Humane Religion Magazine
May - June 1996 IssueHIGHLY RECOMMENDED
“THEY SHALL NOT HURT OR DESTROY”
by Vasu Murti
Until recently, those who supported the defense of animals and the promotion of their rights and welfare were charged with inventing still another "ism"—speciesism. Their efforts were treated as part of some kind of new age conspiracy, ridiculous in its premise and subversive in its goals.
But in the last ten years, much information has become available which shows that from antiquity, mainstream religious and spiritual leaders taught that compassion and kindness must mark our relationship with nonhumans, as well as with human beings.
These prophetic voices were not raised in isolation. Their teachings were known to the people of their time, and often for centuries after. But, ultimately, what they said was suppressed—or ignored—by a human race unwilling to forgo its exploitation of God's creatures or earth's resources.
Until now, there has not been a publication that incorporates most of the information currently available. Vasu Murti's book has remedied that problem. Murti's research is exhaustive and just as importantly, his work is eminently readable. Anyone who has made their way through the ponderous prose of so many scholarly works, will be doubly appreciative of Murti's clear and easy writing style. His book covers the pertinent biblical scholarship of both Jews and Christians. He also includes the rabbinic teachings of centuries past, as well as the comments of enlightened "pagan" spokesmen.
Separate chapters deal with the statements of Jewish, Catholic, Protestant and Islamic spokesmen from medieval times to the present day. Catholics might be surprised to find St. Thomas More and John of the Cross taking their place alongside Francis of Assisi as defenders of God's nonhuman creatures. And Protestants will read John Calvin's statement that justice for animals is a human responsibility. They will also find that John Wesley was a vegetarian and Martin Luther taught "it is by the kind treatment of animals that [people] learn gentleness and kindness."
The author also reviews the observations of secular spokespersons; of writers, poets, philosophers and ethicists, past and present, who have championed the cause of animal rights and compassion for nonhuman beings.
Murti's work is still only available in manuscript form. However, the manuscript is printed on durable paper stock with sturdy plastic comb binding and is professional in appearance and in its presentation of the material.
The manuscript is 200 pages and has a bibliography. However, it does not have
an index—a frustrating omission when using such a valuable resource. It is
available for $20 postpaid from: