Articles From The Writings of Vasu Murti

"True faith"

"There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be kind to beasts as well as man, it is all a sham."
 
---Anna Sewell 
author, Black Beauty
 
"I care not for a man's religion whose dog or cat are not the better for it... I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being."
 
---Abraham Lincoln
 
Christian hip hop artist Lecrae has often been vocal about standing up for black lives on social media and beyond. “True faith stands up for the oppressed and the broken...” he wrote in a post. 
 
I would like to see organized religion join the struggle for animal rights. 
 
Religion has been wrong before. 
 
It has been said that on issues such as women's rights and human slavery, religion has impeded social and moral progress. It was a Spanish Catholic priest, Bartolome de las Casas, who first proposed enslaving black Africans in place of the Native Americans who were dying off in great numbers. The church of the past never considered human slavery to be a moral evil. The Protestant churches of Virginia, South Carolina, and other southern states actually passed resolutions in favor of the human slave traffic. Human slavery was called "by Divine Appointment," "a Divine institution," "a moral relation," "God's institution," "not immoral," but "founded in right." 
 
The slave trade was called "legal," "licit," "in accordance with humane principles" and "the laws of revealed religion." New Testament verses calling for obedience and subservience on the part of slaves (Titus 2:9-10; Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-25; I Peter 2:18-25) and respect for the master (I Timothy 6:1-2; Ephesians 6:5-9) were often cited to justify human slavery. Some of Jesus' parables refer to human slaves. Paul's epistle to Philemon concerns a runaway slave returned to his master. 
 
The Quakers were one of the earliest religious denominations to condemn human slavery. "Paul's outright endorsement of slavery should be an undying embarrassment to Christianity as long as they hold the entire New Testament to be the word of God," wrote Quaker physician Dr. Charles P. Vaclavik in his 1986 book, The Vegetarianism of Jesus Christ: the Pacifism, Communalism, and Vegetarianism of Primitive Christianity. "Without a doubt, the American slaveholders quoted Paul again and again to substantiate their right to hold slaves. The moralist movement to abolish slavery had to go to non-biblical sources to demonstrate the immoral nature of slavery. The abolitionists could not turn to Christian sources to condemn slavery, for Christianity had become the bastion of the evil practice through its endorsement by the Apostle Paul. Only the Old Testament gave the abolitionist any biblical support in his efforts to free the slaves. 'You shall not surrender to his master a slave who has taken refuge with you.' (Deuteronomy 23:15) What a pittance of material opposing slavery from a book supposedly representing the word of God." 
 
In 1852, Josiah Priest wrote Bible Defense of Slavery. Others claimed blacks were subhuman. Buckner H. Payne, calling himself "Ariel," wrote in 1867: "the tempter in the Garden of Eden... was a beast, a talking beast... the negro." Ariel argued that since the negro was not part of Noah's family, he must have been a beast. Eight souls were saved on the ark, therefore, the negro must be a beast, and "consequently, he has no soul to be saved." 
 
The status of animals in contemporary human society is like that of human slaves in centuries past. 
 
Quoting Luke 4:18, Colossians 3:11, Galatians 3:28 or any other biblical passages merely suggesting liberty, equality and an end to human slavery in the 18th or 19th century would have been met with the response animal rights activists receive today if they quote Bible verses in favor of vegetarianism and compassion towards animals. 
 
Past generations of Christians glibly quoted the Bible to justify slavery, and today glibly quote the Bible to justify the institutionalized killing and mistreatment of billions of animals.
 
Some of the worst crimes in history were committed in the name of religion. 
 
There's a great song along these lines from 1992 by Rage Against the Machine, entitled "Killing in the Name."
 
A growing number of Christian theologians, clergy and activists are beginning to take a stand in favor of animal rights. In a pamphlet entitled Christian Considerations on Laboratory Animals, Reverend Marc Wessels notes that in laboratories animals cease to be persons and become "tools of research." He cites William French of Loyola University as having made the same observation at a gathering of Christian ethicists at Duke University--a conference entitled "Good News for Animals?"
 
On Earth Day, 1990, Reverend Wessels observed:
 
"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 anti-nuclear 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: Understanding Christians
Return to: Articles
Return to: The Writings of Vasu Murti