|An open letter to Christian Holland||Diana Saaman,
Free range pig farmer and communications advisor
For years a very basic question has been niggling at me. However symbolic it may appear, this is the million dollar question I put to you, the reader, today in the hope of an answer(s). I myself was reared in the Dutch Reformed faith. That meant regular churchgoing, no crib under the Christmas tree (because that was a Catholic practice), reading the bible after the evening meal and of course saying grace beforehand. So I should know what it means to call yourself a Christian. As a young girl, I had a great love of animals. I was very involved with them: chickens in the garden, a dog, nursing a sick bird back to health. When I was twelve years old, I went on holiday to the province of Brabant and that is where I lost my childish innocence. Through curiosity, I ended up in a barn where there were hundreds of pigs: it was dark, it stunk, there was much screaming and when my eyes grew accustomed to the dark, I saw all the animals there. I remember exactly what I thought then as a child: that this was impossible, this cannot possibly be God wants? I was totally shocked, nothing of this scene remotely resembled the pictures of the happy, carefree animals with curly tails that I had seen in my books? This turned out to be factory farming. I vowed on the spot that I would later do something for pigs. And I did: as a city child, I moved out of the city and now keep free range pigs. Because that feeling of injustice, of - I would almost say unchristian behaviour - has simply not gone away. And that is why I write this article. The question that has been bothering me for years is: how is it possible that Christians, the Church, Christian (political) parties cannot be amazed at this? That millions of animals are kept in factory farming in a manner which in no way rhymes with the nature of their being? Where is the surprise, or - preferably stated - the astonishment and disbelief? It is unthinkable that economic interests alone can be the basis of a Christian viewpoint? Still, it has been very quiet in your circles for years now. Too quiet. I would seriously like to ask you a question. How can you explain this: calling yourself a Christian on the one side, but at the same time treating fellow creatures as if they are purely and simply production units? And where is the Church with a Christian moral viewpoint on factory farming? I can tell you, I find this very lacking. Science, both morally philosophical and researchers in the physiological field make statements about the manner in which millions of animals are kept in The Netherlands.
Is it not true that the Church, as guardian, should also care for fellow creatures, to ensure that the animals which have been entrusted to the care of humans are respectfully treated? Each animal according to its own nature? Or have I got it wrong?