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



Animal Welfare: Church's 'Deafening Silence'

From the Church Times of September 30, 1983:

As preparations go ahead for a World Day of Prayer for Animals on St. Francis's Day - which falls on Tuesday - the Bishop of Salisbury, the Right Rev. John Baker, has spoken out strongly against the Church's silence over animal welfare.

Bishop Baker told a group of animal-rights campaigners at Westbourne, Dorset, that he could not offer much defence for the Church's "almost invisible role" - though there were religious people who cared.

But Church members often never thought about the issues at all, or were too conservative to break away from the dominant patterns of culture, or held a too limited view of religion, the Bishop claimed; and this, he thought, accounted for the Church's "deafening silence."

Assuring the campaigners that he, too, was campaigning for changes in the law to stop the abuse of animals, the Bishop said he would press for a debate in the General Synod. And, asked if he would take part in a protest march to Porton Down next year, he agreed to consider it.

Battery hens, vivisection, road-research, crash experiments with animals and the "appalling duplication of experiments for no benefit" came in for the Bishop's strong criticism; so, too, did hunting and dissection in schools and zoos. "Regent's Park Zoo, for instance, makes me sick. It doesn't teach reverence for anything, let alone the animals," he told his hearers.

Not everyone was a vegetarian, the Bishop conceded; but, "if animals are used for food, it is our minimum duty to see they have conditions of contentment, light and dark, air and freedom of movement."

The Bishop himself would not "go around breaking into places," he said; but, on the subject of illegal animal liberation, he was happy about people who rescued animals "as long as they know what they're doing" - though he did not think their method was particularly productive.

Tuesday's World Day of Prayer is being organised by the Christian Consultative Council for the Welfare of Animals, of which the Dean of Westminster is the chairman.

See also:  Church's silence

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