As, Christians, we are called to follow Jesus’ teachings of
compassion, peace and love. Following Jesus means putting these teaching
into practice and witness to our neighbors. One way of doing this is by
being good stewards of all of God’s creation, spreading the good news
about a plant-based diet and supporting the industries, charities and
organizations in accordance to our beliefs. This discussion centers on
the impact of our choices when we decide to donate to charities.
I am looking into donating to this organization (Compassion
International) by possibly sponsoring a child and have heard many good
things about them and the work they do. The only potential conflict is
that I don't want my money buying food that contains meat. Does anyone
have any suggestions? Is it even worth worrying about? Many of these
children live in such deplorable conditions that I almost feel "selfish"
for putting my needs (not wanting to harm animals) above the children's
needs (getting enough food to eat to avoid starvation/malnutrition). I
seem to face this dilemma with all of the non-vegetarian,
Christian-based charities that take care of the poor; organizations like
World Vision, Food for the Poor, Bright Hope International, etc. I guess
I want to have my cake and eat it too! The only food relief vegetarian
organization that I have donated to in the past (Food for Life Global)
is not Christian-based. Any suggestions?
I do not regard not wanting to harm animals to be a personal need. My
desiring not being harmed is a personal need; my not wanting to
contribute to harming other individuals reflects others' needs. Given
how much animals continue to suffer at human hands, I definitely think
that it is worth worrying about. Personally, I favor non-Christian
organizations that express core Christian
values of love and compassion for all God's Creation to those that claim
Christian ties but show no compassion for God's creatures. Fortunately,
there are relief organizations that are vegetarian. Therefore, it seems
to me that sponsorship of a Christian animal-based relief organization
would express a value that being Christian-based is more important than
animal welfare concerns.
I agree with what you are saying, but... (if I may play the devil's
advocate here for a minute and put this in an Evangelical Christian's
perspective) I don't think we should minimize the importance of
"evangelizing" to the world's poor. As Christians, we believe that
salvation comes thru Jesus Christ and by supporting Christian-based
relief organizations, we are helping spread the "Good
News" and hopefully "saving" more people from a life of torment and
misery in hell. If we believe in heaven, isn't saving a life for
eternity the most important thing? The abuses that animals receive are
atrocious indeed, but we have no control over their "eternal" lives,
only God does. However, as Christians, we believe that accepting Jesus
into our hearts ensures salvation in heaven.
It appears that we, as Christian vegetarians, are put into the
precarious position of having to choose between non-Christian, animal
welfare/vegetarian organizations and non-vegetarian, Christian
organizations... which is most unfortunate! Maybe the CVA can start a
new division that provides vegetarian world hunger relief! That would be
the best of both worlds.
I wonder what "we believe that accepting Jesus into our hearts
ensures salvation in heaven" really means. To me it means to live in
accordance to Jesus teachings (compassion, mercy, love and justice
towards ALL creatures). Therefore, my actions and my faith must be
consistent. It is perfectly possible to spread the gospel and to still
try to live to Jesus' highest standards to the best of our abilities. By
donating to an organization that does great things to feed the poor and
the hungry, but does so at the expense of animal suffering, does not
strike me as what Jesus would do. I don't believe it's OK to justify the
means to achieve the ends, especially when there are feasible
alternatives for the means. One of the ways to spread the gospel, in my
opinion, is to responsibly give our money to the organizations whose
ends and means reflect our beliefs.
If Christian organizations start realizing that they are losing
financial support from people like us, maybe they'll also start doing
things differently (i.e. provide plant-based foods for the poor and the
hungry of the world).
Unfortunately Christians are not united in what they believe is at
the core of Christianity. The notion that accepting Jesus into one's
heart ensures salvation in heaven is not a bad idea if we could only
agree on what "salvation", "heaven" and "hell" are. That's, however, a
different topic for a different forum.
That said, I feel that your proposition that we "should not minimize
the importance of evangelizing to the poor" is not uncharacteristic of
first-world capitalization of other people's misfortune. The poor are
typically easy targets for evangelization because they are desperate. In
order to survive they will accept all manner of terms including
"accepting Jesus into their hearts". I have seen this first-hand in
India where hordes of evangelical Christians are pouring in from the
U.S. and European countries and offer monetary and material incentives
(I think they're bribes) to poor non-Christians who will either attend
their crusades or better yet "accept Jesus as their lord and savior".
I'd say the challenge for evangelists would be to evangelize the
millionaires and the billionaires of this world - see if you can get
them to stop wrecking God's Creation with their unbridled consumption.
Personally, if I had to choose between a good non-Christian
organization that performs relief work with no strings attached to their
giving and a Christian organization that's primarily out to evangelize
I'd choose the non-Christian organization all the time.
Lastly, from what I know the CVA is not a typical Christian
evangelical organization. The CVA primarily attempts to bring existing
Christians to embrace vegetarianism and I doubt it has that much to do
with actively bringing non-Christians to Christianity.
I appreciate Stephen's remarks. I think it is most accurate to say
that the CVA does not try to actively convert people to Christianity in
the sense that we are aggressive about the Christian message. Instead,
we try to show the world that being Christian is compatible with love
and compassion for all God's Creation, and this may encourage people who
have rejected Christianity as callous and heart-hearted to consider
embracing the faith. Further, it may encourage Christians to embrace
Christianity that, we believe, more fully accords with Jesus' ministry.
Calling oneself Christian and being Christian are not necessarily the
People spread the CVA message in a wide range of ways, and I don't
consider CVA to have only one theology, view, or approach. As long as
CVA activists show compassion and love, we give them a lot of latitude
to witness as they see fit. Our role is to provide responsible,
effective tools (e.g., literature and videos) to assist their efforts.
Speaking only for myself, (but not all CVA
members), I focus the "faith of Christ" more than "faith in Christ." I
think this approach is scripturally sound, for reasons discussed in
essay #81 of the series Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence