Practical Issues > Things to do > Religion and Animals
Animal Ministry Presentation

To: (Your church and vestry)

Subject: Establishing a companion animal welfare ministry at (your church here)

Why should (your church) do this?

1. Proverbs 12:10 - The righteous person regards the life of his beast { a person cannot be considered righteous unless he/she treats animals with compassion}

2. Ecclesiastes 3:19-20 - The spirit of man and the spirit of animals come from the same place and go to the same place. Man has no advantage: For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again.

3. "Animals possess a soul and men must love and feel solidarity with our smaller brethren...the fruit of creative action of the Holy Spirit merits near to God as men are. He reminded people that all living things came into being because of the breath of God. He spoke of St. Francis' love for animals declaring, we, too, are called to a similar attitude."

His Holiness Pope John Paul II`

Everywhere in the U.S., shelters annually euthanize nine million healthy, loving, adoptable companion animals. This translates to over 24, 600 animals killed EVERY DAY. Are we, as Christians, living up to the scriptures listed above if we do nothing to change this terrible misfortune of the lives of the innocent? Should we, in good conscience, ignore the wisdom of His Holiness John Paul II?

Many rescue organizations and inpiduals work tirelessly and unselfishly every day to help save these innocent lives. But funds are required to cover vet care and spay/neuter costs (to prevent future unwanted animals) for these animals to be taken out of shelters to rescue organizations and foster guardians until the animals find a loving, secure, forever home.

I will gladly accept full responsibility and work necessary to make this happen. I will also provide accountability for all funds received and see they go to the proper inpiduals and groups I have worked with for many years. Keep in mind there will be no overhead or administrative costs, EVERY PENNY will be used to save innocent lives.

In addition, great emphasis has been put to this congregation recently to expand our numbers. Sixty three percent of all U.S. households own pets and, like myself, there are countless inpiduals deeply devoted to animal welfare. If we establish an animal welfare ministry here and make that fact known, I am certain that this ministry would be an enticement to many to explore joining (Your church). Like yourselves, I love (your church) and want to see this church grow to avoid the tragedy of this church closing in the future. It is one of the priorities in my life. Appealing to the pet owner and animal welfare demographic would be a step in the right direction.

It is my sincere hope that (your church here) will show it's compassion and love and grant this request to undertake this endeavor. Let us be a beacon of light in the darkness of unnecessary death and set an example for other churches across the nation to follow in this worthwhile cause.

(Your church here)

If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men. St. Francis of Assisi

Life is as dear to the mute creature as it is to a man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not to die, so do other creatures. The Dalai Lama

Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight. Albert Schweitzer

I care not much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it. Abraham Lincoln

The soul is the same in all living creatures, although the body of each is different. Hippocrates

Animals are God's creatures, not human property, nor utilities, nor
resources, nor commodities, but precious beings in God's sight.
...Christians whose eyes are fixed on the awfulness of crucifixion are
in a special position to understand the awfulness of innocent
suffering. The Cross of Christ is God's absolute identification with
the weak, the powerless, and the vulnerable, but most of all with
unprotected, undefended, innocent suffering.
Rev. Andrew Linzey

Because the heart beats under a covering of hair, of fur, feathers, or wings, it is, for that reason, to be of no account? Jean Paul Richter

Any society which does not insist upon respect for all life must necessarily decay. Albert Einstein

The assumption that animals are without rights, and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance, is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.
Arthur Shopenhauer

"[T]he difference in mind between man and the higher animals ... is one of degree and not of kind. We have seen that the senses and intuitions, the various emotions and faculties, such as love, memory, attention, curiosity, imitation, reason, [etc.], of which man boasts, may be found ... in the lower animals." Charles Darwin

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. Mahatma Gandhi

Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages. Thomas A. Edison

I looked at all the caged animals in the shelter...the cast offs of human society. I saw in their eyes love and hope, fear and dread, sadness and betrayal. And I was angry. "God," I said, "this is terrible! Why don't you do something?" God was silent for a moment, and then he spoke softly. "I have done something," He replied, "I created you." Jim Willis

Jesus Christ - The World's First Animal Rights Activist

Anyone who studies the Bible knows that Jesus Christ was a champion for the underdog. He hung out with the lowly which in biblical times included tax collectors, sinners, and women. However, historians and most Christians typically overlook the fact that Jesus was also was a champion for animals. By examining scripture we can see that although the ministry of Christ was targeted at humanity, he interacted compassionately with animals though out his lifetime and he may have been somewhat of a vegetarian.

