Why the Animals Need Religion

Norm Phelps

Note: An early, and much shorter, version of this essay appeared in the September, 1999 issue of  The Animals’ Agenda magazine. My thanks to Kim Stallwood, the Agenda’s editor-in-chief, for his encouragement and support. Kim has been in the forefront of the animal liberation movement in both the UK and the US for four decades and is the author of Growl: Life Lessons, Hard Truths, and Bold Strategies from an Animal Advocate (Lantern Books, 2014), a book that I highly recommend.

Taken as a whole, the animal rights movement is hostile to religion. And this is tragic because until we gain the support of a sizable chunk of mainstream religion, we will always be marginalized. In America, campaigns for social justice that elicit at least tacit approval from a large segment of our churches and synagogues become public policy; those that do not remain marginal or vanish from view.

It has been this way throughout our history. In the English-speaking world, the original call to end human slavery came from men and women in England whose religious faith inspired them to speak out against evil. These included George Fox, founder of the Society of Friends, and his fellow Quaker John Woolman, John Wesley, founder of Methodism, John Newton, former slave-trader and composer of “Amazing Grace,” and Parliamentary leaders William Wilberforce, and Richard Martin, all of whom credited their social conscience to religious conviction. On this side of the Atlantic, their cry was taken up by religiously inspired abolitionists like Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Maria W. Stewart, William Lloyd Garrison, and John Brown. Frederick Douglass famously opposed the Christianity of churches that defended slavery, but in an Appendix to his autobiography, he praised “the pure Christianity of Christ.” Douglass understood the importance of attacking the support that some churches gave to slavery without attacking Christianity itself. Right up to the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, churches were popular settings for anti-slavery rallies, while their members filled the ranks of the abolitionist movement, and the language of the Sunday morning sermon became the language of abolition, filled with appeals to Christian mercy and divine justice, drawing the parallel between the Egyptian slavery of the Israelites and the American slavery of Africans, while celebrating emancipation as “crossing the Jordan” and freedom as “the Promised Land.”

Nearly a century later, the civil rights movement picked up where the abolitionists had left off. Born in black churches in Atlanta and Birmingham after World War II, it spread first through black churches across the south, then to those of the north, and finally to white churches and synagogues across the country. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was the movement’s single most influential leader, and his closest associates, Ralph David Abernathy, Fred Shuttlesworth, Floyd McKissick, and Jesse Jackson were Baptist ministers; two others, Edgar Nixon and A. Philip Randolph, were the sons of ministers, and another, Bayard Rustin, was raised on the Quaker philosophy of his grandmother and educated at Wilberforce College, which taught the Christian social gospel of its namesake, William Wilberforce. Inspired by their religious faith to take up the cause, they created the largest, most important, and most effective civil rights organization of the 20th century, which they called The Southern Christian Leadership Conference.


As with the abolition movement, much of the rhetoric of the civil rights movement was the rhetoric of religion. Consider this passage from Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their ‘thus saith the Lord’ far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco-Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Dr. King is referring to Acts 16:9, which describes a vision in which Paul was visited by a Macedonian who begged him to “come and help us.” Macedonia was a rough and tumble frontier province on the northern fringe of the Classical world. King is suggesting that he has been called by God to the land of the barbarians, where he will have to endure great hardships and risk great dangers.

When, the evening before his death, Dr. King said, “I have been to the mountaintop, I have seen the promised land,” he was identifying himself with Moses, who when death was upon him, was taken by God to the top of Mount Nebo, where he could look out and see the promised land that he would not live to enter. And more importantly, he was identifying the suffering of African-Americans under segregation with the suffering of the Israelites who were enslaved in Egypt. Those were identifications that resonated with Americans of all races and religions because the stories of the Bible are as much a part of the American mythology as Paul Revere and the Boston Tea Party—and they carry with them the moral authority that even secular Americans grant only to values that are rooted in religion.

Even Malcolm X, who is often portrayed as the polar opposite of Martin Luther King, and after him was the most popular and influential leader of the civil rights era, found his inspiration in religion—in his case, Islam—and invoked the moral authority of religion.

