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  • Writer's pictureChapman Chen

Vicar James Thompson Accuses Mainstream Churches of Excluding Animals! Ed. Dr. Chapman Chen

Updated: Jun 19


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).

Below please find an excerpt from Rev. James Thompson’s (1989) book, ‘Retreat’ from Responsibility: Christian Apathy and the Animal Cause. He is most probably one of the very first modern-day formally ordained Christian priests to openly accuse mainstream churches of betraying God’s all-embracing compassion by confining His love to the homo sapiens and excluding all other animals from the ark of salvation. He even calls these church leaders modern Pharisees and scribes, who, he believes, would seize the first opportunity to dispose of Jesus if He were to come again and minister. According to the back cover description of Phillip Jones (2022), Vicar Thompson was blacklisted by an archbishop for speaking out for animal rights. 



As a priest of the worldwide Anglican communion, I openly accuse each one of its branches of falsely betraying the love, mercy and compassion of God by making them far too small. Indeed, to the leaders of each major denomination I would equally say: “You take the God of the Bible and by your theology you shrink Him and His love as only embracing humanity! The God of my Bible made room for the animals within the ark (Genesis 7:14), but you exclude them from your ark of salvation. My God is concerned about the beasts of the field and the birds of the air (Psalm 50:10-11), where you have limited His love and all-embracing compassion to your own motley species.”


I’m convinced that if Jesus visibly ministered in a manner similar to two thousand years ago then the modern counterparts of those first century scribes and Pharisees (note 2): many pontiffs, prelates and priests, would be the first to get rid of Him. And this because Jesus would surely denounce most of them for the same kind of reasons – limiting the mercy, love and compassion of Almighty God, and putting moral priorities completely out of perspective....

I attended an evangelical renewal meeting, a year or so ago,  within the Church of England. During a question time there, when I suggested that there surely could be no true manifestation of God in a church which excluded animals, I was howled to derision by several clergy: “What connection can there possibly be between animal concern and the Holy Spirit?” they asked, and then one or two just about burst their sides before waiting for an answer.

Editor’s Note

1. Ordained in 1966, Rev. Thompson served his ministry across England and Scotland before retiring to Holywell in 1995. He was granted the Bishop's Permission to Officiate, allowing him to continue his service within the Diocese of St Asaph. Rev. Thompson's passion for animal rights led him to found the group Christians Against All Animal Abuse and become a patron of Capricorn Animal Rescue. He was a familiar figure at the pet cemetery in Holywell, offering comfort to those grieving the loss of their pets. His commitment extended to leading worship on Remembrance Sunday at the Animals In War Memorial in London, honoring the forgotten victims of war. Rev. Thompson’s important books on animal theology include Retreat From Responsibility (1989), Cast Out of The Ark (1994), A Cleric’s Contempt of Animal-based Cancer Research (1990), Reflections of a Spiritual Tramp (1996), Praise for Creatures Great and Small (1988), which are collected in Phillip Jones (2022).

2. In 1983, Rev Thompson led a funeral-themed protest at Bradford University and attacked the churches during a speech at a follow-up demonstration:

Like the Pharisees at the time of Christ, clergy, bishops, archbishops, cardinals and the Pope are obsessed with relatively minor issues like sexual morality and four letter words while ignoring animal welfare [‘Animal rights rap for churches’ – (Bradford) Telegraph and Argus, Monday, August 8th 1983, p1].




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


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