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May 22, 2011

This Is Not Your Grandma's Humane Society

Every Sparrow That Falls: Understanding Animal Rights Activism as Functional Religion (pdf)

ABSTRACT

This article reports original research conducted among animal rights activists and elites in Switzerland and the United States, and the finding that activism functioned in activists’ and elites’ lives like religious belief. The study used reference sampling to select Swiss and American informants.Various articles and activists have identified both latent and manifest quasi-religious components in the contemporary movement. Hence, the research followed upon these data and anecdotes and tested the role of activism in adherents’ lives. Using extensive interviews, the research discovered that activists and elites conform to the five necessary components of Yinger’s definition of functional religion: intense and memorable conversion experiences, newfound communities of meaning, normative creeds, elaborate and well-deŽned codes of behavior, and cult formation. The ar ticle elaborates on that schema in the context of animal rights belief, elucidates the deeply meaningful role of activism within a filigree of meaning, and concludes that the movement is facing schismatic forces not dissimilar to redemptive and religious movements.

Posted by Kate at May 22, 2011 11:32 AM
Comments

so in other words, if a group was to evolve with similar very strong beliefs about, say, the sanctity of rocks; that is, they are not to be used for construction, moved, put on display, or otherwise anything that would 'disrupt' their billions of years 'lifespan', that to would fit the definition of religiosity.

ummmmm, ok, and what is the big difference between that intensity and encompassing aspect as, say, a christian fundie?

Posted by: imemine at May 22, 2011 11:07 AM

If ya can't handle reality, you too can believe that Gaia wants us to hug her trees, adore her plants and stop polluting her air with our foul CO2 exhalations.

The rest of us can get on with life, laugh at the Dr. Fruit Fly types and make sure our rifles and ammunition are always clean.

Posted by: Fred at May 22, 2011 11:22 AM

imemine
The difference in principle is slight.
The current followers of Mollock, revere a black rock in an obscure Arabian city: the Brits have the "Stone of Scone" enshined in the Coronation Chair; The Irish have a rock that they(and tourists) kiss........
Obviously these rocks have been bestowed metaphysical qualities....ranging from idolatry, whimsy to souvenirs/heirlooms.
BTW I consider dogs companions, cats an organic antidote to vermin, horses as organic vehicles and swine and cattle food crops.

Posted by: sasquatch at May 22, 2011 11:34 AM

Just skimmed the document for now but it would appear that CAGW beliefs fit the criteria of a "functional religion". This has significance in the US which is very strong on the separation of church and state -- it might be a way there to eliminate all policies which are the result of deranged beliefs of adherents of the church of CAGW.

It also tells me that there is likely a fundamental religious drive in people. I've always found it interesting that most atheists I know are putting forth their views with religious intensity. I guess my functional religion would be science which is at least one of the positive ones. Not sure what about the legal status of functional religions in Canada, but my religious beliefs require me to be always armed and one of my places of worship is the shooting range. C68 interfered with my religious freedom and hopefully it will soon be gone.

WRT "animal rights" idiots I'll point out that humans are a species of mammal and that far more abuse of humans is going on around the world than abuse of other species. Maybe they should get their priorities straight.

Posted by: loki at May 22, 2011 11:40 AM

"When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing -- they believe in anything." GK Chesterton.

Seems the crusty old dude was right. Church Of Cute, anyone? Church Of Teh Kitteh maybe?

Look forward to the Bunny Jihad.

Posted by: The Phantom at May 22, 2011 11:58 AM

The following excerpt convinces me that Animal Rights Activism is a religion:

"It seemed that our informants had only one principal method of assuaging guilt in the face of disconfirmation: They ratcheted up their commitment and resolve.The absence of absolution may serve to fuel the animal rights movement’s intensity. Many informants repeatedly acknowledged that early in their conversion they had difficulty with the ascetic behavioral code.
In order to avoid personal conviction for causing suffering, they repeatedly ratcheted up their activism. Many informants agreed that the attraction of increased activism as secular penance was indeed strong."

Hobbies and clubs generally do not require this level of lifestyle commitment or produce an intense guilt that requires redemption and penance. Only organized religions and cults impose radical and impossible to meet criteria to maintain sin free membership - Animal Rights Activist's cruelty-free lifestyle, Islam's requirements for maintaining women's purity, AGW's back-to-nature utopia, Chrisianity's ...(Nah, it's post-Rapture Sunday so I won't go there).

