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

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Letters

Animal Suffering

Sir, - In his article of September 26 Arthur Fielder expresses concern at the apparent indifference of the Church to animal suffering at our hands. This has long disturbed many people, who feel that our position as the most intelligent and (so far as we know) the only spiritually aware beings gives us a special responsibility.

It is unfortunate that the coming of Christianity seemed somehow to cut man off from the rest of creation. Until that time there was a recognition that all life is one - even the lives of the pagan gods being much involved with humans and animals. "That of God in every man" which should encompass love and pity for all creatures set us aside, and gave us the arrogant assumption that we could rule and exploit the whole natural world for our own advantage.

Now, however, there is evidence of change, if only because we have gone too far and are now beginning to perceive that man is in fact dependent on all other species: the creature which consumes most returns least and causes the most pollution. We are, by our thoughtless greed, endangering the very sources of all life - the air, water and soil of our planet. Not only are the animals our victims, but our fellow humans starve while we feed grain and soya which could sustain them to livestock being factory-farmed for an already over-fed population.

Where does compassion begin? Cruelty cannot be condemned for one species and condoned for another. "What thou doest to the least of these thou doest unto me": does not this relate to all life? Suffering cannot be avoided, but surely deliberate hurt must be considered unChristian?

If indeed we accepted the principle of kindness and respect to the lowest form of life, how inconceivable would it be to inflict cruelty on the highest? Is there perhaps in this the seed of a new ethic?

Joanne Bower

Hon. Secretary, Farm and Food Society
Oct 1980

See: The Christian and Animal Suffering

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