Op-Ed: Factory farms have nothing to do with Christian values

Posted Apr 2, 2014 by Karen Graham
Calling factory farming reprehensible from a Christian perspective is ludicrous, especially when we are asked to do everything in our power to undermine the values and social structures that this industry is built on in the first place.
Chickens in battery cages on a factory farm.
March 28  2008.
Chickens in battery cages on a factory farm. March 28, 2008.
In his book, "For Love Of Animals: Christian Ethics, Consistent Action," Charles Camosy, an assistant Professor of Christian Ethics at Fordham University, argues that as a Christian community, we should put as much value on non-human animals as God did when he created the world.
Professor Camosy pushes Christian ethics to the extreme by using factory farming as the basis for his arguments against eating any meats raised by this method. He points out that the animals are mistreated and mishandled, often dying cruel and painful deaths, and all for their idols, consumerism and profits. Camosy says we should bring back the rural family farm because family farms treat their animals with the dignity and respect they are entitled to receive from us.
Yes, factory farms are a big money-making industry, with owners looking for a profitable bottom line. The only things on their corporate minds are how much weight they can put on a steer or chicken, and what will it cost them in the amount of feed, pound for pound they will need to purchase. Pollution of streams and water supplies by gargantuan mounds of manure, or how much pain may be inflicted on the animal, be damned.
Factory farms are such a big business that they have taken over whole rural farming communities, driving the small, family owned farms out of business. The competition is just too great. According to Farm Aid, about 330 leave the land every week in this country. Sadly, just two or three corporate farms can replace all those farmers, and make huge profits.
Factory farms are the result of the concentration and industrialization of agriculture in America, and they are controlled by an even bigger conglomerate, agribusiness. With the long arm of the federal government and their subsidies, unfair business practices, and questionable contract arrangements, the factory farm is almost untouchable to the public at large. They have so distanced themselves from the consumer that they can proceed to do whatever they want without the fear of public protest.
Camosy enjoins us to avoid eating meat that has been sacrificed to the idols of consumerism and profit. Camosy also wants to make us feel guilty, because man was put over all the animals of the earth, to care for and value them. Instead, he says we don't value them, using them as objects and products to satisfy out desires.
While I am not a bible scholar, I know many verses are often taken out of context, depending on what it is someone wants to get across. Yes, God gave man dominion over all the birds that fly, the fish in the sea, and the animals that walk the earth. As for food, God said, "Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things." (Genesis 9:3)
Professor Camosy writes that "Like the early Christians, we should follow the Biblical mandate to refuse to eat meat that has been sacrificed to our idols of consumerism and profit." But he ignores what the New Testament has to say about idols. In I Corinthians 8:4, it says, "As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one." In other words, there are no idols to a Christian, because there is only one God.
We are always hearing that the church and government should not mix, regardless if it's a matter of prayers in school, or "In God We Trust" on our paper money, so why would someone want to bring Christian ideals into the factory farm issue? Factory farming is here to stay. Feeding the world's population cannot be done by Old McDonald anymore.