The Bible speaks of cruelty to animals

"You should not kill!" - also towards animals?

We love animals: dogs, cats, horses, birds - and we look forward to seeing lambs or calves in the pasture or deer grazing on the edge of the forest. On the other hand, the majority of people enjoy a good piece of meat on their plate. But nobody wants to think about eating baby animals: piglets, calves, lambs, 6-week-old broilers or 16 to 23-week-old geese and ducks. Why is that? Where does the thought come from that animals have no souls and that they are there for us humans to eat them? Questions that Peter Sasse explores in his book "Animals Are Better People" - from a religious, philosophical, socio-political and scientific point of view. In the exciting non-fiction book, the reader learns the background and causes of animal cruelty and animal experiments, mass farms and slaughterhouses, greed for profit and political action in relation to animal rights.


Cover picture of the book by Peter Sasse: "Animals are better people"


Do animals have a soul?

Peter Sasse examines the historical roots of today's billions of animal suffering: Where did the idea come from that animals have no souls? In ancient times, according to the philosophy of Plato, animals had a soul. For Plato, the difference between animals and humans was not precisely defined, but rather fluid. Only the Roman Catholic Church made a clear distinction between the "unreasonable" animals and the immortal soul of man as the image of God.

"Did God see it that way too?" Asks Peter Sasse. “I think his deputies have denied animals the souls in order to disenfranchise them and treat them as they see fit. A living being without rights can be tortured and killed without having to feel guilty for it. This is exactly what has been thought of women, blacks and indigenous peoples for centuries. Those who invoked Christian doctrine claimed that the commandment 'You shall not kill' does not apply to living beings who have no soul. The church had no qualms about burning tens of thousands of women alive, as well as countless people of different faiths and the indigenous peoples of South America, of whom not even ten percent survived Christianization. A soul was later attributed to women, albeit a lower one than that of the man. Since the Enlightenment, one had to gradually give up these absurd views. Today at least women and blacks are said to have a soul. But it's still difficult with the animals. "

Peter Sasse already dealt extensively with the institution of the church and its history in his previous book "The Fear of the Good News". While he had people in focus there, his new book "Animals Are Better People" is about our fellow creatures, the animals. Because, according to the Church, they too have no soul and therefore no rights - a large number of bishops represent these statements to this day. Is it surprising when in Catholic countries rituals such as bullfights and animal sacrifices are still celebrated to great applause?


The 5th commandment does not apply to everyone

The Ten Commandments clearly state: "You shall not kill!". But according to church doctrine, "You should not kill" does not apply to dealing with animals, but only to people. However, this did not prevent the Church from calling for the mass killing of Muslims and Jews at the time of the Crusades or from having millions of dissidents tortured and cruelly killed in the Inquisition and the persecution of witches. "Everyone who stood outside of dogmas and church laws was fair game," writes Peter Sasse.

There are innumerable contradictions in the Bible on this question: While God proclaimed the commandment "You shall not kill" through Moses, the same God allegedly calls for executions and wars in many passages of the Old Testament. Through some prophets of the Old Covenant, God rejects bloody animal sacrifices, in other parts of the Old Testament gruesome burnt offerings with precise instructions for slaughtering and dismembering are required.

Peter Sasse points out that a number of historians refer to the Bible as the cruelest book in world literature. And he quotes the American Bishop John Shelby Spong, who has carefully studied the two wills: "Whoever wants to base his morality on the Bible has either not read it or has not understood it." In any case, it cannot be God's pure and unadulterated word act.

"Every social and theological opinion can also be filtered out in the New Testament," writes Sasse. This is not surprising when one considers the influences under which the Bible was created over the centuries. And just as far as the question of dealing with animals is concerned, one can hardly find any orientation in the New Testament, since the stories of Jesus and the animals were suppressed in the first edition of the Bible (Vulgate) by Jerome. "The Bible remains the work of man," writes Sasse, quoting the Catholic theologian Moris Hoblaj, who describes the Bible as "the tailor-made dress of the church."


Jesus drives the animal traders out of the temple: “Isn't it written: My house should be called a house of prayer for all peoples? But you have made a murderous pit out of it! "(Mark 11:17)


Original Christian vegetarians damn unchristian

"With Jesus, the commandment 'You shouldn't kill!' Also applies to animals," says Peter Sasse. He recalls the scene in which Jesus drove the animal traders out of the temple (Joh. 2,14ff): “And he found sitting in the temple who had oxen, sheep and pigeons for sale, and the money changers. And he made a whip out of ropes and drove them all out of the temple with the sheep and oxen and spilled the money on the changers and overturned the tables and said to those who had the pigeons for sale, Take this away and do not make mine Father's house to the department store! "

"With the appearance of Jesus, many rules and laws changed," writes Sasse. "Not only sacrifice, but also hunting was considered incompatible with their faith by the Christian communities of the first few centuries." For example, the vegetarian diet was largely widespread among the early Christian communities.

