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



'Burgers for Christ' - in Bristol

From the FoL newsletter of Christmas 2000:

We received the following from Jill Greenway, Secretary of the Bristol Vegetarian and Vegan Group:

Members of various animal welfare groups from Bristol leafletted people attending an On the Move barbecue ministry in Bristol on 14 June 2000.

(On the Move is an 'evangelical Christian' organisation, led by Martin Graham, which goes out on to the streets inviting the public to meat-ins across Britain.)

An editorial in the Christian Herald invites people to 'Come and eat burgers for Christ.'

We found it offensive that Christians, whose message should surely be one of peace, mercy, love and compassion, could be seen supporting an industry causing cruelty on a mass scale and helping to destroy the environment. So we decided to go and give our message. We went with leaflets kindly prepared by Viva!

As we peacefully handed out leaflets we explained to people that the production of meat contributes to Third World hunger and wastes massive amounts of food, water and fuel. (Furthermore, the wealth of transnational burger companies gives them a stranglehold on land and vanishing resources. As they demand more, local people are dispossessed and eke out a living on the margins - rootless, hopeless and desperate.)

Ironically, the main article about On the Move shared the front page of the Christian Herald with a piece on Fairtrade encouraging readers to buy fairly traded goods in order to help Third World workers. What a shame that these followers of Jesus had not thought about the connection between meat-eating and Third World hunger; they might have come to the logical conclusion that to live out their message of love in their lives they could take one simple step - to stop eating meat!

We had a mixed reception; some of the more open-minded On the Move helpers at least listened. None of the helpers I spoke to were vegetarian and clearly no-one had given much thought to the fact that their Christian message of love just did not fit with serving up dead animals to would-be converts. One of the local organisers admitted as much and said: 'I don't think anyone here really sees meat as an issue. We were so busy with just organising this event that we didn't give it any thought. What was important is that burgers are cheap and easy to prepare.' Other On the Move helpers were openly hostile and unpleasant, and I wondered whether they considered their behaviour very Christian.

To finish on an uplifting note, apparently after some adverse publicity following their first mission in Manchester, veggie burgers were offered at subsequent barbeques, and there were plenty of takers in the queue at Bristol; in fact, there were far more vegetarians among the people waiting to be served (and saved) than among those offering salvation. I managed to speak to Martin Graham and I hope we gave all the organisers some real food for thought.

See: "Burgers for Christ" - a personal view

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