Historians and sociologists, in thrall to the secularism which these days is a litmus test for respectability among people who fancy themselves intellectuals, treat the religious nature of the civil rights movement somewhat as a Victorian gentleman would have treated the case of a pregnant, unmarried sister: it is something not to be mentioned in polite company. Among the intelligentsia, the religious roots of the civil rights movement betray an embarrassing lack of sophistication. They prefer to patronize the black religious community by treating it as a purely social institution whose only role was to lend logistical support to the civil rights movement, rather than as the spiritual organism that gave birth to it. But whether the secular academic community likes it or not, the most important contribution of the churches—black, white, and integrated—to the civil rights movement was not a communication network and ready-made audiences for activists; it was moral authority. When the pastors said that integration and equality before the law were right and that segregation and inequality were wrong, their congregations listened; and over time, so did the rest of America. It was the same pattern that had characterized the abolition movement a hundred years before.

The American women’s suffrage movement grew out of the abolition movement, and the two shared many of the same religiously inspired leaders, including Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, Sarah and Angelina Grimke, and William Lloyd Garrison. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a confirmed atheist, was an important exception to this rule, but she was never able to push the suffrage movement away from its religious moorings. As with the abolition movement, the nation’s churches provided leadership, membership, and rallying places for the suffrage movement, as well as a rhetoric that carried a moral authority able to pull the rest of the country along in its wake.

If modern feminism is less obviously rooted in religion than these earlier movements, it is nonetheless true that it has garnered the support of large segments of mainstream religion. Within American Judaism, the Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist denominations ordain female rabbis. Overall, Orthodox Judaism does not, although a handful of women have been ordained by individual yeshivas and function in synagogues as clergy. Most Christian denominations now ordain women pastors, deacons, and bishops, and even the Roman Catholic Church, which does not, allows women to deliver the homily to congregations that have no full-time priest. America’s largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, opposes the ordination of women, but recognizes the credentials of women ordained by individual congregations.

More significantly, only in the far extremes of fundamentalist Christianity and Haredi Judaism do women who want to pursue careers in the secular world, and who expect to receive equal pay, equal treatment, and equal opportunities while doing so, meet with disapproval from their church or synagogue. Although it has not, by and large, been shouting its support from the rooftops, mainstream American Christianity and Judaism have quietly accepted the goals of the feminist movement, at least as they apply in the secular world, and in so doing, have assured its lasting success.

Likewise with LGBT rights. The Episcopal Church’s 2003 appointment of an openly gay bishop (who retired in 2013) and the growing acceptance of gay marriage across the Christian community are only the most visible evidence of a change that has been slowly and quietly taking place in liberal and mainstream congregations around the country over the past three decades. Gay marriage is rapidly—although not rapidly enough—becoming a nationwide reality in America with little more than token objections from most mainstream Protestant congregations. Among Christians, only the evangelical right and the Catholic Church line up solidly against it, and among Catholics, the issue serves to open wider the already cavernous gap between the hierarchy and the laity on matters of sex, reproduction and family life. Like the women’s movement, the gay and lesbian rights movement is bringing about a permanent revolution in American society in large part because its appeal to conscience has persuaded a major segment of the religious community to quietly support it—despite the clear and unequivocal testimony of the Bible that homosexuality, especially male homosexuality, is an “abomination.”[1]


A Holy Nation

In his book The European Dream, social analyst Jeremy Rifkin recites some mind-boggling numbers about religion in American life. Rather than simply rehearsing familiar statistics about religious affiliation and church attendance, let’s focus on the more pertinent question of the role that religion plays in shaping Americans’ values and their understanding of the world. According to Rifkin, who relies on published polling data by independent groups like the Gallup Organization and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, “Nearly half of the American people say that it is necessary to believe in God to have good values,” while 58% believe that “the strength of American society is ‘predicated on the religious faith of its people.’” “Forty-five percent of Americans believe that ‘God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so,’ and an equal number believe that the second coming of Christ will occur in their lifetime.” Sixty-eight percent of college graduates and 55% of holders of master’s degrees and doctorates “believe in the devil.” A whopping 82% of Americans believe in Heaven as a literal place to which souls go after death. Sixty percent of Americans “say that their faith is involved in every aspect of their lives,” and 82% say that “God is very important to them.”[2] A public that describes their religious faith in these terms is not going to be responsive to an animal rights movement that treats religion as part of the problem and actively teaches that it ought to be replaced by a secular worldview.

