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
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
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
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
"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
"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.