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  • Writer's pictureChapman Chen

“Jesus is a Militant Animal Liberator”, Says Vicar James Thompson. By Dr. Chapman Chen




 

Vicar James Thompson (1994) is one of the few theologians with the moral courage and insightful knowledge to assert that Jesus was a militant animal liberator engaged in civil disobedience, particularly in the context of the 'cleansing of the temple.' In this connection, I would suggest that this act is comparable to Direct Action Everywhere's open rescue of animals from factory farms. This perspective positions Jesus as a pioneering martyr who died for the cause of animal liberation (Chen 2024).

 

Similarly, Pastor J.R. Hyland (1993) asserts that "although Isaiah and the other Latter Prophets demanded an end to the slaughter, they had not taken any direct action against the sacrificial cult. But Jesus did." And it was his planned public assault on the sacrificial system that cost Him His life. The Temple was turned by the chief priests and scribes into a gigantic slaughterhouse, "awash in the blood of its victims." When Jesus disrupted the economic flow therein, they plotted to have Him killed.

 

Keith Akers (2000) contends that prior to the Last Supper, Jesus, in emptying the Temple of animals about to be slaughtered for sacrifice, and in calling the Temple-turned-butcher-shop "a den of thieves", debunked the business fraud of animal sacrifice and disrupted the chief priests' and scribes' lucrative revenue stream, who immediately afterwards conspired to destroy Him (Mark 11:15-18), eventually leading to His arrest, trial, crucifixion, and resurrection on Easter (cf. Chen 2024).

 

Prof. James Tabor (2024) argues that Jesus called the sacrificial priests a 'den of ravenous, wild, shredding beasts' and, just as Jeremiah did, accused them of turning the Holy Temple from a house of prayer into a bloody slaughterhouse, a hell for innocent animals.

 

Below please find a relevant excerpt from Vicar Thompson’s (1994) book Out of the Ark:-

 

Indeed, if the ‘Triumphal Entry’, touched upon earlier, was a mark of His meekness, then the Cleansing of the Temple which followed on from it was a mark of His ferocity! But then I refer to the Johanine account of an almost identical occurrence, an earlier cleansing of the same Temple. Near the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, we find Him making a whip and not only showing physical violence but uprooting or overturning the tables of the money changers (as narrated by the Synoptists). But we also read of how on this earlier occasion He used the scourge to liberate the animals from the precincts. Consequently, they were freed from being from being sold for ritual sacrifice ( John 2:15).

 

It is obvious, therefore, whether we like it or not, that Jesus of Nazareth was not only a law breakerguilty of civil disobedience, but on this occasion an animal liberator. Let us then as professed followers of the Nazarene, see to it that we do not unduly criticise those of the animal liberation front who get ‘carried away’ by a righteous indignation! If we got more infuriated against the brutality they oppose, it might say more for us! Oh how easy it is for all of us to criticise the zeal in others that we ourselves lack and to find rationalisation for our own cowardice! There are times of exception when loyalty to the highest laws will necessitate us breaking lesser laws. 


In Jesus, the Christ, we have the most militant of people as well as the most meek, and He was The Master of every situation. We, as sinful mortals, are also made up of differing drives. Freud once referred to the oral, anal, pregenital and phallic stages. Jung spoke in terms of the conscious and the shadow, as well as of the extrovert and introvert drives. One thing was sure about Jesus: He knew when to give expression to the Lamb as well as to the lion! We who follow as disciples must learn to do likewise. Those who cannot control or direct their emotions, as those who become victims of mass hysteria, can be of little service in the work of the Animal Rights movements. We need to be conscious of our own weaknesses and susceptibilities, as well as shrewd observers of others. Like Jesus, we must become ‘as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves’ (Matthew 10:16). (see Jones 2022:32-33)

 

Rev. James Thompson (1930-2015), known affectionately as the “Animal Padre” (note 1), was a revered vicar and animal rights campaigner from Holywell, Flintshire, Wales. His life was marked by a profound dedication to animal welfare, spirituality, and community service. He’s very likely the first modern-day pastor and theologian to support militant animal liberation activism in terms of civil disobedience or direct rescue action, by arguing that such activism is just following in the footsteps of Jesus cleansing the Temple and liberating the animals therein (cf. Jones 2022:32-33).


 

References

 

Akers, Keith (2020/2000). The Lost Religion of Jesus. NY: Lantern Publishing & Media/ Woodstock & Brooklyn. 

 

Chen, Chapman (2024). "The 'Open Rescue' of Temple Animals by Jesus the Vegan Christ." HKBNews, Mar. 29.  https://www.hkbnews.net/post/the-open-rescue-of-temple-animals-by-jesus-the-vegan-christ-by-dr-chapman-chen

 

Hyland, J. R. (1993). What the Bible Really Says. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco. https://www.all-creatures.org/hr/what.htm


Jones, Phillip, ed. (2022). The Animals' Padre: The Life and Works of James Thompson. London: Paragon Publishing. 32-33

 

Tabor, James (2024). “Lost in Translation: Jerusalem Temple as a Den of Ravenous Wild Beasts!” James Tabor, Lost in Translation Series (YouTube channel), Jun 6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svCkRq9gR1U&t=85s

 

Thompson, James (1994). Cast out of the Ark: Christendom’s Appalling Abuse of God’s Animal Creatures. Muray: TY Coch Publishing. In Jones (2022).

 

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