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CenTex prof argues Christian animal ethics in Huff Post

June 18, 2011

I first learned the arguments for ethical behavior toward non-human animals from an atheist. He was my philosophy professor in college. One day he asked if it was morally reprehensible to eat a Big Mac. Until his class, though I loved animals, I hadn’t given serious thought to animal welfare.

Later, I would hear religious arguments against the mistreatment, slaughter and consumption of animals, and I found that whenever I wrote about the topic, people would get almost as outraged as when I wrote about sexuality or politics. So many people get defensive when you talk about this because it threatens their traditions (hunting, fishing, eating steak) and their sense of superiority as humans. And when you throw God into the mix, folks will say God created animals for us to eat and use for our needs.

Rabbi Neil Blumofe of Austin’s Congregation Agudas Achim once pointed out in one of my stories that vegetarianism was the rule in the Garden of Eden … before humans were expelled. And of course, after the fall, God is asking for all those burnt offerings and whatnot. Confusing, no?

Also from that 2004 Austin American-Statesman story:

Trying to argue the vegetarian position from a Biblical standpoint can be tricky, said Sue Grisham, a member of the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals who lives in Round Lake, Ill.

“When it comes to using the Bible, people can use it to argue any point they want,” she said. Instead, Grisham tries to sway people with the Christian ideals of compassion and mercy. “No matter how people interpret the Bible, they can understand those concepts.”

So true about biblical interpretation. Which is why I think a non-religious ethical argument works better in the long run. But some people need to tie everything they do to the Bible. So this piece in the Huffington Post may be more effective for them. It’s written by the most impressive Laura Hobgood-Oster, religion and environmental studies professor at Southwestern University just north of Austin.

This passage I found particularly powerful:

In the U.S., where approximately 75 percent of adults identify as Christian, the lives of many animals are miserable and short. According to statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2010 almost 10 billion animals were killed for food in the U.S. alone. That is the equivalent of almost thirty animals per person. Thirty animals per person! The vast majority of these animals live in cramped, filthy conditions. They are forcibly removed from their mothers, who are treated as breeding machines not as living, breathing beings. In the Bible God is compared to a mother hen who protects her young under her wings. In the U.S. a mother hen is kept in a battery breeding cage, she is never allowed to protect herself or her young.

Even if  you believe your deity wants you to eat animals, do you think your deity would want you to trap them in lives of misery?

Hat tip: Adam Black.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Jack Wirtz permalink
    June 23, 2011 7:24 am

    First, self identify as a Christian does not make you one (Matt. 7:21-23), no more than can one is a religious Jew or a Moslem by self declaration.

    Second, only the ignorant of, or, at enmity with YHWH say, “You can make the Bible say anything you want ! ” Even so as the ignorant cannot be a healthy Vegan. The message is known thru the harmony of the whole, not ignorant or malicious “cherry picking.”

    Yes, the abuse of any of YHWH’s creatures is “lawlessness” (sin),
    BUT, man killing an animal is not in and of itself cruelty; no more so than that of the carnivores in the food chain.

    The dietary law of the Christian, Acts 10:9-15 and Romans 14;
    for the religious Jew, the dietary instructions of the Law of Moses.

    Of your heroine’s billions, it is mostly fowl and sea food.

    One need not speak of the philosophers; they each destroy the other.

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