1.18 Christianity And Nonviolence

Posted: 12.06.2010
Updated on: 30.07.2015

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Non-violence, Compassion and Instrumentality

A Jaina Perspective

Seminar organized by the Department of Jainology of the University of Madras,

13 and 14 February 2009

Chennai, India


 13.02.2009

 

1.18 Christianity And Nonviolence

Every religion wants to project a particular society - Christians project a society reigned by God or God’s Kingdom. Other Abrahamic religions such as Judaism and Islam share in this view. Religion comprises of many things - scriptures, tradition, community, rituals and rules of conduct. They present the Vision and the Way of Life and the models to emulate. Christianity presents a God-centered vision and a life of sacrificial love. The destiny of Christians is governed by this vision and the way of life. Christian scriptures and the tradition of the Catholic Church abound in materials related to this vision and way of life. And they also warn against the Christians who violate this vision and the way of life and the path of love.[1]

The Christian community - do Christians reflect in their lives the Christian vision and way of life? Yes and No. Generally, they are devout, God-fearing, charitable, helpful, compassionate … as individuals and deeply religious. In a system of several institutions like family, caste, religious grouping (Church) and their dynamic interplay, Christians tend to change, forget their identity, vision, and the path they need to follow. Further, personal ambitions and other interests (economic and political) seem to obliterate religious vision, knowledge and conduct. There can be principle-centered conduct (based on religious conviction and governed by higher motives) and conduct based on convenience, situations, usefulness, etc. Christians (and Christian nations) belong to both. And globalization has further aggravated this situation.

Some theologians suggest that religions have in-built violence, giving example of the idea of ‘sacrifice’ found in all religions (sacrifice of all forms including ‘self-mortification’). Every religion justifies some form of violence. The Hindus have justified animal sacrifice. The Jains justify ‘sallekhana’ [voluntary peaceful death by fasting]. The Christians justified ‘crusades’ and the Muslims justify ‘jihad.’ And the script-writers and the theologians of every religious community have a way of justifying them by interpreting the relevant passages in their scriptures and quoting examples from their tradition. The time of Crusades was a horror in Church / World history, holy wars fought in defence of Christendom and the Church and against the infidels in the East, Germany, and Spain, against heretics and schismatics who threatened Catholic unity, against Christian lay powers who opposed the papacy. Those engaged in Crusades too solemn vows to eradicate the infidels and others and were granted full indulgence, i.e. remission of all punishment due for sin and an assurance of direct entry into heaven. Papal authorization of war against Islam continued to be made until the 18th C. And today Christians talk about ‘Just War’.

The idea of Just War itself is a step toward avoidance of violence. Though the Catholic Church might claim that the Just War theory had its origination in the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine of Hippo, many pre-Christian thinkers like Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Cato the Younger, Seneca, Polibius, Sallust, and others distinguished between just and unjust grounds for waging war, and between just and unjust conduct in the course of war. There are Judaic approaches for Just War theory and Islam has an independent theory of its own regarding the Just War.

The key question is: Is war justified, and if so, under what circumstances? Wars could be either lawful or unlawful. In our times for e.g., the question that is often raised is whether U.S. war on Iraq is justified or not? Or whether Sri Lankan Army’s war strike on the LTTE is justified or not? Whether a war in a military conflict between two states or a civil war in the case of different groups within a state or International war between nations, wars cause damaging effects to a national / group identity, with death and destruction, trauma, and several difficulties in rehabilitation. [2] There have been a series of treatises since the 18th C. covering the conduct of war in order to prevent unnecessary suffering. Just and Peace-promoting wars are rare in human history. That is why every major figure in the Just War tradition like St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Grotius, and Walzer has insisted that war is ever justified only as the Last Resort. There are several other principles of a Just War. [3]

The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks about Righteous Anger by which a person or a nation “reacts to evil, real or apparent, and seeks vindication of his rights, that is, justice. By itself the passion is neither moral or immoral, but becomes so by reason or its being ordered or disordered - that is, reasonable according to the circumstances.” [4] It quotes John 2: 13-17, where Jesus formed whips and drove the money-changers as their presence in the temple premises offended the Holy presence of his Father. His action intended the correction of the evil doers. “The presence of evil should provoke a righteous anger, which if absent constitutes a sinful insensibility”, says St. Thomas Aquinas. [5] “All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war,” says the Catholic Church. While respecting those in defence of their nation the Church also cautions combatants that not everything is licit in war. Actions which are morally unlawful include: attacks against, and mistreatment of, non-combatants, wounded soldiers, and prisoners; genocide, whether of a people, nation or ethnic minorities; indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants. Given the modern means of warfare, especially nuclear, biological and chemical, these crimes against humanity must be especially guarded against.” [6]

