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Update Newsletters
27 April 2011 Issue

1. Activist Feedback

2. Christianity and Animal Rights, part 6

3. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman

1. Activist Feedback

Gracia Fay Ellwood, with family and friends, tabled at Earth Fair in San Diego. She writes:

We had quite a good experience at the San Diego EarthFair. We had a wide range of literature available, and we distributed hundreds of booklets.

One of our helpers, Chris, was a comparatively new vegetarian (vegan) and very enthusiastic about it all, including the great improvement in his health and loss of 50 pounds. I gave him one of the two Good News books as a thank-you and support for his journey.

There was only one naysayer. Interestingly, all the while he was opposing our message, he wore not a hostile expression but a smiling one.

Upcoming Outreach Opportunities

4/29-5/1 MO Branson Women of Joy Conference

5/1 TX Corpus Christi Disciple Rock The Born Again Experience

5/3 TX Lubbock Disciple Rock The Born Again Experience

5/5 NM Albuquerque Disciple Rock The Born Again Experience

5/5 TN Chattanooga Manifest Christian Rock Concert

5/6 WV Fairmont Manifest Christian Rock Concert FREE

5/8 CA Sacramento Disciple Rock The Born Again Experience

5/9 MD Columbia Manifest Christian Rock Concert FREE

5/12 OR Medford Disciple Rock The Born Again Experience

5/13 IA Des Moines Women of Faith Conference

5/13 CA San Diego Joel Olsteen: A Night of Hope Conference

5/14 IN Franklin Esterlyn Christian Rock Concert

5/14 AL ADDISON Kimber Rising Christian Concert

5/14 WY Greybull KJ-52 Christian Rock Concert

5/14 NY Richmondville Manifest Christian Rock Concert

5/15 NY New York TABLE Post Veggie Pride Parade or leafleting

5/15 WA Spokane Disciple Rock The Born Again Experience

5/17 ID Idaho Falls Disciple Rock The Born Again Experience

5/18 MT Billings Disciple Rock The Born Again Experience

5/19 WY Casper Disciple Rock The Born Again Experience

5/21 SC Myrtle Beach Andrew Palau Beachfest

5/21 CA Buena Park Knottsberry Farm Gospel Festival

6/3 MA Boston Joel Olsteen: A Night of Hope Conference

6/19 VA Richmond TABLE Richmond Vegetarian Festival

6/23-25 MI Iona Big Ticket Festival Christian Rock Fest

7/5-8 OH Cincinnati TABLE Church Turning the World Upside

7/15 NC Raleigh Joel Olsteen: A Night of Hope Conference

8/6 IL Chicago Joel Olsteen: A Night of Hope Conference

9/17-18 MO Kirkwood TABLE 2011 Kirkwood Greentree Festival

International Events:

5/14-17 CANADA QC Montréal CJYC Youth Conference

5/20 CANADA QC Laval Manifest Christian Rock Concert

5/28-29 CANADA AB Edmonton Manifest Christian Rock Concert

6/4 CANADA ON Oakville Manifest Christian Rock Concert

Contact Paris at christian_vegetarian@yahoo.com if you can help. To find out about all upcoming leafleting and tabling opportunities in your area, join the CVA Calendar Group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/christian_vegetarian/ .

2. Christianity and Animal Rights, part 6: The Need for Legal Rights for Nonhumans

The Bible provides crucial moral direction for Christians, but it does not provide much guidance for applying its moral principles in secular, pluralistic societies, such as United States and other Western nations. Laws provide protection of the weak against the strong; if there were no laws, the principle of “might makes right” would determine outcomes. Many laws aim to protect “rights” held by individuals who, without laws protecting their rights, would often be victimized. While human greed and human frailty can impede the application of rights, their existence is a powerful defense against abuse. Rights offer the possibility that victims can plead for justice in courts of law, and courts of law are buttressed by the power of the state.

Nonhuman beings have never had legal rights in the United States, and outside the United States legal rights for nonhumans have been rare and very limited. There have been animal-protection laws, but these have resulted from either human good-will or the desires among humans to protect certain animals of whom those humans are fond. Nearly universally, animals have not enjoyed the most basic right, which is the right not to be enslaved. Throughout the world, humans have regarded nonhuman beings as property, and humans have had the right to do to their own property nearly anything those humans desire. Courts of law have repeatedly favored “persons” over individuals whom the law regards as “property,” however trivial the “person’s” desire might be and however essential the “property’s” need might be.*

I think there is a place for welfare reforms designed to ameliorate conditions of animal abuse, but these reforms will likely have very limited impact as long as the law regards nonhuman beings as property. As long as animals are property, they will depend on human goodwill to prevent abuse, and history has shown unequivocally that humans are nearly universally hard-hearted when it comes to animals. For millennia, but never before on the scale we see today, humans throughout the world have inflicted misery and suffering upon animals to a massive degree, and huge numbers of animals meet early, violent deaths.

From a Christian standpoint, everything belongs to God. There are human and nonhuman slaves in the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament, but the Bible never endorses abuse. I don’t know to what degree biblical mandate to show compassion toward animals and to treat slaves with respect influenced behavior in ancient times, but they certainly haven’t done much to protect animals today. We need laws that define and defend animal rights. Without them, animal abuse – including abuse perpetrated by people who claim to be inspired by God’s love – will continue largely unabated.

The problem is that clearly most people don’t care that much about animals. They might prefer that animals not be abused, but they are unwilling to allow that preference to significantly alter their lifestyles. Perhaps the best hope for animals to gain rights is to show that animal rights are essential for human rights. I will turn to that topic next week.

* I take issue with aspects of Gary Francione’s “abolitionist approach,” but I am indebted to his insights regarding the property status of animals.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

3. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman

Of Rock and Flesh and Eyes and Ears
http://www.all-creatures.org/sermons97/s3apr88.html .

Your question and comments are welcome

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