Practical Issues > Things to do > Religion and Animals

lamb.gif (1828 bytes)
HUMANE RELIGION

A CHALLENGE TO ANY AND ALL WHO SHARE, PREACH, TEACH, BELIEVE IN AND FOLLOW THE TEACHINGS OF THE BIBLE.  HELP YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY AND CONGREGATION TO FIND IMPROVED MEANS OF PROVIDING THE PROPER AND APPROPRIATE CARE FOR THEIR ANIMALS. STOP THE UNNECESSARY SLAUGHTER OF OUR PETS. YOU CAN ALL SAY 'IT'S NOT OUR PLACE' OR 'THE BIBLE SAYS IT VERY CLEARLY' OR WHAT EVER EXCUSE YOU WANT TO USE.  BUT YOU KNOW GOD HAS PLACED YOU HERE ON A MISSION.  A MISSION THAT IS BY NO MEANS LIMITED TO HUMANS, BUT FOR ALL CREATURES - OF WHICH WE ARE BUT ONE.
 

* What religious leaders must consider and understand

*The benefits of humane education to rid our society of hatred and betrayal by  Dr. Jeanette Shutay Ph.d.

*   Letter to the 'God Squad' by Joseph Pastore of H.E.A.R.T. in NYC

* A Challenge for all religious leaders

*The Ten Commandments of Animal Guardianship

*Animal Protection Issues wheel

 

I am sometimes asked why I spend so much time and efforts on animal related issues when there is so much insensitivity towards man.  I answer....."I'm working at the roots"! -- George T. Angell

With the teachings in the bible that clearly show reverence and respect for ALL living beings, it saddens me to see so many people - people who 'claim' to be God-fearing and who also consider religion to play a sizable role in their lives, mistreat, neglect and basically abuse their companion animals. 

I live in Dolan Springs, Arizona.  The local community has it's responsible pet guardians, but by no means are they the majority.  Far from it.   The average Dolan Springs household with pets is ripe with neglect, ignorant of the pets needs, barron of any training or even proper restraints for the pets safety.    And don't even get me started on the appropriate identification of the pets - hundreds of which roam freely with little regard from their human counterpart as to where they are vs where they should be.

So, then why in the world, would the religious teachers, ministers and those who believe the bible's teachings, refuse to use this incredible tool of faith, to help clean up our problems of pet overpopulation and especially animal abuse?

arkconstruct1.jpg (48646 bytes)

 

IT'S SAD THAT DOGS DON'T LIVE AS LONG AS WE DO.  BUT, I SEE WHY NOW.  THEY ALREADY KNOW HOW TO GIVE UNCONDITIONAL LOVE AND AFFECTION - SOMETHING IT TAKES HUMANS 7 TIMES AS LONG TO LEARN!!

The largest majority of those who are causing harm are not doing it maliciously, but out of simple ignorance.  This is what makes me believe that the church could and should play a role in the education of our community.  If we had a rash of rapes in the recent past, there would be a sermon on respect for the opposite sex.  If there were an unusually large number of murders over the past year, we would hear a sermon on respect for life and so on.  So, why, when God makes it so very clear that animals and humans are all to be respected and treated with kindness and compassion, is this topic so ignored when the problem is so obvious?

 

There is a definite reason why Noah built the Arc for the animals and no additional humans were invited.

Humane Education, at its roots, has benefits that are felt far and wide in improved behavior of students, increased attendance, much more awareness of others, a noticeably raised level of achievement scores, more respectful nature of addressing adults and others around them and gaining a less violent resolution technique when challenged - not to mention the obvious - the lives that are spared and provided with the proper treatment that will extend their lives in a healthier, happier way.

So, if the above reasons do not spur the preachers and priests on to a more compassionate style of ministries or simple common sense isn't enough for the local or national ministries to take notice and begin giving more appropriate sermons to their listeners, maybe some of the following articles can convince them to give a humane style sermon at least once a year.  If their followers are truly respectful of God and his teachings, they will learn how to improve their pets existence as well - giving the pets a noticeably improved chance of living out a healthy life in a manner pleasing the man above.

arklanding.jpg (66571 bytes)

"I looked at all the caged animals in the shelter....the castoffs 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. "

I think all clergy should read Matthew Scully's book "Dominion."
He addresses all these issues and very well done.

TO All Religious Leaders:
                                                                   by Dr. Jeanette Shutay, Ph.d.

First of all, I want to make it known that I take neglect of animals, abuse of animals and all types of this behavior very seriously. I would also like to mention that fact that those who are physically abusive to animals tend to be more violent than average, in general (e.g., in all domains of life). Let me give you some specific examples that support this supposition.

The Child Abuse Potential Inventory (CAP) is an instrument which is designed to measure one's potential for abusing children (Milner, 1986). This instrument has been referenced as a research tool in the abuse literature. One of the statements on this questionnaire is ?I enjoy having pets? in which the person is to state whether he or she agrees or disagrees with the statement. This particular item is on the questionnaire because it has clinical significance. In other words, there is a relationship between one enjoying or liking pets and one's likelihood to be a child abuser.

