While the stories and teachings of numerous religious traditions make reference to the use and killing of animals for various purposes, it is important to recognize that very few of these same traditions have laws or rules that require this. Hence, by any measure, even those who are strict practitioners of their religious traditions can follow the voice of their personal conscience in this matter without being in conflict with the core principles of their religious tradition. There are individuals from virtually every religious tradition worldwide who are respected for their knowledge and moral leadership who also choose, for reasons of conscience, not to participate in the use and killing of animals.
Furthermore, it can be helpful to keep in mind that our understanding of the morality of numerous actions and ideas mentioned in religious stories and teachings written long ago has evolved as human knowledge has evolved. One example is the dramatic changes in the social status of women in many cultures over the centuries. Another example is the widespread adoption of a ban on human slavery, which at various times was practiced on every settled continent. When human slavery was practiced in the US, many people believed it to be a religiously sanctioned institution because of certain references to slavery in the Christian Bible. However, today, Christians of all denominations condemn human slavery, and consider it to be in conflict with the core values of their tradition. Likewise, many devout religious practitioners around the world are now re-evaluating their understanding of the ethics of the human-animal relationship, and as a result, are forging a new understanding of their relationship with the other animals who share our world.
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