Religion and Animal Rights

Information on Animals for meat, sport, experiments and religious views

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The status of Animals

General Beliefs

  • Most people believe that humans are on a higher level than animals,
  • Most people would say that just because the status of animals is lower than that of humans, does not mean humans should mistreat them.
  • Most would agree that humans can use animals to help us live without harming the life of the animals.  

Relgious Beliefs

  • Religions have tended to supported the idea that humans are on a higher level.
  • Most religions have taught that God created animals for a purpose, to be of value and support to humans.
  • Religions teach that although animals are not equal to humans, they should be cared for and respected as part of the natural world.
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Animals Rights

Animal Rights Campaigners

  • Hundreds of organisations work to protect the rights of animals. These organisations believe that animals deserve to live according to their own nature and not be harmed, exploited or abused.
  • Animal rights' campaigners say animals have a dignity and have the same rights as humans to be free from cruelty and exploitation.
  • Many oppose factory farming, animal experimentation and using animals for entertainment. Not all animal rights' supporters agree abou whether research on animals should ever take place.

Religious attitudes

  • Religions do not teach that animals have the same rights as humans, but that they should be protected, managed and cared for with.
  • Christianity and Islam believe God created the world and therefore it deserves respect.
  • Humans do not own the planet, but are stewards of it.
  • The idea of the sanctity of life (including animals) influences their views.
  • Humans have responsibility for the way they use their power over the natural world.

Most religious believers would support the kind of work animal welfare groups do. However, religious people may be divided about the means people use to defend animal rights. Most would accept not-violentlawful protest. Some would say actions such as trespassing or causing damage to property may be justified in extreme cases. Most would not accept violent protest that caused harm to human beings.

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Preservation of Species


Most zoos have educational activities or areas where children can see some animals up close. Breeding programmes in zoos have helped to save rare species from extinction. Some zoos pay for research into animals. This helps us to understand their places in the ecosystem and aid their protection in the wild.

Zoos and safari parks do not always provide a suitable environment for wild animals. Sometimes animals are kept in small cages and suffer stress. The climate and habitat is often different from their native environment and some animals find it difficult to adjust.

Religious views

Most religious people accept zoos if the animals are kept in conditions that are as near as possible to life in the wild. Many zoos and safari parks closely recreate the natural habitat of species and allow animals to roam over large areas. Religious people recognise that zoos can help preserve species in the wild by research and through carefully designed breeding programmes

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Animals for companionship

Most people who keep pets grow to love them and treat them as a member of the family. For people who live on their own, a pet can provide companionship and a way of expressing affection. Dogs bring many benefits to their owners, including exercise and social contact with other dog walkers. Some people go do far as to dress their pets in designer outfits or have a pet buried in a special cemetery when they die.

Guide dogs are trained from puppies to help blind and partially sighted people lead more independent lives by helping them cross roads and get around outside their homes. A guide dog's working life is around seven years. After that they retire to a good home. They are both pets and working animals.

Religious views of pets

Most religions do not forbid people to have pets:

  • In Islam animals must not be kept in limited spaces or trained to perform tricks. Most Muslims, therefore, do not have pets, but can keep working dogs for hunting or guarding their home.
  • In all faiths humane treatment of animals is expected.
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Animals for work

Animals are used all over the world to transport people and goods.

  • Donkeys, mules, camels or horses can be ridden or harnessed to pull carts or carry goods.
  • Dogs are used in the Arctic to pull sleds.
  • Before modern transport was invented, the horse and carriage was a common sight in Britain.
  • Horses and working dogs are used on farms and oxen or buffalo may be used to pull a plough.
  • In India elephants are used for logging.  
  • Guide dogs are not the only animal to help disabled people; small African monkeys have been trained to do simple household tasks like opening mail.
  • 'Sniffer' dogs are used by the police to follow a trail and seek out drugs, and animals are used by the military to locate mines.
  • Dogs carried messages across the trenches during World War 1 and some were given medals for bravery.

Religious views of working animals

Most religions do not object to using animals for work or transport as long as they are cared for.

Islam teaches that working animals must not be beaten or overworked. They must be well-fed and watered.

More recently, people have realised that contact with animals can bring a therapeutic (helpful to healing) effect to children with autism, sick people, the elderly and prisoners. Most religious people would support the use of animals to heal in this way.

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Animals for Food

The issues

Some people object to killing animals for meat. Others accept that domesticated animals bred specifically for meat product can be used for food. As long as they are treated well during their lives and killed humanely.These people believe this is morally acceptable.

