We must fight injustice to animals as we do injustice to blacks, women and gays – Archbishop Desmond Tutu

“I have spent my life fighting discrimination and injustice, whether the victims are blacks, women, or gays and lesbians. No human being should be the target of prejudice or the object of vilification or be denied his or her basic rights.

“But there are other issues of justice – not only for human beings but also for the world’s other sentient creatures. The matter of the abuse and cruelty we inflict on other animals has to fight for our attention in what sometimes seems an already overfull moral agenda. It is vital, however, that these instances of injustice not be overlooked.

“It is a kind of theological folly to suppose that God has made the entire world just for human beings, or to suppose that God is interested in only one of the millions of species that inhabit God’s good earth,” says Archbishop Desmond Tutu in his forthright foreword to the Global Guide to Animal Protection to be published by the University of Illinois on 30 December.

In his first major statement on animal welfare Archbishop Tutu says “Our dominion over animals is not supposed to be despotism.  We are made in the image of God, yes, but God – in whose image we are made - is holy, loving, and just.  We do not honor God by abusing other sentient creatures.

Archbishop Tutu concludes with his warm support for the Global Guide to Animal Protection and urges the reader to seek justice and protection for all creatures: “Churches should lead the way by making clear that all cruelty – to other animals as well as human beings – is an affront to civilized living and a sin before God.”

Desmond Tutu is archbishop emeritus of Cape Town and won the Nobel Peace Prize for his anti-apartheid work.

The Global Guide to Animal Protection is the result of collaboration between the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, a world-wide association of academics from all disciplines, and the University of Illinois Press.  The Global Guide, edited by Oxford theologian Professor Andrew Linzey, includes more than 180 introductory articles that survey the extent of worldwide human exploitation of animals from a variety of perspectives.  The volume is published in both the UK and USA on 30 December and is available from http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/69wgp5qn9780252036354.html at USD95 (cloth) and  USD27 (paper).