Rifkin’s figures, dating from 2004, are now a decade old. But more recent polling reveals that they continue to reflect the American mindset. In June, 2014, New York Times columnist Charles Blow reported on current surveys showing that “65 percent of Americans say that religion is important in their daily lives,” and that a full 75 percent believe that the Bible is divinely inspired, either word-by-word or in its overall message.[3]


The Suicide of Progressivism

The near total collapse of liberal and progressive movements that was the most important social development of the second half of the 20th century[4] was due in large measure to the identification in the public mind of progressivism with aggressive secularism and atheism, and a corresponding identification of free-market conservatism with religion. When the leaders of the socialist, communist, and anarchist movements in the 19th and 20th centuries wrapped themselves in the banner of materialism and declared religion to be at best an irrelevant anachronism and at worst an instrument of oppression and “the opiate of the people,” they were unwittingly arranging their own failure in the United States. The much ballyhooed triumph of virtually unrestrained free-market capitalism in America—whence it has spread around the globe—is due in large part to the success of conservatives in identifying democratic socialism in the public mind with communism, and identifying both with atheism. By deliberately poking a finger in the eye of the religious community, the progressive movement has marginalized itself for generations. We are an increasingly—and frighteningly—reactionary country today because the leadership of the progressive movements of the twentieth century heaped scorn on the religion which the overwhelming majority of Americans hold so dear, while the robber barons of finance realized that by saying the right prayers and singing the right hymns they could persuade the public to vote against their own economic and social self-interest.

If we do not want animal rights to go the way of decent public education, universal higher education, universal health care,[5] decent housing for everyone and a social safety net that offers genuine protection to those who cannot cope on their own, we had better learn the lessons that the failure of these goals teaches. And the most important of those lessons is this: In our one nation under God, if religion is against you, you lose.

Only in Muslim countries is religion as dominant a factor in public life as in America. Because we are divided among a number of traditions, the profoundly religious orientation of the United States is not as apparent as the religious orientation of, say, the countries of Latin America where the vast majority belong to a single denomination, but it is actually stronger. Whether they actively practice it or not—whether or not they even believe most of it in their secret heart of hearts—most Americans look to religion for their moral values and their ethical principles. Religion has a radiating influence that extends far beyond the walls of the church to permeate our entire culture. Our social and political discourse is framed in terms of religious concepts to a degree that is incomprehensible to Europeans and to most American progressives. The Constitution says that there shall be no religious test for public office; but try to imagine a major-party candidate for president or Congress declaring that s/he is an atheist. The American public does not trust atheists, whether they are candidates for office or advocates for a cause.

Whatever anyone’s private beliefs may be, the public acknowledgment of religion is an American shibboleth, a form of loyalty oath required for admission to the public dialogue, a test of social and political respectability that establishes one’s entitlement to be taken seriously as a responsible spokesperson for whatever cause one is advocating. In the Roman Empire, everyone was required to acknowledge that the Emperor was a god. Nobody—except perhaps a few of the more unbalanced emperors—actually believed the emperor was divine, but public acknowledgment of his divinity was the test for loyalty to the Empire. In America, acknowledgment of religion—primarily, but not exclusively, Christianity and Judaism—is a test for loyalty to the core of common values that hold American society together. During the seventh-inning stretch at many major league baseball games—including all postseason games—the fans are asked to stand and remove their hats while a uniformed member of the military sings “God Bless America.” Stand and remove their hats? “God Bless America” is not our national anthem. It has no official status whatsoever. People are being asked to affirm their loyalty to the United States by affirming their loyalty to (as opposed to their belief in) God. The willingness to perform the public ritual, not personal religious faith, is the issue. Progressives, including animal activists, ignore this message at their peril.

I am not suggesting that animal advocates who are atheist or agnostic should falsely claim to be religious. Nor am I arguing that we should present animal liberation as an exclusively or even primarily religious value. Obviously, advocates who are themselves religious should advocate among their co-religionists using the vocabulary of their faith. But all animal advocates, whether religious or not, should present animal liberation as a foundational, universal ethical value that can find expression within both religious and secular worldviews. Human rights are generally seen as an expression of both religious and secular ethics, and we should portray animal rights the same way. Like Frederick Douglass, we should oppose specific religious teachings that promote injustice and reflect an absence of compassion, but we should distinguish clearly between those teachings and the true essence of religion. When asked which of the Commandments was most important, Jesus cited two: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might,” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt 22:34-40) Our task is to show that animals are our neighbors.

