Easter and Passover: Of Children and Lambs
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy


Ruth Eisenbud

In the midst of the celebration of Easter and Passover, consider the following: The religious holidays of the Judeo-Christian, Easter and Passover coincide with each other and with a dramatic increase of animal slaughter. In some religious traditions this would be unimaginable, as inflicting pain, suffering and terror on any living being is viewed as gratuitous violence. It is inconceivable to those who follow the compassionate jain/hindu tradition of India to rejoice in significant religious holidays with violence and the bloodshed of gentle animals who have harmed no one.

Lambs are born in the late winter, by early spring they are slaughtered either for the symbolism of the lamb shank in the Passover ritual or for a sumptuous Easter meal to honor their lord, often called the lamb of God, a prince of peace.

The story of Passsover itself is tinged with the blood of animals. A lamb was killed and its blood was used to mark the doors of the enemy, so that God could smite their first born dead. To this day a lamb shank is included in the Passover ritual. As Christianity speaks of the lamb of God, it slaughters baby sheep in the name of religious celebration. While loving images of shepards protecting their sheep abound in the Bible, it is noteworthy that though the shepard protects their sheep from predators, in the end these sheep are not kept as pets, but protected so that their flesh may be consumed.

Is this a message of compassion?

Cows, pigs, chickens, fish and a myriad of other animals, while they do not have the honorific status of religious symbolism, also fall victim to the self-indulgent violence of the Passover/Easter season. Sumptuous honey baked ham, beef brisket, roast chicken and poached fish are all evidence of the unnecessary carnage which causes pain and suffering to animals. As gratuitous violence is not easily contained the carnage often extends to human on human violence. The internecine fighting between the three religions of the semitic tradition throughout history which is ongoing to the present day, bear witness to the harmful effects of allowable harm and slaughter.

The Judeo-Christian religions follow the dominion model of animal compassion, which does not acknowledge that the suffering of animals is comparable to human suffering. It is therefore acceptable to harm, mutilate, exploit, ab(use) and slaughter them for human benefit. In a hierarchy which places human life and needs above the right of an animal to exist and remain free from pain and terror, the end result is a system which endorses violence to living beings when it is deemed beneficial.

This inability to empathize and express sympathy for the pain and terror of a fellow living being during slaughter is a serious oversight and ironically has led to increased violence towards humans.

"Anyone who has accustomed himself to regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of worthless human life". ~ Albert Schweitzer

As the Pope celebrates the Easter Season at the Vatican, he is forced to defend the terrible record of child abuse within his domain. The ease with which the Judeo-Christian tradition justifies the taking of animal life is not restricted to non-human animals. Animals and children do not have the skills to defend themselves from stronger adults who use force against them, hence silencing the child victims of violence by predatory priests placed them in a precarious position. Just as the Catholic Church covered up the sexual abuse of children by priests, so too the Judeo-Christian tradition covers up its sanctified animal abuse with sweet words of compassion that lose all meaning when paired with allowable harm and slaughter.

The recent indiscriminate bombing of a school in Palestinian territory killed hundreds of children, as their lives were viewed as expendable, when compared to the lives of Israeli children. When the life of one child is viewed as more worthy of respect than that of a child from another culture, then no children are safe. When some lives are considered less precious than others violence is a predictable end result.

As Passover and Easter are celebrated, the time is right to expose the cover-up and end the charade of sanctified animal abuse of the Judeo-Christian religions in the name of tradition.

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