How to appeal to conservative Christians?

nobody

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I know conservative Christians who have been going to the same nondenominational church since the 1970s, who believe that if they get led astray by a false doctrine they will wind up in hell, so they are apprehensive about believing anything that is different from what they are taught in church. And one thing they are taught is that Jesus ate fish and passover lambs and that he never did anything wrong his whole life, so it is difficult to convince them there is any moral problem with animal exploitation. There may be passages in the Bible that support veganism, say in Genesis, Daniel or Revelation, but what ultimately matters to them is the diet and actions of Jesus.

Given that with someone like this you cannot try to argue Jesus was a vegan or vegetarian or that their pastor is incorrect about anything in his interpretation of the Bible, or that the King James Bible is errant in any way, how can you veganize them?

Some people use an "in today's world, Jesus would be vegan because of the horrors and industrialized mass slaughter inherent in commercial fishing & factory farming" argument but this only encourages people to hunt, fish, engage in backyard farming or procure ostensibly "more humane" animal products, rather than supporting veganism.

A "vitamin argument" has occurred to me in the past that goes like this: Jesus and the people of his day needed the Omega 3s and other nutrients in animal products but we don't need them today because of the availability of supplements. So animal exploitation was necessary and therefore moral then but today is unnecessary and therefore immoral, or "a sin".

However, if a 1st century person needed the nutrients in animal products, they could have just engaged in entomophagy and ate locusts like John the Babtist. It makes sense that bugs who do not live very long would not evolve the ability to suffer, and if this is the case they are a more ethical choice than fish or lambs who clearly can suffer. And locusts and other insects deemed clean in Judaism contain all the nutrients required. So I don't think an argument from nutrients works.

I have seen an approach used that says the overall message in the Bible is one of compassion and even if Jesus ate meat, many revered Christians throughout history have gone vegan or vegetarian out of compassion, so you should too. This one can backfire because it is seen as placing yourself on a higher, more enlightened moral plane than Jesus.

So none of these strategies seem any good as far as a moral argument. The moral argument seems to be a bust.

I am hesitant to use a health or environmental slant because they can both lead to people just eating more chicken, which is better for human health and the environment than beef, but leads to more suffering because chickens are smaller and worth less per individual. And I'm also hesitant to use an environmental angle because they're also climate change deniers who regard environmentalism as a satanic, competing religion and I don't want to get into it. The health argument seems to be the most robust argument to use with them, even if it does have the potential of going wrong and leading to more chicken use.
 
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Nekodaiden

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I know conservative Christians who have been going to the same nondenominational church since the 1970s, who believe that if they get led astray by a false doctrine they will wind up in hell, so they are apprehensive about believing anything that is different from what they are taught in church. And one thing they are taught is that Jesus ate fish and passover lambs and that he never did anything wrong his whole life, so it is difficult to convince them there is any moral problem with animal exploitation. There may be passages in the Bible that support veganism, say in Genesis, Daniel or Revelation, but what ultimately matters to them is the diet and actions of Jesus.

Given that with someone like this you cannot try to argue Jesus was a vegan or vegetarian or that their pastor is incorrect about anything in his interpretation of the Bible, or that the King James Bible is errant in any way, how can you veganize them?

For someone like you've described, I've been around enough Christians either in life or online, to just state out flatly that for the vast majority of them, you can't. Most of them go through the motions but are less religious than they'd wish to appear, and when bible difficulties arise then often clever (sometimes deceptive) apologetics arise. As I was raised in churches I used to use them myself to try to reconcile clear conflicts. Sometimes the apologetics can illuminate, although often I've found they are written for people looking for something that might be plausible to smooth over a contradiction or conflict.

To suggest error or corruption in the text is heresy to a lot of people. To them it doesn't matter if that explanation makes the most sense, it's a danger that will be used to foster doubt and encourage bible cherry picking based on individual preferences rather than truth, although most of them do that anyway.

Keep in mind that to most regular church attendees the social aspect is of high importance and although people may have internal questions or doubt, they may fear expressing it because they may fear it may endanger the church social connections on which they depend.

You won't convince anyone you described with the following, but I think it's worth sharing anyway for those who may see this thread and are open minded:


 
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Forest Nymph

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I would strongly suggest you direct your energy towards the government and corporate entities that empower false capitalist Christianity instead of wasting time attempting to convert individuals too ignorant or brainwashed to follow what you're saying.

Any Christian who can't discuss the Bible without screeching about their pastor's interpretation is a moron. These people are only problematic because of their leaders. It's like you're targeting little old ladies, mildly retarded people and your second cousin. I don't bother with this ever. It will not change anything in a significant way.

Quakers, Catholics, and Adventists may be open to this talk but it sounds like you're describing the kinds of backwoods evangelicals who literally have declared a moratorium indefinitely on learning.

