Accepted Paper:

A psychological approach to contradictions between Christian teaching and attitudes towards animals   


Jennifer Brown

Paper short abstract:

This paper reports on a study exploring whether the content and type of worship experienced by an individual Christian may have greater influence on behaviour than do the teachings found in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures teach with regard to animal welfare.

Paper long abstract:

The need to respect and care for animals is explicit in the Hebrew scriptures and the fact that God values animals can certainly be inferred from passages in the New Testament, yet comparatively few Christians actively work towards improving animal welfare. It is possible that the behaviour and activities of individual Christians reflect those values most strongly and frequently expressed in Christian liturgy and worship. The psychological theory of Reasoned Action/Planned Behaviour provides a model that can help explain how these values are translated into action. This paper will report on the findings of a pilot study exploring the relationship between the style and content of Christian worship and associated behaviour, focussing on those results relating specifically to animal welfare. Statistically significant correlations were found between the inclusion (or non-inclusion) of an issue in church worship, private prayer and related charitable giving, and participation in certain types of worship was predictive, either positively or negatively, for giving to animal welfare charities. Possible reasons for why liturgy can have a strong influence in forming attitudes and shaping behaviour will be discussed.

Panel P27
Religions' contributions in human-animal relations