Beginning in Genesis, human beings are commanded by God to be stewards of the animals. Many people look at Chapter one in the book of Genesis and think this means we are entitled to own and use animals, but in the true meaning of the word, stewardship requires us to be guardians for animals. Prior to the birth of Christ, animal use and abuse was rampant and horrific. Many chapters of the Old Testament depict the large number of animals sacrificed (killed) as "sin offerings". Beginning with the birth of Christ we see a new relationship with the animal kingdom. "He was born in a stable of lowly birth." There are many places such as a tavern, a field or a roadside that would have portrayed a lowly birth. Instead Jesus enters the world in physical form amongst the animal kingdom.

Throughout the New Testament, the only animal Jesus seems to eat is fish. We know he attended celebrations and Passover gatherings and most likely there were traditional foods such as lamb, but nothing is recorded of the food he ate at these events. Even when Jesus ate fish or bread, he showed his respect for all life by thanking God and treating food as sacred. According to the Gospel of Mark chapter one, John the Baptist who prepared the way for the birth of Christ and later baptized Jesus, ate only honey and wild locust (insects). This hints at the idea that in some people should refrain from eating meat or that maintaining a vegetarian lifestyle or semi-vegetarian lifestyle is good for us.

In the gospel of Mark, chapter eleven Jesus becomes enraged when he sees caged animals for sale at the temple. "He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves....My house shall be called a house of prayers ...but you have made it a den of thieves". Jesus is furious because the temple is being used as a market place. I understand the focus of this chapter is about keeping the temple as a holy place of prayer, but I often wonder if his rage came from seeing the misuse of the animals as well. His use of the word "thief" is something to ponder. From a humanist perspective, these were business people selling commodities in an inappropriate place, but they were not thieves. However, from an animal rights perspective the traders in the temple were thieves. The people engaged in the buying and selling of animals in the temple were stealing the life of the animals by selling them to be used as sacrifice for "sin offerings".

The gospel of Luke is extremely significant when examining Christ's treatment of humans and animals. In chapter four Jesus casts demons out of a man and the man is cured. However, later in chapter eight Jesus casts "legions of demons" out of a man. The demons beg to enter the nearby heard of pigs (swine). We know Jesus could have just removed the demons as he had done previously. Instead Jesus agrees and the pigs become "possessed". They immediately run down a cliff and drowned themselves in the sea below. Initially, this seems to be a cruel act as far as animal rights goes. Why would Jesus allow innocent animals to experience demonic possession? However, on a larger scale Jesus is using this experience to illuminate critical facts about the animal kingdom--fact that were overlooked then and are still overlooked by most Christians today. First, if the pigs had no soul, they could not be possessed.

So, the first lesson is that animals have souls. Secondly, the nature of the pigs in this act portrays the deep gift and sacrifice the animal kingdom makes on behalf of humanity. Animals are true companions and burden bearers for humans. Then we realize that throughout the New Testament Jesus frees humans from demonic possession, but this is the only instant where an animal experiences demonic possession and the animal's immediate response is to commit suicide. This chapter depicts the incredible connection and wisdom that the pigs had with the pine. The entire herd of pigs realizes it is better to be "dead" and with their creator then suffering demonic possession here on earth. Do the pigs understand that as they end their life their spirits will join with God? If so, then this example from the Gospel of Luke indicates the pigs are smarter and more spiritually enlightened than the man who was formerly possessed.

Anyone who studies the life of Christ realizes his ministry was to humanity and our first priority as a Christian is to take care of each other-human to human. We also know that Jesus freed us from strict rules when it comes to diet. However, it's clear that animals are sacred to the Creator. The Holy Spirit is portrayed as a dove, and Jesus is called the Lion of Judea.. To follow in Christ's footsteps means that we must form a right relationship with the animal kingdom. We must be guardians and adopt beliefs similar to Native American's--all life is sacred. We live in a time where horrific atrocities are being inflicted on animals; factory farming, senseless animal experimentation, and rising abuse and neglect of domestic animals. But there is hope. If the life of Christ can radically change the way we treat ourselves and each other, it can also change the way we interact with the animal kingdom.

click above icon to enlarge

Steven Hoover
St Marks Animal Welfare Ministry Director and
Political Administrator
Animal Law Coalition

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. Mahatma Gandhi

The fate of animals is of greater importance to me than the fear of appearing ridiculous. Emile Zola, 1840-1902

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