Move on, and instead target the dangerous leaders who manipulate these useful idiots.

The more compassionate version of this is leave them alone because they're simple working class people who have no real power, but either take results in you doing more effective activism elsewhere.

Work on making veggie burgers socially normative. Make a children's show, a vegan best selling food product or otherwise socially norm vegan behavior. Thats all that works with these types. They will call it Christian in 20 years just like they do now with McDonald's and Exxon Mobile.
 
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Forest Nymph

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This is an excellent conservative Christian animal rights book, I love it, but the author is also Catholic and therefore can actually read his Bible without the guidance of an unmedicated schizophrenic "pastor" who never went to seminary school. Pick your battles.

 
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David3

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This has actually been done, with some success!

The "Daniel Fast" is a vegetarian / vegan diet, designed to appeal to evangelical Protestant Christians: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Fast . Rather than emphasizing non-violence towards animals, the "Daniel Fast" is based on a biblical story of Daniel, who refused to eat the non-kosher food offered to him by King Nebuchadnezzar. Instead, Daniel requested simple meals of pulses (lentils / vegetables) and water. The "Daniel Fast" is quite popular - there are several books and websites.
 
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Nekodaiden

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This has actually been done, with some success!

The "Daniel Fast" is a vegetarian / vegan diet, designed to appeal to evangelical Protestant Christians: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Fast . Rather than emphasizing non-violence towards animals, the "Daniel Fast" is based on a biblical story of Daniel, who refused to eat the non-kosher food offered to him by King Nebuchadnezzar. Instead, Daniel requested simple meals of pulses (lentils / vegetables) and water. The "Daniel Fast" is quite popular - there are several books and websites.


The problem with this is that it's promoted as something temporary (a "diet" - in quotations because many people think of this as a temporary change from their normal routine rather than merely a description of what they eat).
A "fast" is also something temporary.
Some Christians do the so called "Daniel Fast" as a means of temporary cleansing, something to do during Lent or longer periods for some denominations.


When that period is over, they can congratulate themselves on their "period of purity/cleansing", then go right back to eating animal products, with the same justifications, ie:

The "necessary" sacrifices and flesh for the feasts (which 99% don't celebrate anyway, but good enough for an excuse to eat flesh).

Jesus ate/multiplied fish (very unlikely, see above video)

Because Paul said in numerous places(to 95% of Christendom, Saul/Paul is the hero of Christian theology).

Because post flood Noah (although the word used ('remes'H7431) is distinct from animals and most likely designates insects)

Some of the less clever/less honest ones will use what God supposedly said to Peter in Acts in a dream ("Kill and Eat" (the unclean animals))
without recognizing that it isn't even the moral of that story and it's supposed to be a lesson about not calling men unclean, not killing and
eating unclean animals.

Edit: I might add that for years prior to going vegan I was fairly observant of the Kosher food laws as well, as I could see the wisdom in following them (trichinosis and shell fish poisoning are still real things), but to many Christians even these are seen as some form of Judaizing and too restrictive. They can go to the hospital and have complications from all the garbage they eat, but you're still the one looked on with contempt.
 
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I'm a Christian so I wanted to chime in here. Appealing to conservative Christians is very difficult. Most believe that the Earth and animals are ours to do with what we please. I'm a rare breed who disagrees. So here are some of my thoughts. First, I like to appeal to the verse in my signature. Not many Christians know about that verse as it is short and buried in the Proverbs. Second, and this may be controversial, but another approach is to encourage reducetarianism. Getting Christians to totally abstain from animal products is unrealistic, but getting Christians to reduce their intake of animal products is totally do-able.
Some people use an "in today's world, Jesus would be vegan because of the horrors and industrialized mass slaughter inherent in commercial fishing & factory farming" argument but this only encourages people to hunt, fish, engage in backyard farming or procure ostensibly "more humane" animal products, rather than supporting veganism.

It is quite difficult--nearly impossible--to convince a Christian that killing animals for food is inherently wrong because the Bible allows us to do so. However, you can convince Christians that the way we treat animals is inherently wrong. So with that in mind, I think a more welfarist approach when it comes to Christians is a good place to start. My argument to Christians is often simply that we can do better. Yes, God allowed us to eat animals, but that doesn't mean we have the right to abuse and torture animals, nor does it give us the right to trash the planet. We as Christians--who are supposed to be stewards of the Earth--can, and should, do better.

I then argue for total abstention from animal products because man is sinful and we are not able to raise and kill animals for food in a humane way--it's just not possible. I argue that "humane" animal products are a myth because even if the animal had the best life ever (which is highly unlikely), he/she still has to be killed and that can't be done humanely. As far as the hunting/fishing argument, that's more difficult as many Christians are avid hunters/fishermen. I haven't encountered this, but what I would say is that it is unnecessary. We don't need to hunt or fish to survive, so why kill an animal that doesn't want to die needlessly? That one probably won't fly with your average hunter, but it's worth a shot.

