This guest editorial was written by The Revd. James Thompson, Episcopal priest and animal activist from the United Kingdom, who was in the United States in July.
Down though the centuries religion has repeatedly divorced itself from righteousness. It has preferred to be absorbed by rituals and regulations. Because of this, Christendom has frequently failed man as well as beast. Corruption has spread while morality has been stifled and suppressed. Inquisitions which gave vent for sadistic clergy went hand in hand with pomp and ceremony, while the voice of the lone prophet became their next victim. Then, at a later date, the laws of Leviticus were wrenched out of context in order to justify the practices of witch hunters who were supposed to save a Puritan populace from the forces of darkness. And, always, the end was said to justify the means.
But whether it was a Catholic Inquisition or a Protestant witch hunt, the people were taught to believe that the horror of what was being done was necessary in order to assure the health—physical and spiritual—of the population. And today, people are taught that vivisection serves a very necessary end: the physical or mental health of a nation. If horrifying diseases are to be conquered than the sacrifice and suffering of the defenseless is an indispensable necessity. And a belief in the necessity of vivisection is as strongly held by the people of today as was the past belief that victims had to be stretched on a torture rack, slowly burned to death, or hung, in order to assure the well-being of society.
Sadism—religious or secular—always finds a way of masking its motives with a respectable veneer. And although many vivi-sectors are little more than dupes of an established system, these “researchers” are no more innocent of wrong-doing than were the self-righteous inquisitors and witch hunters of the past.