01
Oct
09

Can animal cruelty be justified for the sake of religion?

animalDashain is a fifteen day Hindu festival which celebrates the triumph of the Gods over wicked demons. It’s popular in Nepal. Animal sacrifices involving goats, buffaloes, sheep and chickens are made to the Goddess Durga in the hope that this will bring good fortune. This year a Nepalese animal rights group has organised protests against this practice. Many religions believe in animal sacrifice, but can animal suffering really be justified in the name of God?

Dishebh is in Nepal and has given up sacrificing animals during Dashain. Here’s why.                             

‘Primitive, barbaric practices such as animal sacrifice should not be tolerated in this country where people follow several religions that preach compassion to animals,’ writes Sathva Mithra from India.

But this blogger asks all those who criticise animal sacrifice one question: if animal practice is wrong, why is it ok to eat meat? Is it an age old practice that has no place in modern society?


58 Responses to “Can animal cruelty be justified for the sake of religion?”


  1. 1 Dennis Junior
    October 1, 2009 at 22:46

    ..why is it ok to eat meat?..

    I honestly don’t know the answer for the question..But, it is many nutrients.

    ~Dennis Junior~

  2. October 2, 2009 at 00:37

    animal sacrifice is not wrong if done with the true spirit of the religious festible.
    example the sacrifice of goats, cows, camels etc in the Muslim festible of Eid helps everyone. the poor get good meat, animal skin is used to shelter the needy and unity between the rich and poor increases. however some people slaughter animals to show off and i am against that. If animals won’t be slaughtered then their population will exceed that of humans and the whole world will turn vegetarian.

  3. October 2, 2009 at 00:45

    sorry forgot to mention that before slaughter of animals on Baqra eid, they are treated well and slaughtered in the Islamic way, very humainly. so animal slaughter that way is justified.
    On the point “why is it okay to eat meet”, people think that animals should not be slaughtered and plants should be prefered. I strongly disagree with this and I shall exemplify my statement with an example. if a disabled person was harmed, he will gain simpathy by the judge in the court but a normal person will be treated more harshly. similarly, plants are more inocent than animals and both are living. then why are animals given more simpathy?

  4. 4 Tom D Ford
    October 2, 2009 at 01:05

    Religion itself cannot be justified, and therefore, animal cruelty cannot be justified for the sake of religion.

    That said, I am a devoted follower of PETA, People Eating Tasty Animals.

    My ancestors evolved into me and to eat meat.

    • October 2, 2009 at 22:15

      at tom d ford: please can you explain by your statement that “religion cannot be justified”? are you ignostic?

      • 6 indian
        November 26, 2009 at 06:25

        what does animal gets in this? same money u can distribute amongst poors who can buy either meat or vegitables,i m not against meat eaters,i m against barbaric killing and call it relegion,
        its a terrible killing in eid allover the world

  5. 7 patti in cape coral
    October 2, 2009 at 03:01

    It is wrong to be cruel to animals, but some of them do taste good. I have to admit if I had to kill my own meat, I would be a vegetarian, unless I learned some kind of Vulcan death grip that just made them slump over.

  6. 8 T
    October 2, 2009 at 04:48

    It’s kind of a mute argument. What will you do? Have a U.N.Treaty that bans it worldwide? It won’t work.

  7. 9 scmehta
    October 2, 2009 at 06:42

    How are we going to justify animal sacrificing for other purposes, including eating the non-vegetarian food?

  8. 10 James Ian
    October 2, 2009 at 07:23

    Killing to eat can not be compaired to killing for pleasure, fun or for some superstitious/religious practice. Killing to eat is part of the circle of life. Killing for anyother reason only serves to disrupt the circle of life and that’s one reason why we are facing some the environmental issues we are today.

  9. 11 saad baloch. Pakistan occupied Balochistan.
    October 2, 2009 at 08:14

    Why then killing for religious beliefs is not part of circle. This practice has been in practice for long time. It has now become part of life. Killing for eating and killing for religious beliefs shares similarity.

    • 12 James Ian
      October 2, 2009 at 09:15

      Just because something has been done for a long time doesn’t mean it is right.
      People have murdered and raped for a long time too does that mean it is right?
      Killing for food and killing for religious practice does not share similaritys. One is for survival the other is for some sick, sadistic ritual that serves no practical purpose.

