Should We Attend Meat-Eating Churches?
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Should We Attend Meat-Eating Churches? 

For those of us who regard factory farming as fundamentally sinful and the act of harming any innocent individual as wrong, it is a real dilemma whether to contribute our time, energy, and money to church communities that endorse consuming animal products. In general, our choice of a church community reflects, among other things, our values and our religious convictions. I will offer some reasons against and for belonging to a church community that promotes consuming animal products.
Some of the arguments against are quite obvious. We have limited time, energy, and financial resources. Why dedicate a significant portion of resources to institutions that participate in and even promote profoundly cruelty to living, feeling beings? We might be disinclined to judge those who “know not what they do,” but facts about the evils of factory farming are readily available to anyone with access to the Internet. Further, the animal protection movement is widespread and vocal, and it takes a determined effort for people to remain ignorant.
Though many of us believe that the arguments for a plant-based diet are overwhelming, it is possible for people of good faith to disagree. However, I think it is difficult to countenance a church community that refuses to discuss animal and/or dietary issues. An essential component of following Christ is an honest and thorough exploration of how our actions impact other individuals.
Are there good reasons to consider joining or remaining with an animal-unfriendly church? I think so. For one thing, we all need community, and a church community can be a source of emotional and spiritual support, even if we disagree with most church members when it comes to animal issues. The spiritual journey is often a difficult one, particularly for people struggling with physical or emotional issues, and faith communities can provide support when people feel that God has abandoned them.
We can learn and grow in many ways from omnivorous Christians, and we can also offer our own witness to encourage our faith communities to move toward more animal-friendly living. Often, this must be done carefully, and it should always be done respectfully, but with persistence we can make a difference, as long as the church leadership doesn’t stand in the way. Such discipleship might not make us very popular. Our opinions might even become the subjects of ridicule, but Jesus wasn’t out to win any popularity contests, either.
Next essay, I will begin an exploration of the nature of faith, starting with the faith of Paul. 

Go on to: The Faith of Paul
Return to: Reflection on the Lectionary, Table of Contents 

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