As agriculture has grown into a huge industry, the methods used to produce meat have changed. This has made some people question whether the animals are being mistreated and suffer unnecessary pain or distress in the process.

Free-range farming

Free-range farming is a method of raising animals so that they can roam freely and live a more natural life. Free-range products are usually more expensive to buy.

Factory farming

Factory farming is a method of raising animals intensively. A high output of animals can be produced and more profit can be made. Animals are kept indoors, sometimes in the dark. Their movement is restricted and they cannot follow their natural behaviour to mate or graze.

The advantages of factory farming are that food production is more efficient and costs less, so meat, milk or eggs can be sold at lower prices to the consumer.

Opponents say factory farming threatens animal welfare, human health and the environment. The crowded living conditions cause suffering and distress,

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Animals for Food

Slaughtering and Transporting Animals

In Britian, animals are usually stunned first and then slaughtered. Muslim methods of halal involves cutting the animal's neck with a sharp knife. Some animals are sent to be slaughtered many miles away from where they were produced. Animals are transported over long distances in cramped, overcrowded conditions without enough food or water. Many die in transit.

Vegetarian and vegan diets

Vegetarians do not eat fish, animals or birds. A vegan refuses to use any animal products, including dairy products (milk, cheese, eggs) or fur and leather that comes from a dead animal.Some reasons why people choose to be vegetarian or vegan include:

  • They do not wish to harm animals
  • It is part of their religion
  • They may object to the way meat and poultry are produced and transported
  • They think vegetables, particularly those grown organically, are safer and healthier to eat
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Animals for Food

Religious attitudes

Although individual Christians and Muslims may be vegetarians for reasons given above, the religions themselves do not teach people to avoid meat. Both these religions believe animals were created by God to provide humans with food. After the great flood God told Noah that people may eat animals.

St Paul wrote to the Romans that all foods could be eaten, but that Christians should not eat anything that causes someone else to sin.

Muslims have food laws that tell them which animals they may eat and *********** them. Muslims eat only halal meat, killed in a humane way 'in the name of Allah, the merciful, the compassionate'. Muslims do not eat pigs. The Qur'an teaches that carrion, blood and pork are forbidden.

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Animals for Sport

Using animals in sport

Throughout history people have used animals in sport. The arguments for and against using animals in sport

  • Animals feel pain and fear. It is wrong to use them for our entertainment.
  • Animals like competing, using them for sport is no worse than killing them for food.


Survival for the first human depends upon the skill of a hunter to bring food to his family and tribe. . In Britian, most hunting is classed as a sport.

Supporters say it helps the countryside, by removing pests like foxes, which attack livestock or wildlife and can spread disease. They think trapping or poisoning animals may be more cruel and less effective than hunting.

Opponents of hunting successfully argued that chasing and killing a fox with hounds is cruel. Parliament passed a law in 2004 banning hare coursing and the hunting of wild mammals with dogs

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Religious veiws on animals


Christians believe God created the world, including animals and people, and put humans in charge (Genesis 1:28).

Christians believe they have a duty to care for all creation, including animals. Jesus spoke about the value of every living creature, even each individual sparrow (Luke 12:6).


Muslims believe the world belongs to its Creator Allah who appointed humans as stewards or tustess over it. This means they must care for animals and treat them with respect.

Animals have feelings and purpose in their lives and those who are cruel to them will answer to Allah.

Muslims have rules about their food. They cannot eat pigs and all other animals must be killed in a painless way (halal slaughter). Guidelines about how to treat animals are given in the Shari'ah law.

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Animals and Sport


Bullfighting is popular in Spain and Portugal. After performing various moves to distract and anger the bull, the matador thrusts a sword into the bull to kill it. Supporters say it is a proud tradition that should be respected; the bull will be killed anyway so it does not matter how it is done. Opponents think it is cruel and degrading. The bulls are teased and have sharp spears stuck into their bodies until they collapse exhausted from their injuries.

Religious attitudes


Some Christians believe hunting is justified since God told humans to bring animals under their control. Other Christians say animals are part of God's creation and humans have a duty as stewards to protect them.


Islam teaches that animals have feelings and a reason for living. Animals may be hunted for food but for sport. Allah will hold people accountable if they kill an animal for no useful purpose.

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This is really good , well done ...


this is really good... :) how does page 2 end...

Most religious believers would support the kind of work animal welfare groups do. However, ...


Also page 6... Factory farming is cut off.... so sorry but your notes are extremely helpful

Miss KHP


This is absolutely fantastic!

Comes up in most exam boards and looks at what animal rights campaigners may think and religious views (in red).

I really recommend that you read this!




Wow, this is really good.

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