Over the past decade, a growing number of misleading messages about modern animal agriculture have been presented by animal rights activist groups to church and religious leaders or in religious forums, under the guise of religion and compassion.
Targeting individuals who are spiritual, but may not read or understand biblical scriptures or other religious doctrines by appealing to their sense of compassion and guilt, is another way to further activist goals of advancing animal rights and ending meat consumption. As one example, the Humane Society of the United States has a Faith Outreach program, which “seeks to engage people and institutions of faith with animal protection issues.” They have produced a short film called “Eating Mercifully” that shares “Christian perspectives on factory farming,” along with a book, video series and more. PETA also has a Christian outreach division called Jesus People for Animals.
As a result of these efforts by activist groups, many denominations have adopted resolutions regarding animal welfare in recent years, including some that are negative toward modern animal agriculture.
The Animal Agriculture Alliance has formed a Working Group to help our members address this issue. Has “Meatless Mondays” made its way into a sermon at your church? Has your denomination adopted a policy on animal welfare that is negative toward modern production practices? The Alliance’s resources can help you have tough conversations about sensitive issues.
Even if you haven’t seen animal rights messaging emerge in your church, you can use these materials to have proactive conversations with theological leaders in your community. These resources were developed through an exhaustive literature review and tested with two focus groups made up of pet-owning, meat-consuming 25-45-year-old members of protestant evangelical large churches, and seven long-form interviews with similar church members.
The Alliance also helped support the production of the new book, “What Would Jesus Really Eat?” The book looks at what the Bible says about using and eating animals and tackles topics including the challenges to Christian meat-eating, human exceptionalism and humanity’s dominion over other living creatures. The book includes chapters from five different authors with unique perspectives and expertise in theology and agriculture.
To purchase a copy of the book and to access resources for engaging your faith community, go to animalagalliance.org.