Michael Vick, Theology and the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Yesterday I posted a piece from Sightings raising the possibility that chimps might have religion of some sort. Today I read a piece on God's Politics by my friend Diana Butler Bass on the ethical treatment of animals, in light of the charges that Atlanta Falcons QB Michael Vick engaged in dog fighting. Diana is working on a book on church history and has been reading Gregory of Nyssa and his sister Macrina, who deal with this very issue. Funny how the ancient church could wrestle with modern issues like our relationship to the animal world.

The dialogue between Gregory and Macrina is one of the gossamer threads in Christian tradition. Unlike Soul, much of Christian theology emphasized distinctions between humans and animals, rather than stitching connections between aspects of creation (indeed, Macrina even develops a connection between humanity and plant life). Dividing creation into superior and inferior ranks
served as an excuse for rampant injustice on the part of Christians toward the rest of creation—and, sadly enough, toward other human beings (for example, women denied the priesthood or race-based slavery). What if instead of organizing humans and animals into hierarchical ranks, Christians had theologically developed the commonality of creation so tantalizingly suggested
in the fourth century?

Where we go with this, I do not know? I'm not a vegetarian, but too often we treat animals, including dogs and cats as disposable things. Vick hasn't been convicted and needs to be given his day in court, but the premise of dog fighting is truly reprehensible and not within the biblical call to care for creation.


Animal Chaplain said…

This Press Release is in memory of the animals tortured and slaughtered in dog fighting. As personally satisfying as it would be to spay and neuter Michael Vick (with no anesthesia), we prefer to teach people how animals SHOULD BE TREATED, and what a blessing they are in our lives. Thanks for reading it and passing it on. ~ Nancy Cronk at www.Animal Chaplains.com.
Press Release August 22, 2007

"Animal Chaplains To Honor and Bless All Creatures on World Animal Day"

~ from the Interfaith Association of Animal Clergy

While Americans have watched in horror as celebrity athlete Michael Vick admits being a willling participant in one of the cruelest, most horrific crimes against animals ever committed, America needs an emotional healing. That day is World Animal Day.

In what will look like a scene from the popular family movie, "Evan Almighty", scores of Animal Chaplains around the world will bless hundreds, perhaps thousands of animals in many different settings on October 4th 2007. At a pet cemetery on the east coast, to a city park in the desert, to a sandy beach on the west coast, they will walk in on a leash, fly in on a harness, and slither in their cages. Barking, mewing, bleating, mooing, whinnying and purring will join human voices in hymns of praise and worship. World Animal Day is a day dedicated to honoring, blessing, and protecting animals all over the world.

World Animal Day was founded at an ecologist's convention in Florence, Italy in 1931 as a way of highlighting the plight of endangered species. October 4th was chosen as World Animal Day because it is also the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, a Catholic Church holiday which is often celebrated with an annual "blessing of the pets". Since then, it has grown to encompass all kinds of animal life and has been widely celebrated around the world. Churches and synagogues in many faiths traditions have adopted "Pet Blessing Day" or "World Animal Day" in increasing numbers every year.

The Interfaith Association of Animal Chaplains prepares for World Animal Day by referring its members and visitors to the official World Animal Day website. The site provides ideas and resources to individuals, families, community groups and congregations everywhere. People can post their pledge for volunteering at a World Animal Day event. In addition to blessing pets, volunteers will work at animal shelters, zoos, rescues, and other nonprofit organizations. Dogs will be walked, cats will be brushed, horses will be groomed, and fish will benefit from freshly cleaned tanks. Donations will be given to animal welfare agencies, and pets will be adopted. School children will collect pet food to be donated to charities, and bake sales and car washes will be held as fundraising events. Veterinary clinics will hold free spay and neuter days, or may offer to vaccinate pets at no charge. All over the world, on the very same day, the well-being of animals will be on the minds of millions of people.

Interfaith Chaplain Nancy Cronk feels a day honoring animals is very important at a time when the headlines speak of animal cruelty such as athlete Michael Vick's alleged ties to illegal dog fighting. Animal Chaplains would like everyone to know that every major faith endorses the responsible stewardship of the earth and all of its creatures. "Deliberate harming of animals is in direct opposition to teachings in all of the major world faiths. Caring for animals is our global spiritual responsibility. If we can teach this ethic to all of our children, animal abuse and suffering will someday become a distant memory".

To find out how to get involved on World Animal Day, go to www.WorldAnimalDay.org.uk. To find out more about Animal Chaplains, go to www.AnimalChaplains.com.

(This article may be reprinted.)

Nancy J. Cronk
Founder, Chair and Chaplain
Interfaith Association of Animal Chaplains
Email: AnimalClergy@aol.com

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