Alan Rogers writes:
The 3rd February 2015 has been a bad day for Catholicism, Anglicanism, Islam, and Judaism.
First we had the Commons vote to amend the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 and legalise mitochondrial DNA transfer. The Catholic Church and the Anglican Church opposed this amendment for reason of religious dogma although a fig leaf of concern for the “safety” of the procedure was offered. The vote was 382 to 128 in favour of the amendment. The religious may have a chance to block or render ineffective this amendment by exerting their undemocratic power in the Upper House. There are, of course, 26 Anglican bishops in the Lords who will, no doubt, vote as a bloc. A few Catholic Lords and a larger number of apathetic or geriatric non-attendees might overturn the will of the democratic House of Commons but we, as citizens, have no part in that matter.
The other two revealed religions Islam and Judaism confront a new battle over religious ritual slaughter of animals. Both these religions have an exemption from Common Law concerning the slaughter of animals which requires that they be stunned before slaughter.
Both Halal and Kosher ritual slaughter methods require that this humane method is not used. So after decades of struggle for the decent treatment of animals in abattoirs in this country our laws in this regard are trumped by religion.
A Halal slaughterhouse in Thirsk was filmed by Animal Aid campaigners. The law was seen to be violated (even within the relaxed code permitted for religious reasons). It was claimed by Animal Aid that no Ministry vet was present during the three days they watched and filmed the operations of the abattoir. Animals were severely mistreated and in contravention of the humane requirements, animals were slaughtered in full view of the sheep next to be “processed”. Worst of all the requirement that the animal’s throat be cut by a surgically sharp knife in a single stroke… the basis of Moslem special pleading to be exempted from stunning, was ignored as sheep were hacked to death by several cuts with a knife.
It must be stressed that this was a Halal abattoir and no evidence exists for abuse of the exemption from Common Law in the case of Jewish animal slaughter.
One has to admire the courage and resourcefulness of Animal Aid campaigners. At the very least the exemption for reasons of religion from a law which we otherwise all must obey should be reconsidered. While this is done, independent veterinary supervision of all ritual slaughter abattoirs (both Moslem and Jewish) must be increased. While Halal and Kosher ritual slaughter is permitted in the UK we really should demand labelling of meat with the method of slaughter (Secular, Halal, Kosher) so that the consumer may exercise “choice”, a principle so beloved by many of our political leaders.