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May 10, 2013

Eating Mercifully: Christian Perspectives on Factory Farming

Order the documentary and download the study guides

Order your free copy of Eating Mercifully. 

Twenty-six minutes may forever change the way you look at food and faith. Eating Mercifully, a compelling documentary, examines critical findings of a Pew Commission report on U.S. industrial animal agriculture, and considers factory farming practices from several Christian viewpoints.

The film features: 

Robert Martin, Executive Director, Pew Commission * Southern Baptists Elaine and Dale West, Rooterville Sanctuary, Fla. * Rev. Dr. Laura Hobgood-Oster, Southwestern University, Texas * Greg Boyd, Ph.D.,President, Christus Victor Ministries.* Sr. Rosemarie Greco, DW, Conn. * Farmer Peter McDonald, NY.

The documentary debuted in 2008, with premiers at National Cathedral in Washington and at the annual conference of the Religion Newswriters Association. Since its debut, Eating Mercifully continues to be shown and discussed at colleges and universities, in large and small congregations and in other communities nationwide.

Eating Mercifully was featured in the Religion Communication Congress 2010 Film and Video Showcase.

Watch a 7-minute trailer

From preachers to professors to press, what they say about the film


As I write this today, I am considering “Eating Mercifully.” I’m considering what it might change in my life. I’m considering that it may just cause me to care more about life in every sense of the word.

—Justin Bills, Associate Pastor, Canyon Creek Fellowship Church, SE Calgary, Alberta Canada

It’s possible to make a difference viewers are told…It’s a good argument. Eating Mercifully is tough to watch, but it won’t leave consumers feeling there’s nothing they can do.  

—Bill Fentum, The United Methodist Reporter

What really affected me, however, was the portrait of Elaine West, a conservative Christian who runs a farm-animal sanctuary in Florida. When she first learned how animals are treated on factory farms, West said she was “so ashamed as a Christian [that] I was supporting that kind of horrific abuse and cruelty.” Although I’m a Muslim and not a Baptist, as West is, I could relate to her sense of shame.

—Andrea Useem, Health.com

I watched it and was struck by the horrors of factory farming. Often we eat our meat and don't think about where it comes from, we just take it for granted that it appears on the supermarket shelf. But in order to feed the meat consumption industry, chickens, pigs, and cows are subjected to the most oppressive conditions. It really was heartbreaking to watch the suffering that they go through in order that we can eat more meat.

—Dr. Allen Yeh, Biola University, Pasadena, Calif.

Yes, I’m fond of St. Francis and certainly believe in the humane treatment of animals, but that’s not a very high bar. But I had agreed to at least read The Humane Society of the United States’ booklet, A Religious Case for Compassion for Animals, and watch their documentary “Eating Mercifully.” Now I’m ruined. I know too much, and it’s hard to go back.

—Susan Vogt, speaker and writer on marriage, parenting and spirituality; editor, Journal of the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers

“Eating Mercifully” looks at how a number of people are doing what HSUS President and Chief Executive Wayne Pacelle challenged people to do. A year ago at the launch of his organization’s Animal and Religion program, he asked people of faith to learn about the treatment of animals raised for food. He asked them to square their consumption habits with their religious principles. He asked them to advocate for improved farm animal welfare at local, state and national levels. The care of God’s creation and creatures has become a hot issue among people of faith in recent years…

—Michele Marr, The Huntington Beach Independent

The HSUS is hoping the religious community will weigh in on this, but most churches don't deal well with collective moral guilt. Some point out we tolerate the silent screams of 3,500 aborted babies a day, so what's a few million animals? Can a society that tolerates such undercurrents of cruelty be a moral society?  Or, as a nun asks at the close of the film, had we known the animal we're eating was raised "in such a disgusting way," would we eat that animal? Probably not….Maybe it's time to give those "cattle on a thousand hills" mentioned in Psalm 50:10 a break. 
   
—Julia Duin, formerly with The Washington Times

Watch, order, discuss

Watch Eating Mercifully (26-minutes)

Order your free copy of Eating Mercifully and

Download the adult discussion guide (PDF)

Download the youth discussion guide (PDF)

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