For the glass is half empty folks (like me) it could mean that as AGW collapses the zealots will be seeking a new obsession. Animal Activism, renamed biodiversity protection and UN-sponsored Environmental Justice, could take Pachamama/Gaia adoration to much higher levels of support.

Posted by: LC Bennett at May 22, 2011 1:00 PM

Sasquatch: The Stone of Scone was returned to Scotland in 1996 and is now in Edinburgh Castle.

Posted by: oldfart at May 22, 2011 1:13 PM

The difference between a Christian and an eco-zealot?

Of the 2, the Christian creed teaches the sanctity of human life, and of the innate dignity of every human life. Out of these beliefs came the entire notion that people have inalienable rights, and that governments should respect those rights. And the same motivations ended the slave trade, and led Christians to provide for the poor and destitute.

The eco-zealots are accusatory, frequently hateful, and never once in my experience have I heard one of them express a concern for human life. In fact, the ban on DDT cost millions of lives to malaria, and it took years to get the eco-zealots to even acknowledge this.

So, the difference between eco extremists and orthodox Christians is fundamental, and results in a totally different attitude towards others.

Posted by: small c conservative at May 22, 2011 1:24 PM

Self loathing misanthopes .... BTW have a current home and bully pulpit in the form of Discovery Channle and the Weather Network ... both are spewing apocalyptic nonsense on sea life and and climate issues. and need to be exposed for the hysterical fear mongering and lying tools they are.

Posted by: OMMAG at May 22, 2011 1:24 PM

IMO, 'Collective redemption' (the 'belief' of President Obama) is the weapon of preference for Bolsheviks (Georgie Porgie, Unka Mo stlong, Mao, Castro, Imapajamapd, Sazookee, Algore; any fanatical collectivist goof(s) wandering around on the planet). The 'group think' of cult groupies starts with silly and goes far beyond stupid into the fanatical: reformed alcoholics, ex smokers, anti vaccination, anti oil/coal/wood.....anti smokers and anti libation fanatics want NO smokes or alcohol anywhere, anytime; same for anti pharma and anti fossil fuel people (the former don't want to innoculate against horrific diseases like polio and the latter would rather all people froze to death than cut a tree or tap an oil well or breath in evil coal dust), anti gun people - HATE guns (guns kill-duh); they don't care about rational arguments because they are flaming zealots. This 'religion' of the new century (zealots in collections) is just what the World Government Slavers have been waiting for - group choice is no choice; good slaves don't demand individual rights. Animal rights zealots are just one of the 'collections', IMO.

Posted by: Jema 54 at May 22, 2011 1:30 PM

Neo-paganism worships creation where all is considered 'equal'.

Orthodox Christianity worships the creator, which recognizes that humans have more ability to reason than a rock.

Posted by: set you free at May 22, 2011 1:43 PM

As Ive said before it wont be long bfore the Corn King is brought back as a sacrifice to the land.
This is just a symptom of secularism. People have reverted back to Pagan beliefs & superstition.
Another group trying to work its way to heaven. Its why Yeshewa hated Religion that obscures, or even misdirects peoples from God.
A billion good works or the most asetic behavior gets you no where . Salvation is a free gift not something you work for. Doing Good works is just another way to worship God. Like in song
Yeshewa didn't die so others could claim they got to heaven by themselves. No one is Rightious, not one human. No one looks for God , no not one.
Those that act this way are in for an unpleasent suprise. Christians are no better than others, except they accept Gods free gift in true repentance.
It drives Man insane thinking there is no way he can save hinself, so they look for alternatives that make them feel superior.
JMO

Posted by: Revnant Dream at May 22, 2011 2:27 PM

There is a god shaped vacume in all of us.You can fill it with God or another poorer substatute.

Posted by: cal at May 22, 2011 2:37 PM

@OMMAG - not only has Discovery become Doomsday Pulpit #2 (after the Ceeb), the rest of their programming has been dumbed down second only to TLC. The former Learning Channel of course now derives its advertising revenues with shows like "Dwarf Chocolatiers", and "I Was So Fat I Didn't know I Was Preggers".

That's educational TV in the 21st century, folks: bread and circuses.

Posted by: Michael H Anderson at May 22, 2011 3:44 PM

Another poorer substitute? What a Crock! I don't understand how otherwise intelligent and sane people can believe in fairy tales and silly superstitions. I know I'm stirring the pot with this one, and I'm sure I will have some very militant christian types direct some negative responses my way, but I am just sick and tired of the assumption that to be on the right in this country you must be a Christian.

