Religion or Secular Moral Philosophy?
Jaiquai writes on Salon.com:
"...most of the vegetarians and vegans I know are atheists.
"If a vegetarian atheist is in prison, why is it okay for the prison to serve that person fish? Why does the legal question have to be tied up with a person's religion?"
In 2002, a Southern California judge ruled animal activists cannot claim to be exempt for refusing vaccines tested on animals on moral grounds...
(like pacifists or conscientious objectors during wartime, or pro-lifers refusing vaccines containing aborted fetal cells)
...because, the judge ruled, veganism and animal rights are a secular moral philosophy...
...(like democracy and representative government in place of monarchy and belief in the divine right of kings; the separation of church and state; the abolition of human slavery; the emancipation of women; birth control; the sexual revolution; LGBT rights, etc.)...
...and not a religion!
"This country wasn't founded by Christians," said Ron McClellan (Sarva Satya dasa), a fallen Prabhupada disciple who really should step down and serve in FOLK ("Friends Of Lord Krishna"), the laity.
Isn't the United States really a secular society?!
Another reason animal activists need the inspiration, blessings and support of organized religion. Christians now cry "MOVE" as if we were discussing some lifeless, soulless thing devoid of religious inspiration!
The judge's ruling has prompted some animal activists to now claim Jainism as their religion!
One animal activist reported that when he visited a Jain temple and was offered tea sweetened milk and honey, he politely declined, explaining even animal by-products cannot be obtained nonviolently.
The person wanting to serve him tea said, "You are a better Jain than I."
Before visiting Moscow to meet with Professor Kotovsky, an Indologist, in 1971, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada said, "We do not begrudge an atheist, provided he has got some philosophy."
(There is no recognition of a personal God in the Hindu heterodoxies, Buddhism and Jainism, either.)
InBack to Godheadin either the late '70s or early '80s, it was pointed out that even an atheist like Charvaka would never have eaten meat...
...thus implying that even atheists who are vegetarian, vegan, etc. are more pious than so-called "religious believers" who commit all kinds of crimes in the name of religion.
As I pointed out to Hindu-American Vineet Chander in 1995 and to pro-life atheist Patrick Toft in 2006, the ancient Vedic civilization, though not necessarily laissez-faire towards all belief AND disbelief like the secular United States, was tolerant (or accommodating, as an inferior form of worship) of demigod worship, different yoga paths and philosophical schools of thought, including advaita-vedanta (pantheism) and even atheists like Charvaka.
InVegetarianism and the Jewish Tradition(1982) someone similarly asks author Dr. Louis Berman why should vegetarianism be of interest to Jews? Aren't most vegetarians atheists, etc.?
He responds in part that any Jews looking for religious values teaching compassion towards animals to the point of vegetarianism can find it in their own religion, and Jewish religious leaders needn't worry about losing their flock to Eastern religions.
Dixie Mahy, president of the San Francisco Vegetarian Society, a pro-life vegan, says when she was a little girl (long before becoming vegetarian and eventually vegan) and her dog died, she asked the clergy at her church if she would see her dog in heaven. When told animals don't have souls, she said she immediately became an agnostic.
A pamphlet circa 1976,Jesus Was A Vegetarian: Why Aren't You?, put out by the Edenite Society (a now-defunct Christian pro-life vegetarian society, based in Imlaystown, NJ), makes intellectually and theologically dishonest arguments in bolstering the case for Christian vegetarianism...
(e.g., appealing to fictitious "gospels" like theEssene Gospel of Peace, theGospel of the Holy Twelve, theAquarian Gospel, etc., which mainline churches aren't about to take seriously!)
..but similarly points out that followers of Eastern religions are winning followers from Christianity, which wouldn't happen if Christian clergy would focus on the compassionate teachings within their own tradition!
And saying that like Krishna or the Buddha, we would expect Jesus to be compassionate and humane. (Thus indicating an acceptance of or at least tolerance of other religions.)
And the theological arguments for Christian vegetarianism have gotten stronger since the '70s!
The International Network for Religion and Animals was founded in 1985.Since then, numerous books have been written on animals and theology, including:
The Vegetarianism of Jesus Christ: the Pacifism, Communalism and Vegetarianism of Primitive Christianity;Food for the Spirit: Vegetarianism and the World Religions;The Souls of Animals;Replenish the Earth;Of God and Pelicans;Is God A Vegetarian?;God's Covenant with Animals;They Shall not Hurt or Destroy;The Lost Religion of Jesus;Good News for All Creation;Vegetarian Christian Saints;The Dominion of Love;Good Eating;Of God and Dogs;Every Creature a Word of God;School of Compassion, etc.
All of this biblical scholarship by Christian vegetarians and vegans (and their friends in the non-Abrahamic faiths), trying to reconcile biblical tradition with animal rights, would be completelyunnecessary if the other side would treat animal rights as a secular civil rights issue applicable to**everyone**-- including atheists and agnostics -- as they view their own(sectarian?)opposition to abortion.
Nor is anyone preventing pro-life Christians from listening to the vegetarian and vegan voices (past and present) in their own biblical tradition.
In the '70s, a Gallup Poll found half a million young people identified Hare Krishna as their religion. Christian leaders asked Srila Prabhupada why young people were flocking to him, and abandoning their own traditional religious upbringing.
"What have we done wrong?" they asked.
"Whathaven'tyou done?!" replied Srila Prabhupada angrily, indicating that they were committing all kinds of hypocrisy in the name of religion, including killing animals when the Bible clearly says, "Thou shalt not kill."
"Therefore, very soon, the Lord will have to close down this hypocrisy," he concluded.
In 1977, Rolling Stone (a pro-choice periodical, and hardly a magazine promoting traditional religious values!) wrote a favorable article about Srila Prabhupada and his passing away.
Return to: Articles