It may be appropriate to point out the various groups that adopt nonviolence in managing conflicts. Christian pacifists like the Quakers, the Mennonites, the Brethren, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), to mention a few, are good examples. Christian pacifism believes that war and violence are incompatible with Christian faith. In other words, being a Christian meant being a pacifist. Notable pacifists include Leo Tolstoy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi. [7] They maintain that active nonviolence is a stand between violent opposition and passivity. Gandhi held Jesus to be a ‘ahimsavadi’ and a ‘satyagrahi’ (non-violent truth-seeker). Even at the point of death people like Stephen (Acts 7: 59-60) and Jesus (Luke 23: 34) forgive their assailants for their crime. And St. Paul did not seek revenge when he was violently attacked (Acts 14: 19-22). He writes to the Corinthian Church on non-retaliation even at the time of persecution: “It seems to me that God has put us on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe. To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. Yet when we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly.” (1 Corinthians 4: 9-13)

Early Church Fathers interpreted Jesus’ teaching as strictly adhering to nonviolence. [8] The seeds of nonviolence are found in the writings of the prophets in the Old Testament as God’s dream for a Non-Violent Humanity. David was forbidden to build God’s house because he was “a man of war” and had “shed so much blood on the earth.” [9] People are saved not because of a mighty army or by its great strength but by the total trust placed in God, says the Psalms. In the time of the Messiah, “(the people) will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.” [10] The Old Testament scritptures foretell the coming of the Messiah, referring to Jesus, as the one endowed with salvation, humble and mounted on a donkey, preaching peace to the nations cutting off the bow of war and so on. [11]

There are a few references in the life of Jesus that speak about positive love and tolerance: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and do good for those who persecute you… For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” [12] The Kingdom people are to love indiscriminately like the rain that falls from heaven. They are to take up the cross and follow Jesus because gaining the whole world does not profit a person who has lost his soul. [13] In the Garden of Gethsemane, as Jesus was being arrested, one of his disciples draws a sword and cuts off a soldier’s ears. And Jesus rebukes him saying, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” [14]

By human standards, what the disciple did was in self-defence and was justified. And yet Jesus manifests God’s sacrificial love. His love was not a ‘common sense’ love in human standards to say “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you… Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” [15]

His Master’s voice is heard and imitated by his disciples in the ages to follow, creating a “New Humanity”, tearing down the dividing walls: “[Christ] is our peace, who made both groups [Jews and Gentiles] into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And he came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near, for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.” [16] “Pursue peace with all men,” says St. Paul to the Hebrews. [17]

The Catholic Church continues to admonish its followers all over the world to continue living according to the biblical tradition of pursuit of peace and nonviolence. The Church asserts that dialogue, promoting peace and living together in communities, is the new way of being Church and the way of witnessing to Christ: “This dialogical model is in fact a new way of being Church. Such a Church is never centered on itself but on the coming true of God’s dream for the world. It seeks not to exclude others but to be truly catholic in its concerns, in its appreciation of the gifts of others, and in its readiness to work with others for a world at once human and more divine.” [18] The Church is convinced that dialogue begins a new process of mutual recognition and acceptance, mutual help and support. In dialogue, we make space for the other believers. It helps in joining hands with others in solving problems facing society and the world. It educates people in peace and trains them in ways of harmonious living. [19]

Peaceful living and building communities is at once a challenge and a task for Christians (for that matter, for any religious community). In India, it is a challenge for Christians to live in peace with their religious neighbour particularly in the context of growing communal conflicts and violence owing to various reasons. The Vatican Council of the Catholic Church declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits. The Council further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself. This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right. [20] And the Government has to create conditions favourable to the fostering of religious life, in order that the people may be truly enabled to exercise their religious rights and to fulfil their religious duties, and also in order that society itself may profit by the moral qualities of justice and peace. [21]

Sure, it is guaranteed by the Indian Constitutions under Fundamental Rights and Minority Rights. But it is strange that exercising ones rights itself precipitates anger, hate speech, and violence, sometimes for no reasons. The recent happenings in Khandamal Dt. of Orissa and in Karnataka preceded by violent experiments on Christians [22] in Gujarat are examples to prove how exercising ones legitimate rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India is at stake. Given that there are many reasons, real and apparent, for communal violence in India, Christians live in this their Motherland a life of nonviolence and a life of martyrdom. And martyrdom is not new to Christian tradition.