Posted by: ryan at May 22, 2011 3:47 PM

As for animal rights activists, it barely matters one whit to me whether or not their belief system is tantamount to a religion: it's their vicious hatred for their fellow human beings that makes me want to puke.

Posted by: Michael H Anderson at May 22, 2011 3:51 PM

@ryan - that is an unfortunate assumption. Some of the people I love most in this world are Christians and conservatives, and I will therefore brook no hatred against Christians of the sort you always get from sophomoric atheist types who have never given spirituality any thought - but I am no Christian myself and am certainly conservative.

Frankly, I find that Christianity is (or ought to be) far too forgiving to allow me to properly confront the kind of feelings leftists and their perfidy stir in me.

Posted by: Michael H Anderson at May 22, 2011 3:56 PM

Ryan: "I am just sick and tired of the assumption that to be on the right in this country you must be a Christian."

Unfortunately it's a common meme, both on the right and on the left.

Posted by: cgh at May 22, 2011 5:16 PM

Ryan"Another poorer substitute? What a Crock! I don't understand how otherwise intelligent and sane people can believe in fairy tales and silly superstitions. I know I'm stirring the pot with this one, and I'm sure I will have some very militant christian types direct some negative responses my way, but I am just sick and tired of the assumption that to be on the right in this country you must be a Christian."

Ahem..read your own words and see who is militant type with a deep dark negative personality.

"Fairy tales and supersititions"

You aggressively provoke and then turtle like a cowardly baby railing against the responses you might get.

Get some help man.

Posted by: Sick of Ryan at May 22, 2011 5:20 PM

I'm a right-wing conservative, and an atheist. I'd rather hang out with most of the Christians I know than most of the atheists.

Posted by: Daniel Ream at May 22, 2011 5:35 PM

The bigger the eyes the better the taste.

Posted by: Speedy at May 22, 2011 6:17 PM

The thing missing in our society is that due to the Pax Nuclear....we are getting short of those former occupants of fox-holes.

That element doesn't need a book to know right from wrong or the important from the meaningless or trivial.

Posted by: sasquatch at May 22, 2011 6:19 PM

Ryan Does your insurance policy have Acts of God in it? If it does, it doesn't matter whether you believe or not.

Posted by: Speedy at May 22, 2011 6:21 PM

"I'm a right-wing conservative, and an atheist. I'd rather hang out with most of the Christians I know than most of the atheists."

I'm a right-wing conservative, and a christian. I'd rather hang our with most of the Atheists I know than most of the christians.

Posted by: SureYaDo at May 22, 2011 8:04 PM

I don't understand how otherwise intelligent and sane people can believe in fairy tales and silly superstitions.

Exactly, how do people believe the non-living assembled itself into the living? One answer, religion.

Posted by: fiddle at May 22, 2011 8:37 PM

"Exactly, how do people believe the non-living assembled itself into the living? One answer, religion."

:D That's just too funny for words.

Posted by: Alex at May 22, 2011 8:48 PM

I'm sure Alex can explain how that happened. If not, he's a fellow religious traveler with the animal rights people.

Posted by: fiddle at May 22, 2011 9:43 PM

"I'm sure Alex can explain how that happened."

Alex can tell you that you have no idea what you're talking about. Alex thinks you have no clue what the words "evolution" and "abiogenesis" actually mean, let alone where one ends and the other begins.

"If not, he's a fellow religious traveler with the animal rights people."

So, not being able to explain something that you made up ... that makes me religious?

So if I ask you how pink unicorns move planets, and you couldn't answer, that would make you ... what? A member of the Church of The Great Unicorn?

Keep it up - I've had a rather shitty day and you're really cheering me up :)

Posted by: Alex at May 22, 2011 11:00 PM

Alex - nope, but following the same "logic" used against you it's similar to how we have no direct proof of exactly what happened during the big bang, therefore it couldn't happen. I happen to think that the currently-stable configuration of the 4 fundamental forces (and how the balance that they are in supports conditions that can support carbon-based life) is the best argument for God. Life from the lifeless (nice turn of phrase! kudos!) is another arrow in the same quiver.

Your Church of the Great Unicorn might be able to explain how the universe came to be when the Great Unicorn sneezed, but then you get the question of what the unicorn is standing on and I guess in that case it would be unicorns all the way down instead of turtles all the way down. And, years from now, the Unicorn fundamentalists could have holy wars over which end of the unicorn produced the universe. The abundance of hydrogen could have originally been H2S from the other end, I suppose...

