From John Wainwright
Sir, — I suspect many preachers and congregations will be unaware that the first Sunday in October is Animal Welfare Sunday. This is the traditional date, being the nearest Sunday to the feast of St Francis of Assisi, who is renowned for the breadth of his theology on creation.
When we have a government that has reneged on its promise to reduce animal experiments in favour of alternative research, and a Conservative Party threatening to bring back hunting with dogs, including hare coursing, congregations need to be reminded of our Christian calling to promote compassionate stewardship of creation and to challenge cruel exploitation of it.
But it is not only misguided politicians whom we should be confronting. Sadly, in spite of St Francis, the low view given to animals by people such as Thomas Aquinas still pervades sections of the Church today, including support for hunting and factory farming and, at its worst in southern Europe, continuing indifference to bull fighting.
Even some so-called Evangelicals in America seemed to regard it as a point in her favour that Sarah Palin, the Republican candidate for Vice-President, enjoys blood sports.
It is shameful that for too long Christians have left campaigning on animal welfare issues to Buddhists, New Agers, and other faith groups. If, however, preachers are prepared to accept the challenge, may I recommend some excellent worship material produced by the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals. They may be contacted at www.aswa.org.uk, or phone 01252-843093.
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