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PETA's claims that good Christians should be vegetarians lack biblical backing

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Mass at Most Holy Trinity over on the westside of town. The church is being renovated, and even for the Saturday afternoon Mass, the place was packed, so I had to stand up in the back.

Right near where I was standing, there was a rack with a bunch of different pamphlets. It has forever been a curse that my eyes are drawn to the written word, so as the priest went through his sermon--most or all of which I've heard before multiple times--I scanned the titles of the pamphlets. A lot of them had to do with the loss of a loved one or divorce, how to regain one's faith, stuff like that. But then, there was one entitled "Christianity and Vegetarianism: Pursuing the Nonviolence of Jesus." It's actually published by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

It was written by a guy who introduces himself as "a Catholic priest, a peace activist, a writer, and a vegetarian." His name is Father John Dear. At first, I figured I'd cut him some slack for all the tractor jokes he had to endure while growing up. But as I read on, I found him to be pompous, vapid and completely undeserving of anything but my scorn.

When I was 15 years old, I read the Bible, front to back, every word. After doing so, I decided to stay a Catholic anyway. I found it contradictory, to say the least. Later, I read that someone had seen W.C. Fields reading a Bible, and when they asked why, he replied, "I'm looking for loopholes."

That made sense to me, because if you look at the Bible hard enough, you can find something to back up just about any argument you want to make or any action you want to take. I couldn't wait to see how this guy would try to (mis)use the Bible to make an argument for vegetarianism.

Like most vegetarians, he thinks he occupies some moral high ground, which simply isn't true. Just like everybody else, vegans' crap does stink. Only theirs smells like broccoli, while normal people's smells like bacon. Actually, that's not true. I wish it were; it would make going into a public bathroom a whole lot easier.

I couldn't wait to see how he would try to use the Bible to shape his argument. I mean, besides all that begattin' and everything, the Bible is an orgy of meat consumption. Heck, even Jesus His Own Self ate beef, fish and lamb. That's a pretty big obstacle for Father Dear.

Dear starts in the Old Testament and says that Adam and Eve were vegetarians, and all was Paradise until Adam ate the apple (which, of course, is plant life). His argument would be so much stronger if Adam had bitten into the snake. He goes on to write, "After the Fall, people waged war, held one another as slaves, ate meat and committed every atrocity imaginable."

Hey, is this guy slick or what? You see how cleverly he snuck that in? War ... slavery ... atrocities ... cheeseburgers.

He then says that we are taught that after the Great Flood, God said it was OK to eat meat since all of the plant life was gone for a while.

That had to be hard for him to admit. What had to be even harder was cherry-picking phrases out of what Jesus is quoted as having said in the Gospels while ignoring the Savior's eating habits.

He then skips ahead and claims that "some scholars argue that most early Christians were vegetarians." Really? On what version of Wikipedia can I find these scholars? The one that says that Professor Irwin Corey was really a professor, and that Dr. Dre is really a doctor? There is no evidence whatsoever to support that claim.

He then makes the leap that when the Church embraced Constantine (or the other way around), Catholics suddenly adopted a lifestyle of war and meat-eating, as though war is the lesser of those two evils.

The Ten Commandments include one that says, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain." It's the second commandment in the Catholic version, and the third in the King James Bible. The Protestants have as their second something about graven images and as their 10th, simply, "Thou shalt not covet," while the Catholics skip the graven-image thing and split coveting into "thy neighbor's wife" (the ninth) and "thy neighbor's goods" (the 10th).

I've always been spooked by that name-in-vain one. In my entire life, I've said the word "God," and I've said the word "damn," but I have NEVER said them together. Not one time, not even while singing along to the Steppenwolf song "The Pusher."

What's funny is that I asked my parish priest about that when I was growing up, and he said that the commandment wasn't about that particular phrase, but rather people having the nerve to speak for God: "Oh, God will punish you for that," or, "It's a sin to build a nuclear weapon"--that sort of thing, which makes a lot more sense to me, although I'm still never putting those two words together, just in case the aforementioned parish priest had it wrong.

Nonetheless, I think Father Tofu might want to read that commandment one more time.

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