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
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
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.
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,
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
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
(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.
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.
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