In contrast, Paul, who largely shaped later ecclesiastical Christianity, defended meat consumption fairly rigorously, explains Peter Sasse. Unlike many of the first Christians in the early churches who rejected the killing of animals, Paul, as a Roman citizen, liked to eat meat and demanded (1 Cor 10:25): “Everything that is sold in the meat market, eats and researches do not follow, so that you do not weigh down your conscience. "

The Roman Emperor Constantine fought unscrupulously for power in the Roman Empire and in the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD combined the then different currents of Christianity into a single ecclesiastical power. “In any case, the Church had not only largely abandoned early Christianity since the expansion in the Roman Empire. In addition, she began to fight his ideas and ways of life since the 4th century «, explains Peter Sasse. He cites as an example from a resolution of the Synod of Ankara from the year 314 that all priests and deacons who abstained from meat and refused to eat vegetables not even mixed with meat should be removed from office.

"In general, the early Christians were henceforth not only regarded as heretics, but above all as anachrists and thus enemies of the state," said Sasse. "One acted particularly badly against the vegetarians, in that they were tried, executed and later almost completely exterminated." He continues: "In order to be able to better persecute the early Christian parishes, Pope John III imposed. 561 AD fourteen curses against all vegetarians that have not been revoked to this day. "And in the 1st Synod of Braga it was stipulated:" If someone considers meat that God has given people to enjoy as unclean and ... on them The banish curse meant that vegetarians were not only subjected to eternal torments of hell, according to the Church's teaching, they were also considered to be “outlawed”: the banned lost all rights as someone excluded from society - and so vegetarians were persecuted and many times executed.

"From the 11th century onwards, the papal inquisition tortured and hanged people who refused to kill animals," the book reads on. Many vegetarians ended up at the stake as a result of the Inquisition. There is historical evidence, for example, of the execution of Séréna and Agnès de Châteauxverdun, both devout Cathars: they had been convicted of "wrongly believing" because they refused to kill a chicken they had brought in. "The church developed a panic fear of people who lived according to the original Christianity, since they had believed it to be exterminated since Constantine," says Peter Sasse.


"Katharer-Taube" sandstone monument of the Cathar community. The Cathars were exterminated by the Inquisition and a crusade of the Catholic Church in the 13th and 14th centuries. About the early Christian faith movement of the Cathars there is the following in the Church's Inquisition Acts: "... they were not allowed ... to kill any animal." And: "They also believe that even in urgent need it is a mortal sin to eat meat, eggs or cheese ..." From the 11th century onwards, the papal inquisition tortured and hanged people who refused to kill animals. Refusal to eat meat was seen as a sign of "heresy".


It is common knowledge today that the Catholic Church - later also the Lutheran Church - persecuted hundreds of thousands of so-called heretics over many centuries, tortured them cruelly and killed them brutally. It is interesting, however, that almost all of the persecuted communities who were true to the early Christian faith - from the Cathars to the Manichaeans - had one thing in common: They strictly refused to kill animals and eat meat. As "heretics" they were persecuted and mercilessly exterminated for centuries.


What does the Church say about animals today?

What does the Church say today about animal souls and respect for God's creatures? Sasse quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

»(2417) God placed animals under the rule of man whom he created in his own image. Thus one can use the animals for feeding and for making clothes. They can be tamed in order to make them useful to people at work and in their free time. Medical and scientific experiments on animals are morally permissible within reasonable limits because they help to heal and save human life.

(2418) It is also unworthy to spend money on them that is primarily intended to alleviate human misery. You can love animals, but you shouldn't give them the love that only people deserve. "

In the Evangelical Adult Catechism published in 2010, animals play no role: "We neither find a word about factory farming and cruel animal experiments, nor about agonizing animal transports, slaughter methods or encroachment on creation through genetic modification," writes Peter Sasse. Then he quotes from an article that appeared in Freedom for Animals 4/2010: “But the few words that can be found about animals are frightening: The Lutheran Church speaks of animals as“ non-personal creatures ”- and draws from this the justification for disregarding their right to life. "

"The great suffering of animals is partly due to the fact that the church denies them a soul and thus bears a great complicity for torturing the defenseless," concludes Peter Sasse. The catechism even issued a license in Paragraph 2417 for all those involved in killing and animal experiments to arbitrarily deal with living creatures.

"Since I no longer belong to this church for ethical and moral reasons due to personal experience with‘ dignitaries ’, I do not have to adhere to such rules and can violate them out of love for animals," admits the author.


