Given I have two dogs, both rescued, I’ve long been interested in the intersection of faith and animal welfare. I suspect that for most western Christians animal welfare comes after the environment.
By that I think most Christians would consider the environment important but pay it no attention day to day in their actions, overwhelmed by the pressure of life in the 21st century. Similarly with animals such that beyond a general concern, any attention to animal welfare comes way down the list of focused interactions for Christians.
The Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics is one of the few places, focused on these kinds of issue. This new project by them looks interesting for those with an interest in faith and animal welfare.
"Inspired by Baptist Preacher Charles Surgeon’s claim that a person cannot be a true Christian if his dog or cat is not the better off for it, the Centre will explore whether religious traditions are animal-friendly. The questions to be addressed include whether religious people and religious institutions benefit animals? Are they more or less likely to be respectful to animals – either those kept as companions or those used for other human purposes?
The project is being organised by the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. It will be multidisciplinary, multifaith, and draw in not only theologians and religious thinkers, but also other academics including social scientists, psychologists, historians, and criminologists. “We want to know whether religion makes any difference for animals”, says Oxford theologian, Professor Andrew Linzey, who is Director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. “We often hear of how religion is detrimental to human rights, but is it also detrimental to animal protection?”