Sunday, February 16, 2014

Animal Rights or Religious Rights?

It seems that the Danish Agricultural and Food Minister, Dan Jørgensen, told Danish television recently that "animal rights come before religion."

Naturally, the Jewish and Muslim communities in Denmark are not pleased with this attitude, as it has direct impacts on both the Kosher and Halal food industries. In fact, there aren't any, because such slaughter of animals has been effectively banned in Denmark for about a decade, and the Danish government is apparently pleased with that state of affairs.

It should, however, be of concern to Heathens as well, since in some Asatru and all Theodish groups the practice of blót, or animal sacrifice, is one of the central rites. While there aren't any laws prohibiting blót on the books in Denmark that I'm aware of, if the Minister's remarks are implemented as policy, an important element of many Heathens' worship will be itself sacrificed on the altar of Political Correctness and animal rights. I've written before about the arguments in favor of animal sacrifice, and won't repeat them here, but everyone of any religion should be alarmed when the rights of animals are elevated above the rights of people to practice the faith in their God or Gods.

Regardless of where one comes down on the specific question of animal sacrifice, the slippery slope is obvious. If animal rights come before religion, then what else can be placed above one's right to religious expression? What about the right of society to be homogeneous and free of strife? If a government can put the rights of animals above religion, why can't a government put its own interests above religion, and ban minority faiths, too? When it puts animal rights above religious rights, it could just as easily put one religion's rights above another, and that would certainly be bad for both Pagans and Heathens. When religious rights are infringed for one thing, they can be infringed for anything.

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