Descartes: animals as "automatons without mind


and reason, without mind and soul "

The philosopher and Jesuit student René Descartes (1596-1650) also shaped human attitudes towards animals for centuries - with consequences to this day. Descartes saw animals merely as "machines made of flesh and blood", as "automatons without understanding and reason, without spirit and soul". Descartes' distinction between humans and animals conformed to the Church's teaching, according to which humans are to be regarded as the crown of creation.

When church doctors degrade animals to the point and the Jesuit student Descartes speaks of numb machines, it is not difficult to immunize one's own conscience with Christian certainty against the suffering of animals, concludes Peter Sasse.


The believers and their relationship to animals

At Christmas we encounter the stable in Bethlehem with ox and donkey and the cute sheep everywhere. On the other hand, braised beef, duck breast and geese land on the plates - Christmas has degenerated into a slaughterhouse.

"Easter, at the feast of the Resurrection, we experience the same procedure with the lambs, which are still so lovingly looked at at Christmas," writes Peter Sasse. "Now we no longer enjoy them in front of the crib, but on the plates!"

The author points out that there are even more church festivals to the chagrin of animals: For example, at Hubertus masses in autumn all over Germany hunters, hunting and the route of the shot animals are blessed by priests. All these festivities for the highest glory of God can hardly be described as Christian in the sense of the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth. Incidentally, one day Saint Hubert recognized Christ in the animals during a hunt and from then on renounced the hunt. "


Hubertus Mass: A priest blesses the hunt, the hunter and the animals shot by the hunters.


Cruelty to animals as a religious cultural heritage

"Since the church, with its animal-hostile attitude, has declared animals to be a callous thing since its existence, millions of animals in Catholic-Orthodox countries have to lose their lives in particularly cruel ways every year." With these words, Peter Sasse directs attention to suffering of animals in southern and eastern Europe, i.e. the predominantly Catholic or Christian Orthodox countries: bullfights and other cruel bloody rituals, where bulls have lances rammed through their bodies, they are chased through streets and stabbed at them. In Pamplona, ​​bull torture even takes place in honor of a saint, the patron saint St. Firmin. And in Tordesillas dozens of lancers stab a bull at a religious festival in honor of the "Virgen de la Peña", the virgin patron saint of the city. In Alicante, at a shooting tournament in honor of the miraculous image of the Virgin Mary, living quails are shot up through pipes like a catapult with special launching devices and shot down by sport shooters. "In Spain almost everything can be traced back to Catholic tradition," says Peter Sasse.

In Italy, too, there is religious cruelty to animals of the worst kind. In San Martino, in memory of Saint Leo, a team of oxen is chased by wild riders and stabbed the animals with wooden poles. Something similar happens in Portocanone in honor of a Madonna figure and in Ururi in the name of the Holy Cross.

In many southern and eastern European countries, street dogs are brutally attacked. The animals are slain, shot or taken to killing stations. The crackdown on dogs running freely in Romania is particularly cruel: around 10 million street dogs are said to have been brutally killed here within seven years. And the churches are silent about it.


Why do we go so cruelly


deal with our fellow creatures?

In "Animals Are Better People" the author also describes the kinship between humans and animals using the example of his dogs. He presents reports on the sensitivity and empathy, intelligence and understanding of language as well as the social competence of animals.

But how do we humans treat our soulmates? In industrial factory farming, animals have long been degraded to production machines - in the spirit of Descartes. "Every year 60,000,000,000 (in words: sixty billion) land animals are killed for our‘ benefit ’. Most of them have never seen daylight or a meadow «Mass meat production is also partly responsible for hunger in the world, damage to human health, the destruction of habitats, the poisoning of soils, water and the atmosphere with all the consequences for the climate . Peter Sasse also goes into detail about the cruel animal experiments which, like meat production, are justified as "morally permissible" by the Catechism of the Catholic Church.And so one can only see the cause of all the cruelty towards our fellow creatures in the fact that the churches place man so high above creation and have degraded animals to a soulless thing for 1500 years. "


The author

Peter Sasse, born in Castrop-Rauxel in the Ruhr area in 1940, studied education at the Vechta University of Applied Sciences and, in parallel, studied philosophy, psychology and ancient history.
He completed his first teaching position in the episcopal service at a Catholic private school. He left this after ten years due to behavior of the official church and its representatives that was morally unacceptable to him and instead entered the Lower Saxony school service.
The idea for his book "Animals Are Better People" grew up with Peter Sasse while researching his first book "The Fear of the Good News". The statement of the church: "Animals have no soul" preoccupied the animal lover and owner of two dogs so much that he devoted himself body and soul to the subject and wrote another startling, enlightening non-fiction book.

The book

Peter Sasse: Animals are better people
Hardcover, 232 pages
MusketierVerlag, Bremen, 2016 ISBN 978-3946635017
Price: 19.90 euros

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