Biblical Perspectives that Oppose the Heifer Project
From The Heifer Project: Inhumanity in the Name of Humanity - An Animal Issues Article Series


Rev. Linda McDaniel, UM Minister
November 2011

Christians are to be "a light unto the nations" with regard to:

  • ecology
  • health
  • world hunger
  • conservation of resources
  • treatment of animals

The Scriptures do not make sharp division between moral and physical welfare.

The Christian Vision

1. Do not waste or destroy anything of value

"None shall hurt nor destroy in all Godís holy mountain" Is. 43 & 66

[Livestock agriculture is destructive and wasteful:

requires up to 20 times as much land and 10 times as much energy & water as production of vegetarian foods.

soil erosion & depletion

water & air pollution related to use of pesticides & fertilizer

destruction of tropical rain forest and other habitats

potential for global warming

through destruction of forests to create land for grazing & production of food crops

66-70 percent of grain is fed to animals destined for slaughter]

2. Preserve Life

"God sent me here to preserve life" Gen. 45:5

"Take care and watch yourselves closely" Deut. 4:15b

The context of this verse is

God commanding Israel to reject idolatry.

Godís moral demand upon Covenant People

[Our idolatry may be self-absorption to the extent it hurts the earth, the creatures (us and animals), and God.]

[The consequence of idolatry for Israel was the Exile. How are we now in exile?]

3. Pursue Peace (Peace with Justice Sunday in the UMC)

"There is no peace without justice."

Rather, violence results from unjust conditions.

[Animal agriculture, by wasting valuable resources, helps perpetuate widespread hunger & poverty that eventually lead to instability & war.]

4. Glorify God in your body

"Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit."

"Your bodies are members of Christ."

[where people consume highest amounts of dairy, (animal protein) are the highest rates of osteoporosis]

[large amounts of animal protein drain calcium from the body]

[5 percent of calories as protein is adequate (the amount in human milk)]

[Killer diseases are linked to animal-centered diets]

[It is virtually impossible to get insufficient protein on well-balanced plant-based diets]

5. Compassion for animals

Ps. 145:9, Romans 8, Matthew 25

[Animals are raised for food under cruel conditions, in crowded cells, denied fresh air, exercise, and any emotional stimulation, and fed and injected with chemicals and hormones.]

[Mahatma Gandhi has stated that "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."]

6. Jesus said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Mark 16:1 (KJV)

Quotes from The Reverend Andrew Linzey, author of Christianity and the Rights of Animals, Crossroad Press, 1987:

  • Having seen the Vision, the task is to cooperate with its completion. Our commission is to make peace, respect life, and affirm God as center and goal of all existence. Almost impossible, except that the Spirit sustains us.
  • Therefore, all conscious openness to the Spirit and every attempt, however trivial, to disengage ourselves from violence has spiritual meaning and purpose. No effort, however small, is lost within the divine economy.
  • "The creation waits in eager longing for the revealing of the Sons of God." (Rom. 8) These "sons" are Spirit-led individuals who will show by their life the possibility of a new order of existence. Quite practically, the task required of us is to recognize Godís rights in Godís creation, rights for animals to be themselves as God intends, to live, to be free, and to live without suffering, distress and injury.
  • God elects humans and animals into fellowship and unity (our moral covenant). To breed and rear creatures for gratuitous destruction is Öa reversal of divine purpose. Animals are not made simply for human use & pleasure but for Godís glory.
  • Animals can experience suffering (which is more than pain [a specific physical sensation]). This means they have a mental life; they experience fear, foreboding, anxiety, stress, discomfort, boredomÖ, and all these reactions differ only in degree from those which are experienced by human beings.
  • In farming animals, they are taken to be means-to-ends, viewed primarily not in terms of their own value but in terms of human utility. The become commodities to be bought and sold.
  • It is difficult to "prove" that animals suffer (continuous painful stimuli) (not depravation) to those who are skeptical. For Lindzey, the only satisfactory basis on which we can oppose systems of close confinements is theos-rights: Animals have a God-given right to be animals. The natural life of a Spirit-filled creature is a gift from God. When we take over the life of an animal to the extent of distorting its natural life for no other purpose than our own gain, we fall into sin. There is no clearer blasphemy before God than the perversion of Godís creatures.
  • The urgent and essential task is to invite, encourage, support and welcome those who want to take some steps along the road to a more peaceful world with the non-human creation. We do not all have to agree upon the most vital steps, or indeed the most practical ones. What is important is that we all move some way on, if only by one step at a time, however falteringly.
  • Unless God is really indifferent to the creation, these beings whose lives are filled with his Spirit have special value and therefore require special protection. Man is to commit himself, argues Edward Carpenter, to the divine task of lifting up creation, redeeming those orders of which he forms part, and directing them toward their end.

Other reasons for opposing HPI: Fiscal difficulties

Support of HPIís buying and shipping of animals feeds into extremely negative economic effects for individuals and governments.

Animal agriculture and consequent animal-centered diets are linked to killer diseases which:

  • result in soaring medical costs which
  • result in growing national debt which
  • impinges on schools, hospitals, social welfare facilities, crime prevention, and parks.

As Christians, we must take one first small step and withdraw our support for one small part of this System which is bound to displease God because of the harm it does to animals and humans and the planet.

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