Is Mike Zavage a Priest of God or a Priest of Satan?


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Is Mike Zavage a Priest of God or a Priest of Satan?
Comments by Ruth Eisenbud - 18 Dec 2010

In Reference to: Is Mike Zavage a Priest of God or a Priest of Satan?

Gretchen McKay:
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

I recently became aware of your story on Father Mike Zavage who claims to find spiritual peace in the violent act of hunting. Please consider the implications of his callous disregard for the lives of the innocent creatures he hunts down without remorse.

What does it say to a community, when the person entrusted with their spiritual development and guidance finds peace in killing, violently taking the life a living being who has harmed no one. This is not idle speculation. A deer is a gentle animal who peacefully makes his/her way through the forest while foraging for greens, running and communicating with its fellow deer. Deer value and seek to preserve their lives just as humans do. Rather than show appreciation for this graceful creature and find joy in the living deer, Father Mike Zavage has chosen to 'hunt' down this animal for the pleasure he derives from the experience...

His casual acceptance of the violence of hunting indicates a profound lack of understanding on the nature of compassion. Violence to animals and humans is profoundly connected. When the slaughter of animals is endorsed and sanctified, it often acts a precursor to human on human violence. It is therefore morally irresponsible to teach people to kill any living being, especially so in the name of sport.

Ideally religious teachings profess to guide followers to a higher spiritual and moral state. Some religions extend compassion to ALL living beings and deliver a message of unconditional compassion for both animals and humans. The semitic religions extend compassion only to humans, and as defined by the concept of dominion, grant man the right to harm and kill animals for his own benefit. The three semitic religions which includes Judaism, Christianity and Islam are not strangers to violence. In the beginning, 5000 years ago, the slaughter and abuse of animals for human need and entitlement was first sanctioned in genesis:

"God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.''"

Since this mechanism, based on fear and dread, which so devalues animal lives, was set in place, every manner of animal abuse and slaughter has relentlessly increased. Some would argue that it is necessary to kill animals to be eaten, but this is hardly the case. The Seventh Day Adventists are vegetarian/vegan and have the best health statistics in the USA: lowest rates of cancer and heart disease and greatest longevity.

The reason for hunting according to Father Mike Zavage is based on the enjoyment he derives from it. The pleasure and peace he claims to find during the hunt is most troubling. His position is both contradictory and cruel, for peace resides in compassion, not killing. Compassion is defined as deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it. There is nothing peaceful about inflicting pain, fear and suffering on a creature that is as entitled to be on this earth as are humans. Furthermore the act of stalking and killing does little to increase compassion and spiritual awareness, rather it stifles and suppresses them. The claim that the act of killing an innocent being creates a bond between the humans involved is yet another indication that he does not understand the nature of gratuitous violence. There are plenty of ways to bond without violence, such as observing and photographing these graceful and gentle creatures. What are the social skills and mental state of someone who has to dominate and kill a harmless creature to feel a bond with another human being? One has to wonder if the endorsement and promotion of hunting is a responsible position for a religious authority with the power to influence his congregation, especially given the recent spate of random and gratuitous violence in the USA.

It is no secret that there is an epidemic of violence in western society, particularly the USA. Virtually every day there is a story of gratuitous violence in the news, which often involves angry and alienated individuals, who for their own reasons, seek out the innocent bystanders in shopping malls, schools, churches and the work place and hunt them down. The first victim in an act of violence or abuse is compassion. Once one is acclimated to the act of killing, the next act becomes easier. The act of killing, once it receives endorsement by religion does not have boundaries. It is not a great leap from killing a harmless animal to killing a child, one's spouse or even a total stranger. To an individual who perceives s/he has been wronged, hunting down a human is no different than hunting down an innocent deer for the gratification derived.

Reverend Christopher Wenthe also finds peace in violently taking an innocent life.

Taking pleasure in violence whether towards humans or animals is sadistic and gratuitous. Where does one draw the line? Father Mike Zavage is from a religious tradition with a terrible track record of animal abuse in the countries where blood sports are seen as a form of religious worship. In these countries, such as Spain, Mexico, Portugal and much of Latin America, religious festival days are celebrated with sports such as 'fire bull'. A bull is set on fire and the frenzied crowds cheer as the bull charges through the crowd in terror and pain. Each of these fiestas, along with bull fighting has a patron saint associated with the celebration. It is no wonder that notable human genocides such as the inquisition, the crusades and the holocaust originated in such a tradition.

One has to wonder about the root of the moral confusion displayed by Father Mike Zavage. Clearly it resides in the double message of compassion of the semitic religions: there is a strong prohibition against taking innocent human life, but the harm and slaughter of animals is sanctified as a right bestowed on man by God. This paradigm of animal compassion has resulted in the mistaken belief that it is possible to kill and abuse another living being and still be a respected and righteous member of society:

"Proverbs 12:10 states, "The righteous person regards the life of his or her animal." In Judaism, one who is unnecessarily cruel to animals cannot be regarded as a righteous individual." Prof Richard Schwartz

The corollary: He who is of necessity cruel to animals can be regarded as a righteous individual. It appears that there is no contradiction between cruelty and righteousness .

This is a fallacy, and though not understood in western civilization, the nature of the harm done by sanctified violence is understood by the Jain religious tradition of india. In this tradition the lives of both humans and animals are precious and to be respected:

"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.

Furthermore, it is considered a sin to harm or kill any living being:

"All things breathing, all things existing, all living beings whatever, would not be slain or treated with violence, or insulted, or tortured or drven away. This is the pure unchanging eternal law, which the wise ones who know the world have proclaimed... He who harms animals has not understood or renounced deeds of sin" Jain Acharanga Sutra

In the Jain tradition one is not respected for the harm one does, but for the harm one avoids doing. The result is less human societal violence as well. One does not contain violence by encouraging it, but by showing respect for the sanctity of life - ALL life.

Would you be so kind as to pass this information on to Father Zavage.


Ruth Eisenbud