Another instrument, which is intended to detect child behavioral problems, references animals. The Child Behavior Checklist for Ages 2-3 (CBCL) developed by Achenbach (1988) specifically asks if the person's child is 'cruel to animals' in which the person is requested to indicate how true the statement is for his or her child (0 = not true; 1 = somewhat or sometimes true; and 2 = very true or often true). In this case the child's behavior towards animals is considered to be a valid indicator of behavioral problems which later tend to turn into conduct disorder in the teen years and antisocial disorder in the adult years.

Both of these instruments have been found to uphold high standards of reliability and validity. These instruments have been used many times as a research tool for empirical studies as well as for detecting and or predicting child behavioral problems (CBCL). It is not a coincidence that both of these instruments reference either one's view or treatment towards animals. Although these two particular questions do not in and of themselves define an adult as an abuser or a child as one that possesses behavioral disorders, they have been found to be highly related to the dependent variable (e.g., abuse or behavioral problems).

Furthermore, there are numerous studies that provide empirical evidence of a link between animal abuse and criminal behavior in general. For example Arluke, Levin, Luke & Ascione (1999) published an article titled 'The Relationship of Animal Abuse to Violence and Other Forms of Antisocial Behavior' in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, which indicates that there is an association between animal abuse and a variety of antisocial behaviors. I mention this article in particular because its methodology was very robust and the findings, I believe, are based on highly reliable and valid sources of data.

Now is a pivotal time in our society and it requires that we make a strong statement by enforcing the maximum punishment possible for the man who dragged the dog with his car. We should also consider revising the current laws so that stricter punishments may be awarded. I will provide you with two reasons why this is such:

1.    Now is a time in which our society greatly suffers from an over abundance of hatred, ignorance, prejudices, etc.
2.    And, although there have been many other times in history dating back hundreds of years in which the existence of cruelty and all the above can be documented, we are more sophisticated now than ever. This means that we can either use our sophistication to become most cruel and commit evil acts, or we can take our sophistication and become teachers of humane education and societal problem solvers.

Help us proponents of change and humane education activists make this a better place to live by sending out a message that cruel behavior, whether intended for humans or animals, will not be tolerated for the simple fact that it is unnecessary and terribly immoral. Please spread my message to everyone you are able to reach. Let's face it, knowing what we know today, what these people do  is extremely cruel and someone capable of committing such acts is clearly a threat to society!

Sincerely,

Dr. Jeanette Shutay Ph.d
Board Member 21st Century Animal Resource & Education Services

                   THE FOLLOWING IS A VERY ENERGETIC READ.

It is patently absurd and maddening to partake in religious services and witness this disgraceful neglect and ironic distortion of the base fundamental taught in virtually all major religions, the Golden Rule. Surely if there is a blueprint for human behavior whether you're religious or irreligious, it's the Golden Rule! "Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You!" A child could see that this applies a thousand-fold to innocent, defenseless animals!

Perhaps too, the major religions should consider the words of Socrates, who, although an atheist, surpassed hypocrisy with his dictum: "There is but one good, knowledge; there is but one evil, ignorance." The more you consider that, the more profoundly it affects you.

You may be interested in this excerpt of an email letter I sent to Rabbi Gellman and Monsignor Hartman of "The God Squad" some months back. They work cooperatively to address issues and are seen periodically in various media outlets. As expected, I never heard back from them; the silence is deafening! I think many of these religious leaders are pathetically ignorant on these issues, much as medical doctors, for so long, were so ignorant and shamefully uninformed on nutrition issues. At least, however, they woke up and are much more enlightened today!

"Dear Rabbi Gellman and Monsignor Hartman,

Congratulations and thanks for your Newsday article of 9/23/02 referring to the religious significance of vegetarianism. You make some excellent points that at least demonstrate respect and consideration for animals. I must admit however, that the absence of a strong stand emanating from the major religions against animal cruelty and society's mind-numbing failures to fully value and protect our animals, especially for those of us raised in the Judeo/Christian faith, is like an ever-present ache in our hearts; a huge gap waiting to be filled!

It is perhaps the ultimately tragic irony that humans seemingly are incapable of perceiving what empathy and compassion for animals could mean to the entire human race. Although the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam may not consider animals as having souls (respectfully, if not sacrilegiously questioned) as one priest commented in The Tablet, "where there is love there is God." Well put! Humans experience what we refer to as unconditional love from animals. Every day, another health benefit is reported to be enjoyed by humans as a result of associations with animals. The fidelity of dogs to humans is unsurpassed among all living species; yet our treatment of them compared to the their treatment of us is a disgrace to, and a diminishment of, the human condition.

Frankly, religions are missing the boat on this issue. Consider the overwhelming and irrefutable evidence linking animal cruelty to human violence. Those of us involved in Humane Education consider the teaching of respect, understanding, caring and responsibility toward animals as perhaps the greatest deterrent to violence against all living creatures that we have. Did you ever hear of a person raised in a culture of respect, compassion and responsible involvement with animals as becoming a serial killer?

