What Might a Distinctly Christian Faith Look Like? part 2: Rejection of Scapegoating
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from All-Creatures.org


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

What Might a Distinctly Christian Faith Look Like? part 2: Rejection of Scapegoating

Scapegoating involves unfairly attributing blame to other individual(s), and then punishing the supposedly guilty party(ies). The scapegoating process has always brought people together in their common contempt for victim(s), their collective accusation and punishment of the victim(s), and the camaraderie that accompanies the collective alleviation of guilt. The Hebrew Scriptures tell a story of humanity advancing from scapegoating violence to a rejection of scapegoating.

The accusations in the Garden of Eden and later the human and nonhuman sacrifices were grounded in scapegoating – attributing one’s own guilt to other individuals. However, the later prophets denounced sacrificial violence, and the Suffering Servant in Isaiah (Ch. 53) is a beautiful exposé of the scandal of scapegoating.   The New Testament provides many stories of Jesus siding with the victims of scapegoating, and ultimately he becomes a victim of scapegoating himself. His victimization betrays once and for all the injustice and immorality of scapegoating, and indeed those in the crowd who called for his execution acknowledge their guilt by punishing themselves, beating their own chests on the way home (Luke 23:48).

I don’t think Christianity is unique in identifying the scapegoating process and offering teachings that call for a rejection of scapegoating. While I do think Christianity is distinctive in this regard, Christianity’s distinctiveness is not a crucial issue. What I think is important is that Christianity offers a path toward creating the realm of God “on earth as in heaven” – a realm that does not include the injustice and harmfulness of scapegoating. However, if scapegoating functions as the glue that holds communities together, what can bind communities instead?

We’ll consider this question next essay. 

Go on to: What Might a Distinction Christian Faith Look Like? part 3: Love and Animal Protectionism
Return to: Reflection on the Lectionary, Table of Contents 

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