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



'Church Times' debate (1985)

  1. Prayers for dumb creatures - Rena Collins, 26 Apr 1985
  2. Cruelty to Animals - Peter Blake, 10 May 1985
  3. Slaughter - (Rev.) H.E.S. Newbold, 9 Aug 1985
  4. Animal Welfare - (Miss) I. Hughes, 16 Aug 1985
  5. Pleas from animal welfare bodies - May Tripp
  6. Pleas from animal welfare bodies - (Miss) B. Deane, 30 Aug 1985
  7. Beasts that perish - Editorial, 30 Aug 1985
  8. Sikhs & meat - David Matthews, 6 Sep 1985
  9. Slaughter of animals - (Rev. Dr.) Isaac Levy, 13 Sep 1985
  10. Slaughter of animals - Donald Watson, 27 Sep 1985

Prayers for dumb creatures

Sir, - A year ago I started a Christian anti-vivisection society called "The Righteous branch of David". It has grown and is still growing.

My intention is to wake the sleeping Church to the atrocities which are being committed in both factory-farm and laboratory. It is not God's will. God is love, not torture, and I believe that our greatest weapon against all evil is prayer. This is why I have started prayer, song and praise meetings in both London and Brighton.

Perhaps your readers would like to know about them; and, even if they cannot come to the meetings, they can still link-up in both church and home. I intend to make this a world-wide prayer society.

The meetings take place at St. Matthew's Chapel, 20, Great Peter Street, Westminster, every second Wednesday of every month from 1 to 3 p.m., and at the Chapel Royal, North Street, in the centre of Brighton, on the last Tuesday of every month from 2.30 to 3.30 p.m.

People are welcome for as little or long as they like. We shall be jubilant that God will hear and answer our prayers for his creatures that have no voice and are at the mercy of man. It is our duty to pray.

The cattle on a thousand hills are mine, he says, and not a sparrow falls to the ground without him knowing.

Rena Collins, Secretary, The Righteous Branch of David,


Cruelty to animals

Sir, - It was encouraging to read Rena Collins' call to prayer (April 26) for the animals that suffer so much these days in research laboratories and on factory farms. It does seem that at long last the Church is becoming aware of the widespread cruelty to animals that is such a dark feature of modern times; and I am sure that my parish is not the only one to pray for animals in weekly prayer meetings and to have special services for animals and their owners.

This cruelty to animals is no minor consideration. The consequences of it can easily be underestimated. I came across this telling quotation from Aldous Huxley in John Vyvyan's most excellent book, The Dark Face of Science: "The end cannot justify the means, for the simple and obvious reason that the means employed determine the nature of the ends produced."

Indeed; so we must beware. Those who employ cruelty will be conditioned by the means they use; and to believe that a socially desirable end can be achieved by cruel methods is the gravest folly.

When scientists and farmers practise cruel methods and support cruel procedures, even though they are seeking to bring benefits to society, what they are really doing is to make cruelty acceptable to it, and thereby brutalising it. Of course, this is not the end at which they aim; but I suggest that there is evidence to show that that is the end they are helping to achieve.

Nothing is surer (who would deny it?) that "we cannot do evil that good may come". But nonetheless we often try, and we become adept at averting our eyes, and closing our minds in a spirit of selfish innocence. As the boy said: "Yes, it is my ball, but I didn't throw it."

It behooves us to take this matter of cruelty to animals seriously. Our own real welfare, as well as that of animals, is concerned.

Peter Blake



Sir, - The Farm Animal Welfare Council said animals should be stunned first before being slaughtered. This comes up against the Jewish and Moslem religious practices - which we saw the other day on the six o' clock news; absolutely horrible!

The spokesman for British Jews denounced the idea, for being concerned with animal welfare, instead of the human. Jews and Moslems would be without meat if animals were stunned first! Surely it is time for the Government to alter this law, and politely tell the Jews and Moslems they must obey the law of the land.

(Rev.) H.E.S. Newbold,


Animal Welfare

Sir, - The other day someone who is campaigning on behalf of the millions of tortured animals in our laboratories and those on factory farms who are penned up during the whole of their miserable existence, waiting to be slaughtered, said that she found more compassion among atheists and Spiritualists and other cults than among Christians.

This is a terrible indictment, but regretfully true in some cases. Surely our Lord wants us to be compassionate to all his creatures, and I think it is time the clergy woke up to this, as many people are burdened about these matters and the indifference and even antagonism they sometimes meet with in the churches when they try to bring up these matters is driving them away.

I am well aware that human beings suffer and have many needs, and I try to help where I can; but they can speak for themselves, while animals cannot. Also it is not legal to torture humans in the cause of science or to keep them penned up all their lives awaiting slaughter.

If only the Church would speak out on these matters, the present laws might be changed, but instead of that there is not a whisper heard in defence of these suffering creatures. Surely the clergy could at least lead their people in prayer that the hearts of men and women be changed, so that we have a more caring and compassionate society.

(Miss) I. Hughes


Pleas from animal welfare bodies

Sir, - Animal Christian Concern, a newly formed ecumenical animal welfare group, would like to applaud the Archbishop of York for his recent remarks on animal welfare in his diocesan letter.

We believe the subject of animal welfare to be fundamental to Christianity, whereas the Church has always neglected its responsibility in this area. As a result legalised cruelty to animals has become commonplace, to be seen in horrific experimentation, appalling conditions in factory farms and production-line slaughter.

Secular animal welfarists rightly criticise Christians for their apparent lack of concern at animal suffering. We fail Christ in allowing them to think that his compassion would be less than that of Eastern prophets who preached reverence for all life. Jesus Christ's teaching is one of love, the greatest love of which we are capable, and love is indivisible. If the love of Christ fills our hearts there is no room for cruelty to any sentient creature.

