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



'Church Times' debate (1984)

Facts about animal welfare (9/11/84)

Sir, - As your issue of October 26 contains two items calculated to make the heckles rise on animal welfare workers' backs, it is necessary to correct certain factual inaccuracies, non sequiturs and, last but not least, bits of faulty logic.

To deal first with your correspondent Glen Sewell:

(a) There are at least 156 different species of grass in the British Isles, some of which are edible and digestible by man, though few of us are able to recognise them when on a country walk! Both herbivores and omnivores have very long intestines, whereas true carnivores have short, thick ones. If Mr. Sewell's dogs (omnivores) refuse rice, that is not necessarily because of their "design": other species than man have differing individual tastes likewise - for example, one of my two dogs likes soft fruit but the other does not.

(b) Employment for butchers? I have heard of a butcher - in Scotland - who has shown the way by selling meat-substitute as well as flesh meat. Other jobs involving animal exploitation can be phased out in time, equally painlessly for man (as well as for the animals). What became of the slave traffickers and the employers of slave labour?

(c) One can generally quote Old and/or New Testament in support either side of a controversy: Shakespeare drew attention to that fact in The Merchant of Venice ("The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose"). Eventually one must ask: who is the less likely to be hooked up on the hotline to the Holy Ghost? (Christ did not condemn cannibalism either!)

(d) Mr. Sewell may not suggest (even "respectfully") to any animal welfare worker, or indeed to workers for any other charity, that they divert their energies elsewhere. He should address his "respectful" suggestions to that very large section (probably the majority) of the population who are doing little or nothing for any charity.

Much of what Margaret Duggan says in her article in the same issue is reasonable and fair comment, but responsible anti-vivisectionists are very careful to get their facts right - from the horse's mouth, viz., the publications of the enemy himself. As regards "misleading," "inflammatory" and "exaggerated" literature, it makes no difference morally whether it be the minority or the majority of experimental animals that suffer pain or stress. There should be none at all.

"The end justifies the means" is an ancient heresy condemned by St. Paul - full-stop. And what's wrong with extremism anyway? Christ was an extremist!

R.M.A. Bocking,
Hon. Secretary,
Catholic Study Circle for Animal Welfare,

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