Advocating for Animals, part 5
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


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

Advocating for Animals, part 5

Abolitionists – who reject animal welfare reforms, advocating only the abolition of animal exploitation – often argue that animal rightists and animal liberationists should not promote animal welfare reforms. The abolitionists argue that such programs confuse the public about what animal rights and animal liberation mean.

I think this is a valid concern. Welfare reforms can reduce animal abuse, but if the result is still abusive and involves killing young, healthy animals, it is neither consistent with animal rights and liberation, nor is it “humane.” Further, animal exploitation industries can effectively undermine animal rights and animal liberation if they can quote animal rights groups saying that reducing animal ill-fare is tantamount to animal rights or animal liberation. But, no matter how unlikely animal liberation might be, as God’s stewards we should never abandon the goal of seeing a time when people find it as unconscionable to enslave nonhumans as they currently regard the enslavement of humans.

A challenge is that, in our political system, legislation generally arises from compromise. Those unwilling to compromise, in general, don’t get laws passed. Some abolitionists have tried to avoid this conundrum by favoring laws that abolish certain kinds of animal abuse, even if such laws leave other kinds of abuse intact. There are difficulties with this approach, as I will discuss next week.

Go on to: Advocating for Animals, part 6
Return to: Reflections on the Lectionary, Table of Contents

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