from Humane Religion

God's Covenant with Animals

By J. R. Hyland A Biblical Basis for the Humane Treatment of all Creatures. New York: Lantern Books, 2000. Available from bookstores or online from

PART I of this new book is a reprint of THE SLAUGHTER OF TERRIFIED BEASTS. First published in 1988, it traces the biblical record of God's concern for animals from the time of Genesis through the book of Revelation. Part II contains four additional chapters that challenge Christian theology for supporting St. Paul's endorsement of sacrificial religion. It goes on to deal with the contemporary abuse of animals that is manifested in recreational killing, the wearing of furs and the acceptance of atrocious experiments--none of which are protested by the Christian community.


FROM CHAPTER 11: Animal Abuse/Human Abuse.

Holocaust is the term used to designate the "burnt offerings" of animals as described in the biblical book of Leviticus. These animals had to be totally immolated, so the fire on the altars where their bodies lay burned day and night. Their ashes were allowed to accumulate, until room had to be made for the next batch of remains.

In our own time, the death of millions of people killed in Nazi prison camps and then burned to ashes is called the Holocaust. At places like Auschwitz and Dachau, it is reported that smoke from he ovens was ever-present; they burned day and night. Applying a term that was first used to describe the death of countless other species, underscored the fact that Nazi prisoners were treated like animals. They were herded into boxcars "like Cattle," and like animals who are transported to their death, the people also thirsted and had no water. They hungered and had no food. And they had no room to move, no way to rest. No way to avoid living in the midst of their own waste.

But although the word Holocaust links the fate of animals with the horrors suffered by humans, there has been little compassion for these other sentient beings, who continue to be treated as disposable "things." With very few exceptions, there has been no attempt to understand the moral/ethical relationship between a claim that animals can be tormented and slaughtered in the best interests of the human race and the Nazi claim that prisoners were brutalized and murdered because that served the best interests of an emerging super race.

One of those who did understand the relationship was Nobel prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer. He wrote: "As long as human beings go on shedding the blood of animals, there will never be any peace. There is only one little step from killing animals to creating gas chambers a la Hitler and concentration camps a la Stalin. There will be no justice as long as man will stand with a knife or a gun and destroy those who are weaker than he is."


A daring and profoundly original work. There are theologians who have spent their lives writing on ethical issues who do not have the kind of grasp of the issues that J.R. Hyland has and the creativity of her approach. She speaks with great authority, combining scholarship and passion with a prophetic voice---Stephen H. Webb, author, OF GOD AND DOGS: A Christian Theology of Compassion for Animals.

With cogent exegesis, J.R. Hyland exposes the false theology of slaughter and sacrifice, which has for too long obscured the Bible's genuine message of care and compassion for living creatures. Books like this bring The peaceable kingdom one step closer to earth---Gary Kowalski, author, THE SOULS OF ANIMALS.

Go on to: His Eye Is On The Sparrow
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