Animals, Vegetarianism and Christianity - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 01-19-2003, 06:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi all-
I am a devout Christian. I am also an animal advocate and vegetarian.

I am fairly new to the church. And I am quite stunned at the lack of empathy people in my church have for animals. THere are potlucks with lots of animals, Turkey give a ways for T-giving, etc. Lots of women in the church wear fur.

I just finished reading Dominion, a new book about mercy towards animals that was VERY well reviewed in the NYTimes Book Review. It is writen by a Christian, a former Bush speechwriter and conservative, and it discusses the Christian's moral obligation to animals in circuses, factory farms, fur farms, etc. I highly highly recommend it.

Don't animals deserve our compassion and mercy? And isn't factory farming so horrific that we cannot avert our eyes, plead ignorance, and continue to eat our ham sandwiches? The sufferng that these animals endure is appalling. I have seen it. They are sick, covered in sores, their babes taken away from them at birth, crammed into cages, fed garbage, and never see the light of day. All in the name of efficiency.

I wondered if anyone else has noticed this rift of compassion towards animals in their church? I am going to approach my Reverend about the possibility of giving a talk at church.
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#2 of 4 Old 01-19-2003, 09:37 PM
 
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Dear MamaKoala,
Hi. I'm glad you posted about this as I am interested in the same subject. I am a Christian and have been a vegetarian for about 10 years. Partly to lower my environmental impact, but also because I too was horrified to discover what "hog factories" and such were like. I am no theologian but these are my musings:

As far as I understand the Bible, it is not inherently sinful to eat meat or wear leather/fur/etc. After the Flood, God permitted people to eat the meat of clean animals, and as Christians are set free from the Law of Sin and Death, we have freedom through Christ from the laws of clean and unclean animal consumption. While animals are reflections of the awesome creativity and imagination of the Creator, they are not created in His image and so killing them is not a sin (as long as it is done in order to meet our basic needs and not out of cruelty or something). But some people are gifted of God with particular sensitivity to certain things and should listen to their convictions.You know that old passage in Romans about not looking down on those who abstain or those who partake, it's all a matter of what God lays on our hearts...

In modern America, it is almost impossible not to support or patronize some awful industry. People just don't realize when they go to Wal-Mart that it's one of the biggest employers of sweatshops, or that their morning coffee was likely produced by slave labor, or that their chicken dinner came from a chicken with its beak chopped off. Plenty of people who are wholly devoted to the Lord go about their daily business clueless as to what they are complicit in.

I tend to be wary of people who are seeming to use church as a forum for their political views. I feel strongly that church is a place for worshipping God and for the spiritual edification of the body, and for the spreading of the Gospel. Anyway, if I were you, I would not launch into a sermon on the evils of meat consumption, but maybe come at it from an angle of Christian simplicity. Simplicity is such an important part of the pursuit of the deeper Chrisitian life, and it's a message that American Christians sorely need to hear and take to heart. You could talk about the old Catholic tradition of not eating meat on Fridays, and about its value not only for the abstainer, but also the larger environmental/ social implications. This would give you an opportunity to slip in some explanation of modern day meat packing without it seeming like you're attacking something most of the congregants take for granted. In his classic, Celebration of Discipline, Richard J. Foster laid down some guidelines for simplicity. I don't remember all of them but they included, "Reject anything that breeds oppression of others," "Buy things for their usefulness and not for their status," and "Develop a deeper appreciation for God's creation." If you were to study this book and go through all 9 or 10 guidelines for simplicity, when you get to the one about oppression, you could pass around a handout on some of the things we buy that breed oppression of others, and you could include details of the meat industry along with info on slave labor and sweatshops.

Sorry this is so long, it's just my personal opinions, anyway thanks for getting me thinking about it. Good luck & God bless.

OH and thank you so much for the book recommendation, I am totally interested in checking it out!
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#3 of 4 Old 01-20-2003, 10:26 AM
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Just because the majority of Christians in the US behave a certain way does not make that behavior inherently Christian and, conversely, doesn't make another approach *un* Christian.

The scripture speaks of people having dominion over tha animals. I take this as being responsible and hints of a certain mandate toward gentleness.

There are hints of conservation (the conservative's word for environmentalism ) It isn't right to waste.

Certainly it isn't right for us to hoard, glutton, etc. Which is exactly what having 20 changes of clothes and an equal number of shoes is!!

Jesus said, "if you have two coats give one away"

The simplicity noted above is harmonious with Christianity.

You really need to keep in mind much of what is "Christian culture" is northern European Western culture not Christianity.

I am a veghead, care about animals, am trying to walk in simplicity *and* am a Christian.

Oh, yes, I don't think the Bible tells me to beat my kids or eat meat.

Debra Baker
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#4 of 4 Old 01-20-2003, 01:36 PM
 
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Super Pickle--

I enjoyed reading your thoughtful post.

In other animal news, I have heard briefly and not in full detail, abt directions made in treatment of animal companions in Calif. In one city, you are now called a "pet guardian," instead of "pet owner." In another, they are trying to make de-clawing of cats illegal.
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