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


Rough ride for opponents of hunting

From the Church Times dated 13 July 1990: 

Synod fought shy of imposing any restrictions on hunting and intensive farming on church-owned land. It rejected specific proposals by the Archdeacon of Colchester and called instead for a general statement on Christian stewardship of creation.

In his private member's motion, the Archdeacon, the Ven. Ernest Stroud, wanted the Board for Social Responsibility to produce a full theological exploration of human responsibility towards animals. He wanted the Synod to declare its opposition to all forms of cruelty and wanton killing, and to call on the Government to assess the effectiveness of current animal welfare legislation. He also wanted the Church Commissioners "to review critically hunting for sport and intensive farming on church-owned land".

Canon Jesse Sage (Canterbury), an agricultural chaplain, said consideration of man's relationship with animals at the present time had to be against the background of a changing situation which included the increase of technology in animal husbandry.

Lt-Col. John Crompton (Newcastle) thought it illogical to call for a full theological exploration, and then jump to conclusions before the exploration was done.

The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Revd Ian Harland, lived at the heart of a Church Commissioners' estate, he told the Synod, "and there would simply be astonishment and dismay at a ban on hunting. Last week I saw eight churchwardens, to discuss a new incumbent, and at the end one of them said tentatively: 'I hope he won't be anti-hunting. That wouldn't go down at all well here'." The hunt tested the skill of horse and rider across rough country, the Bishop said. "Those who follow, on rusty bikes or on foot, are watching the ancient art of running a pack of hounds. They are certainly not out for the kill."

Sir Douglas Lovelock, the First Church Estates Commissioner, put the Commissioners' point of view. "We don't farm ourselves. We have agreements with our tenants which go back thirty or forty years, and they say nothing about hunting. Some allow it on their land and some don't. We can't unilaterally insert a new clause into those agreements."

Michael Oakley (York) said: "We are living in a nanny society. It's bad to smoke, bad to drink, bad to eat certain things, and now Nanny is trying to prevent intensive farming in all its forms and stop hunting; because that is what this is all about. This includes fishing, which puts a ban on over 20 million people."

Reg Howard (Bath and Wells), a farmer on his own land, told of some unsavoury habits of "Mr Fox": four cockerels surviving out of 40 after one night's raid, six out of eight lambs savaged. "I don't care how he's killed as long as he is." A hen, he said, "a simple bird with a very small brain", did not object to a battery life. "If I were a hen I know where I'd choose to live. Intensive farming is a matter of economics. You are better fed than ever before, at lower prices."

The amendment moved by Canon Sage was carried on a show of hands. It called on the Board of Social Responsibility "urgently to prepare a statement of Christian stewardship in relation to the whole of creation to challenge Government, Church and people to engage in a critical review of human responsibility to the living environment."

See Article:
The Church and Animals .

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