Category Archives: Religious Animal Advocacy

Faith’s Weak Advocacy for Nonhuman Animals

Recently, we have seen church leaders calling for compassion for animals, ingratiating themselves like politicians by rallying behind a fashionable concern. While a cardinal, Pope Ratzinger in addressing the subject of foie gras spoke against the “industrial use of creatures,” stating how “hens live so packed together that they become just caricatures of birds,” opining that “degrading of living creatures to a commodity seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible.” Other leaders, usual suspects like the Dalai Lama, have also issued statements on proper “stewardship,” the oxymoron for dominion.

The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew goes even further, proclaiming that not protecting the planet is sinful—a position some consider radical. • • •

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Minority Compassion & Mild Admonishment

Except for Muslim extremist enclaves and the like, religions have been forced to yield to the secular world’s advancing moral standards. Rather than lead on ethics, religions have been led, and no less is true with respect to the ethical treatment of animals. Only now that animal welfare issues are becoming more mainstream, Christian organizations are trying to make themselves look good, proudly citing the usual suspects such as St. Basil of Casearea, who is attributed animal prayers he never wrote,[1]Philip Johnson, “St. Basil’s ‘Animal Prayers’ are a ‘Hoax’,” Animals Matter to God, May 1, 2012, http://animalsmattertogod.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/st-basils-animal-prayers-are-a-hoax-part-one/. • • •

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Blessed is the Stasis

“The quiet conscience is an invention of the devil,” Albert Schweitzer wrote, and it surely applies to religious institutions and followers whose indifference has enabled animal persecution and suffering for centuries. Author and activist Jon Wynne-Tyson places the ethical failures of the faithful even lower than those of stereotypical cold and calculating scientists, placing blame not so much on ignorance as on evil design.

Paradoxically, for all that science has enormously raised the incidence of inhumanity toward sentient life, some modern scientists and medical men have a better track record than most religious leaders for awareness of the need for more compassionate environmentalism.

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