Students for Compassionate Living sponsored event explores Christianity and animal ethics

Photo+Courtesy+calvin.edu

Photo Courtesy calvin.edu

Last Friday, a selection of panelists gathered with students to discuss an uncommon topic among Evangelical Christians: the importance of animal ethics.

According to a survey commissioned by the Every Living Thing Campaign, 89 percent of Evangelical pastors agree that Christians have the responsibility to speak out against animal cruelty. The campaign seeks to encourage more action in response to this belief.

The event, sponsored by Calvin College’s Students for Compassionate Living club, specifically discussed Every Living Thing’s Evangelical Statement on Responsible Care for Animals. The statement includes points such as:

“We understand from Scripture that God has given us all animals into our hand and for food as part of our responsible rule; but as we live in a fallen world and are prone to sin, we also have the capacity and inclination to cause suffering instead of care for animals and to act cruelly towards them.”

By “act cruelly towards them,” the statement is not only referring to the abuse of domestic pets. It is also referring to the tight gestation stalls where mother pigs are forced to live and give birth to multiple litters before eventually being slaughtered, and to the paper-sized cages crowded by crazed, egg-laying hens and to the dumpsters filled with live, unwanted male chicks.The statement does not explicitly advocate a meat-free diet: it simply asks Christians to join in advocating for better treatment of God’s creatures.

“You do not have to be a vegan (or a vegetarian) to be a part of the work that SCL is doing,” commented senior Jonathan Manni, co-leader of Students for Compassionate Living. “Everyone is welcome! In fact, we love to hear the perspectives that everyone brings to the table — herbivores and omnivores included.”

Manni sat as a panelist at the discussion alongside Reasa Currier of the Humane Society of the United States, Abby Skeans of the Clapham Group, Dr. Steve McMullen, an economics professor from Hope College, and Pastor Treveor Sutton of St. Luke Lutheran Church.

“It was great to hear from a spectrum of perspectives,” commented senior Carolyn Brown. “The conversation was academic and rational, I really appreciated that.”

Deanna Geelhoed, senior and Sustainability Coordinator intern also attended: “It brought people of all types together — some who were very passionate and some didn’t know much. It was nice to see new faces gathering to learn more.”

Currier and Skeans will be carrying the Every Living Thing campaign to other colleges and universities across the country.  

Skeans, an alumni of Calvin College, explained their choice to bring the campaign to our campus: “Calvin is a unique place where students are allowed, and encouraged, to think deeply and engage thoughtfully on a range of issues.”

To learn more about the campaign, or to sign the Evangelical Statement on Responsible Care for Animals, visit www.everylivingthing.com.

On October 26, Students for Compassionate Living will be hosting another event, this time featuring Paul Shapiro, activist and Vice President of Farm Animal Protection at the Humane Society of the United States.