      • October 2, 2009 at 22:19

        @ james: some rituals of religion help the entire society. example in the festible of Baqra eid, the poor get to eat good meat and everyone enjoys this luxury. and in this festible animals are treated very well and not cruelly.

  10. 14 Roy, Washington DC
    October 2, 2009 at 08:37

    Keep in mind that certain ancient cultures (e.g. the Aztecs) practiced *human* sacrifice. Would those who condone animal sacrifice also condone human sacrifice in the name of religion, if any cultures existed today which practice it?

    “If animal practice is wrong, why is it ok to eat meat?” — Animals kill each other all the time for food in nature. They don’t kill each other to appease a deity.

  11. 16 anu_d
    October 2, 2009 at 09:51

    Is Killing an animal to eat is not cruel ?

    And what about Veal—a young born calf separated from the mother and slaughtered very quickly after birth to preserve the taste of tenderness….epitome of cruelty?

  12. 19 anu_d
    October 2, 2009 at 10:01

    @ James Ian,

    Eating meat is not essential for survival as there are 100s of vegetarian options available….it is only an indulgence for the pleasure of taste-buds

    • 20 James Ian
      October 2, 2009 at 10:17

      In this day and age yes, in most areas, but what about times and places where meat is the only thing available? Tell a lion or a tiger there are other options all you want, they’ll still do it, it’s what they do, it’s part of thier job in the circle of life.

    • October 2, 2009 at 22:24

      @anu_d: sorry but i disagree with you. arn’t plants also living things? won’t you feel bad killing and eating them? just because they can scream while you kill them doesn’t mean they don’t have nerves to feel the pain. infact in that regard plants are more inocent than animals as animals can defend themselves to a certen extent but poor plants can’t. if you hold your view then stop eating plants too and just survive on nothing.

  13. 22 VictorK
    October 2, 2009 at 10:46

    That’s why we have different countries: to accommodate different cultures.

    I’d welcome a ban, here in the UK, on Kosher and Halal practices, and anything else that doesn’t fit with our view of how animals should be treated. It will be different in other countries. As it should be.

  14. October 2, 2009 at 10:56

    I don’t see any problem with killing animals for food or what ever purposes. I actuially find animal activitist kind of strane people. There is alot of cruety going on in the world to human they should focus their power towards that.

    if animals feel they are ebing mistreated they will find means to convey. this is not a galactic conveyance like star wars. there is a natural food chain human on top..

    whay are they not concerned that lions kill their prey inhumanly.

    I think in theworld of rights let those who belive in a higher being present their sacrifices in peace without anyone fighting for the rights of things (animals in this case) that have neither complained nor feel their rights infringed by being slaughters for sacrifical worship.

  15. October 2, 2009 at 11:29

    Not at all…..every religion support peace and harmony, not blood or death then how one can justify animal death for worship and why?????

  16. 26 Ibrahim in UK
    October 2, 2009 at 12:31

    Most of the world follows religions which allow for meat consumption. Humans are naturally omnivores and their moral systems allow them to continue to be so, so meat-eating is already justified in that sense.
    But there are strong arguments against meat-eating on grounds of compassion to animals (which the religions also teach), health grounds and the modern availability of adequate alternatives.
    How much animal sacrifice is due to religious order and how much is due to traditional forms of celebrating religious occasions?

  17. 27 John in Salem
    October 2, 2009 at 14:11

    I see no difference between sacrificing animals that would have been eaten anyway and saying grace over their body parts at the dinner table.

  18. 28 patti in cape coral
    October 2, 2009 at 15:13

    I kind of like the American Indian’s historic attitude toward the buffalo. When the people killed a buffalo, they did it with reverence. They gave thanks to the buffalo’s spirit. They used every part of the buffalo they killed. The meat was their food. The skins were used for clothing and to cover their tipi’s. The hair stuffed their pillows and saddlebags. The sinews became their bowstrings. From the hooves, they made glue. They carried water in the bladders and stomachs.

    I’m not suggesting we give thanks to animal spirits, but I don’t think it would hurt to be aware and grateful that something is losing its life to maintain ours. It wouldn’t hurt to be less wasteful about it either.

