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


'PETA Campaign Coverage'
Bloody Easter card 'ill judged'

From the Catholic Times dated April 15, 2001:

by Robert Doyle

An international animal rights organisation that used Holy Week to push their anti--cruelty campaign have been warned that their shock tactics could backfire in Britain.

Members of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) group last week sent out thousands of Easter cards containing a picture of Our Lord slitting a cow's throat with the aim of persuading Christians to give up meat.

The wipe-clean cards, which were originally intended for the American market, are a play on the popular US catchphrase 'What would Jesus do?' On the outside they feature a child-like drawing of Christ with a cow and the slogan 'What wouldn't Jesus do?'

On the centre is a pastiche of Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper, that has Christ wielding a bloody scmitar as his bovine companion screams: "Jesus was the Prince of Peace not a bloody butcher." The back of the card urges Christians to consider becoming vegetarians to "respect God's creation".

Andrew Butler of PETA UK made no apologies for the gruesome picture saying that the cards force people to think about the cruelty and bloodshed involved in meat production.

"Christianity's rock is morality, so we ask the Church to encourage its followers to make the world more merciful and compassionate in every way," he said. "There is no more violent and bloody place than the hell on earth that is a slaughter house. It makes a mockery of Christian teachings."

But Debbie Jones of the Catholic Study Centre Circle for Animal Welfare (sic) warned the organisation that they could be doing their cause more harm than good.

"Easter week is a good time for reflection on this issue of how we treat creation, but these sort of images can be counter-productive. They can demean the reader and undermine a worthy cause," she said.

"The way in which farm animals are treated now is so different from the time of Jesus that it is reasonable to suppose that if he were alive today he would be vegetarian

"But while these shock tactics may work in the US, where people are more used to violent images, they are unhelpful here. It's just not British."

This latest campaign is not the first time that PETA which was founded in the United States in 1980, has courted controversy.

Last Easter the group caused outrage by putting a 'Jesus was a Vegetarian' billboard on the Catholic Falls Road in Belfast that featured Christ's halo replaced by an orange. But Mr Butler said such tactics were necessary.

"Traditionally the Bible has said that Man had dominion over animals, although most theologians now agree that what the original text meant was stewardship," said Mr Butler. "The concept of what is acceptable progresses. St Augustine and Thomas Aquinas are great doctors of the Church, but both were happy to see the subjugation of women and children. Any right thinking person now thinks of those relationships as exploitative.

"Epidemics like foot and mouth have opened the window on the grotesque cruelty that we inflict on animals. God created these creatures with needs, desires and natural inclinations yet we treat them no better than dirt."

But Catholic Times columnist and theologian Fr Francis Marsden was unconvinced.

"This campaign is in very bad taste. I agree that we eat too much meat and that this creates problems, but I can't agree that Christ would be a vegetarian."

Reproduced with Thanks.

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