Humane Religion Magazine
January - February 1998 Issue
As mentioned in the article "Just" One Little Word , during the month of December HUMANE RELIGION somehow became part of an online discussion group of Christian vegetarians/vegans. We do not know how this happened, but it turned out to be an enlightening experience.
We found that the staff of HR has been surprisingly naÔve about the dominant concern of those who label themselves Christian vegetarians. We assumed they would be persons for whom the suffering and abuse of animals was an important concern, but the subject of animal welfare was never mentioned. This led us to wonder if the online group, like the majority of vegetarians, abstain from flesh for reasons of self-interest.* It would have been interesting to ask this question online but, in spite of repeated requests, we were never able to get the E-mail address we needed in order to post a message to the group.
Along with our surprise at the fact that no one ever mentioned cruelty to animals in the context of vegetarianism, the response of the group to the question of animal sacrifice was even more surprising. This was the ongoing issue during the month we have been online and the most virulent postings were from those who insisted that the slaughter of animals, as a form of worship, was ordained by God. That, in fact, not to believe this is to reject Divine revelation.
*Statistically, the majority of people are vegetarian because of a concern for their physical health, or a belief that ascetic self-denial somehow, in itself, makes them more "spiritual."
As in all discussions of this kind, "sacrifice" is treated as somewhat of an abstraction. People refer to "God's Altars" and the "Holy of Holies" as if they occupied some sought of sacred space, instead of being places where frenzied animals were killed, and then butchered, so their flesh could be divided among the priests and the people.
Vegetarians, in general, often theorize that if people witnessed the horrors of a slaughterhouse, many would stop eating flesh. And now we wonder: if Christian vegetarians allowed themselves to acknowledge that whatever other purpose it served, the Temple at Jerusalem was also a giant slaughterhouse, would they be less willing to attribute animal sacrifice to God's demand? #