A 'Nasty Strand' in Christianity which condones the suffering of animals
has been attacked by the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt. Rev. John Baker.
The Church's record on animal rights is poor, the Bishop writes in
the current issue of his diocesan newspaper, Sarum Link. "Most
Christians prefer to pass by on the other side."
In particular, Bishop Baker criticises the 'rather nasty strand' in
Christian thinking which has argued that animals have no 'souls', and
therefore it is not wrong to treat them in any way that suits ourselves.
"But that is hardly the point," he states. "Whether they have 'souls'
or not, the fact is that they can feel pain and misery. And, to put the
matter at its very lowest it does our 'souls' no good to be needlessly
Bishop Baker goes on to consider a number of aspects of animal
welfare, among them fox hunting. While he does not come down firmly on
either side of the argument, he writes: "Hunting folk must realise that,
for all the joy and prowess of their sport, many people, who do not
speak from ignorance, are clear that as practiced it involves
The Bishop also has misgivings about the food industry. While most
farm animals lead happy and healthy lives, he agrees, millions of others
are "raised in conditions that deny most of their basic needs and
instincts. We transport them in ways that cause pain, injury and slow
death. We slaughter them by processes that inflict terror and sometimes
The Church's duty in all this, Bishop Baker concludes, is to
"encourage all concerned to find ways of feeding ourselves, curing
disease, and enjoying leisure which do not bring pain and misery to
those creatures of God who are in our power and so have the more claim
on our compassion."
Church Times, August 4th, 1989.