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
(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.
"Burgers for Christ" - a personal view