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

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Letters

Concern for animals a Christian duty

Sir, - Experience sadly shows that only man "merits" the concern, consideration and compassion of a great many Churchmen. If this was not so, how could there still be millions of God's creatures undergoing painful experimental proceedures designed "for the health and welfare" of man, close and unnatural confinement for the production of food for man, and agonising deaths for the entertainments or clothing of man?

This Association believes it is time the Church's ministers faced up to their responsibilities with regard to the totality of God's creation - the land, the sea and the sky, and the creatures that share these environments with man. Without them, man can no longer exist. For that reason, if for no other, the ecological nettle must be grasped.

It is a sad and lamentable fact that many people within the Christian tradition have regarded the right treatment of animals as peripheral or irrelevant to their Christian faith. However, it is not a peripheral side-issue but central to a gospel which insists that we are morally rersponsible and accountable beings.

Those people who dedicate their life to the destruction of animal life need to be told quite plainly by Churchmen that they are failing in their Christian profession and endangering their own moral integrity. A number of eminent leaders in the Christian faith are doing so already; how much more powerful their voices would be if they had the backing of the Church as a whole.

(Mrs.) B. E. Hardwick
Secretary - Worcestershire Animal Protection Association

Sir, - Following St. Francistide I feel that I cannot stress too strongly that which has already been said in the Church Times by Canon Arthur Fielder: "So obsessed has the Church become with the plight of mankind that it has little or no time to explore its responsibilities towards God's animal creation."

For a long while the Church has been so preoccupied with questions such as the Book of Common Prayer and the ASB, the ordination of women, Christian unity, religious education, etc., that animal welfare has been largely forgotten.

In the secular world there is a crusade going on for animal welfare in its entirety. Groups such as Animal Aid campaign against vivisection; others work to save baby seals or the whale. Chicken's Lib. and Compassion in World Farming alert society to recognise the plight of animals in factory farming. The Church remains largely silent on these matters.

This is a theological question. If we despise creatures (and surely vivisection in laboratories and factory farming are ways of despising them), we come to despise humans as well. To call a person "beastly" is to insult both human animal and non-human animal. It is to be hoped that Christians will take this seasonal opportunity to become aware both of the wonders of God's animal kingdom and of the darker side of science.

(Miss) Lorna J. E. Hartley

Church Times
(9/10/81)

Also see:  The Christian and Animal Suffering

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