The Fellowship of Life
Vegetarian protests at Christmas slaughter of animals
From the Salisbury Journal of December 18th 1980:
Vegetarian David Davies arrived at Salisbury Cathedral on Monday to
start a ten-day fast. He will stay there until Christmas day.
He is staging his vigil as a protest against what he calls 'the
immorality of the Christmas tradition'.
And when it is over he will return home to a dinner of grapefruit and
"There are millions of people starving and we sit here making
ourselves sick over Christmas." he said.
"The widespread slaughter of animals is not just wrong but a highly
uneconomic method of feeding ourselves."
"If it was not so serious we would laugh at such a ridiculous
The 40-year-old artist and former soldier from Folkestone Road,
Salisbury, has been drinking only water and lemon juice since Monday. He
has been sitting in the Cathedral for ten hours a day, surrounded by
posters decrying the eating of meat.
"I don't mind if I ruin people's Christmas by raising these moral
issues," he said. "The suffering they experience is nothing compared to
that felt by the animals and the starving people."
Mr. Davies chose the Cathedral for his demonstration because, he
said, he particularly wants to make the Church aware of the issues.
Follow-up letters to The Vegetarian
I am writing about your report on David Davies' protest at Salisbury
Cathedral (The Vegetarian: March/April 1981).
As a vegan I sympathise, but I can assure him that if he wants to
change the Church's attitude (a mammoth task, especially for a
non-Christian) he won't do it like that. I totally agree that the
Church's attitude to animals leaves a great deal to be desired, but with
all due respect, I think that it is best left to those within the Church
who are more likely to find an audience.
There are many Christian Clergy and lay persons who do care and are
involved, and as just three examples, I cite the Dean of Westminster,
Lord Soper and Andrew Linzey (who wrote 'Animal Rights'). There are many
Christians who are involved and I know two HSA area contacts who are
I am organising a prayer meeting for Christians in the movement and
if anyone is interested, they can contact me at...
Actions speak louder?
David Davies should be commended for his recent protest at Salisbury
Cathedral, not criticised. One would hope that others might follow his
example next Christmas-time (indeed, why wait until Christmas!) and hold
peaceful demos and protests at churches all over the country.
There is no way of knowing just how much Mr Davies' protest achieved,
but he did receive considerable publicity, and however little good he
did, he will still have achieved more than those who simply pray to God,
such as the writer of the critical letter. People have been praying to
God for thousands of years, but it hasn't helped the animals (or people
for that matter) one iota. Those who genuinely wish to pray can do so by
themselves or with their families in the privacy of their own homes -
they don't have to make a big production out of it. Indeed, the millions
of pounds spent on erecting and maintaining buildings of prayer could be
much better utilised.
Well done David, don't let sour grapes deter you!
Prayer or action?
Malcolm Pateman seems to think that the mistaken belief of most
churches, ie - that God gave the non-human animals to man for his use -
can be changed through prayer. This would be the ideal way of course,
but I have yet to come across any practical reform of this nature which
has been accomplished by prayer alone, though much blood has been
spilled by rival factions in religious fervour or in the pursuit of
Very many Christians - who practice the teachings of Jesus of
Nazareth, not a particular dogma - do abhor cruelty, exploitation, and
the callous treatment of animals in general and food animals in
particular. They take practical steps to lessen the amount of suffering
by the simple expedient of not eating them, but they do this not on the
advice of the Churches alas, but rather in spite of their doctrine. For
the priests of all time have urged their followers, not to stop
exploiting the animals or each other, but to pray for personal
deliverance from the results. In other words 'passing the buck' to the
Lord. That this has not produced the desired results is only too
apparent for the loving, caring omnipotent gods remain unmoved while all
kinds of outrage against man and beasts escalates.
I wish I could think, with Malcolm, that the hearts of mankind could
be re-sensitised by prayer. I applaud his efforts but it would seem that
Jesus the would-be reformer, as well as all the other martyrs who came
before and after him, died in vain for representatives of various
religions still bless battleships as well as such sadistic
entertainments as bullfights etc. I wonder whether the Vegetarian
Society, for instance, has ever received such a 'seal of approval'? I
doubt it. Not that I believe it would help in the slightest, so, for an
each way bet, while those who wish to, pray, all will have to back them
up with practical action for results.
It was Tennyson who said that "More things are wrought by prayer than
this world dreams of". Sandra Bussell would have done well to ponder
these words before she wrote so disparagingly of one who runs a prayer
group for animals and who, judging by the amount of literature which he
orders from me, is very active in other ways. He is in fact to be
congratulated on getting such a group together.
Who can tell just how much, and in how many ways, the prayers of his
group and others like it influenced the fast by David Davies in
Salisbury Cathedral? Perhaps Malcolm Pateman himself should give this a
thought as well! When there are so few within the Church working for
vegetarianism as a Christian ideal (I do not mean animal welfare at
which point so many draw the line) then how can we turn away 'outside'
help? Though I do not remember any indication as to whether David is
'inside' or 'outside'.
Margaret E. Lawson (Mrs.)
With thanks to the Vegetarian Society:
*David Davies' protest included a display of three placards; two of
which comprised a photo-montage of animal abuse:
"How much longer can the Church support this bloody blasphemy? These
are the open wounds of Christ. What are you doing to heal them."
"Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature."
"Calling all Christians
Rise up! Have done with paganism!
Millions of turkeys and other creatures are slaughtered every
Christmas in the name of the Lord of compassion, prince of peace.
Would He Himself do it? No.
This year show that you really do love God.
This year make your celebrations wholly holy by enjoying festive fare
which no creature has suffered and died to provide. Your love is not
complete unless it embraces all his creation.
"Thou shalt not kill".
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