There is yet another important area of life-concern, calling for nonviolent attitudes and actions. It is with regard to life-preservation and life-promotion. The Christian attitude to life is that it is sacred and one cannot at will tamper with it. Life is God’s gift. It has to be cherished, nourished, and protected with dignity. This attitude of the Church percolates in every aspect human life, particularly in the preservation of life itself. No one is permitted to end life at any stage. For instance, every Christian denomination views abortion as sinful, equivalent to murder and, from early times, it was condemned by Church Fathers like Tertullian, John Chrysostom, Jerome and Athanasius and also by Jewish Historians like Flavius Josephus. Christians respect life in the womb as fashioned by God: “Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother's breast. From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother's womb you have been my God” [23] and “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” [24]

Abortion was sinful according to St. Augustine [25] and St. Thomas Aquinas [26] even from the moment of conception. There had been debates about “unformed” and “formed” status of the fetus, and accordingly believed in the presence of a living soul in the fetus. Pope John Paul II, in Evangelium Vitae, sidestepped these distinctions and resorted to probability. He said "The mere probability that a human person is involved would suffice to justify an absolutely clear prohibition of any intervention aimed at killing a human embryo" (sec. 60). The ruling from the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts (May 23, 1988) expressedly defined abortion as "any method used to terminate human life from the moment of conception until birth."

Pope Paul VI Encyclical on Human Life or Humanae Vitae in Latin (on the Regulation of Birth) reflects this basic attitude towards life in its promulgation on marriage, sexuality, contraception, abortion, etc. Let me summarize: Married love takes its origin from God, who is love. And any sexual act between the husband and wife must retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life. Every action specifically intended to prevent procreation is forbidden, except in medically necessary circumstances. This includes both chemical and barrier methods of contraception. Natural family planning methods (abstaining from intercourse during certain parts of the menstrual cycle) are allowed, since they take advantage of “a faculty provided by nature. The acceptance of artificial methods of birth control is then claimed to result in several negative consequences, among them a “general lowering of moral standards” resulting from sex without consequences, and the danger that men may reduce women “to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of [their] own desires”. The Catholic position regarding abortion is stringent to the point of the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. [27]

Some Protestant churches [28] believe in the right of the woman to choose whether to have an abortion, and is thus often regarded as Pro-choice. While some of them uphold the idea that church doctrine should not interfere with secular abortion laws, the Catholic Church appeals to the wisdom of the governments and public authorities to heed to the observance of the Divine Law in this regard: “Let it be considered also that a dangerous weapon would thus be placed in the hands of those public authorities who take no heed of moral exigencies. Who could blame a government for applying to the solution of the problems of the community those means acknowledged to be licit for married couples in the solution of a family problem? Who will stop rulers from favouring, from even imposing upon their peoples, if they were to consider it necessary, the method of contraception which they judge to be most efficacious?” [29]

It may look strange particularly to the Jains, who vouch nonviolence at every level and to all forms of life, why Christians are little concerned about animal well-being and engage in meat-eating, etc. Christians cite the first story of creation where animals and humans were treated together: they were both created on the 6th day; together were given seeds, fruits and green plants to eat: And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth,and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” [30]

It was only after the flood that meat-eating was permitted by God: “God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground, and on all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. Only, you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. For your own lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning: from every animal I will require it and from human beings, each one for the blood of another, I will require a reckoning for human life. Whoever sheds the blood of a human, by a human shall that person’s blood be shed; for in his own image God made humankind.” [31] The very first covenant in the Bible was the covenant with Noah, his descendents and with animals: “Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark.” [32] These verses from the Bible might be Good News for Animals.

