Articles From The Writings of Vasu Murti

Current Trends

With current trends in animal liberation theology worldwide, and a growing number of theologians, clergy and activists in all the world's great religions jumping on the PETA bandwagon, it must be pointed out: the animal rights movement really began as a secular and nonsectarian civil rights movement, and is now courting all the world's great religions for inspiration, blessings, and support. An article in The People's Almanac (1975), said meditation is endorsed by all the world's great religions, and animal advocates would like to see it happen with vegetarianism. Vegetarian writer Steven Rosen, in his 1987 book, Food for the Spirit: Vegetarianism and the World Religions, tried to show that all the world's great religions support the vegetarian way of life: to win people of different faiths to vegetarianism through friendly moral persuasion.
Catholic Concern for Animals and some progressive churches (Episcopal, Methodist, Quaker, Unitarian) have shown interest in animal rights issues. The Baha'i faith endorses vegetarianism, and the ancient eastern reincarnationist religions which predate Christianity (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism) all teach ahimsa, or nonviolence towards humans and animals alike, to the point of vegetarianism, and are vegan-friendly. Frances Arnetta of Christians Helping Animals and People endorses vegetarianism as "God's best for good health, the environment, to feed the hungry." She writes: "When we Christians are compassionate to animals, we are imitating our Heavenly Father. If non-Christian people are leading the way in respect for the lives of animals, it is because we Christians have failed to be the light Jesus commanded us to be. We should be an example of boundless mercy."
The International Network for Religion and Animals (INRA) was founded in 1985. Its educational and religious programs were meant to "bring religious principles upon humanity's attitude towards the treatment of our animal kin... and, through leadership, materials, and programs, to successfully interact with clergy and laity from many religious traditions... Religion counsels the powerful to be merciful and kind to those weaker than themselves, and most of humankind is at least nominally religious. But there is a ghastly paradox. Far from showing mercy, humanity uses its dominion over other animal species to pen them in cruel close confinement; to trap, club, and harpoon them; to poison, mutilate, and shock them in the name of science; to kill them by the billions; and even to blind them in excruciating pain to test cosmetics. Some of these abuses are due to mistaken understandings of religious principles; others, to a failure to apply those principles. Scriptures need to be fully researched concerning the relationship of humans to nonhuman animals, and to the entire ecological structure of nature. Misinterpretations of scripture taken out of context, or based upon questionable theological assumptions need to be re-examined."
INRA's Executive Director, Reverend Marc Wessels, concluded on Earth Day, 1990:
"It is a fact that no significant social reform has yet taken place in this country without the voice of the religious community being heard. The endeavors of the abolition of slavery; the women's suffrage movement; the emergence of the pacifist tradition during World War I; the struggles to support civil rights, labor unions, and migrant farm workers; and the antinuclear and peace movements have all succeeded in part because of the power and support of organized religion. Such authority and energy is required by individual Christians and the institutional church today if the liberation of animals is to become a reality."

Go on to: Debating Strategies
Return to: Articles
Return to: The Writings of Vasu Murti