Why Christians should Care about Farmed Animal Welfare. Prof. David L. Clough. Ed. Dr. Chapman Chen
Chair Professor in Theology, University of Aberdeen, David L. Clough (2023): The Christian Ethics of Farmed Animal Welfare research project argued that Christians should care about farmed animal Welfare because they are enmeshed with modern systems of farming animals that have severe impacts on the lives of animals, and have biblical and theological reasons to care about these impacts.
The Bible presents humans in relationship with God, with each other, and with the wider creaturely world. It witnesses to a God who is the creator of all creatures, who provides for their needs and wills their flourishing. It depicts a covenantal relationship between God, humans, and other creatures that includes particular human responsibilities for fellow humans, domestic and wild animals, and the wider creaturely world. It details the failure of humans to live up to this high calling. It describes the work of God incarnate in Jesus Christ as the means of healing these failures, and looks forward to a time when the whole of creation will be liberated from its groaning bondage to give glory and praise to God. This biblical vision, encompassing the entire universe of creatures, is taken up in later Christian theological traditions and gives Christians have strong faith-based reasons to attend to the welfare of fellow creatures, including animals farmed for food....
The project next turned to the question of how to approach the ethics of farmed animal welfare in a Christian context...The project affirmed that all God’s creatures share a creaturely purpose to give glory to God through their flourishing. This is most clear in the Genesis creation narratives and the creation theology of the Psalms, but is also evident in the New Testament and in Jesus’ teaching, such as his affirmation that not a single sparrow is forgotten by God (Matt 10:29; Luke 12:7). Like other creatures, farmed animals praise God by reflecting God’s goodness in their creaturely lives with the unique capacities and gifts God has given them. They praise and glorify God ‘by gathering in social groups, dust-bathing, rooting in the earth, grazing, swimming, caring for their young, teaching and learning, and growing to maturity, all as created by God in their species-specific particularity’ (Clough et al 2020: 7). This means that conditions that deprive or inhibit farmed animals from living out these particular modes of creaturely life prevent or inhibit their opportunities for flourishing. The 1965 Brambell Report set out the idea that farmed animals are entitled to five freedoms: four negative freedoms, from hunger and thirst, pain, injury or disease, and fear and distress, and one positive freedom, to express normal behaviour (Brambell 1965).
The project identified five key ways that current farming practice diminishes the flourishing of farmed animals: it subjects them to impoverished lives in monotonous environments; it routinely employs bodily mutilations such as castration, tail docking, beak trimming, dehorning, and teeth clipping; it separates family groups prematurely, preventing the giving and receiving of maternal care; it severely shortens animal lifespans, often killing them well before maturity; and subjects animals to selective breeding programmes that prioritise productivity over physiological well-being (Clough et al 2020: 14–16).
Clough , D 2023 , ' Christianity and Farmed Animal Welfare ' , Modern Believing. http://aura.abdn.ac.uk/bitstream/2164/20736/1/Clough_MB_Christianity_And_Farmed_AAM.pdf