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



A reply to an article a week earlier by John Gummer entitled "Standing up against the fascist bully-boys of 'animal liberation' - the test our money men failed."

The case for animal rights

Sir, "Muddle-headed...fascist...Bully-boy...mafia..." - Mr. Gummer's over-the-top and thoroughly one-sided analysis of the campaign to close the Huntington Life Sciences laboratories should not be left unaddressed in any balanced journal.

The origins of the Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty (SHAC) initiative - as with every other animal rights/liberation/protection campaign - is that of public outrage at institutionalised and routine horror, brought to light only through undercover investigations.

The scientific validity of animal research is increasingly being called into question, by a growing number of doctors. There is also, thankfully, a burgeoning sphere of science devoted entirely to "humane research" into finding possible cures for human ailments, which should receive the whole-hearted support of our Church.

The premise of vivisection is that evil is permissible, in the hope that some little bit of good may come of it. In reality, the reverse has been reaped, through human side-effects from animal tested drugs. God's laws are not arranged in such a way that our search for healing should be contrary to humanity.

As Catholics, we fall way short of the saintly and scholarly insights of our own tradition. At a sermon in Oxford, on Good Friday 1842, Cardinal Newman spoke of the "cold-blooded and calculating men of science" and admonished his congregation to: "Think then my brethren, of your feelings at cruelty practised on brute animals, and you will gain one sort of feeling which the history of Christ's cross and Passion ought to exite within you."

A cursory glance at the Catholic press reveals that the sanctity of the human embryo, as an ideal, is rightly upheld and regardless of its potential for ill-gotten scientific gains.

Yet most Christians continue to countenance cruel, relentless experimentation on other creatures, with highly developed minds and nervous systems.

We appear morally threatened by animal rights ideology, when what is really needed is a consistent pro-life ethic, based on a selfless love and assimilated within the spirit of Christ, the Lord of all Creation.

I agree with Mr Gummer that the tactics of intimidation and violence are anathema to the Christian way. Whether the end goal is a justice derived via international conflict, animal exploitation, or, to an infinitely lesser though no less serious a degree; animal rights millitancy. At the end of the day the worst criminals can be assessed by the amount of innocent blood they have on their hands.

For all their faults, the SHAC protesters are bearing witness to incalculable non-human suffering. I would confidently posit that their number contains many a contemporary saint.

Catholic Herald

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