There is not a lot to say about Christianity and cats unlike the Islamic faith. The Islamic faith is very specific and clear in its directives on how to treat cats. It even provides examples. As for Christianity: nothing, and for most of the duration of the Christian faith all animals are treated as second class citizens for humans to use. Christianity is human-centric. Christianity inspires speciesism. There is no mention of cats in the bible except for the lion as a beast.
The traditional Christian view is that animals are to be preyed upon by humans and other animals. Animals were downgraded. Animals were considered in relation to humans and not as distinct sentient beings with souls, feelings, emotions and intelligence. Christianity is still burdened with this human-centric viewpoint. Although the religion has moved on considerably in respect of animal rights, Christians across large areas of the planet remain shackled to the crude past, which often leads to various forms of animal abuse judged by modern, enlightened thinking in a modern world. Some time ago I argued that Christians were more likely to accept declawing of cats.
Christians have historically struggled to explain away why animals suffer in a world created by God. Some of the arguments used are that (a) animals don’t feel pain or feel less pain than humans or (b) feel pain but don’t suffer or (c) deserve to feel pain. It is all rather human-centric as usual.
Modern Roman Catholicism remains rooted in the tradition of the human having dominion over animals. The human is a steward of animals to be used for his benefit. Although the church preaches respect for animals.
Even today Christian theologians don’t believe that animals have rights. However, they do afford animals respect and consideration. Modern Christians believe in looking after nature rather then using it to human advantage.
Some well known Christians had a more enlightened attitude towards animals. St. Francis, born in 1182, was sensible enough and ahead of his time in declaring that animals “had the same source as himself”. That must have been difficult for a lot of people to digest at that time. He is almost saying that humans are animals, which of course is the case but even today most people can’t accept that, especially Christians.
The prophet Isaiah referred to the Kingdom of Heaven as a place where humans and animals live together in peace.
Jesus preached that people should be kind to the weak and vulnerable. Often animals fall into this category and should, therefore, be well treated by people.
Andrew Linzey writes that God loves all creation. To be honest this does not sound like some sort of revelation. For me is more a matter of common sense. However, from a Christian perspective it gets away from the human-centric history of the religion.
Today, the Anglican church’s view is that people are “co-partners with the rest of creation”. That seems to say that we are all equal.
Conclusion? Christianity got off on the wrong foot with respect to its attitude towards animals and therefore cats. That legacy is still felt today.
Important note: this is the second in a series of religion and cats. I respect everyone’s views on religion. It is a sensitive subject. Everyone has an obvious right to be critical of what I have written and I accept that totally.
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