In the Netherlands, politicians are mulling a ban on methods of animal slaughter used by Halal and Kosher traditions. This raises the question of whether restrictions on religious freedom should be permitted when the suffering of animals is at
steak stake (sorry, couldn’t resist).
My view is that the suffering of animals is no less important than that of humans. After all, humans are animals too.
Furthermore, slaughtering animals in a particular way just because your religious tradition tells you to, is not a good enough excuse. What, exactly, do Muslims and Jews stand to lose by adopting more humane slaughtering methods? Is God going to strike them dead? Is anyone’s lifestyle going to change even the slightest bit? Certainly the meat will not taste any different nor, contrary to the opinions of some believers, will it be any less healthy to eat.
When it boils right down to it, the Halal and Kosher slaughtering practice is just another example of an entirely arbitrary religious tradition (like the nonsensical avoidance of pork). It certainly adds no practical value to more humane means of slaughter. Instead, it makes the process of slaughter worse for the animals.
Ultimately, believers follow such traditions for secondary reasons only: to please their alleged god, to set themselves apart from everyone else, or to allow them to feel like they’re doing something useful in their religious life. But there are other ways of setting oneself apart, and of practicing one’s faith: ways that do not involve the unnecessary suffering of animals. Banning the practice would be the right thing to do.
Finally, note how the rabbi in the BBC video (linked above) resorts to waving the specter of the Holocaust at his opponents. Looking out for animals’ rights is, apparently, a slippery slope to another Jewish genocide! Get real, rabbi.