WONDERFUL ARE THE ANIMATED BEINGS

This Sikh affirmation was a constant theme of the first conference of the newly – launched Interreligious Fellowship for Animals, held at Friends’ House on June 16 2007 and chaired by the writer and publisher Jon Wynne-Tyson. Friendly greetings were received from QCA patrons, UA Fanthorpe and Rosie Bailey and from Quakers in Central and South Africa.

Founded by Feargus O’Connor, minister of the Unitarians of Golders Green and secretary of the World Congress of Faiths, and by Quaker Concern for Animals, the event brought together some thirty participants – of which thirteen were members of QCA – to hear speakers representing Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism and Spiritualism.

The theme was: Living Adventurously: Spiritual Perspectives on our Kinship with all Sentient Beings.

Feargus began:

“What we are doing here today is important to every one of us: it is a matter of life and death for many millions of our fellow creatures. It is also of some significance, since we are making history as the first multifaith animal welfare fellowship in this country.”

He continued with the words of Marian Hussenbux, spoken at the September 06 Interfaith Celebration of Animals in Golders Green:

“We have now managed to establish a control not just over other species, but over the planet itself. Where we should be thinking fellowship, we are thinking domination. Such pernicious thinking has, in the past, had far-reaching consequences in our view of the world and its diverse inhabitants.

Our Fellowship must seek to redress the balance in favour of compassion.

A sheep or a calf in a transporter, a rat in a laboratory, should excite general pity, not general indifference; an elephant in a zoo should not speak of an educational experience, but of inappropriate captivity; a bull bleeding in the arena should have nothing to do with cultural tradition and everything to do with human shame.

We passionately believe that this initiative of ours, inclusive of all faith traditions, is an innovation whose time has come and we hope that, together, we can draw attention to our shared and deep concern about our fellow species and our determination to bear witness to their suffering and their intrinsic right to co-exist with us.”

Our chairman, Jon Wynne-Tyson, made a few introductory remarks about his commitment to such an initiative, as “an omnivorous grazer of several faiths”.