When we make anti-religious advocacy a part of our animal activism, we are sacrificing the animals on the altar of our own ideology.


The Failures of Religion

There can be no denying that animal advocates have good reason to be distrustful of religion. The Judeo-Christian tradition that is dominant in the United States has a miserable record on animals. Not only has it failed to provide leadership, it has more often been actively on the side of animal exploitation and murder, as is shown in the Jewish and Christian practice of thanking God before each meal for the dead flesh of murdered animals. Exhortations from the pulpit to show animals kindness generally have stopped far short of suggestions that we ought not be abusing and killing them for our own purposes. And it is no coincidence that Western Europe, where personal lifestyle and public policy are much less shaped by religion than they are here, is far ahead of the United States in the protection of animals.

But it is equally true that many of the same churches that now defend animal slavery as ordained by God once defended human slavery on the same basis, and not without scriptural justification. There are several passages in the Bible that approve of human slavery, while there is no passage in the Bible that condemns it. The Bible actually lends more support to animal rights than to the abolition of human slavery.

Religious abolitionists generally ignored the passages in the Bible that could be quoted in support of slavery. Instead, they focused on the passages that express the heart of the Bible’s spiritual message, such as “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” “Blessed are the merciful,” and “Blessed are the meek.” Slavery, they repeated over and over again, is incompatible with the Bible’s overarching message. The Bible’s teachings on love and mercy can only be understood as a condemnation of slavery.

This is the same message that we must take to the churches and synagogues of America. Animal exploitation—animal agriculture, vivisection, hunting, fishing, rodeos, and so on—are incompatible with the Bible’s overarching message. Imprisoning, torturing, and killing God’s innocent sentient creatures for our own benefit cannot be reconciled with Judaism’s and Christianity’s teachings on love, self-sacrifice, and mercy. The Bible clearly and consistently teaches that animals are sentient beings, able to suffer just as we are. The Bible also teaches that, like us, animals have immortal souls and will be present in the Kingdom of Heaven (the Messianic Age). Building on this foundation, we must repeat over and over again, to everyone who is willing to listen, and some who aren’t, that animal exploitation violates the foundational teachings of Judaism and Christianity on love and mercy.[6]

If the abolitionists had thrown up their hands in disgust at the level of support for slavery in white churches and condemned religion, they would have sabotaged their own cause by alienating almost the entirety of the American public. If we throw up our hands in disgust at the level of support for animal abuse in America’s churches and synagogues, we will set back the animals’ cause by at least a generation and probably more. Like the old abolitionists, we must convert the churches, not write them off.

Far too many of the leaders of the animal rights movement have a personal animus toward religion that disinclines them to reach out to the religious community on behalf of animals. Some are anti-religion on principle. They believe that religion is an outmoded superstition that needs to be done away with for the general good of humanity and society. Unfortunately, the recent ascendancy of the religious right in America has reinforced this attitude in those already in that camp, and pushed into it others who had not been there previously. To them I can only say two things. First, you are never going to convert the American public to atheism. And if you persist in identifying animal rights with a materialist worldview, you will condemn the animals to unending abuse. Second, the religious right does not represent authentic religion. The religious fundamentalism wedded to political fascism that is threatening to destroy the American way of life is alien to the spirit of genuine religious faith, which is reflected in the teachings of the Latter Prophets and Jesus and represented by sayings like, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and “Blessed are the merciful.” It is to believers who live by these themes that we must appeal, not the fundamentalists who pay them lip service while living by a code of militancy that displays love and mercy only toward those who agree with them.

