May 21, 2009

Pseudo Religious Agri-Biz Plays God with Animal Rights

Why do animal matter? This issue was discussed by minister Jamison in an Agri-Talk podcast... Jamison says that our concerns about animals have already been decided through our rank on the food chain. He says that man's privilege of might makes it all a done deal...
So according to Jamison, since we can spin a wing nut - we are justified in all we do to animals... Man's might deems it, and no further investigation is required.
I disagree. I think it's precisely because we've evolved both physically and intellectually that we have a duty to examine to every degree our influence on others. I believe we are all connected. And that we live on a planet meant to be shared with others... not ravaged for our own frivolous fancies.
Minister Jamison also said that the bible has told him that any and all use man has of animals is sanctioned by God... But we know that there are many bibles and many different beliefs of what God intended in regards to our treatment of animals. And too there is "free will" which enables us to question what our relationship with other living beings should be.
So the idea that "animal rights" has already been settled is far from true. In fact, as we become more enlightened and our social progress expands so does our interest in establishing justice for those who are being exploited. Even as a "non-theist", I would think this is exactly what any "god" would want man to do.
Furthermore, our increasing knowledge of the intelligence and emotional complexity of animals raises questions regarding what constitutes a just relationship between animals and humans. These concerns are a responsibility to discover, not only to animals but to ourselves... It is our duty to ourselves as a species... the most "entitled" one at that, to seek proper ethical solutions in our universe. This task is charged to everyone regardless of their faith. An objective, fair and rational position must be established in regards to animals, or we are doomed to remain with a club in our hands and our feet stuck in primordial goo.
But since Preacher Jamison has chosen a religious vent I'd like to argue a few points with him regarding what he believes is his favor according to "god". Using this "license" is supposed to put to rest any questions... "Anything goes" according to what was written, or (might have been) said 2,000+ years ago.
But I think it's dangerous to leave a topic as important as killing another being... unquestioned. In fact, the taking of an other's life goes against all religious teachings, of all cultures. It deserves serious deliberation and debate. It is against the primary mandate - The First Order... A Commandment of Highest Consequence... "Thy Shalt Not Kill".
Unfortunately we're such a clever species that we manage to disregard that first rule with an assortment of footnotes that make breaking it okay... Animal killing is the biggest *exception* that come to mind... And the reason we give for killing 10 billion animals yearly in the U.S. is for replaceable food. But Minister Jamison says that God gives us accolades for doing such.
Yet, there are other views, Christian ones as well... According to the King James version
Genesis 1:29: “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” And if this is true... that we can thrive on a Vegan, plant based diet... and that the innocent creatures we slaughter is totally unnecessary... then God is hardly pleased at all...
There are also the Essenes, who believe in the Gospel of Peace. And some Christian scholars have concluded vegetarianism to be the more consistent ethic with respect to the spirit of Christ's teachings.
There is also the fundamental ethical virtue of the Jains of India, Ahimsa. Which translates roughly into non-injury to living beings or dynamic harmlessness.
Buddhism, and Hinduism also believe in non violence to all... These theologies are in line with a God who is loving and does not want any of creation to suffer.
But modern factory farming and the unnecessary butchering of animals is in opposition to what people respect as the wishes of God... Neither is the Christian ideal of the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd does not harm his flock... he protects it. Animal agriculture defiles the first mandate, and does so for the lust of money, and physical pleasures. It also causes damaging consequence to the environment and human health. And through meat eating sins, and agri-business excesses, it also neglects his fellow man... who starves for want of the grain that is fed to fatten animals instead.
So as to the debate of why animals matter, it is becoming increasingly clear that this topic has a place in the social justice considerations of not only Christians, but to all. Animals are in the scope of man's moral concern, regardless of how Minister Jamison seems to think that evolution has dealt the cards.
Finally, he says that animal rights advocates will appeal to people who have no knowledge of the doctrines of their sect. That these "unguided" people will be lead to believe that a compassionate God would not be pleased with selling flesh on the temple stairs. And on this Mr. Jamison, I agree with you whole heartily.
Rebuttal to Jamison/religion part 1 of 3


Anonymous said...

As an admitted atheist and someone who says that the bible was written by man thus making it full of flaws, you seem to be wanting to quote scripture all of a sudden. Even so, I will pray for your soul. You're gonna need it. Because unlike animals, humans will either have the privilege of eternal life in heaven or they are doomed to eternity in hell. For admitted atheists like yourself, your path is quite clear.

Anonymous said...

Last comment lol. Some dude made up a story quite a while ago... It's been bodged a few hundred times... I read it in a book... It's got to be the word of God. Anyone who doesn't waste their life believing and acting on the chinese-whispers in sais story book is doomed to burn forever - AFTER they're already dead. Well, that makes perfect sense. Being kind to physical, emotional, trusting, nurturing, compassionate creatures... well that's plainly ridiculous.

Bea Elliott said...

To Anonymous - I only choose the arena of religious doctrine because this is where this minister called his battle to.

One does not have to believe in the teachings of a certain theology to have facts about it... Actually, it proves the point that knowledge is empowering. So that we all may make informed decisions.

Thank you for praying for my soul... that I should be spared from the rath of hell. But I've laid claim to a compassionate life... here on earth. And when my "time" comes, I'll take my chances that empathy just might get me into heaven as well.

Who knows? If there is a God... maybe he's one of the good guys after all!

Bea Elliott said...

Anonymous... "Being kind to physical, emotional, trusting, nurturing, compassionate creatures... well that's plainly ridiculous."

