The Fellowship of Life
a Christian-based vegetarian group founded in 1973


Cruelty and Christian Conscience:
Bishops say No to Fur

Edited by Andrew Linzey and available from the Lynx Educational Trust

Since publication of his tentative Animal Rights in 1976, Andrew Linzey has authored and edited a strengthening stream of books aimed at reducing cruelty to animals by deepening the Christian conscience. Born, appropriately, in the year in which his fellow clergyman, V A Holmes-Gore, who wrote so powerfully in the animals' defence, took his life, Andrew has faced with unflagging determination a task quite as daunting as bringing research scientists or the older hunting families to accept the philosophy of compassion.

His new book is short, succinct and valuable. The Introduction, arguing the Christian case against cruelty, repeats that worrying concept of humankind's allegedly God-given 'stewardship' over animals, but makes many good points. It is followed by some useful facts and figures in 'The Fur Trade Today', supplied by the Lynx Educational Trust. For the rest, there is a brief bibliography; some 'Witnesses from Scripture and Tradition'; a list of forty one British Bishops who have pledged never to buy or wear fur (or eat roast beef?); and the words of fourteen bishops willing to commit their views on fur-wearing to cold print.

Ever on the look-out for quotable passages from churchmen and scientists for the next edition of The Extended Circle, I had high hopes that Andrew had trawled new depths in rounding up the fearless fourteen. Sadly, although some statements are fairly forthright, thundering denunciation of cruelty toward fur-bearing animals is as scarce as any suggestion of total commitment to the rights of animals. It is strange, as I have found over years of research, that an holistic compassion is for some reason less detectable among bishops than among deans and cardinals. But we must be grateful for small mercies. Even fourteen bishops, if of varying passion, are better than none; and if humbler orders of the cloth can grow in charity toward animals (if not necessarily toward their own kind), it can happen at the episcopal level; especially if an archbishop could one day take the lead.

Jon Wynne-Tyson

Reproduced from the Oct/Nov 1993 edition of Outrage with thanks to Animal Aid

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