Is Hunting the Moral Equivalent of Rape and Child Abuse?

Andrew Linzey, professor of theology at Oxford University and Great Britain’s most well-known animal rights theologian, recently argued in a report published by the Christian Socialist Movement that hunting foxes with hounds is equivalent to rape and torture.

According to Linzey,

Causing suffering for sport is intrinsically evil. Hunting, therefore, belongs to that class of always morally impermissible acts along with rape, child abuse and torture.

The Christian Socialist Movement is a left-leaning Christian organization that includes as its members Prime Minister Tony Blair and Minister of State for Rural Affairs Alun Michael.

Linzey is the author of several books including Animal Theology which its American publisher, the University of Illinois Press, describes thusly,

Animal rights is animal theology, in Andrew Linzey’s view. He argues that historical theology, creatively defined, must reject humanocentricity. He questions the assumption that if theology is to speak on this issue, “it must only do so on the side of the oppressors.” Linzey’s theological query investigates not only the abstractions of theory, but also the realities of hunting, animal experimentation, and genetic engineering. He is an important, pioneering, Christian voice speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves.

The reader gets a feel for Linzey’s approach from this excerpt of his writings published by the International Vegetarian Union in 1996 (emphasis in the original),

The first is that animals are God’s creatures: not human property, nor utilities, nor resources, nor commodities, but precious beings in God’s sight. The second is the Christ-like suffering of animals. “Think then, my brethren”, preached John Henry Newman at Oxford in 1842, “of your feelings at cruelty practised on brute animals, and you will gain one sort of feeling which the history of Christ’s Cross and Passion ought to excite within you.” Christians whose eyes are fixed on the awfulness of crucifixion are in a special position to understand the awfulness of innocent suffering. The Cross of Christ is God’s absolute identification with the weak, the powerless and the vulnerable, but most of all with unprotected, undefended, innocent suffering.

. . .

It cannot be stressed enough that the picture of God exclusively concerned with human salvation and indifferent to the suffering of the non-human creation has become a source of moral despair. If Christians today care so little for animals, it is because the God they seem to believe in cares even less. For myself, I believe that if God is good and just and holy, it must follow that there will be redemption for each and every creature that suffers. Nothing less than that would make God a truly just God.

Christ died to redeem your cat!


Labour morality guru compares fox-hunting to rape. Kamal Ahmed, The Observer (UK), June 1, 2003.

The World’s First Professor of Theology and Animal Welfare. Andrew Linzey, International Vegetarian Union, Issue I-96.

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