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


Church and the rights of animals

The Animal Rights movement is saddened and angered that so few people of the Church show any real concern, or speak out against the outrageous treatment of God's creatures in the areas of vivisection, factory-farming, performing animals in circuses, zoos, blood-sports and the fur trade.

We Christians, made in the image of God who is all merciful, are told to imitate his Son yet we foster cruelty in ourselves - exactly the opposite. We exalt the human, by belittling the animal.

It is convenient to think that animals have no rights and man has no duty towards them, yet St Francis of Assisi said: "Not to hurt our humble brethren is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission - to be of service to them whenever they require it."

I believe it is our duty to be protectors and guardians, yet we have betrayed that trust by the unending misery we have caused to animals - one way or another. We make pets of dogs and cats - yet also use others in vile experiments. Our silence condones it! How do we differentiate which animals we'll be kind to and the ones to suffer? We feed the birds and then gorge on chickens which have been crammed in cages.

Christmas is celebrated with a wholesale massacre of God's creatures and so long as we go on eating meat and demanding cheap food, we encourage the cruelty of factory farming.

The 50th psalm states: "All the beasts of the forest are mine and so are the cattle upon a thousand hills. Thinkest thou, that I will eat bull's flesh and drink the blood of goats? Let a man fear above all, me, his God, and so much gentler will he become towards my creatures and animals for I have care of every creature of mine."

Whether animals are factory farmed, or caught in the wild by fur traders their suffering is immense.

Most animals kill only enough to eat, but man has a rapacious appetite! We have food mountains with which we could feed ten times the number of people on a non-meat diet and end starvation in the Third World. It won't happen overnight, but as demands decrease, we would stop breading animals to eat.

Unfortunately, man has the tendency to torment, torture and kill. Surely we can try to change?

The Church could help to change our attitude by special services, especially to celebrate the feast of St Francis of Assisi with blessing of the animals of the parishes.

Louise Piddington

The Universe

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