With such strong biblical roots, the ideas of the Catholic Church have gone beyond. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, drawing inspiration from these and other texts in the Bible, has established a Christian response to animals. Christians should pay attention to the respect for the integrity of creation: animals, plants, and inanimate things and their moral use in the modern world: “The dominion granted by the Creator over mineral, vegetable and animal resources of the universe cannot be separated from respect for moral obligations, including those toward generations to come.” [33] Hence, humanity’s dominion over creatures is not absolute. It is limited by the concern for the quality of life.

But the criticism is that the text is less than a complete picture of an ideal relationship with animals. It rather shows little awareness of the current conditions imposed on animals by human society. For instance, the animal rights activists would be disappointed to see that animals are “destined for the common good of past, present and future humanity … God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image. Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals, if it remains within reasonable limits, is a morally acceptable practice since it contributes to caring for or saving human lives… Animals are entrusted to man’s stewardship; he must show them kindness. They may be used to serve the just satisfaction of man’s need.” [34] This sentence reflects non only a world-view that animals and the natural world exist for the sake of humanity (anthropocentric) rather than along with humanity (bio-centric) and for common good, but also share a deep insensibility to enter into a compassionate relationship with our closest nonhuman world.

In the introduction to the book Good News for Animals? Christian Approaches to Animal Well-Being [35] the author notes that while questions concerning animal rights and animal protection have been addressed by philosophers for several decades now, and the animal rights and animal protection movements have received much publicity from the media concerning their efforts to reduce animal suffering, the contemporary Christians have been silent. And the book covers different topics related to the state of the animals and the myriad ways they are threatened, investigation as well as vindication or critique of the Western Christian legacy of reflection on animals, with what eyes Christians should see animals (a theological perspective of our relation with animals), animal liberation and animal rights as related to Christian theology. Two Appendices at the end of the book give concrete recommendations to take practical action. The authors recommend Animal Liberation [36] for those wanting to know the actual ways in which animals are abused in animal agriculture and scientific testing in Western industrial societies; and You can save the Animals: Fifty things to do right now. [37]

A word about meat-eating! People turn to vegetarianism for various reasons: taste, tradition, health reasons, personal conviction with or without philosophical and theological grounds and so on. In the Bible, there is a passage of God’s encounter with Peter, [38] a close disciple of Jesus, just before he had to visit Cornelius, a Gentile’s house (in Jewish tradition, it may be close to an Outcaste). As Peter went to the roof top to pray, he became hungry and fell into a trance, when something like a large sheet was coming down from heaven in which were crawling all types of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. Then he heard a voice saying “Peter, get up and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.” The voice said to him again, a second time, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” This happened three times, and the thing was suddenly taken up to heaven. As Peter was greatly puzzled about what the vision meant, Cornelius’ men arrive there to take him to Jaffa. God tell Peter not to hesitate to go along with them. On Peter’s arrival Cornelius met him, and falling at his feet, worshiped him. But Peter made him get up, saying, “Stand up; I am only a mortal.” And as he talked with him, he went in and found that many had assembled; and he said to them, “You yourselves know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or to visit a Gentile; but God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean. The story ends with the conversion of Cornelius. Peter then narrates this event to the Church of Jerusalem. When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”

In another event, Paul and Barnabas argue that circumcision was not necessary for Gentiles to be saved and the matter was taken to the Council at Jerusalem. At the Council it was Peter who, remembering his story of God’s acceptance of the Gentiles without condition, stood up to tell the Council “My brothers, God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us. Now therefore why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? On the contrary, we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” Finally, James decides that they “should not trouble those Gentiles who are turning to God” but should instruct them to abstain only from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from whatever has been strangled and from blood.” [39]

