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November 17, 2011

The Christian Vegetarian Association

CVA President Stephen Kaufman writes about his ministry for animals

Christian Vegetarian Association

  • Christian Vegetarian Association's Stephen Kaufman.

  • Reaching out to meet a new friend.

  • An assortment of whole-grain breads. istock.com

  • The Christian Vegetarian Association was founded in 1999. istock.com

by Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

Numerous philosophers have articulated powerful secular arguments for animal rights but, Christianity is rarely used as a basis for the contemporary animal protection movement.

A major step to change that was the creation, in late 1999 by Canadian Nathan Braun, of the Christian Vegetarian Association. The CVA has steadily grown to more than 6,000 members in about 100 countries.

Although most of our work has been in the United States, our literature has been translated into 12 languages, and we have activists throughout the world.

Our main focus has been to distribute our booklet Would Jesus Eat Meat Today? at Christian concerts, revivals, and other events. We pass out about 150,000 booklets each year. We also have a 26-minute video Honoring God’s Creation, which is designed for Christian Education classes, and numerous other resources. To help support and inspire our members, we have a moderated discussion list.

All messages are reviewed to make sure that they are respectful and that they relate to the group’s focus, which is the intersection between proper and respectful treatment of animals and Christian faith.

We believe we have three missions. We aim to remind our brothers and sisters in Christ that Christian faith and tradition call for just and merciful treatment of animals. We are convinced that the current industrial model of farming is incompatible with the teachings of Jesus, who stressed love, compassion, service, and respect for God. Animals belong to God, and therefore animal abuse is an affront to God.

A second mission is to show people that Christianity and animal protectionism are complimentary. There are countless biblical passages which support the kind and merciful treatment of animals. There are also numerous Christian leaders throughout history who have spoken about animals and the need to protect them.

A third mission is to provide moral and spiritual support for Christians who find that their families or faith communities oppose their compassionate dietary choices. Sometimes having one’s lifestyle accord with one’s faith can lead to a sense of loneliness and alienation, and we want to remind them that there are many Christians who are determined to live by their convictions.

The CVA is always seeking volunteers to help us distribute our booklet. As our way of saying thank you, we donate $18/hr to the animal protection or vegetarian group of the volunteer’s choice. It is our hope that, for all Christians, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

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