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

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Literature

THE CHURCH AND ANIMALS

Over the years books on animal abuse have been written by dedicated people which have slowly generated an increased awareness of animal suffering. Then, in 1969 when John Vyvyan wrote his two great works on the history of the anti-vivisection movement (In Pity and In Anger, and The Dark Face of Science; Pub: Michael Joseph) it seemed to set alight this smouldering energy and brought new books into existence one after the other in quick succession. Indeed, one has only to open the many animal society magazines to find that one is confronted with Review after Review on these books, making it an effort to keep pace with them all.

But, how many of these books find their way onto book stall or gift counters in Cathedrals or Churches? I have been disturbed and saddened when walking through to find how barren and devoid these great places of worship are in respect to the plight of animals - no prayer - no small altar or plaque set aside...nothing! Animals do not exist in a Church.

The Dean, I am informed, is the person to contact and the one responsible for choice of material to be selected and placed for sale. But when, over the years on countless occasions I have written or asked them personally if they would kindly take or display a special book or pamphlet, I have, with only a few exceptions, received time and time again the same reply from each - words more or less to the same semblance... "...we only put out what we think will sell" or "...the Church Council would not approve..." or "...no time...pressures of the Church and human problems come first..." or "...we only put out religious material..." (I presume by that, they infer that pain and suffering of an animal by the hand of Man isn't included as a religious issue) and even a Bulletin produced by the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals was rejected on grounds of "...lack of space..." or "...the congregation would not like the pictures of vivisection put around in a Church as it would distress them." In fact one member of a congregation reprimanded her Vicar and said it was DISGUSTING to put such stuff in God's House...Sadly the Vicar said that he would not do it again!

These books should and MUST reach the Church book stall or gift shop. Many visitors and foreigners do pass through when on holiday. PLEASE may I urge everyone, especially those living in Cathedral towns to seek out the Dean and endeavour with kindness to enlist his help and, above all, to try and claim his interest and concern to get the animal books circulated onto the book stalls, or even donate a copy, no matter how hard the expenses, and kindly request him to first read it and then to place "on sale".

I know it will be difficult for those who are new to the work, or have not as yet approached the Church, but please don't be put off with a polite refusal at the first attempt, or even when you do not receive a reply...just try and try again and again... but don't give up. The pressure must go on aiming all the time to get the very essence of these books to permeate inside these places of worship. A hard task...so many doors closed.

Margaret Grant

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