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Humane Religion Magazine

July - August 1997 Issue

RELIGIOUS, RECREATIONAL KILLING—REVISITED

Just one year ago (July/August 1996) Humane Religion published an article about Hubertus, patron saint of Hunters. In that article, the point was made that only schizoid thinking could have allowed a church to appoint a man who renounced hunting--because of a religious experience--to become the patron Saint of Hunters. So, henceforth, those who killed and maimed God's creatures could appeal to their Patron Saint for help in carrying out their mission.

We did not think there would be a follow-up to our article. It seemed bizarre, grotesque, and ungodly enough that little could be added to it. We were wrong.

One of our readers sent some newspaper clippings of an article that appeared in both the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press —complete with pictures. The story featured a group of hunters whose lodge was built over forty years ago. Called St. Hubert's Hunting Camp, the article explained that it was "named in honor of the Patron Saint of Hunters."

Not only is the camp named for St. Hubert, (the anglicized form of Hubertus) it was established by Roman Catholic priests and only priests are eligible for membership.

A priest/spokesman for the group said that hunting has "a spiritual side." The same priest also said that "Hunting is a virtuous thing. It's good for your spirit."


Hunting is a virtuous thing. It’s good for your spirit.


After telling the reporter of their high "success rate on [killing] bucks" one of the priests agreed that divine intervention might account for such success. "Oh, of course we pray for deer—and not only deer, but big deer."

This priest also stressed the spirituality of recreational killing. "Our lives are very busy, and...our time here is for nurturing our own souls."

Another priest agreed about the spirituality of killing animals, but also views hunting as a philosophical undertaking. He is one of the priests who founded St. Hubert's Camp forty years ago and he shared the insight he had gained after these many years of killing God's creatures. "After a period of years with fantastic success [in killing deer] you're no longer just a hunter—you've turned into a philosopher."

The priests at St. Hubert's also related how inspiring it was to be able to say their daily, required, prayers outdoors. "It's nice to pray in the woods," one of them said. Upon reading that statement there was the momentary hope that during this prayerful, quiet time, the grace of God might be able to penetrate the obtuse mentality of men who think that killing God's creatures is a spiritual, virtuous and/or philosophical activity.

But in reading further, it became clear that this was highly unlikely. Even the Holy Spirit would be hard-pressed to enlighten men who report that while reading the scriptures they are also on the alert, in case a potential victim comes by. "Its nice to pray in the woods, but you have to be careful that when you're reading your psalms, a big buck doesn't go by."


Clergymen pray that God will send a “big deer” for them to kill


With religious leaders like this, who needs atheists to undermine belief in a compassionate and loving God? These priests, along with clergymen/hunters of many denominations, also preside at various gatherings in which they bestow God's blessing on other hunters and their "trophies."

Fortunately, a capacity for spiritual understanding is not limited to clergy, and many who understand the immorality of killing God's creatures in the name of God also have the courage to confront their religious leaders. The person who sent the news clippings to Humane Religion also sent letters of protest to her church leaders. The Bishop of the diocese in which St. Hubert's Hunting Camp is located was contacted, and a lengthy letter was also sent to the Apostalic Nunciature in Washington D.C.

The activism of individual believers who challenge church members and leaders who support activities like hunting, is a leavening agent that will permeate and change the sinful status quo that, literally, blesses recreational killing in the name of God. #

What a glorious day it would be if our generation were to announce its intention to march back to the garden [of Eden] armed with a mandate to serve as the stewards of the world, the caretakers of the creation. Would not the gates of Paradise swing open to welcome those souls who have consecrated their life to restoring [the] creation to its rightful place in the universe?

Jeremy Rifkin. Declaration of a Heretic. Boston MA;  Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985

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