The Fellowship of Life
a Christian-based vegetarian group founded in 1973


Animal Welfare and the Church

Q. Which body has investments in ICI, Hillsdown Holdings and Unigate, is the biggest private landowner in the UK and owns 8 intensive livestock units one of which involves the keeping of rabbits for fur production?

A large multinational?

A. No, the Church of England.

Q. Who kept calves chained in tiny crates, deprived of roughage and companionship on a farm in Storrington, Sussex?

An unfeeling farmer?

A. No, the Canons of Our Lady of England Priory.

Q. Who runs one of Britain's most intensive battery farms where hens are crammed 6 at a time in tiny cages?

An Agri-business man?

A. No, the Convent of the Order of Passion of Jesus near Daventry, Northamptonshire.

Q. Where are more and more active, dedicated people working to end the cruelty of factory farming?

A. Within the Church.

On 28th September in York Minster the Rt. Rev. John Austin Baker, Bishop of Salisbury and patron of Compassion in World Farming, preached the sermon of the first ever Service for Animals organised by Animal Christian Concern. The Bishop condemned the cruelty of factory farming and stated:-

"Christians, who close their minds and hearts to the cause of animal welfare and the evils it seeks to combat are ignoring the fundamental spiritual teaching of Christ himself. They are also refusing the role in the world for which God gave us our brains and our moral sense, to be God's agents to look after the world in the divine spirit of wisdom and love."

Animal Christian Concern (ACC) which organised the service is one of many organisations campaigning on animal issues within the Church. ACC's membership includes many Bishops and clergy, as well as concerned Christian welfarists.

The Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals (ASWA) is another active organisation which is presently in correspondence with the Church Commissioners with the aim of achieving a ban on all animal abuse on Church owned land. ASWA has also just produced two excellent leaflets, one dealing with factory farming and the suffering of battery hens, sows and veal calves and the other on vivisection. These are available from ASWA, a donation is necessary, however, to cover costs of printing and postage.

The Christian Consultative Council for the Welfare of Animals (CCCWA) is a consultative council consisting of representatives from member organisations which include ASWA, Catholic Study Circle for Animal Welfare, Quaker Concern for Animal Welfare and the St. Andrew Animal Fund. The CCCWA aims "to encourage the Churches and their members, in response to the insights of the Christian faith, to embrace an active concern for the wellbeing of animals." Joan Watson, the Honorary Secretary, is convinced the Church campaign is the most important campaign of all - she says:-

"Just think there are 26 Anglican Bishops in the House of Lords and a pulpit in every parish - what a powerful voice that could be if only we could get the established 'Church' to speak out forcefully, against all abuse of God's creatures."

The CCCWA is also corresponding with the Church Commissioners with respect to the Christian involvement in intensive farming and produces a leaflet 'Intercessions and Prayers for Animals' which is circulated widely in this country and in the USA, Japan, Australia, France and E. Germany. With respect to farming the Intercession includes the prayer:-

"that people may pressure governments to abolish intensive methods of food production and that the preparation of all foods that involve cruelty may be discontinued."

Compassion in World Farming greatly appreciates and admires the work of all the organisations and asks all its Christian members to support and assist these societies with the vital campaign.


From the December 1986 edition of Agscene - journal of Compassion in World Farming. Reproduced with Thanks.

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