You can also argue the way Melanie Joy does with her theory of carnism and all that. Basically, you wouldn't kill a golden retriever for food, so why kill a cow or chicken? That really put it in perspective for me.

I could keep going but I'll stop there for now. Feel free to ask me questions. I've been a Christian for several years, but I also used to be an atheist, so I can kind of see both sides.
 

Nekodaiden

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It is quite difficult--nearly impossible--to convince a Christian that killing animals for food is inherently wrong because the Bible allows us to do so.

What I've underlined in your quote is a generalization that is Biblically inconsistent, and is therefore incorrect. One can argue both sides from the
bible, and therefore the bible itself cannot be used to prove either, only to show the support for one or the other depending on the passages quoted.

For example, on the pro side one has: The association with the feasts and festivals, and for sin atonement (or the foreshadow of, if one is a Christian) through the slaughter and consumption of animals that is spoken of at length in the Biblical Torah.

Also on the pro side: Various writings of Paul who belittles veganism or even calls it a "doctrine of devils". This same Paul allows for his followers to eat meat sacrificed to idols, arguing that since idols are nothing, it means nothing. This position is condemned by Jesus in Revelation.

Also on the pro side: Jesus supposedly multiplies and eats fish



On the opposite side, or pro-vegan side, one has Genesis 1, Daniel 1, and various prophets, for example:

Isaiah 1:1-15. This is a passage Christians often point to to show that the feasts, sabbaths and New moons are "done away with", but if it's honestly read should show that it was what was being done on them (animal slaughter) that God hates. According to vrs 15, to those who participate, God does not even hear their prayers.

Jeremiah 7:21-22 (KJV, NKJV, YLT and others and *not NIV, which adds a word that corrupts the passage): This passage shows that the animal sacrifices were never even commanded, even the passover sacrifice to which it directly alludes.

Isaiah 66:17. The "tree in the midst" should remind the reader of the Genesis "tree in the midst", and what are those things that the rebellious are eating behind this tree? Animals.

Jesus eating, and commanding the Disciples in the Last Supper. This was a vegan meal where Jesus points to Bread and Fruit juice as His Body and Blood. The direct and obvious message could not be more clear. However to flesh eaters it is either mystical or something of a mystery.

Isaiah 66:3 He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine's blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations.

Numbers 11:33 - God condemns those who lusted after flesh by granting their wish but also sending on them a plague.

The numerous instructions, proverbs and psalms that condemn the shedding of innocent blood.



The point is, again, that the bible is not consistent on this issue. It validates both points of view, depending on the passages cited.
 

nobody

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The more compassionate version of this is leave them alone because they're simple working class people who have no real power, but either take results in you doing more effective activism elsewhere.

Conservative evangelicals are a large group, especially in the US, so it would it would be good to find a strategy that works with them.

A source that I think represents conservative evangelical views pretty well is Got Questions. Here is one of their questions:

"Question: "Was Jesus a vegetarian? Should a Christian be a vegetarian (or vegan)?"


To conservative evangelicals, those two questions cannot have different answers. That is why they are asked one after the other like that, as if they are two different ways of asking the same question. And since their answer to the Jesus question is no, it kind of rules out an argument for a moral obligation on animal rights grounds.

And if you want to try to argue environmental veganism, from an environmental stewardship angle, here is what you have to contend with (paraphrase):

"Stewardship is important and should be given lip service, but the world is temporary. The Lord will destroy the earth one day and create a new heaven and earth. So don't let stewardship of the natural resources God has provided devolve into political environmentalism, which seeks to preserve the earth - not for as long as possible or until the sun burns out - but forever. That's right, the environmentalists believe they can preserve the earth for-ev-er. As Christians, we know the present world only needs to be preserved until the Lord destroys it, which could be any day now, and that only He can establish an eternal paradise. So you don't really have to worry about the environment of the present world all that much, because it's only temporary. There are more important things to concern oneself with, such as leading souls to Christ."

Actual quotes:

"The environmental movement is consumed with trying to preserve the planet forever, and we know this is not God's plan."



"Soda cans can be recycled; people cannot. Therefore, our greatest efforts should be toward saving souls, not the planet."


So that's why I think pushing health veganism is the best method of reaching them.

Also, in another thread, you have mentioned the evangelical fixation on Israel, a country with a higher vegan population than average, as being something that could be of use in influencing evangelicals to go vegan. I think it's a pretty good strategy to play up that angle. I have had traditional Jewish meals with Christians before when I was a kid, and the only reason the Christians were having the meals is because they were so obsessed with Israel and Judaism, since Christianity is an offshoot of it.
 

