With the astonishing growth of veganism in the UK being driven by young people, how are Christian students responding to the increased awareness in animal issues and plant based diets? Tim Lornie, recent graduate from Cambridge University recounts his experiences of becoming vegan, student attitudes to animal advocacy and Christian faith.
Dr Kris Hiuser, discusses his new book Animals, Theology and The Incarnation which explores how the life and work of Christ applies to non-human animals and humanity’s relationship to the rest of creation.
A growing number of Christians are recognising the importance of showing care, compassion and mercy for animals. For many of these people, the food on our plates is more than just a matter of personal preference, but rather a pressing faith issue.
As ever more Christians choose to go meat-free, churches are responding with vegetarian and vegan options at community bring and share lunches, prayer breakfasts, discipleship course meals and even church BBQs!
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Professor John Berkman argues that the language of ‘environment’ is problematic in that it presupposes that humanity being at the centre with everything else as a backdrop. He also warns against the evils of factory farming and reveals how Pope Francis’s Laudato Si has encouraged new, positive thinking in regards to environmental and animal issues.
The Rt Revd John Arnold, Roman Catholic Bishop of Salford, speaks on contemporary animal issues and explains how Pope Francis’s encyclical letter Laudato Si has triggered new, pioneering thinking in regards to animals.
Venus Williams, David Haye, Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, and Kendrick Farris. You may recognise the aforementioned as inspiring, world-renowned athletes, but what you may be surprised to discover is that they all follow a plant-based diet!
Professor Ryan McLaughlin, lecturer of theology at Siena College, New York, explains how the biblical concept of “dominion” necessitates eating a meat-free diet.
Dr Philip J. Sampson FOCAE, writer and lecturer on animals and animal ethics, explores the rich history of Christian concern for animals. He also uncovers many remarkable, pro-animal biblical insights including how Jesus demonstrated love and compassion for all creatures.
It was very encouraging to welcome so many people from others faiths and none to the Creature Conference.
In today’s society, a growing number of people from outside the church are deeply concerned with animals. For these thousands of individuals, a church unconcerned about animals is a church which fails to apply the love it proclaims.
The Creature Conference was a wonderful opportunity to show that times are changing and ever more Christians are realising the importance of animal concerns. For the conference attendees who would not call themselves followers of Christ, this event has proven to be an important milestone in re-shaping their perception of Christianity.
Kerry-Jayne, an omnist (respecter of all faiths) from West London, was deeply impressed with seeing Christians speaking up for animals:
I was really impressed with Creature Conference! I have previously been disappointed with how many religions exclude nature and animals from being a prime moral concern but this conference has proven to be a major step forward in challenging the status quo. Christ himself turned over the tables of the money lenders in an act of moral defiance. The Christians I met at this conference are similarly shaking things up within the church and wider society regarding animals. They are social reformers … pioneers … visionaries … Christianity at its best!”
For John, an agnostic from Greater London, the conference left a positive and lasting impression :
I have never been one to call myself a Christian; however I wholeheartedly support Sarx for creating a truly inspirational and motivating conference. Taking the lessons of Christianity of compassion, care, love and respect they have forged a crucible where intellect and empathy are shared and displayed without hesitation for the protection and welfare of animals.”
Dr Joyce D’Silva, public speaker, author and former chief executive of Compassion in World Farming was impressed with the conference and optimistic about the Christian voice in bringing about positive change for animals:
Sarx is doing a great job in challenging that out-of-date instrumental view of animals and showing that true Christianity necessitates deep concern and compassion for animals as well as humans. If every Christian embraced the Sarx ideals, then a great swell of public opinion could be generated which could challenge the status quo, help achieve change and lay the basis for a more compassionate world.”
Christians don’t need to gauge a difficult balance between spending their time either on mission or animal concerns. Rather demonstrating care and concern for animals and so working to fulfil God’s will on earth, as it is heaven, it one of most positive and powerful ways of testifying to those outside the church. In witnessing to a different way of living, one that is generous, abundant and focused on the wellbeing of all God’s creatures, we example a life that will doubtless be attractive and compelling to Christians and non-Christians alike.
One of the highlights of the Creature Conference was the interactive panel discussion featuring all the speakers.
This discussion, chaired by Sarx Patron, The Revd Steve Chalke MBE, drew together the key themes addressed throughout the day and provided the opportunity for attendees to ask questions from the floor.
Press play on the toolbar below to listen to the full length debate and hear the speakers challenged on pressing, important topics including the life of Christ, animal suffering, veganism and the work of our Christian forebears in bringing about positive changes for animals.
Press play on the toolbar to listen to the full discussion:
This dynamic conversation demonstrated Christian unity in treating animal concerns as prime faith concerns and gave great promise for the future of Christian engagement with animal issues. Delegates commented:
Steve Chalke’s chairing was excellent. Pertinent questions were asked and a lot of ground covered, including some fresh material, in a relatively short period of time.”
“It was good to hear the agreement and discussions of those Christians from different traditions and approaches coming together and gave great hope for the future.”
“It was the best panel discussion I have ever witnessed in a Christian setting. Not only were the panel members informed, but panelists and audience members alike benefitted from having a skilled moderator overseeing the event.”