8/3-4         OH Columbus        Women of Faith Celebrate What Matters
8/3-4         TX Garland              Promise Keepers Men's Conference
8/4       PA Phoenixville         TABLE Green Earth Festival
8/10-11   OK Oklahoma City        Women of Faith Celebrate What Matters
8/11      MS Jackson              Girls of Grace Teen Conference
8/16-18   MI Detroit              Joyce Meyers Conference
8/17-18   DC Washington      Women of Faith Celebrate What Matters
8/17-18   WA Spokane              Women of Faith Celebrate What Matters
8/17-18   OH Cleveland       Promise Keepers Men's Conference
8/18      OR Gresham              Jeremy Camp Christian Concert
8/20          DE Harrington      Casting Crowns @ Delaware State Fair
8/25      IN Santa Claus          Rock the World Christian Rock Fest
8/27      CA San Diego       Jeremy Camp Christian Concert
8/30-9/2  CA Plymouth        Joshua Fest
8/31-9/2  SD Worthing        LifeLight Music Festival
9/1       GA Marietta        Jeremy Camp Christian Concert
9/7-8         CA San Diego       Promise Keepers Men's Conference
9/9       PA Philadelphia         TABLE Green Fest Philly
9/21-23   NC Hickory              "Momentum" The Conference Newsboys
8/24-25   IA Des Moines      Women of Faith Celebrate What Matters
8/24-25   IN Indianapolis         Women of Faith Celebrate What Matters Conf
8/24-9/3  MO Branson              Silver Dollar City - Southern Gospel Picnic
8/24-8/28 UK Lincolnshire         One Event Christian Conference
10/12-13  CO Colorado Springs     Hearts at Home Western Women's Conference
10/13         FL Tampa           TABLE VegFest
11/17         NY Albany               TABLE NY's Capital Region Vegetarian
Contact Paris at christian_vegetarian@yahoo.com if you can help. To find out about all upcoming leafleting and tabling opportunities in your area, join the CVA Calendar Group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/christian_vegetarian/.
2. Essay: Conservatives, Liberals, and Animal Protectionism
In his outstanding book The Happiness Project, psychiatrist Ron Leifer, M.D. suggests that a fundamental difference between conservatives and liberals is that they have different views on the source of suffering. In brief, Leifer holds that conservatives see human sinfulness as the root of suffering, while liberals see corrupted institutions as primarily responsible for suffering. Both outlooks have implications for animal issues.
I want to emphasize at the outset that I do not equate conservatives with Republicans and liberals with Democrats. I also want to emphasize that many, if not most, of us have sympathy for aspects of both the conservative and liberal outlooks. When I use the term “conservatives” and “liberals” I am referring to two distinct paradigms, and many people who identify themselves as conservative or liberal might reasonably hold that neither paradigm accurately describes their outlooks. Inspired by Leifer’s observation, I offer my own impressions:
Conservatives hold that suffering is due to human sins, such as laziness, greed, and over-indulgence. They hold that traditional institutions (such as Church and State) are crucial in combating these sins. Indeed, if these institutions are significantly altered, they believe that there will be great societal discord and perhaps collapse. Thus, many conservatives regard same-sex marriage as a threat to the larger institution of marriage, and marriage is crucial to raising children in environments in which good morals can be taught. Whether or not these fears are reasonable, they likely play an important role in the marriage equality controversy. Similarly, many conservatives regard animal rights as threatening to human rights, and human rights is a foundation for civil society. Some conservatives support animal rights, in part because nonhumans are innocent and do not deserve ill-treatment whereas people who suffer because of their own bad choices deserve the consequences.
In contrast, liberals see people as basically decent and good, and the source of suffering is imperfect or corrupt institutions. If people behave badly, it’s primarily because societal institutions (family, schools, government, etc.) have failed them in their youth and later on. Institutions, liberals tend to hold, shield those with power from accountability and are used as vehicles for victimizing those with little or no power. Though some liberals aim to do away with all institutions that they regard as corrupt, most liberals aim to reform institutions, for example by increasing accountability of institutions’ leaders and empowering those who historically have been most vulnerable to abuse. Liberals generally do not regard institutions as inherently good or evil, but rather as vehicles that can promote either good or evil depending on how they are constructed and managed. Liberals are often reluctant to extend their critiques of institutions to include institutions’ roles in animal abuse, and I suspect at least two major reasons for this. Liberals see themselves are beneficiaries of animal exploitation and abuse and, even though endorsing such exploitation and abuse contradicts their core values, they selfishly don’t want to relinquish the perceived benefits of eating, wearing, vivisecting, etc. animals. Also, liberals are concerned that if their core value of opposing unfair exploitation and abuse is carried to its logical conclusion to include nonhumans, few will take them seriously and liberals will fail to make progress in the humanocentric campaigns in which they are involved. Some liberals support animal rights because they hold that the same principles of fairness, justice, and compassion that make them progressive on human social issues should apply to nonhumans.
Conservatives often tell stories of how institutions are sacred because they are grounded on the Law of God or the values of the venerated founders of the nation. Liberals often tell stories of how institutions were created by people (generally men) to serve their own interests.
Conservatives and liberals tend to charge each other with different faults, and they tend to respond to these charges differently. When most animated, conservatives often charge liberal leaders with heresy or treason and liberal followers with self-righteousness and arrogance. When liberals are angry, they often charge conservative leaders with deceit, selfishness, and hypocrisy, and conservative followers with stupidity. To a degree, conservatives denounce liberals while liberals mock conservatives.
Conservatives tend to respond to liberal charges with anger and indignation. They are offended when their motivations or their intelligence are challenged. They see themselves as compassionate, but they think that the best way to help people is to abide by the rules and teachings of venerable institutions. Liberals tend to respond to conservative charges with incredulity and hurt feelings. They claim that they are misunderstood – they claim to love their religion, country, and other fundamental institutions as much as anyone else, but they want to see change in the name of fairness and decency.
In my opinion, both conservatives and liberals should appreciate that most of those with whom they disagree mean well and should be treated with respect. Both groups can come to endorse animal rights, albeit for somewhat different reasons. I should add that the “reasons” should perhaps be better described as rationalizations for sentiments. In other words, there are both conservatives and liberals who empathize with nonhumans and seek to prevent their abuse. In justifying their concern for nonhuman well-being, they employ the political worldview that seems true to them. This view in no way should be understood to belittle animal rights. I think people in general act on the basis of sentiment, and then defend those sentiments with various kinds of rationalizations. In the case of animal rights, I admire the sentiments of compassion and concern. The sentiments of self-indulgence and callousness, often defended with very different applications of either conservative or liberal ideology, generate a much less pleasant world.
Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

3. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman
From Mourning to Positive Action 

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