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



Christian Herald Letters (1986)

Over-grazing in Africa

Dear Editor,

Since my wife and I became Christians we have read Christian Herald and my attention has recently been brought to articles about the famine in Africa. One of the major problems facing this part of the world, apart from drought, is that of letting animals over-graze. Naturalists have been warning us since the 1950s that sheep and goats eat not just the grass leaves but also the grass roots, and also defoliate the trees and bushes and eat their bark and lower branches. Thus they not only kill off the plant life but also erode the valuable top soil - which is only very thin at the best of times - and so enlarge the desert.

The African people need to pen their livestock until the existing grasses fully recover. Otherwise the desert is going to rapidly increase and extend further southward, which it is already doing at a frightening rate.

In Biblical days the Negeb, like our Lake District, was a vast mixed forest but is now uninhabited even by Nomads! The same thing will happen to areas of Africa if the appropriate action is not taken.

Ben Flower

Cruelty on the farm

Dear Editor,

I have been reading about the Animal Welfare Council, (7th June). I have been a farmer all my life.

With regard to animals in markets it must be appreciated that cattle drovers have a very difficult job. It is a task sorting cattle out when they have been grouped together in pens. What would improve the situation would be some large pens or many smaller pens so that each farmer's animals could be penned separately.

Regarding using sticks, a man could not handle stock without one, yet there is no need to use it unnecessarily.

In the previous issue hens in cages, calves on slats, and sows in crates were mentioned. I kept hens in cages years ago; they seemed very happy. Although it does deprive a hen of freedom, and of scratching; hens love to scratch for their food.

As regards artificial food, these foods have been tested and proved, otherwise calves would not grow fat on them.

But keeping sows in stalls is cruel and needs to be stamped out immediately. A sow in a stall has no room to move. In the summer time they get covered in flies, yet can do nothing about it. I would not keep pigs in this state. It is by far the most cruel thing I've seen with regards to farm animals.

MD Callwood

See Article: PEN POWER: Slow torture down on the farm

Gross cruelty

Dear Editor,

I think it is time Christians woke up to the effect their apathy in the matter of gross cruelty to animals is having on many of our caring, compassionate young people.

I wonder too, how many of our missionaries tell converts that it is not God's will that his creatures should suffer at the hands of man in the way they do. One hears horror stories coming from South Korea (where there has been revival) of cats being boiled alive for food, and from the Philippines of dogs having their legs broken and tied behind their necks, before their throats are cut and they are killed for food.

It seems that the world is more concerned about these things than the church.

According to reports it would seem that our own country is not far behind, for while we have the RSPCA to keep an eye on 'the man in the street', we hear of much legalised cruelty behind closed doors in laboratories and on factory farms and also in our inner cities, where little kittens and puppies are sent down chutes as rubbish while still alive.

The list is endless - but the church keeps silent, except for a few individuals who are dubbed as cranks!

Irene Hughes

Apathy on animals

Dear Editor,

As a Christian and a member of the RSPCA I heartily agree with Irene Hughes who writes in Your Letters (11th October).

I rarely hear church people protesting about animal cruelty. I have leaflets from Compassion In World Farming and tried to interest a local vicar in the subject but I might as well have talked to a wooden horse. A lot of people who make no profession of Christianity have far more concern.

Animals are like children - defenceless against cruelty. If professing Christians refused to buy frozen chickens, turkeys and battery eggs, and bacon from pigs who are chained in factory farms it would be a stand against cruelty.

Eleanor Flyde

Save the badgers

Dear Editor,

Over the past ten years some 25,000 badgers have been put to death by the Ministry of Agriculture, despite the fact they are legally protected mammals.

The Ministry's claim that badgers give cattle Bovine Tuberculosis has never been scientifically proved and, indeed, expert opinion now contradicts this belief. The Ministry's own figures show that over 90 per cent of badgers killed were perfectly healthy and the remainder would have developed a natural immunity if left alone.

In the past, pressure from the public has led to the end of wholesale badger-gassing in favour of live-trapping and shooting, to the end of badger-killing away from infected farms and to the abandonment of plans to kill mother badgers nursing young.

May we now plead with your readers to help us to bring an end to all badger slaughter by the Ministry of Agriculture. Can we ask them to write as soon as possible to the Prime Minister, 10 Downing Street , London SW, and to their own MP at the House of Commons, London SW, asking that no more badgers die at the hands of Her Majesty's Government.

Brenda Charlesworth
Dartmoor Badgers Protection League

Animal welfare

Dear Editor,

We would like to congratulate Irene Hughes, Gloria Hart and Eleanor Flyde for raising issues relating to animal rights in your letters pages.

The Church in recent years has taken a commendable stand in defending human rights, but sadly there has been little attempt to defend animal rights.

Christians wishing to find out more may contact the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection at....

Alasdair Broun
Press Officer, BUAV

Christian awareness

Dear Editor,

Eleanor Flyde is perhaps too harsh in her condemnation of Christians ('Apathy on animals' - 8th November).

While it is true that far too many church people are apathetic or even hostile to the cause of animal welfare/rights, others are working wholeheartedly to increase Christian awareness of the issues involved.

There are organisations such as Animal Christian Concern, The Christian Consultative Council for Animal Welfare, The Anglican Society for Animal Welfare and Quaker Concern for Animal Welfare which are actively working within the Christian community.

Individual members of the clergy are also taking action. For example, on 28th September the Vicar of North Weald, held a day of concern for animals at his church.

If only all Christians would take note of the words of the Bishop of Salisbury, the Right Rev John Austin Baker, spoken during his sermon in Salisbury Cathedral on 4th October 1986: "Saddest of all, most terrible of all fates surely, is to have lost that sense of the holiness of life altogether, to be so unaware of the true nature of the creatures with which we are dealing that we commit the blasphemy, the sacrilege of bringing thousands of lives to a cruel and terrifying death, or of making those lives a living death - and feel nothing."

Joyce D'Silva
Compassion In World Farming

Reproduced with thanks.

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