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Update Newsletters
7 July 2010 Issue

1. Activist Feedback

2. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman

3. Essay: Should Animal Advocates Seek Reforms? Part 1

1. Activist Feedback

Jan, who leafleted with friends at McDonald’s Gospel Fest in New Jersey, writes:

People dribbled in all day for the Gospel music competition which picked up a little near concert time at 7:00. We handed out a good 3 boxes [900 booklets]. Some people said that Jesus would eat meat today. One lady said that Jesus said to eat whatever is in the market. We were all positive and pleasant. It went well.

Many thanks!!.

Upcoming Outreach Opportunities  

07/11-16 KY Grayson Summer in the Son Christian Youth Conference

07/11-15 TN Nashville Camp Electric Rock & Roll Worship Camp

07/13-14 IA Des Moines The Devil Wears Prada Christian Rock Concert

07/14-17 MN Wilmar Sonshine Festival

07/15 MO St. Louis The Devil Wears Prada Christian Rock Concert

07/15 FL Jacksonville Disciple Christian Rock Concert

07/16-18 SD Rapid City FREE! Hills Alive 2010

07/16 KS Lawrence The Devil Wears Prada Christian Rock Concert

07/16 WI Madison DecembeRadio Christian Concert

07/17 IN Fort Wayne Trinity Music Fest

07/17 OH West Jefferson Esterlyn Christian Rock Concert

07/17 MO Kansas City HeartFest Christian rock Festival

07/19 CO Grand Junction The Devil Wears Prada Christian Rock Concert

07/21-24 WA Enumclaw HUGE Creation Northwest Music Festival

07/24-25 IL Schaumburg Ignite Christian Rock Festival

07/24 WI Green Bay DecembeRadio in Concert

07/29 VA Virginia Beach Decemberadio Christian Rock Concert

07/29-08/1 DE Houston JubileeFest

07/31 CO Longmont HeavenFest Christian Music Festival

08/4-7 NH Gilford Soulfest Christian RockFestival

08/5-7 TX Midland Rock The Desert Festival 2010

08/20-21 TX Dallas Women of Faith Conference

09/4-5 NJ Frenchtown TABLE Revelation Generation Music Fest

10/2 FL Tampa TABLE Tampa Bay Veg Fest

10/2-3 CA San Francisco TABLE World Vegetarian Festival

10/23 FL Tampa TABLE Central Florida VegFest

11/6 FL Jacksonville TABLE Northeast Florida Veg Fest

International events:

07/23-25 CANADA Ontario - Burlington A Vegan Event: FREE Burlington Jazz'n Blues Festival           

Contact Paris at christian_vegetarian@yahoo.com  if you can to help. To find out about all upcoming leafleting and tabling opportunities in your area, join the CVA Calendar Group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/christian_vegetarian/  

2. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman

Living in the Power of the Holy Spirit (Part V): The Heart Commitment

3. Essay: Should Animal Advocates Seek Reforms? Part 1

While the Christian Vegetarian Association speaks to Christians, and hopefully brings people to Christ by showing that Christianity favors an ethic of nonviolence toward animals, I also see the CVA as part of the wider animal protection movement. The next few essays will include some of my thoughts about that movement.

The animal protection movement has always had diverse philosophies and strategies. Diversity can be healthy and valuable, but there has been an unfortunately acrimonious debate between those advocating “the abolitionist approach” and those who endorse reforms in animal welfare standards. Many of the latter, like those advocating the abolitionist approach, seek abolition of harmful treatment of animals, but they hold that reforms are needed to reduce the suffering of animals right now and will assist in the campaign to end animal abuse.

I agree with those who take the abolitionist approach that harmful animal exploitation is morally wrong. Indeed, as I have argued in previous essays, endorsing violence against animals and countenancing injustice is ultimately harmful to humans. I also agree with them that, to the best of our ability, we should avoid participating directly or indirectly in harming animals. Also, we should never regard any activity that involves harming an animal as “humane.” However, I disagree with their claim that only their approach is morally justified and that only their strategy* can help in the campaign to eliminate animal abuse. Norm Phelps has written a clear, compelling essay against “one-track activism” (http://www.veganoutreach.org/articles/normphelps.html). I will offer some additional comments.

The most frequent criticism of welfare reforms I hear is that “gradualist” approaches aren’t working. The number of animals abused has steadily risen. I think it is more reasonable to attribute the growth of animal exploitation industries to growing wealth in the United States and elsewhere, rather than to a failure of animal advocates. More people can afford to eat animal products frequently, and they choose to do so. It is impossible to know whether the plight of animals would be better or worse if people had abandoned gradualist approaches that included welfare reforms, but I think the animals’ overall status would likely be worse. In any event, the prevalence of animal abuse is a good reason for people to consider advocating abolitionism, but not a compelling reason to abandon welfare reforms.

The abolitionist approach is grounded on several other claims that I find very dubious. I will respond to some claims in “The Abolitionist Approach” pamphlet, which can be viewed at http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/media/pdf/ARAA_Pamphlet.pdf. It asserts, “Most animal protection organizations in the United States and Europe maintain that the solution to the problem of animal exploitation is to improve animal welfare laws or to pressure industry to improve standards of treatment.” I strongly disagree with this characterization. There are some organizations that only pursue welfare reforms and do not regard animal exploitation as inherently wrong. In other words, they don’t seek a “solution to the problem of animal exploitation.” Then there are animal rights groups that make clear that they seek an end to animal exploitation, but they also make very clear that animal welfare reforms are part of the solution, not the only part.

The pamphlet states, “Some of these organizations maintain that by improving treatment, animal use will one day be ended altogether or will at least be reduced significantly. But is this the solution? No, it is not. The economic realities are such that welfare reforms provide little, if any, improvements. A ‘cage-free’ egg involves as much suffering as a conventional egg.” There is no compelling evidence that 1) welfare reforms fail to move us toward a world in which animal abuse will cease, and 2) that the abolitionist approach does lead in that direction. Indeed, many people adopt veganism after first considering welfare reforms, because recognizing that farmed animals deserve moral consideration often helps them recognize that we shouldn’t harm animals at all. Also, it is reasonable to expect many people to avoid animal issues altogether if they thought there was no place in the animal advocacy movement for non-vegans or for people who encouraged welfare reforms.

Regarding the battery cages, they are among humanity’s most cruel inventions. Among their brutal attributes, the wire cages harm the hens’ feet, and often their feet become entangled with wire. Unable to reach food or water, these bound hens slowly die. Most cage-free systems are far from humane, but they are also much less cruel than the battery cages.

The pamphlet places in bold the claim that animal welfare laws “are largely meaningless because animals are property.” The property status of animals does facilitate their abuse, but property status is compatible with humane treatment. Even though dogs and cats are property in the United States, most Americans treat them well, and laws help protect dogs and cats from abuse.

Next week, I will discuss how, contrary to the claims of many who take the abolitionist approach, welfare reforms are morally defensible. Comments are welcomed.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

Your question and comments are welcome

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