Dr. Habgood is right in condemning the excessive militant tactics of secular animal liberationists. Animal welfare is a movement of love, not of hate, and sadly these militant tactics are alienating much potential public support of animal welfare.

It seems right then, at this time to strengthen the Christian voice, hence the formation of ACC. We are not a vegetarian society, nor a society for the total abolition of vivisection; levels of commitment vary from a simple affirmation that cruelty to any sentient creature is a breach of Christian love to active support of peaceful animal welfare ventures.

ACC, which works in fellowship with existing denominational animal welfare societies, would welcome new members or enquiries.

May Tripp, Animal Christian Concern

Pleas from animal welfare bodies

Sir, - How I agree with the views of Miss L. Hughes (August 16) regarding the lack of concern among Christians for the animal kingdom. However, I was pleased to read in the same issue the comments made by the Archbishop of York, as most of the clergy seem to think that the fate of our lesser brethren is no concern of theirs.

Throughout history man has abused animals, but now has the technology to inflict terrible cruelties on millions of creatures at one time.

The agonies suffered by animals in the laboratories and factory farms are a blot on our so-called civilisation. The excuse is always that this is necessary for "the betterment of man." However, I do not recall Our Lord ever saying that man's physical comfort and well-being was to take precedence over all else.

I would urge all those who care about animals to join the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals, whose concern is for all of God's creatures.

(Miss) B. Deane


Beasts that perish

Sensitivity to the claims of animals increases.

A recent report from the Farm Animal Welfare Council draws attention to an issue not often brought into the open: religious slaughter. There are in Britain about a million Muslims, a third of that number of Jews, and a similarly limited total of Sikhs, for whom a proper observance of their faith entails eating only such meat as has been slaughtered according to certain rules. For more than fifty years British law has required that an animal to be slaughtered for food should first be stunned. But those three faiths require, in general, that the animal should be undamaged; and stunning counts as damage. Religious slaughter is accordingly exempted.

The Farm Animal Welfare Council now concludes that, however skilfully it is dispatched, an animal suffers more unstunned than stunned. It therefore recommends to the Minister of Agriculture that the communities concerned should "review their methods of slaughter so as to develop alternatives which permit effective stunning." The Minister himself is already consulting those communities, and appeals for public comment.

It is not an issue where Christians can be too censorious; they themselves understand the importance of religious tradition, and they eat the meat of animals which may have been neither reared nor killed in the most humane conditions possible. But, of late years, more and more Christians have become aware that their moral responsibility to their fellow-creatures does not stop at human beings. They can decently hope that God-fearing Jews and Muslims and Sikhs will keep the same truth in mind and agree to reinterpret their tradition in the light of it.



Sikhs & meat

Sir, - You are wrong to refer in your editorial last week to Sikhs alongside Muslims and Jews when referring to the way animals "should" be slaughtered prior to consumption.

Sikhs are entreated to avoid meat from animals killed according to Jewish or Muslim rules; they can and do eat meat from animals slaughtered in the typically "British" fashion.

More importantly, many Sikhs have moved to a vegetarian way of life as they have matured and progressed in their spiritual pilgrimage.

David Matthews


Slaughter of animals

Sir, - As a Jewish reader of your paper of many years' standing I must comment on your editorial (August 30) and the preceding letter from the Rev. H. E .S. Newbold (August 9).

I read your paper in order to gain an understanding of developments within the Anglican Communion. Doubtless Christian readers of the Jewish Chronicle buy that paper to obtain a deeper appreciation of Judaism. I am sure that you and your readership would be deeply affronted if our community took to commenting adversely on Christian dogma and practice. How then do you think we feel when you call for adjustments to be made to a practice so fundamental to Orthodox Judaism?

As long as we remain "carnivores" it is our traditional practice to slaughter animals in the most humane manner possible, rendering the animal instantly senseless and inflicting no blemish on it. Stunning is not acceptable, just because it offers no guarantee that the animal's brain will not be damaged.

I can bear personal testimony to the appalling agony inflicted by such a botched process, having witnessed it in a provincial abattoir. The meticulous training of the Jewish slaughterer and the strictest rules observed in the abattoir are adequate testimony to the Jewish concern for animal welfare.

It must be clear to your readership that, so long as meat-eating is tolerated in society, our traditions and prescriptions, which we deem both rational and humane, are not matters for public debate; and any attempt to restrict this practice would be an infringement of our religious and human rights.

(Rev. Dr.) Isaac Levy


Slaughter of animals

Sir, - In allowing the relative "merits" of Christian and ritual slaughter to be aired in your columns you have revealed a good example of the kettle calling the frying pan black.

Why cannot those concerned accept that they eat meat because they choose, not because they need, and that if they stopped they would not only probably have better health but they would also have one less theological problem to divide them? Dr. Levy stated in his letter (Church Times, September 13) that ritual slaughter is necessary for Jews because the captive bolt used for Christian slaughter damages the brain of the animal. What does he think the knife does to the jugular vein?

The term "humane slaughter" when referring to any method of disposal, is a contradiction. If the followers of various religions cannot accept this, there is a large and fast-growing number of atheists and agnostics who can. The question surely should not be which religious sect can kill most expertly, but which can organise their life so as to eliminate unnecessary killing altogether.

There has never been a wider selection of foods to nourish us, nor more books on the subject of humane nutrition to guide us. This is the time to move towards a more civilised diet. The reform extends beyond the interests of animals; we cannot continue to rob the Third World of protein in order to feed our enormous population of animals which are especially bred for human consumption and which are often kept in appalling conditions of intensive farming.

Donald Watson


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