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I then argue for total abstention from animal products because man is sinful and we are not able to raise and kill animals for food in a humane way--it's just not possible. I argue that "humane" animal products are a myth because even if the animal had the best life ever (which is highly unlikely), he/she still has to be killed and that can't be done humanely.

This is where you are losing me. The carnist view is that slaughter of land animals and suffocation of fish that you intend to eat is inherently humane, because - carnism. And this is consistent with Jesus leading a sinless life while eating suffocated fish and slaughtered passover lambs. He did nothing wrong because slaughter/suffocation of animals is humane as long as you intend to eat them or make clothes out of them, or are getting some other benefit from killing them, such as entertainment in the case of say a fox hunt.

So how can a strategy like that - arguing that slaughter cannot be humane - fly with carnist Christians who believe Jesus ate slaughtered animals?
 

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I'm not an archaeologist, but it looks like the ancient Israelites did not eat a meat-centered diet. It looks like their diets were centered around grains and legumes, and that flesh foods were eaten only a few times a year, during festivals. The rich elite ate meat regularly, but Jesus was believed to have been a carpenter: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Israelite_cuisine .
.
 
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Additional perspectives on meat-eating and religions can be found in the wonderful book, Food for the Gods: https://www.amazon.com/Food-Gods-Vegetarianism-Worlds-Religions/dp/0962616923 . Very enjoyable read. It's a series of interviews between the author and representatives of several world religions (including Judaism, Christianity, some Christian-offshoot religions, as well as the major Asian religions). Your local library can get the book for you, through an interlibrary loan.
 
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I am a committed Bible believing christian myself as is my wife and we are both vegans.

With Conservative Christians, If Genesis, Daniel, Isaiah don't work I really don't know what will. "Evidence" outside of the Bible won't convince them. I would talk about "freedom in Christ" - a prominent doctrine of the Apostle Paul - and compassion and hope that they get the message that they have the right to choose. If they are so worried about losing their salvation if they eat the wrong things, maybe remind them that Jesus and Paul both made it clear that food has nothing to do with salvation. Paul even said "It is good neither to eat flesh nor to drink wine nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak" (Romans 14:20) So he recognized that there are vegan and vegetarian christians and rather than condemn them, would choose to not eat flesh himself so as not to offend them. It seems unlikely to me that this will work but maybe it's worth a try. Good luck.
 
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It's the same in Catholicism. They see the strict vegetarian diet in monasteries as a form of renunciation but can react badly to it if they see it in a different context. It's their problem anyway.
 
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fakei

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If you think about it it were only liberal Christians or some fringe groups within Christianity that supported things such as liberal and republican ideas, abolitionism, women's rights and so on and yet these things came to fruition.
 
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Vegan Dogs

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I have not read jesus ate either fish or lamb anywhere in the scriptures

The turning over of tables in the temple and freeing of animal sold there was significant

Jesus was a Nazarene....a Jewish sect not a town as Nazareth town existed only after his death ....Nazarenes were vegans

Why at the last supper was there only bread and wine ? Surely such an important meal he wanted continued forever in his memory if approving of killing animals would have had them part of the menu

Genesis is clear....Eden is vegan....only after the flood was killing allowed but it was said....every life taken would have to be accounted for.
 
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Jesus was a Nazarene....a Jewish sect not a town as Nazareth town existed only after his death ....Nazarenes were vegans
The sect is "Nazarite" - Samson was one. After Jesus' parents fled to Egypt to keep him safe from Herod, they were going back home after Herod's death but they discovered that his son was ruling so they settled in the town of Nazareth for safety hence fulfilling the scripture that said "He shall be called a Nazarene"

Bible Gateway passage: Matthew 2:19-23 - New International Version


Did Nazareth Exist? | The Bart Ehrman Blog

"I should also point out that these kokh tombs from later times were discovered on the hillside of the traditional site of Nazareth. Salm, however, claims that the hillside would have been uninhabitable in Jesus’ day, so that, in his opinion, the village that eventually came into existence (in the years after 70 CE) would have been located on the valley floor, less than a kilometer away. He also points out that archaeologists have never dug at that site.

This view creates insurmountable problems for his thesis. For one thing there is the simple question of logic. If archaeologists have not dug where Salm thinks the village was located, what is his basis for saying that it did not exist in the days of Jesus? This is a major flaw: using forceful rhetoric, almost to the point of indiscretion, Salm insists that anyone who thinks that Nazareth exists has to argue “against the available material evidence.” But what material evidence can there be, if the site where the evidence would exist has never been excavated? And what evidence, exactly, is being argued against, if none has been turned up?

There is an even bigger problem however. There are numerous compelling pieces of archaeological evidence that in fact Nazareth did exist in Jesus’ day, and that like other villages and towns in that part of Galilee, it was built on the hillside, near where the later rock-cut kokh tombs were built. For one thing, archaeologists have excavated a farm connected with the village, and it dates to the time of Jesus."
 
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