International media was abuzz this week when reports circulated that Pope Francis declared that animals go to heaven. Turns out, the pope’s words were, indeed, too good to be true. But, that doesn’t change the fact that the Bible is clear: All creation will be reconciled to God.
This heavenly promise is not just good news for dogs and cats. A world “on earth, as it is in heaven” is a vegan world. The scripture tells us that the kingdom of God is marked by nonviolence, the triumph of life over death, and peace among species.
That’s no surprise there, though. Jesus’ life and teachings—his central message—was to love and show compassion to all, especially to those whom society has cast aside. In fact, if Jesus’ companions on Earth are any indication, heaven will be full of outcasts, rejects, and surprises.
Factory farms and slaughterhouses are hell on Earth, both for animals and for the people who work there. It is hard enough to write, let alone to realize, that chickens and turkeys used for meat have their throats slit while still conscious, piglets have their tails and testicles cut off without painkillers, and fish are suffocated or cut open while still alive on the decks of fishing boats.
Since Christians in particular are guided by the Bible’s messages of compassion and justice, we hope Pope Francis will live into his namesake and encourage Christians all over the world to direct kindness and mercy toward animals. And since we’re sure God will have a place for chickens, cows, and pigs inside the proverbial Pearly Gates, you’d better order a vegan starter kit, or things might get awkward!