In this month's issue of Humane Religion, an article deals with "Christian" attitudes regarding hunting. The news is not good. The acceptance of recreational killing as a pastime for believers seems all-pervasive within traditional religious groups. Individuals within such groups may understand the depravity involved in killing God's creatures and calling it "sport" but they are reluctant to speak out. Women are more likely to do so—but women do not face the same ostracization as men. Females are allowed to protest brutality and blood-lust because many men consider sensitivity to violence and murder to be a female weakness. So they can ignore what is being said.
However, when it comes to speaking out against recreational killing within church-group settings, women are just as likely to be silent as men. Whether in Sunday School class, from the pulpit, at a church supper or other social gathering, the men of the congregation feel free to thank God for the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, and for the fellowship they enjoyed when they were out hunting/killing.
These are not isolated happenings. At Humane Religion we have gathered a number of promotional materials from “Christian” organizations. We have publications from hunter's groups, outfitters, gun and arrow salesman, and purveyors of canned-hunts. All quote scripture, invoke God's blessing and are replete with "inspirational" stories and anecdotes, describing how hunting has led them to become better Christians, and to effectively represent Christ to nonbelievers.
It is necessary that people of faith be aware how deeply entrenched the support of recreational killing is within our churches. And those of us who understand the travesty of godliness represented by this gratuitous violence, must be willing to witness to that truth within our own denominations.