There is an unresolved ambiguity regarding the dietary regulations. The motives are not clear why the dietary regulations should be imposed on the gentile converts: “to abstain from thing polluted by idols and from fornication and whatever is strangled and from blood.” [40] The only reason given to the reader is that “these (are) necessary things” and “Moses from early generations has had those who preach him, for he has been read aloud every Sabbath in the synagogues.” [41] As ‘nothingness of the idols’ is recognized, [42] partaking of food offered to such idols is equal to ridiculing Yahweh, the only God, [43] one who exits. Secondly, ‘blood’ in the sacrificial ritual represents ‘life’ [44] offered to God symbolically. If the sacrificial animal had to be eaten then its blood had to be completely poured out on the altar. [45] Hence eating a strangled animal with its blood still frozen inside would be considered cannibalistic. Abstaining from such thing would positively mean, in modern terms, preserving and promoting life. Thus the dietary prescriptions are, to a large extent, expression of moral values in Israelite culture. The gentile converts shall observe the four rules for the sake of Jews and Jewish Christians who are familiar with the preaching of Moses. Great caution was required in the abandonment of the law completely because one has to live among the Jews for whom the law was sacred. The radical departure from the law might cause missionary hindrances in the establishment of further contacts with the Jews and the missionaries’ opportunity to evangelize them. [46] The above biblical narrative seems to show that prescription of a regulatory diet is purely traditional from the point of view of practice, though they may be supported by their belief.

The Jews and the Muslims strictly follow their religiously prescribed diets. What about Christians? There seems to be an answer in Paul, the greatest of Christian theologians! For Paul, food or food offered to the idols is ultimately a matter of indifference. He says that food or any other should not be a matter for quarrelling over opinions: “Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them.” Paul advocates a harmonious, peaceful living with neighbours without passing judgement or causing a stumbling block on one another. Paul is convinced that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. His focus is not on the food but on love of the neighbour: “If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died… For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” [47]

Paul finally says that we should then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding: “Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat; it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble.” [48] “Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience,”26 for “the earth and its fullness are the Lord’s.” 27 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience…. So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.32 ”Give no offence to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God,33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved.” [49] Paul treats this issue by offering a new focus to Christian love, and in doing so he presents an example of principled, ethical thinking where love and respect for others transcends the rightness or wrongness of the act itself. [50] One may otherwise eat or drink without restriction, given that he is always aware of the concerns of others (whether Jew, pagan or Christian). [51] Love’s responsibility transcends the specific question of food. [52]

This does not mean that all Christians are meat-eaters. Vegetarianism is becoming a fast growing way of life and community building exercise in the contemporary world, particularly the West. Browsing through the bibliography of several books written on Christianity & Vegetarianism, one is at awe to find titles like Is God a Vegetarian? Christianity, Vegetarianism, and Animal Rights by Richard Alan Young, making a compelling case that vegetarianism accords with God’s highest ideals. Why Christians get sick? by George H. Malkmus launching an intensive biblical and scientific search to find out why he, a Christian, got sick and to possibly find an alternative treatment to the medical profession's usually unsuccessful ones, suggestively proposing a vegetarian diet. World Peace Diet by Will Tuttle, making explicit the subtle connections between our culture, our food, and the source of our broad range of problems, as well as the way to transform our individual and collective lives. The New Vegetarians: Promoting Health and Protecting Life by Paul R. Amato, and Sonia A. Partridge, dealing with the history of vegetarianism, reasons for becoming vegetarian, transitioning to vegetarianism, and enjoying a vegetarian lifestyle in a culture that is largely meat-eating. Food for the Gods: Vegetarianism & the World's Religions by Rynn Berry showing that all the world's major religions support a cruelty-free diet. God's Covenant with Animals: A Biblical Basis for Humane Treatment of All Creatures by J.R. Hyland, discussing the biblical basis for vegetarianism, and pays particular attention to the theological implications of God's covenant with animals after the Flood.

There are any number of vegetarian websites like the Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA) to explain scientifically that modern animal-based diets tend to significantly harm our health, the environment, the world’s poor and hungry, and God’s animals. For instance, the Oregon State University Professor of Animal Agriculture, Peter Cheeke, has acknowledged on cruelty to animals: “Most people who eat meat don't think too deeply about all the processes involved in converting a living animal to meat on their plate... In my opinion, if most urban meat eaters were to visit an industrial broiler house, to see how the birds are raised,... they would not be impressed, and some, perhaps many of them would swear off eating chicken and perhaps all meat. For modern animal agriculture, the less the consumer knows about what's happening before the meat hits the plate, the better. If true, is this an ethical situation? Should we [in animal agriculture] be reluctant to let people know what really goes on, because we're not really proud of it and concerned that it might turn them to vegetarianism?” [53]

Finally, Christianity understands nonviolence to be positive love

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