Farm Forward believes that the power of faith just might be the factory farm’s most powerful new enemy. Our Faith in Food Initiative is the largest national effort to promote community-specific efforts to fight factory farming from a faith-based perspective.
The Faith in Food Initiative activates spiritual leaders within faith communities and works with them to help their religious institutions find their own unique ways of joining us in the fight against factory farming. For example, Rev. Dr. Christopher Carter is working with Farm Forward to do just that in the American black church.
Christopher is a United Methodist pastor and rising star in Black Theology. He joins Farm Forward as one of our two inaugural Faith in Food Fellows, along with Dr. David Clough whose CreatureKind project you can read about here. Christopher’s work explores the meaning of soul food within the African American community in the age of factory farming. He defines “soul food” as “food that is prepared by black people who utilize the collective agricultural and culinary wisdom of our ancestors for the betterment of our communities.”
Christopher holds a seat on the steering committee for the prestigious Animals and Religion Group of the American Academy of Religion and is an Assistant Professor of Theology at the University of San Diego, a leading Roman Catholic university. We believe he is one of the most articulate new religious voices standing up for farmed animals in America today.
Most national religious institutions haven’t yet responded to the rise of cruel and unsustainable industrial farming systems. Our Faith in Food Initiative will change that by working with spiritual leaders like Rev. Dr. Carter to inspire thousands of faith-based institutions to create ethical food policies that address animal welfare in ways appropriate to their specific faith communities.
Food justice is integral to Christopher’s personal and professional journey. Growing up black, poor, and at times food insecure, he has grappled firsthand with the inequalities inherent in our food system. His work prioritizes food justice because he believes that healthy, just food is a human right, and his work has influenced Christian churches nationwide.
Asked about the connection between food justice and our industrial farming system, Christopher explains, “Unfortunately all too often people of color have limited access to the benefits of the US domestic food system, while simultaneously bearing much of the burden that our current industrial farm system causes. For example, people of color disproportionately live in areas that have been polluted by hog and chicken factory farms, and are more likely to be exploited in industrial slaughterhouses. If we are to move toward a more just society, a society where all Creation can flourish, then these interconnected oppressive systems must change.”
As a Farm Forward Faith in Food Fellow, Rev. Dr. Carter is studying the impact that the U.S. food policies and practices that created the factory farm have on people of color. Christopher is currently working to understand the role that religion plays in how African Americans make their food choices.
Christopher will write about these and other issues in a forthcoming book, The Spirit of Soul Food: Faith, Food Justice, and Liberation. In this book, he argues that black Christians would do well to adopt three theologically grounded eating practices as a response to food injustice, which he calls “soul-full eating, seeking justice for food workers, and caring for the earth—including animals.” For Christopher, these guideposts lead to a commitment to ethical vegetarianism.
Farm Forward is honored to have such a dedicated, passionate, and active Faith in Food Fellow. We believe Christopher’s pioneering theological voice and grounding in the black church will help him point the way forward in his community and for all people of faith.
Read about Christopher’s work in a recent article he wrote for CreatureKind.
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