Welcome to the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals (ASWA)
Who are we?
We are an Anglican (Church of England) organisation founded over 30 years ago. We are called to make Christians and others aware of the need to care for the whole of creation. In particular, we are concerned with the abuse of animals.
Intensive farming, the food chain, experimentation, diseases associated with animals, the ill treatment of pets and the killing of animals for pleasure all raise ethical questions. Animal issues are theological issues and should be on the churches' agenda.
We believe that God has given us a responsibility towards sentient beings with whom we share God's world. The Bible teaches us that God has given us ‘dominion' not ‘domination' over animals (Genesis 1:26). This means ‘loving care' not ‘ruthless exploitation'.
We teach respect for all creation and highlight the ways in which animals suffer as a result of human neglect, exploitation and cruelty.
We acknowledge our own part in not caring for the environment and the need for awareness and education to bring about change.
What do we do?
We encourage churches to include animal welfare concerns in their prayers. Worship and thanksgiving are at the heart of Christian life and embrace all that God has made. We encourage and help churches to hold animal blessing services and to be aware of the need to care for God's creation.
Through education and lawful action we advance the conservation and well being of animals and co-operate with other organisations, religious and secular, that have similar aims.
We produce a regular magazine. Animalwatch (free to members) containing articles and information about animal welfare issues, interests and events. This provides a means by which the members can share ideas, stories and concerns. We publish a series of pamphlets about animal issues and aim to ensure that our materials are balanced and theologically and scientifically sound.
We help arrange major services and events focusing on animal care. We promote awareness through exhibitions, meetings, talks and preaching.
What do we believe?
We believe that the earth is the Lord's and all that is in it (Psalm 24:1). We believe that the Bible teaches us to care for animals. In the
Hebrew Scriptures there are many rules governing animal welfare and our duty towards them.
In the New Testament, Jesus teaches us that God cares for his creatures, ‘Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them' (Mt 6:25). He taught about rescuing animals in distress, ‘If one of you has a child or an ox
that has fallen into a well, will you not pull it out on a sabbath day? (Lk 14:5) and the need to protect and care for animals. We believe that God so loved the world (the cosmos), not just human beings that he sent his Son to redeem the whole of the created order and as St Paul writes, through Jesus, God has reconciled all things to himself. (Col. 1:15-20)
We believe that we have a duty to care for ‘all creatures great and small' because ‘the Lord God made them all'. To abuse creation is to
abuse the Creator.
Do we have a theological basis?
Yes, we have put this theological statement in our Constitution:
Christians acknowledge all existence as dependent on the originating and sustaining will of God, and the universe as the work of his creative mind. But God's ultimate purpose in creating this universe lies beyond it, in an eternal order of goodness and love, where his glory will be fully revealed in the blessedness of his creatures as they rejoice in the perfect communion with him and with one another.
The unfolding story of the cosmos can, therefore, be truly understood only as a pilgrimage under God to this fulfilment. But this story, though cause for endless wonder, thankfulness and praise, is also marked by pain, sorrow and frustration. In St Paul's words, ‘We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains and still does' (Romans 8:22).
On this planet a crucial event has been the birth of our own species which, though sharing a God-given biological basis with other terrestrial life, is endowed with unique powers of thought and feeling. These not only enable us to be more aware of good and evil, but also give us unprecedented capacity to promote one or the other. As a result the fate and quality of life of other sentient beings, and indeed the very survival of life itself, turn on human behaviour.
How can you help and get involved?
Through prayer, study and action we can all do something to help. We all eat - and we can all make sure that we buy food that has not been produced by exploitation or cruelty.
If like us, you are committed to giving a Christian voice to oppose the unnecessary suffering of animals and to educate others about animal welfare issues, please become a member.
Who can join?
Membership is open to anyone over the age of 18 who shares our aims and objectives and who pays the annual subscription. Our members include all kinds of people - bishops, veterinary surgeons, politicians, farmers, parish priests and poets. Members receive regular copies of Animalwatch free of charge.
Is the membership growing?
Yes, in the last few years we have had a considerable increase in our membership which is very encouraging - but there is always room for more. There is still much that we can do together.
Is ASWA a registered charity?
Yes, we are. We are registered as a religious charity to teach Christian beliefs about God and his creation. This means that if you are a taxpayer you can pay your subscription or give a donation by Gift Aid so that we can claim the tax you have paid on your gift. All our officers and active members are volunteers. Our charity number is 1087270.