    I can’t decide if it’s wrong to sacrifice animals for the sake of religion, though. I would feel a little better about it if the meat were distributed among the needy as Naqi Haider describes above.

  19. 30 Pradeep
    October 2, 2009 at 15:21

    From your question you are saying that religious sacrifice of animals is cruel and it is only a question of if it can be justified. When people gather to celebrate an event (non-religious) like independence, anniversary, birthday etc. and they consume lots of meat (that was slaughtered), have animals not been sacrificed? When as a result of a religious event, animal sacrifice has deep spiritual and cultural significance. There are so many judgement calls that we attempt to make that are really beyond our scope; we should look at things in our own narrow context and maybe just keep our opinion to ourselves.

  20. 31 Tom K in Mpls
    October 2, 2009 at 15:42

    I didn’t even want to read the posts on this one. The world is so full of extremes as to the needs and purpose of religion, and the roles of other creatures in the world, that there can be no productive debate.

  21. 32 steve
    October 2, 2009 at 16:34

    If people are still eating meat, which involves killing the animal, I don’t see how we can allow that but not allow animal sacrifice. Does it really matter how it dies? The end result is that it is still dead, and that’s the cruel part. Not how it’s done.

  22. 33 steve
    October 2, 2009 at 16:36

    @ VictorK

    What does it matter if the animal is killed kosher or halal vs non kosher halal? It’s still dead. Do you think there are pleasant ways to die? Don’t you think the animal would rather be alive than being on your dinner plate?

  23. 34 steve
    October 2, 2009 at 16:37

    Eating meat is in itself, animal cruelty. People never realize how cruel we actually are. go see footage of a slaughterhouse.

  24. October 2, 2009 at 16:41

    I read Gary L Francioni’s,piece, on why should we eat meat?
    I forgive the butchers knife so that I and mine may live. I do not forgive the butchers knife for a prayer meeting. The reason? It’s a blood thirsty ritual,to appease or curry favour with a deity and in the hope of some reward,whereas meat eaters only look for sustenance. And anyway,I prefer steak and chips to cabbage and carrots.

  25. 36 steve
    October 2, 2009 at 17:14

    @ David Price

    You don’t need meat to live. In fact, you’d live longer if you were a vegetarian. So you choose to eat meat, like religious people choose to practice religion. You’re no different than them.

  26. 39 Nigel
    October 2, 2009 at 17:27

    We sacrifice animals on the alter of dietary pleasure, why shouldn’t people sacrifice animals on the alter of religious beliefs. As far as bringing any results is animal sacrifice any less rewarding than bathing in Lourdes, walking on your knees up huge flights of stairs or rough concrete roads, or even dancing with serpents in religious ceremonies in the US Hill Country. Its all what you believe.

  27. 40 Aakanksha Singh Devi
    October 2, 2009 at 17:53

    I think its part of culture and doesn’t need justification really.

    That said I was completely traumatised by it when I was younger and I saw it happen. So the goat was promptly replaced by a pumpkin.

  28. 42 John in Salem
    October 2, 2009 at 21:51

    It was the cultures of The Great Hunt from the Asian steppes some 50,000+ years ago that gave us our mythologies of the circle of life with the animal as willing sacrifice. Prior to the Aryan invasion India was largely a planting culture with a mythology based on the observed connection between death and the magical regeneration of new life from the earth.
    If you think animal sacrifice is bad (and you’ve got a strong stomach) try reading about the traditions of the ancestors of modern Hindhuism – they make the Mayans look like Boy Scouts.
    I recommend “Primitive Mythology”, the first book of Joseph Campbell’s four volume work, “The Masks of God”.

  29. 43 W.B.
    October 3, 2009 at 03:47

    Magic and religion … not much has changed over the past 10,000 years.

  30. 44 Claude
    October 3, 2009 at 07:07

    Not under any circumstances

  31. October 3, 2009 at 15:25

    Knowledge of God not “burned offerings”.

  32. 46 viola
    October 3, 2009 at 18:14

    Animal sacrifice to appease or honor dubious gods is ridiculous. Killing an animal for something to eat is practical and, face it, honorable.

    How an animal is killed is all-important. No cruelty leading to unnecessary suffering. No unnecessary, wasteful killing.