Other animal advocates believe that animal abuse arises from the dominionist[7] outlook of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and that the Abrahamic religions are inherently hostile to animals. This view finds its most thoughtful and articulate expression in An Unnatural Order by Jim Mason, an environmental and animal rights pioneer whose expose of factory farming, Animal Factories (co-authored with Peter Singer), has found a well-deserved place in the first rank of animal rights classics. Near the end of An Unnatural Order, Mason gives a nod to traditions within Christianity, Judaism, and Islam that are friendly to women, animals, and the environment.  Then he notes that these traditions “would, if revived, contribute some healing to the spiritual, sexual, and environmental crises we now find ourselves in. One hopes that the progressive faithful can find them and successfully revive them.”[8] As long as the animal rights movement sits passively on the sidelines and refuses to address religion with both respect and uncompromising moral force, Mason’s “hope” will remain forlorn.

But Jim Mason is right. Those traditions are there, and they reach in unbroken lineage back to the ultimate wellsprings of human morality, which are in every society religious. A critical challenge facing the animal rights movement is showing modern Christians, Jews, and Muslims what their fundamental moral principles mean for our relationship to animals.

Our task is not to discredit or revise religious ethics. Quite the opposite. Our task is to strengthen and reinforce the ethical teachings that already stand at the heart of the great religions, and show that they apply equally to all of God’s sentient creatures. The teachings that would deny animals the full protection of Jewish and Christian compassion did not originate in either Judaism, Christianity or Islam. They originated in Classical Greek philosophy, specifically in the teachings of Aristotle and the Stoics. They are, in effect, alien imports into the Abrahamic religions, and therefore, they are not of the essence of these faiths. The essence of Judaism, Christianity and Islam is universal, boundless love and compassion, and these can lead the religious communities to animal rights, just at universal, boundless love and compassion have led them to human rights without regard for such morally irrelevant factors as race, nationality, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.

Thus, our overarching strategy should be to challenge people of faith to test specific practices—including practices ordained by scripture—against the faith’s fundamental ethical teachings. If they are consistent, all is well. If they are not, we should suggest respectfully but insistently that the practice should be rejected as not an authentic expression of the faith.[9]

Specifically, our argument must be that while the writers of scripture did get the core ethical message right, they were still men of their time, influenced by the world in which they lived. And as such, they did not in all instances recognize the full implications of the fundamental principles they transmitted to humanity. And so, it falls to us to work out the application of core scriptural principles to an ever-changing and ever-expanding body of circumstances—the role and status of women in society, for example, or the standing of LGBT people in the broader community . . .   or the right of nonhuman persons not to be enslaved and slaughtered for the benefit of humans.

Obviously, this approach must reject scriptural literalism: the doctrine that every word of scripture is literally and eternally true. The Bible, as we have seen, endorses human slavery. You cannot endorse scriptural literalism and believe that human slavery is morally wrong. The Bible teaches that women should in all instances be subordinate to men, and should not speak up in church—a policy that would deny nearly all contemporary churches the majority of their Sunday School teachers. (ICor 14:34-35) Saint Paul argues that all governments without exception are instituted by God and to disobey any government is to rebel against God. (Rom 13:1-5) But how many Christians today believe that America’s founding fathers were rebels against God or that Martin Luther King was rebelling against God?

The core ethical teaching of all the world’s major religions is unbounded, universal love and compassion. And this creates at the heart of each of the great religions a natural receptivity to the animal rights message. At present, this door of receptivity is often blocked by selfish barricades that would limit our love and compassion to other human beings. But, as we have seen, similar barricades have often blocked women, people of color, and adherents of other religions from the love and compassion of the faithful, and those barricades were overcome when they were shown to be at odds with the ethical heart of the faith. In fact, the conflict between fundamentalism and the more generous forms of religion (in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and other faiths) can be best understood as the struggle between those who would limit religion’s ethical teachings to a small, restricted group of “deserving” recipients, and those who would apply them as they were originally formulated—to all who stand in need of love, acceptance, and mercy.


A False Messiah

I do not share the hope of some that the replacement of a religious, spiritual worldview by a “scientific,” materialist worldview will advance the animals’ cause. Historically, science has treated animals no better than religion, and scientists are in the forefront of contemporary animal abusers—both in biomedical research and research in support of animal agriculture. Darwin may have believed that nonhuman animals have rich interior lives not much different from our own and that this has serious implications for our treatment of them, but subsequent generations of scientists have ignored this aspect of his work. Vivisection (which even Darwin supported) is the creation of science, not religion, and one-hundred percent of vivisectors are scientists. Practitioners of the physical, biological and social sciences have not hesitated to imprison, torture, and murder vast numbers of animals in the name of science. Geneticists routinely create “transgenic” animals who are deliberately designed to suffer from diseases and other painful, disabling, and lethal abnormalities that make them useful in experiments. They have gone beyond inflicting suffering on already living beings to designing beings whose suffering is built into them, an atrocity beyond the grasp of earlier generations of abusers.

