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


Hunting and factory farming

Sir - Stephen Lambert (Letters, 6 July) asks why the Archdeacon of Colchester links factory farming and hunting. The answer surely is that both bring distress and death to sentient creatures. Can we deny that animals have feelings?

Jeremy Bentham's reflections on animal rights are relevant here: "The question is not, Can they reason? Nor, Can they talk? But, Can they suffer?" Synod should have heeded some more 18th-century voices, including that of the Revd Thomas Young, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, who courageously condemned hunting, shooting and fishing, quoting from Cowper on the particular scandal of the "cassocked huntsman". Young also denounced the cruelty involved in transport (Britain had an international reputation as "the hell of horses"), in scientific research, in sport and in cookery. He listed some of the more horrific atrocities that were part of food production, and he condemned the hypocrisy of Christians in saying their grace at mealtimes: "How absurdly impious is it to beg his blessing upon a table which is furnished out in part by the abuse of his bounty and the torture of his creatures."

Young added perceptively that we were more likely to get a curse than a blessing from all this. He also saw that cruelty to animals had a strong tendency to make us cruel to our own species (a truth vividly illustrated by the artist, Hogarth).

It is deeply saddening to observe that, in the 20th century, so many Christians who campaign vigorously against sexism and racism are still not sufficiently enlightened to do battle with the hideous evils of species-ism.

Dr Margaret Maison

Church Times

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