From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2012:
Editorial feature: Seeking an end to animal sacrifice
Among all the many uses and abuses of animals which persist for a cultural pretext, animal sacrifice is perhaps the most widely practiced, in a variety of different forms and contexts, and the most difficult to address in an effective manner, leading to fewer animals being killed–or ideally, none.
The difficulty of stopping animal sacrifice occurs in part because the perspective of people who practice animal sacrifice tends to be almost incomprehensible to those who oppose it. Opponents are sometimes many generations and often oceans away from any ancestors who ever sacrificed animals. Killing animals to be eaten at traditional holidays remains as ubiquitous as the slaughter of turkeys at the U.S. Thanksgiving. Yet, from the perspective of people who believe in a just and merciful god, which includes about 85% of humanity according to recent global surveys of religious belief, the theology of practitioners of overt animal sacrifice might seem to many to be blasphemous.
What sort of god would demand that animals be killed? Even the priests of the Spanish Inquisition, who accompanied the conquistadors to the New World and “converted” Native Americans to Catholicism through genocidal use of sword and flame, theorized that animal and human sacrifices were so self-evidently evil that the gods of the practitioners of such sacrifices must be diabolical.
From a secular perspective, animal sacrifice is relatively easily recognized as a set of rituals which permit the practitioners to kill and eat animals without guilt–whereas, in other societies, killing and eating animals is rationalized by arguments which draw exaggerated distinctions between the sentience of animals and humans. Read more