In Reference to the Article: God's Hunters?
Dear Father Classen,
I am deeply concerned with the less than compassionate views you have
expressed, both for the animals that you kill and the individuals who are
pained by the joy you find in this violence. The language you use to dismiss
their concerns does not show the sensitivity one would expect from a member
of the clergy. Essentially you say too bad, there is nothing I can do about
it and that's reality. You do not take into account that each one of us has
the ability to reduce the violence and killing in the world:
"Unfortunately though, we can’t go back in time and prevent the fall of
man and all that came as a result. We simply have to live in reality. And
the reality on planet earth is that something must die (animal or plant) for
something else to alive."
This statement also indicates a serious flaw in your perception of
reality. Living beings are not things. They have an inner spirit, a life
force, that is not present in inanimate objects. Perhaps this is the root of
your ability to destroy them with such ease and joy.
In addition you dismiss their concerns as emotionally driven, yet you
refuse to acknowledge the facts. Every living being has an interest in
avoiding suffering and preserving its existence. This was accurately
observed thousands of years ago by a teacher of the Jain religion of India,
For there is nothing inaccessible for death.
All beings are fond of life, hate pain, like pleasure,
shun destruction, like life, long to live. To all life
is dear." Jain Acharanga Sutra
Citing the scriptural passages you do to suit your own agenda, while
ignoring the reality that you are violently taking the lives of living
beings and callously dismissing the concerns of those who find your actions
intolerable is an indication that your concept of compassion is in need of
re-evaluation. With this in mind I have enclosed the following discussion
between a priest and a Jain layperson, Dr Parikh Vastupal.
Jains do not seek converts, but rather to support and encourage the value
of Ahimsa: unconditional compassion for ALL beings.. They are respectful of
the beliefs of other religions and do not challenge these beliefs, so Dr
Parikh's Catholic friend was not threatened, rather he was open to his
message of the connection between spiritual well-being and compassion for
"I have profound respect for Christian priests and nuns who provide
selfless service, kindness and care to millions of poor, sick and dying
people around the world. Some even run animal shelters or follow in the
footsteps of such compassionate Christian saints as Francis of Assisi!
Almost every religion has such compassionate followers. However, I am
dismayed that some of these individuals lose their sense of empathy when
they sit down at the table for a dinner of turkey, lamb chops or veal. How
could these compassionate people 'enjoy' feasting on animals or approve of
killing animals in the name of sports?
How could people justify, even to their own conscience, events like the
crusades, the inquisitions, the jihads, the animal sacrifice and wars in the
name of God.
I raised the question about this apparent contradiction with a close
friend - a Catholic priest. The occasion may not have been the most
appropriate one. We were having a dinner at a restaurant. I had ordered a
cold bowl of fruit salad and the priest had ordered veal.
"Dr Parikh, you don't know what you are missing" The preist was the one
who opened the topic.
"Missing? How can I miss something which I have never had before?"
"Thats the point. You don't even know what a pleasure it is to have a nice sizzling steak. It is heavenly!"
Father, I am an ordinary lay person brought up in the Jain tradition of
self restraint and respect for ALL life. I really do not understand how
anyone - let alone a priest - can derive pleasure in having an innocent
little calf killed for his food. Isn't that calf your God's beautiful
creations just like you?"
"Yes Dr Parikh God's creation indeed! So is the rest of this universe.
God created it all for our pleasure, and God has given us the domain over
This interpretation of 'domain' or 'thou shalt not kill' did not appeal
to me. The word domain is in the Bible. However, does it mean
'responsibility to care for', or 'the right to kill?"
I lost contact with the priest for several years after the incident.
However , during an accidental meeting ...he told me that he had become a
vegan (a vegetarian who avoids ALL animal products, including milk, cheese,
butter, ghee, etc). One up-man-ship was beaming through the chuckle.""
Jainism and the New Spirituality by Vastupal Parikh, Ph.D:
So You see, there are members of the Clergy who once they realize the
cruelty inherent in violently taking a life for their own pleasure, have the
spiritual discipline to change their ways. It is my hope that as their
number increases your position will become even more difficult to justify.