Graphic: rudall30 (iStock)

Eleven years of Catholic school had lasting effects on me, most of which I’m still working through with my therapist. Some of its more benign legacies include my ability to sing the third verse of obscure Christmas songs, my affection for sweater vests, and my recall of random Biblical passages. There’s no passage I can immediately call to mind to justify or refute the case for eating meat—but that’s exactly what a segment of Christians have apparently been debating for a while now.

The Christian debate over meat-eating came to my attention today as I clicked through to my favorite morning read, PorkBusiness.com. (What, not in your RSS yet?) There, an article announces the publication of a new book titled What Would Jesus Really Eat? The Biblical Case for Eating Meat. According to the article, some Christian churches and groups have been misled by animal-rights groups into thinking that modern agriculture is incompatible with scriptural values, and therefor Christians shouldn’t eat meat.

But the book What Would Jesus Really Eat?—published with partial funding from, oh you don’t say, the Animal Agriculture Alliance—argues that the Bible gives humans “the blessing to eat meat with joy and thankfulness.”

According to its description on the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s website, the book “will help arm farmers and ranchers and others in the animal agriculture industry with the information they need to have informed conversations about the complex subject of religion and eating meat. You’ll be better prepared to push back against activist claims after reading this book.”

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PorkBusiness.com quotes one of the book’s editors, Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Wes Jamison, as saying “Christians have the freedom to eat meat, without it being a question of conscience. In fact, not only can they do it, they are blessed when they do it. I Timothy 4: 1-5 gives an explicit warning to avoid people who tell you that you can’t eat—that you can’t eat animals or other things in God’s creation.”

In case your mind isn’t a steel trap for Biblical verse, that I Timothy passage reads, in part: “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. … They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.”

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Slice of spiral ham, anyone?