*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

Film review: Christspiracy: The spirituality secret

by
18 March 2024

Stephen Brown reviews a new documentary about world religions and meat-eating

A still from the documentary Christspiracy: The spirituality secret

A still from the documentary Christspiracy: The spirituality secret

IN A competition for the worst film title ever, Christspiracy: The Spirituality Secret (Cert. 15) would certainly stand a good chance. The title also fails to do justice to how comprehensive this documentary is in asking whether there is an ethical or spiritual way to kill animals.

Kip Andersen’s previous films explored the environmental impact of the meat trade and the adverse effect that its products have on health. The director admits to being religiously ignorant (though adopting certain Buddhist-style practices); so he teams up with Kameron Waters, a young born-again Christian. Together they chronicle how all religions appear to exploit animals, even those whose primary tenet is the sacredness of every life. Much investigation revolves around that somewhat overworked question: What would Jesus do? But the pair examine animal sacrifice from the earliest of times — long before Jesus — and across all the great world religions.

This is not a film for the squeamish, as we witness multiple scenes of cruel slaughter. Less would have been more without losing the point. There is no doubt the makers’ hearts are in the right place. Pretty much all the Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders interviewed stumble to justify meat consumption. Carnivores will be left wondering whether there is any theologian on the planet who can produce a robust argument for meat-eating.

Hands down, the vegetarians win every argument, though often with fairly dodgy exegesis. They mainly quote apocryphal Gospels and the Dead Sea Scrolls as favouring their case while declaring into the bargain that Christianity deliberately suppressed these writings. It is claimed that Abrahamic religions ignore facts such as that Noah, Daniel, and God (Genesis 1.29) advocated vegetarianism. Despite the holy nature of cows in Hinduism, opposition to festivals of mass slaughter is dealt with severely in India. Islam, it is said, flies in the face of Muhammad’s sacred attitude towards sentient beings with its halal method of animal slaughter. Even Buddhism differentiates between killing animals oneself and eating meat as the result of death in some other way.

The most cogent interview is with the Revd Dr Andrew Linzey, whose many books have argued the case for Christians to renounce a meat diet. I struggled with a textual interpretation that the filmmakers seize on: Jesus cleansing the Temple. Biblical condemnation is of avaricious moneychangers in a house of prayer. The film reasons that their wealth came through revenue from animals slaughtered there. One ancient meaning of pecuniary refers to livestock.

While there is a certain naïvety, verging on fundamentalism, in much of the documentary’s approach, it does usefully summarise many common misgivings about killing animals. The film works best of all when exploring possible links between human treatment of other creatures and slavery, misogyny, and genocide. Once we take the spiritual high ground, elevating humanity (men, in particular) to the status a superior order to the rest of God’s creation, permission is given to violate the rights of others. “Holocaust”, after all, began in scripture to described the burnt offerings of animals. It has, by association, come to denote the horrors of Nazi death camps.

The film is only, at this stage, being screened in cinemas on 20 March.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards

 

Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available

 

SAVE THE DATE

Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website

 

ViSIt our Events page for upcoming and past events 

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

 

To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)