Posted by: C_Miner at May 23, 2011 10:40 AM

"nope, but following the same 'logic' used against you it's similar to how we have no direct proof of exactly what happened during the big bang, therefore it couldn't happen."

I have no idea what you're trying to say there.


"I happen to think that the currently-stable configuration of the 4 fundamental forces ... is the best argument for God."

I agree! Problem is ... that's rather like saying "the fact that some people win the lottery is the best proof for psychics" or "that people sometimes disappear is the best proof of alien abductions". Technically correct, utterly meaningless, and completely unconvincing.


"Life from the lifeless (nice turn of phrase! kudos!) is another arrow in the same quiver."

Life from the lifeless is what the bible teaches - the scientific approach is rather more complex.


"but then you get the question of what the unicorn is standing on and I guess in that case it would be unicorns all the way down instead of turtles all the way down."

Yes, you get that with any first-cause scenarios, no matter what kind of god you posit. One day there was dirt, and then Magic Man showed up, and *POOF* there was man. Where did Magic Man come from? Well, one day there was dirt, and then The Older Magic Man showed up and *POOF* there was Magic Man. And where did The Older Magic Man come from? Well, one day there was dirt ....

Posted by: Alex at May 23, 2011 11:14 AM

Alex - The first one's obtuse, I'll let it die. I like to use gardening as an analogy for the universe:

when you decide to plant a garden in a place, it doesn't exist before you take action. Your shovel piercing the ground for the first time causes the garden to exist (though it doesn't start in a form anything remotely like the finished garden, similar to how the start of the universe was different to how it is now). "What came before" can only be answered if you know that there exists more than the garden, and if you have the senses to detect what is outside. Once the ground is tilled and the water and fertilizer levels are right, you plant the seeds for what you'd like (or wait for other seeds to blow in, but then its less of a garden and more of a weed-patch). Now picture things from the point of view of a flower: you live in nearly ideal conditions for your kind. You know that there are other things out there because sometimes your light gets blocked, and sometimes there's water when the bright light is still out. Can a plant understand the gardener? Can a plant understand "it looks pretty" or "it smells nice" or "herbs make my food taste better" when it doesn't have eyes, nose, or taste buds?

The question for the eco-zealots would be whether we are prize roses, and the reason that the garden exists, or a noxious weed.

Posted by: C_Miner at May 23, 2011 12:02 PM

"Now picture things from the point of view of a flower: you live in nearly ideal conditions for your kind."

I'm not sure who said it, and I'm paraphrasing, but this is akin to a puddle of water saying "oh my, isn't it amazing how perfectly this hole in the ground contains me?"

You're getting the order wrong, AND you're completely wrong in your premise, anyway. 99.999999999999999999% of the universe is completely inhospitable to any kind of life, let alone human life. Your analogy would make more sense if you had a single flower in the middle of a desert but, even then, you'd still have the puddle problem.


"Can a plant understand the gardener?"

Does the gardener threaten to burn the plant if it doesn't warship him? Does the plant argue with other plans about who the True Gardener is? Do the plants debate between each-other about who Planted the Gardener?

It's a silly analogy. It's cute on the surface, but falls apart as soon as you examine it in any detail.

Posted by: Alex at May 23, 2011 3:49 PM

Thanks for the help Sick of Ryan!

Posted by: ryan at May 23, 2011 11:09 PM

Alex - your puddle of water is only liquid and possible to form itself into the shape of the void in the same extremely rare conditions that allow life to happen. Just enough nuclear strong to form oxygen as a by-product of stars. Just enough nuclear weak for the hydrogen and oxygen to bond. Just enough electro-magnetism for the nearby sun to heat an atmosphere so that liquid water is stable at the surface. Enough gravity to keep the liquid in the hole. In the other 1E-n of the universe, puddles don't exist (solid, gas, or plasma H2O; insufficient gravity to hold to a solid; etc). The fact that they need the same conditions as those that allow life to form/prosper is irrelevant to the main point.

I regularly talk to my plants. Well, OK, I regularly swear while I'm weeding. Regardless of what my plants think they experience, they don't understand me. I don't care what they think or do, as long as they grow the way I want them to. If they don't, they get pruned without understanding why.

Posted by: C_Miner at May 24, 2011 8:57 AM

I literally heard a "WHOOSH" while reading your response. I don't wanna blow you off, but this thread is stale, and we're not getting anywhere. E-mail me, if you want: d u c i m u s AT gmail. No spaces.

Posted by: Alex at May 24, 2011 3:50 PM
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