Monday, September 29, 2008

Animals and Religion: Caring for All of God's Creatures

Living in a large metropolitan area has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages of living in the Washington, DC area is being able to take advantage of so many free lectures/talks about virtually anything you can imagine.

I've written about the Washington National Cathedral before and how it truly is a magnificent piece of architecture, along with all the enlightening programs they sponsor. Every week they hold a "Sunday Forum: Critical Issues in the Light of Faith", a series of honest, intellectually probing, and generous-spirited conversations about the intersection of faith and public life.

Yesterday, the Sunday Forum's guest speaker was Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). He was there to kick off HSUS' latest campaign, "All Creatures Great and Small" It was an inspiring talk followed by a service dedicated to all living creatures. The All Creatures Great and Small initiative asks people in faith communities to educate themselves about the humane treatment of farm animals and provides educational materials about various faith traditions' teachings on animal welfare.

Here is what the Humane Society's website writes about the campaign:


Eating is an activity with moral implications, even the simplest decisions we make in the marketplace can make a substantial difference in the lives of animals. It is only with collective action, in terms of personal food choices and policy reforms, that we can develop a more humane farming system in this country. The current system of factory farming causes serious problems in animal welfare, environmental protection, and food safety.

Few people know about the lives of approximately 10 billion animals who are raised on
U.S. factory farms every year before appearing on our dinner plates.

On factory farms, chickens, pigs and cows are warehoused in enclosures so small the animals cannot even turn around. Read more about how
egg-laying hens, veal calves and pigs live on factory farms. Surely there is time and space in our day to choose compassion, by reducing our consumption of animal products and/or selecting products from animals who are raised in more natural, less inhumane environments.

At present, there are more than 300 million religious people in North America. The author and essayist, Garret Keizer asks, "What if even half of them refused to purchase factory-produced chicken because that kind of food production is unjust to family farmers, unhealthy for poultry workers and certainly unpleasant for chickens? With a single stroke they could change the way farmers farm, the way chickens live—the way Christians witness."(1)

Sign the Pledge
You can make a difference by making a simple pledge to make more humane food choices for the month of

Battery-cage eggs are produced by hens who are confined in tiny "battery cages"—enclosures so small the animals can't even spread their wings. Nearly 280 million egg-laying hens in the U.S. are raised this way.


So, every month I will let you know what that month's pledge will be. I hope you will read it, think about it and sign it. This month is very easy for me. I'm not much of an egg eater, a dozen eggs can last me a few months! Even so, I always purchase eggs from my local co-op. They sell eggs that come from local Montgomery County farms and also from Amish farms in Pennsylvania that are certified organic and humanely raised. That means that the eggs come from free roaming hens that have access to the outdoors, all organic feed, no antibiotics, and are not de-beaked.

Kindness and mercy exemplify the best of the human spirit. Click here to pledge compassion. All creatures great and small.

Saint Basil's Prayer

The Earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof
Dear God, enlarge in us our sense of fellowship with the animals.
to whom Thou gave the earth to be a common home before us
and who share with us the toils, trials, and joys of life.
We remember with sorrow that, in the past,
we have often exercised the high dominion of our kind
with ruthless cruelty
so that the voice of the earth
which should have gone up to Thee in song
has so often risen instead as a groan of travail.
May we realize that they live not for us alone
but for themselves and for Thee
and that they, too, love the sweetness of life.
Peace of the Lord

P.S. I've been doing the exercises my physical therapist gave me when I stopped going to physical therapy over a year ago. I had hoped they would help but I can't see any improvement. Sooo I guess I will have to buck up and call the acupuncturist this week. I've noticed a definite difference from weekday to weekend. It really makes a difference how much time I spend on the computer! So, again, I apologize for not commenting and even not reading many of your blogs of late. When I get a chance, I try to sneak-read some of your posts during work so I don't have to turn on my computer at home.

I have to say, I have a lot of respect for those who are chronic pain sufferers! This pain tends to sap all my energy and puts me in quite a depressive mood. Nothing seems to help---hot compresses, cold compresses, any type of OTC pain reliever--nothing. Yesterday, for some reason, I had a good look at my kitchen floor and YUK, it really needs to be cleaned. Not just Swiffer Wet Jet clean either. It needs a good get on my elbows and knees scrubbing. I filled up a bucket with warm sudsy water and got on my knees, bent over and the pain in my arm was excruciating! How dumb was that?


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Christine, let the floor wait!! Get some relief and treatment for your pain.
I'll take the pledge. Thanks for sharing what you learned and for including that wonderful prayer.

Ramblings of a Villas Girl said...

Hi Christine! I took the pledge. When visiting friends in Lancaster, I saw these little tiny boxes with some holes. I asked my friends what they were and they told me. I have never eaten veal since.

Take care of yourself. We aren't going anywhere and the floor and they other cleaning can wait until you are feeling better. Lisa

Dog_geek said...

We keep talking about getting our own chickens so that we can have fresh, organic, non-factory farmed eggs. But it seems like every other creature on earth wants to eat chickens, so we need to come up with a good way to keep them safe. And they only lay eggs in their younger years, and there's no way I could ever eat one of *my* chickens (they will all have names, you know) so we need a setup big enough for 1-3 egg layers plus a bunch of past-their prime "pet" chickens... so it is still a work in progress.

I'm sorry to hear that you are still in so much pain. Take care of yourself!

possumlady said...

Glad you liked the prayer Lynne. My favorite line is animals should be able to enjoy the sweetness of life too!

Lisa, I know what you mean. I haven't eaten veal in over 20 years!

Dog-geek, I hear you! I would certainly have to name all the hens and never be able eat them. How long to chickens live? I thought for a second that I would love to have a few hens here but our county doesn't allow it. With all the racoons and possums around my house, I think it is probably for the best.

Dog_geek said...

Chickens can live 7 or 8 years, but they do most of their laying in the first couple years. So we'd have quite a few pet chickens!

Mary said...

Thanks so much, Christine. What an eye-opener this is...

I had a chronic back problem for a while and noticed a significant improvement when I stayed away from the blog and computer in the evenings. Do what you must do!


seriously amused said...

I love animals, that's why I'm making the transition from vegetarian to vegan. The more I learn about the harm done to our fellow sentient beings, the more I realize it's something I need to do.

Sorry you're dealing with ongoing pain. It can be exhausting, frustrating and surprising in the many ways it effects your life. Hope you're feeling better soon.

Anonymous said...

I love it ! Very creative ! That's actually really cool Thanks.