I believe that the Bible is literally true, that it is God speaking through human beings. So that means Jesus ate fish after the resurrection and fed them to people in the multiplication miracle. Also, it means that Paul tells me it's OK to eat animals. And God sure kills a lot of animals (and human beings). Why should I be a vegetarian?

Please read our answers (in the Frequently Asked Questions section) to the questions related to Jesus' consumption of fish, Paul's statements about eating animals, and the presentation of God in the Hebrew Scriptures. We think that you may be swayed to see these Scriptures in a new light.

All that aside, Jesus clearly calls his followers to lives of gentleness mercy, purity of heart, justice, and peacemaking (e.g., Matthew 5: 5-9). There is so much violence and injustice in the world, from wars in faroff lands to violence in the inner cities here at home, and most of it is not easily dealt with by us as individuals.

But one area where each of us can definitely choose mercy, justice, compassion, and gentleness, is at the dinner table. As one simple example, chickens today are crammed into giant sheds with tens of thousands of other chickens, each with less space for movement than a standard sheet of paper. Their beaks are chopped off with a hot iron, causing many to starve to death because eating becomes so painful. After six weeks, they're loaded onto trucks and carted to slaughter, without food or water and through all weather extremes--many dying of heat exhaustion or by freezing to death. Finally, they are shackled and their throats slit, often while they are fully conscious. By the time they reach the slaughterhouse, 90 percent of chickens have suffered broken legs or bone deformities. Lives are similar for cows, pigs, turkeys, and other animals raised for food.

Every time we sit down to eat, make selections at the grocery store, or order food from a menu, we make a choice: Do we want to add to the level of misery and death in the world, or do we want to make a compassionate, merciful dietary choice? Do we choose misery or mercy, life or death? The Christian choice should be for mercy and life--a vegetarian diet.

For information on the health, environmental, and animal welfare impacts of animal agriculture, please visit PETA's new vegetarian Web site, www.MeatStinks.com.

The Nazarenes of  Mount Carmel
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