Well said - thank you! ;)

Lindsay (Happy Herbivore) said...

When christians tell me they eat animals because its in the bible, I quip that I'm certain their almighty god would not want them torturing his beautiful creatures.

Lindsay (Happy Herbivore) said...

oh & I'm an atheist too and would like to tell anonymous to shove it. :)

Gary said...

According to the Bible, God's ideal vision is an all-vegan world, with no killing. Moreover, the Lord's Prayer states that we should strive to carry out God's will on earth. Therefore, Christians should endeavor to be vegan, and choose peaceful, non-violent diets and other lifestyle components.

Further thoughts...

Many Christians defended slavery using language similar to that of Minister Jamison. (To be fair, many Christians were also outspoken abolitionists and civil rights leaders.) We humans seem to be cursed with an almost limitless capacity for rationalizing our cruelties, especially when we are addicted to them and they widely practiced in the culture. But we are obligated to be honest with ourselves and true to our morals, and thus admit our wrongdoings - however uncomfortable that may be - and become better persons.

The Bible is full of maxims, such as The Golden Rule and "Blessed are the merciful," that at the very least support the choice to be vegan. Factory farms - and in fact killing for pleasure or profit whether at a factory farm or not - violate the most basic precepts of kindness and humility that are taught in the Bible and in all other religions.

At the core of Christianity, Jesus practiced self-sacrifice and also banished the animal sacrificers from the Temple. Sadly, most Christians today will not sacrifice their easily-broken habits in order to spare innocent beings from misery and death; and houses of worship and religious celebrations are regularly filled with the products of torture and cruelty.

Our penchant for flesh and killing - which, according to the Bible, helped bring about The Fall - is unfortunately still rampant today, and is the cause of nearly unfathomable levels of pain and agony.

As if all that weren't enough, our meat-eating ways are contributing to the destruction of the earth - God's good green earth, as it is sometimes called.

Lastly, striving to be as compassionate as possible throughout our lives, to individuals of all species, tends to bring great personal peace and a feeling of kinship, of connectedness to Creation. We reap what we sow, and when we sow the seeds of kindness we realize that kindness is its own reward.

For more information about vegan lifestyles and our obligations to animals from a Christian perspective, I would recommend that Christians and other interested persons peruse, and particularly, which gently but effectively responds to many of the claims made by Minister Jamison.

Unknown said...

Bea, this was a FANTASTIC post! A lot of thought provoking information and I commend you for calling people out on their actions speaking louder than their words!!!!

Unknown said...

Great post Bea. Thank you. It has always bothered me when Christians (particularly) justify eating animals with the excuse that God says it is okay. It makes me wonder what kind of god these people are worshipping - a god that would create animals with the capacity to feel pain and to suffer and then tell humans its okay to cause animals pain and suffering. Sounds kind of devilish to me.

In any case, I thought I should point out that while 10 billion land animals are slaughtered in the US each year, most of them are not mammals. About 9 billion of them are chickens. Probably just a typo?

Bea Elliott said...

happyherbivore - Welcome! With open minds... (and hearts).

It never made sense to me either, even as a kid (decades ago)... that any "God" would sanction suffering... And if one did... Oh the search for a "merciful" god!

So I've been a "non-theist"... *in transistion*... ever since. A mind searching for meaning, (and truth). So as a former Catholic, turned Bahia... turned Atheist/Agonostic... But still seeking a path of inner peace - I've learned this much: That you cannot find peace while practicing violence. It's fire & water.

Makes no difference your creed... No "God" commands you that you kill your fellow earthlings....

Nice to find agreement :) Thanks for your enlightening comments...

Bea Elliott said...

Hi Serenity... I know I sound like a broken record. But I must:

If anyone really cares about animals... They don't have to join an animal rights group, don't have to protest about zoos or rodeos. Don't even have to adopt a pet from a shelter... Just stop eating them. (period)...

I think I want this on my tombstone!:)

Yes, walking the talk for sure :)

Actually, being kind to animals doesn't seem like a "sacrifice" at all - just the right thing to do. you too are discovering on your own journey.

Clear thinking wins every time :)

Bea Elliott said...

Hi Gary... yes your right - What little I know of the Essenes... and Desert Fathers - they were vegan... John the Babtist... Christ's brother... And that the staple meal was figs and flat bread... *Bread* - the staff of life!

Also, there's no mention of "lamb" at the Last Supper...

But this could have happened: there were many sheep owners who sought favor with a Great King who declared a Great Priest... who had a "mandate" from God... to eat "lamb"... during Passover. And from then on, the lamb owners have a secured "tradition".

The same could be said about "ham" in Easter, or other specific sacrificed species... The "food chain" of profit, is deeply rooted in religious ceremony... creating the "longest struggle".

I'm sure you know of the works of Norm Phelps? His interpretations offer a challenging debate to religions that justify killing animals. He certainly has sound argument.

I like what you say about "becoming a better person" - I totally agree that critical thinking and spiritual work is required of us. Our duty so to speak to enjoy our greatest gift... free will.

Thanks for dropping by.. and for your mindful words :)

Bea Elliott said...

Allen... you are right about justifying it as okay... Not only that but certain religious leaders say it's a "commandment" to sacrifice animals... (still).

Well... that was a big "maybe" it happened just that way, as I described in my former post about the economic side to lambs and pigs... and livestock. Great Kings still rule... Greed is a mortal sin. And that's kind of devilish too.

Thanks for the fix on the numbers... but of course, it is the chickens who are most commodified. The cage always being more priceless than the bird within... very sad.