In her most recent work, Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More — Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist, Karen Swallow Prior introduces readers to a female educator who, motivated by faith, dedicated herself to eradicating injustice and encouraging virtue alongside social reformers, such as William Wilberforce and others from The Clapham Sect.
In the chapter, “Burdened for the Beasts,” Karen highlights Hannah More’s commitment to animal welfare:
As More’s Christian convictions grew, so, too, did her conviction that benevolence toward animals was part of a holistic Christian worldview, and her writings came to reflect these evolving views. She and her fellow reformers considered reading in particular as central to moral reform because of the ability of reading to cultivate empathy deeper than what the senses can communicate, whether the issue was slavery or animal welfare…Although animal welfare was never a central focus of her work, More shared Wilberforce’s conviction against cruelty to animals, most dramatically in her Cheap Repository Tracts. The tracts explicitly correlated kindness toward animals with Christian piety and virtue.
Following in the legacy of Hannah More, The Clapham Group will launch an Evangelical Statement on Responsible Care for Animals during Fall 2015. Although theologically and operationally independent, the Statement is being launched in cooperation with the Faith Outreach Office at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
HSUS, with whom Karen Swallow Prior serves as an Advisory Board member, has long supported a commitment to caring for “all creatures great and small” as motivated by a Biblical conviction which finds its roots in more than a century of Christian tradition.
To celebrate this commitment to compassionate living and provide a preview of the Statement, The Clapham Group and HSUS will host a private reading with Karen Swallow Prior in Washington, D.C. on April 9 where evangelical women across spheres will gather to support as a unified voice on behalf of the vulnerable.