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Humane Religion Magazine

September - October 1996 Issue

WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME !

 The Bishop of Edinburgh backed a clergyman who put a painting outside his church of a dead cow slung on hooks from the cross. Canon Neville Chamberlain hung the picture outside St. John’s Episcopal Church, in Edinburgh. Above the animal are the words, “My God why hast thou forsaken me?” Canon Chamberlain said it was a protest against the threatened slaughter of cattle in the light of the BSE scare, which he likened to the Holocaust. The Canon said “I had the idea for the painting because I was so upset about animals who are herbivores being fed parts of other animals. Because of market forces and man’s greed, millions of cows are slaughtered. I realize farmers and consumers are suffering, but no one takes the animals’ side “We have seen cows being put into incinerators on our TV screens and it invokes the whole Holocaust theme. Unless we take animals seriously I don’t think we will take human beings very seriously. It’s a fine line between putting four million animals to death and putting four million humans to death.


In the killing of animals there is cruelty and the accustoming of oneself to the habit of shedding innocent blood.

Rabbi Joseph Albo, Medieval Jewish philosopher.


Some church leaders have condemned the painting as blasphemous, but the head of the Episcopal Church of Scotland, the Bishop of Edinburgh, said he did not know what all the fuss was about. The Right Rev. Richard Holloway said “I don’t think this is much of a story at all. Cannon Chamberlain explained himself well and people ought to leave it at that. They shouldn’t jump to conclusions about these things so quickly. What he has done with this painting is get people talking, and I don’t mind people talking about things and discussing them.”

However, the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland described the picture, painted by Mike Greenlaw, as offensive. Father Tim Connelly said: “I’m very surprised by this—Canon Chamberlain is a highly respected priest. I’m saddened and offended and I’m sure a lot of other Christians will feel the same. Jesus Christ died on the cross for humankind, and to do this at this time is disrespectful. It’s difficult enough to get the Christian message across without things like this. I think many people will just laugh at it.”

A Church of Scotland minister, the Rev. David Searle, said: “People walking past this picture will be disgusted. It is bringing the church into shame and disrepute. It really is quite blasphemous.

This news report was published in The Scotsman, Edinburgh, Scotland, on Saturday, June 4, 1996.

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