from Humane Religion

The Immorality of Wearing Fur

Buying, selling or wearing fur manages to violate three of the ten commandments

The following article is excerpted from "GOD'S COVENANT WITH ANIMALS: A Biblical Basis For The Humane Treatment Of All Creatures" by J.R. Hyland, published by LANTERN BOOKS, New York, copyright 2000 and is used by permission of the publisher and the author.


The contempt for God's creation that is manifested in the Christian support of recreational killing is further revealed in the wearing of furs. At a time when synthetic materials are easily available and are more durable and warmer than animal skins, there is no excuse to slaughter animals for their fur. And in these circumstances, it becomes obvious that people are willing to have animals trapped, clubbed to death, or raised as commodities, simply to satisfy their vanity and their greed.

Although greed and avarice are not popular subjects for sermons in a consumer culture, when that greed becomes the impetus for the slaughter of millions of animals it represents a serious, moral evil. The willingness to have animals killed because people lust after the covering given to them by God, should be challenged by every religious leader. But it is not.

While churches denounce the violence of television and films, of computer games and websites, as detrimental to their children's moral development, the violence perpetrated by adults on helpless animals is ignored. It is gratuitous violence and those young people who have not yet sold their souls to the status quo, know it for what it is. They, more than their complacent parents, react to the sight of infant seals beaten to death because their snow-white bodies are such a valuable commodity.

They are more likely than their parents to remember a news item that shows ranch-raised animals being anally electrocuted in order to preserve the fur for which they have been bred. And they are usually more troubled than their parents by reports of the slow and agonizing deaths of those creatures who are caught in steel traps.

Yet when it comes to trying to understand why some teenagers refuse to accept the family religion, both parents and Pastors ignore any suggestion that this refusal may arise from an unspoken judgement on the part of the young person: a judgment of the immorality of those who easily accept any cruelty that has not been defined as such by their church. Church members would rather believe that the rejection of religion can be traced to a teenage rebellion against restrictive rules and regulations, than consider that there are adolescents, as well as adults, who reject a religion because its followers do not maintain a high enough standard of morality.....

....Among the most gratuitous cruelties in our culture is the wearing of fur. The same people who are scandalized by reports of youngsters who will kill another child because they covet his sneakers, covet the skins of animals and are willing to have them killed in order to steal their fur. They sit in churches, wearing the evidence of their covetousness and their theft, and no minister or priest challenges this sin of the affluent.

Although the clergy have no direct control over the actions of their congregants, they do have some control over church policy. Drinking and smoking are outlawed within the sanctuaries of churches and there is no reason why the wearing of fur cannot also be forbidden. There is certainly a precedent. Although ministers usually do not speak out against hunting, neither do they allow the trophies of recreational killing to be hung in their churches. The heads of deer and other slain creatures are not allowed to adorn the sanctuary walls. Neither should the fur of dead animals adorn the bodies of worshippers.

Instead of treating immorality as if it were primarily a sexual transgression, church leaders need to exercise the kind of leadership that goes beyond such circumscribed definitions....

In our own time, many who profess to be followers of Christ would be incensed if their Pastors told them that worshipping God, clothed in the bodies of His dead creatures, was sinful. Immoral. Church leaders will preach against sexual sins even if this brings a negative reaction from the congregation; they hope that such preaching will keep their listeners from the spiritual and physical dangers of promiscuity. However they do not speak out against nonsexual sins that enjoy a high degree of acceptance among their church members; they are afraid of offending them. But they ought to be concerned about the spiritual dangers of greed and covetousness that are inherent in the supplying and wearing of furs. They ought to be concerned about the sin of self-righteousness, which is always a temptation for the religiously observant.

Unless these ministers of the Gospel look beyond the narrow circle of traditionally defined sinfulness, they will be like the religious leaders of whom Jesus warned. He said that although these men refused to see the truth themselves, they insisted on trying to lead others in the paths of righteousness and this could only lead to disaster. [The Pharisees] are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a ditch." (Matt 15:14)

Unfortunately, the spirit of the Pharisees is alive and well among those ministers who do not challenge the wearing of fur, and among those church members who would never miss a Sunday service but have no qualms about praising God with outstretched arms that are covered with the remains of His dead animals.

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