We need a quantum leap in speaking out for animals by our religions. We don't celebrate our great leaders who provide great insights into respect and compassion for animals enough in our religious services, sermons and homilies. More tributes should be paid to Gandhi, St. Francis of Assisi, Albert Schweitzer, Albert Einstein, Tolstoy, The Dalai Lama, Isaac Bashevis, Nehru, Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, Adlai Stevenson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rachel Carson and so many others that are rarely, if ever, referred to in services.

Talk about a "Prayer of the Faithful"; Dr. Albert Schweitzer's quote, "until he extends the circle of compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace" should be urged to be prayed, repeated, and emblazoned on every house of worship in every religion on this planet.

Lastly, when we consider that animals, in their innocence and as defenseless co-inhabitants of our planet, virtually liberate us from the imprisonment of self, which we humans are bound by with our limitations, foibles and biologically inborn selfishness, it's all the more painful that our religions fail so miserably in taking a leadership role in promulgating animal protection as a moral imperative and to the ennoblement of the human condition.

Sincerely,
Joseph Pastore
Flushing, NY

FINAL CHALLENGE

I will make this impassioned challenge to all who preach, spread and share the gospel.  Gather some information on you local area by speaking  to your local humane society in detail:  contact your local police as well. You will be amazed at the numbers and the level of abuse they witness on a daily basis in your own back yard.  Find out what problems they see as crucial to the beginnings of an improved society - beginning where all larger than life projects begin - at the root level - the home.

Then bring this information to the pulpit one Sunday in the future.   Clearly outline that much of what we do TO our animals are certainly not beneficial to their existence - such as tying them to a fence post.  Locking them outside in small cages or pens.   The unnecessary restrictions these dogs suffer from, lack of social interaction and exercise and extreme temperatures lends itself to uncontrollable behavior and attacks,  medical problems that are usually noticed too late, unwanted litters - adding to the already overwhelming number of slaughters seen in this country.

This leads to a life of neglect, illness and other problems caused by the treatment by humans - resulting in a life span that is 7 years less than a dog who sleeps inside the home at night and has proper exercise.  I'm talking about this community where EVERYONE has their dog on a short chain outside. Between coyotes, rattlesnakes scorpions and heat strokes, you can see a home change dogs once a year or more. but they get the next little puppy and tie it to the same chain. Your community will have similar challenges.

With all the studies that are out now on so many matters, these issues are clearly no longer ones of personal opinion, but moreso those of right and wrong. These people are wrong. the churches could and should step in, give details and speak out.

Have a list of do's and don'ts for the congregation to take with them. Many argue that it is their right to do this and to do that.  It is NOT anyone's right to cause harm to an animal.  .

It's clear there will be animals in heaven as there were animals in the Garden of Eden.  So, when we see clearly that abuse is current in our very own congregations, why does the church choose to ignore them here on earth?  Remember,   '.....not a sparrow shall fall from the sky....."?

Dogs are more of a role model than we give them credit for.  If we learn to listen to the voices of our pets, it will enhance our emotional and spiritual growth as well as give new meaning to  the phrase, "Man's Best Friend'

     

 

TEN COMMANDMENTS OF ANIMAL GUARDIANSHIP

1. When you adopt me, remember that my life is likely to last 15 or more years. That is your responsibility to care for me during that period of time - NOT to dump me at the pound or on some unsuspecting acquaintance.

2. Please give me time to understand what it is you want from me. Change can be more difficult for me than for you. I don't speak your language and need time.

3. Please don't be angry with me for a long time, and don't lock me up alone as punishment Do not throw me outside forever nor tie me to a post.

I need exercise. love and I need these things from you. You have your human family, your friends, your entertainment and I ONLY HAVE YOU!!!

4. Please trust me and help me to trust you .. . . it is crucial for mine as well as your well being.

5. Talk to me . . . even if you think I don't understand your words I understand your voice and love it when you speak to me and stroke me.

6. Before you hit me remember that I have teeth and claws and could easily hurt you but I choose not to bite and scratch you because I love you..

Also, remember that each time you strike me, it is only an admission on your part that you have failed once again to do what's necessary to communicate.

7. Be aware, that however you treat me, I WILL NEVER FORGET!!!

8. Before you scold me for being uncooperative or bad, ask yourself if maybe something is wrong and there is another reason for my behavior. Perhaps I am sick, hot, old or just plain tired, frustrated and weak.

PLEASE TRY TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE ME AND PUT YOURSELF IN MY PLACE.

9. Please take care of me when I get old and don't abandon me, for you too will grow old. Please notice when I am ill because I need you to take me to the vet for help when I am ill just as you need to see a doctor.

10. Go with me on the most difficult journeys. Never say, "I can't bear to watch" or "Do it when I leave" because I need you with me even at the end of my journeys. Please always do what is best for me even if it is unbearable for you to do so because I love you and trust that you will.