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


'Methodist Recorder' debate (1985-86) Letters

Animal Rights

I really must take issue with the statement by the Rev Richard G Jones in his Moltmann review "Christians and human rights" (February 21) that 'Beasts do not have . . . rights.' One may say that because they do not have certain capabilities they therefore do not have 'duties,' but not that they do not have rights.

Animals have as much "right" to freedom from fear, starvation, torture or abuse as any other creature. Half of the argument in favour of apartheid in South Africa is that coloured and black people, being inferior, therefore have no rights. It is only half an answer to point out that there is no inferiority.

Certainly, we may say theologically that, before God our Creator and Saviour and Sustainer, none of us has any rights or any leg to stand on. But that applies to all created life and especially to the human order tainted by sin and strife.

That point taken, however, we then recognise the equality of our standing as his creatures and, while we have responsibility over animals and 'have dominion over' them (Genesis 1, v28) we must also recognise that . . . 'to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat' (Genesis 1, v30) and that is their inalienable right.

This may be an academic argument - we have reason here in Luton to know the Jones's love of animals - but one which I feel should nevertheless be made.

Geoff N Charlton

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