The fathers of modern vivisection, Francois Magendie and Claude Bernard, were among the nineteenth century’s foremost opponents of religion and leading advocates for the scientific worldview. But that did not stop them from conducting experiments on unanesthetized animals so cruel that they almost single-handedly gave rise to the anti-vivisection movement in Europe and North America.

The dominionist outlook of the Abrahamic religions does not cause animal exploitation, and abolishing religion will not end it. We exploit animals because we enjoy the products of animal exploitation and we can do so with impunity. Dominionism simply provides an after-the-fact justification for what we already want to do. This is why animal exploitation is not limited to Jewish, Christian, and Muslim countries, but is found everywhere on Earth, regardless of religion, culture, history, or economic system. We like the results, and we can get away with it. If religion were abolished tomorrow, the animal exploiters would never miss a beat. They would simply find a new justification for their cruelty, and life—and killing—would go on as before, business as usual. Until we are made to face the pure evil of what we are doing, we will always find a defense of animal exploitation in whatever belief system we adopt.

In the final analysis, the argument for animal rights is entirely a moral argument, based on compassion. It is wrong for humankind to inflict suffering and premature death on sentient creatures because we enjoy the taste of their flesh, milk, or eggs, or we think their skin looks and feels good on our feet, or we hope that if we torture and kill enough of them we can extend our own lives. That is the alpha and the omega of animal rights. There are other, entirely valid, reasons for doing things that advance the animals’ cause—adopting a vegan diet to improve our health or eliminating animal agriculture to reduce global warming and end world hunger; but there is no reason other than morality for granting animals rights. And the arbiter of American morality is religion. As long as our rabbis, priests, pastors, and—increasingly—imams are telling Americans that animal slavery and slaughter are not wrong, the bulk of Americans will see no reason to give up their prime rib, their leather shoes, the research that may cure cancer, or the circus elephants that their kids enjoy so much. When you are making a moral argument the refusal to make it to the very people and institutions that honor morality above all else here on earth is irresponsible. We have a powerful ethical and spiritual argument on behalf of animals. And like the abolitionists and civil rights advocates of old, we need to use it.



[1] See, for example, Leviticus 20:13 and 18:22. And in the New Testament, Romans 1:24-32.


[2] Rifkin, Jeremy, The European Dream: How Europe’s Vision of the Future is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream, Tarcher/Penguin, New York, 2004. Citations are from pages 19-22.


[3] Blow, Charles, “Religious Constriction,” The New York Times, June 8, 2014. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/09/opinion/blow-religious-constriction.html. Visited on November 4, 2014.


[4] Eclipsing the civil rights, women’s and LGBT movements because it threatens to destroy their successes, as it has already destroyed the successes of the trade union movement and the economic justice movement represented by President Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty and Martin Luther King’s poor people’s campaign.


[5] The Affordable Care Act, “Obamacare,” is not universal health care, which can only be achieved by a single-payer system that covers everyone free of charge. Obamacare makes worthwhile, but ultimately inadequate, reforms to the current healthcare system while providing a windfall for the insurance companies in the form of a requirement that everyone buy private health insurance or pay a penalty.


[6] For an in-depth examination of the Bible’s teachings regarding animals and our proper relationship to them, see Norm Phelps, The Dominion of Love: Animal Rights According to the Bible, 2002, Lantern Books, New York.


[7] In the King James translation, Genesis 1:27 says that God gave humanity “dominion” over the animals. “Dominionism” is the belief that this statement constitutes divine authorization to use animals for our own purposes with no great concern for their lives or interests.


[8] Mason, Jim, An Unnatural Order: Why We Are Destroying the Planet and Each Other, New York, The Continuum Publishing Company, 1993. Pg. 298.


[9] I discuss this approach in some detail in The Dominion of Love, pp. 33-44.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s