Joseph McCabe (1867-1955) was one of the most prolific authors of all time. He was brought up as a Roman Catholic, worked on Latin documents, and made himself very well-informed about Christianity, but turned against it. But he was extremely naive about Jews; bear this in mind.

Click for Detailed notes on McCabe - scroll down for selections from A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (1948).

Here's the full A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (about 1.3 MBytes; Word format; includes notes on some of its limits)

Animals, Cruelty to.

J. McCabe, Rationalists Encyclopaedia

The idea that Christianity first inspired a concern for animals has, like so many similar claims, no relation to the historical facts. Without going into earlier civilizations, we have the notorious fact that the Buddhist King Asoka insisted strongly on kindness to animals and forbade his subjects to kill them for food (third century B.C.). He was, in this, influenced by his belief in the transmigration of souls, but from that time Buddhism inculcated kindness to animals everywhere. In the Greek world Plutarch, Seneca, Porphyry, and other pagan writers urged it, and cruelty to animals was often punished by law. For quotations see Lecky's History of European Morals (cheap ed. 1911, II, pp. 69-70), in which the strained compliments to Christianity are refuted by the facts given by the author. For the gladiatorial games see article on them. The Church did not condemn cruelty to animals, objecting that they had no souls, and from the earliest Middle Ages to the nineteenth century the most callous cruelty (especially in fights of animals) was permitted everywhere. The Pope refused to sanction the R.S.P.C.A., saying that it was based upon the "theoretical error" that man had duties to animals, and cruelty lingered unchecked in Italy, Spain, and Spanish America. A few clerics and W. Wilberforce, who was educated in sceptical and humanitarian ideals, supported the modern movement when it began in the eighteenth century (under the influence of the French philosophers), but, while the great Rationalist leaders - Owen, Bentham, Romilly, Mackintosh, etc. - all supported the movement, the Church was so apathetic that the passing of a Bill was resisted and derided in Parliament for twenty years. (See any history of the R.S.P.C.A.). Great Britain founded the first society and passed the first law for the prevention of cruelty.


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