One of Tony Blair’s slogans, on first being elected, was of the importance of education, education, education.This would be an admirable slogan to use to describe the way forward for Christians in particular, and society in general, in their understanding of animal welfare.

For millennia, the human race has usurped and abused those creatures weaker than themselves. This included other human beings, as well as the animal world. The enslavement of other races was regarded as the norm by most of society of the time. Fortunately, a few voices opposed the trafficking and abuse of human beings by the stronger races and it was eventually stopped. We now look back at human slavery with abhorrence and the various religions remain shocked by its manifestation of man’s inhumanity to man.

We need to ask ourselves whether we will be condemned by future generations over our inhumanity to other creatures created and given life by God.

Those who condoned slavery claimed that slaves did not have the feelings or emotions experienced by other people. This same claim is used today as an excuse for treating animals in cruel and thoughtless ways. It is often said as a way out of truly examining our responsibility towards other creatures. We should consider, however, how we would feel as a battery hen; a bull trapped in a bullring until death released it from torture, or an animal transported live for mile upon agonising mile, to find no respite at journey’s end, no familiar sights, but the bleakness and horror of a foreign slaughterhouse, with rough voices and harsh treatment before death.