  33. 47 Tan Boon Tee
    October 4, 2009 at 04:04

    I find this question rather flabbergasting.

    If animal sacrifice is a form of religious ritual, there is nothing wrong or unjustified. After all, how many animals are being slaughtered daily to provide food for man worldwide?

    However, to the followers of a religion that shuns killing, any kind of slaughtering would be a cruel act, religiously or not.

    In short, it is purely a question of one’s perception and belief.

  34. 48 Jennifer
    October 4, 2009 at 04:30

    It is not cruel to consume meat! However, like someone else mentioned; there is a difference between animals being killed for food purposes and those for religious practices.

  35. 49 JanB
    October 5, 2009 at 12:36

    No, animal cruelty can’t be justified for the sake of religion, just like human cruelty can’t be.

    Let me put it this way: would racism be considered ok if nazism was declared a religion? You’d almost think so considering the amount of bigotry, cruelty and violence certain religions seem to get away with these days, even in supposedly secular countries such as the UK.

  36. 50 Isaac Kipkoech
    October 5, 2009 at 14:30

    why is no human right group talking about Spanish killing bulls?

  37. 51 patti in cape coral
    October 5, 2009 at 17:08

    It may be questioned whether animal sacrifice for religion is cruel or unjustified, and it may even be questioned whether animal slaughter for food is cruel or unjustified, but there is no question that maiming, torturing, and killing an animal for sport and recreation is completely unjustified, cruel, and barbaric.

  38. 52 viola
    October 5, 2009 at 23:10

    Sacrificing anything to prove love of God is heinous as is any God requiring it. If Man was made in God’s image, as the three Abrahamic religions claim, what does that say about God?

  39. 53 rr
    October 6, 2009 at 04:53

    I completely agree with Isaac Kipkoech. Some people can actually sit through hours watching a bull dying a very long drawn death… I personally find that horrible.

    As for religious purposes, the animals killed are killed based on some principles, that adhere to treating animals with the least amount of cruelty. The main aspect is ending the life of an animal as quickly as possible.

    So which aspect is more inhuman? Long drawn out death? A quick death?

  40. 54 Dinka Aliap Chawul,Kampala,Uganda
    October 6, 2009 at 13:15

    I’ve been a goat-boy for a number of years when i was 5yrs before been taken to cattle-camp then to school,so have i been a ghost boy then? fortunately not.

    Boars like that one we left above are just an animals that can be uses for somethings anytime any day.

    I think sheep still hold an imaginable position amongst many people here if we talks on Africa when making sacrifices for peace & holy activities in their daily live whereas goat are most likely to be used for cursing ones opponents by witchdoctors & their clients………….

  41. October 6, 2009 at 16:08

    Animals didn’t ask for any damn rights. Humans are at the top of the food chain.

    I believe animal rights activists are juvenile. If it wasn’t for animal sacrifice in the distant past, many of us would not be here today. Our ancestors were clothed, fed, and housed from animal organs.

  42. October 6, 2009 at 22:08

    Burley, no-one is at the “top” of the food chain. We will all end up feeding other living beings whether we like it or not. And we are no longer in the distant past.

    In fact, we are probably somewhere between the distant past and the distant future, but approaching the latter rather slowly.

  43. 57 Tom D Ford
    October 8, 2009 at 00:21

    @ naqi haider
    October 2, 2009 at 22:15

    “at tom d ford: please can you explain by your statement that “religion cannot be justified”? are you ignostic?”

    Sorry I took so long to respond.

    Religion is a belief in a supernatural being, that is all religion is.

    But religionists like to wrap that belief in all kinds of things to make it look good. Things like social justice, threats of punishment or reward, etc. Those additional things are all common to humanity and can be taught and practiced by anyone who wants to.

    You don’t need to believe in a supernatural being to be a good, decent, caring, socially responsible, human being.

  44. 58 Sanjay
    October 22, 2009 at 02:17

    All you commentators on this blog read about the philosophy of Jainism and you would know why it is not ok to eat meat. All those religions and followers of those religions who advocate or permit eating animals are still tribal and primitive in their degree of enlightment.. They have bodies of humans but are still animals from within. They haven’t had true enlightenment and need further and deeper understanding of their being.The philosophy of Jainism is a blessing to mankind to attain the highest spiritual englightenement.


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