Charles Fillmore, Unity Church Founder, Said Man Should Not Kill Animals For Food
Charles Fillmore (1854 –1948) was the founder of Unity School of Christianity in 1889 in Kansas City, Missouri. Unity School later became Unity Church in the 20th century. Charles and Myrtle formed the Unity School as a fusion of the many different faiths represented around the world—Unity came to represent the common bonds shared between the different religions. Spiritual growth and improvement came through inner practice, affirmative prayer, a noble lifestyle, a positive approach to life and thought, and a vegetarian diet. Unity today emphasizes spiritual healing, prosperity and practical Christianity in its teachings. Each Unity church falls under Unity Worldwide Ministries, but each church is autonomous in its practices.
Charles and Myrtle became ethical vegetarians in 1895, long before it was popular in the western world. Charles refused to eat meat, wear leather or animal skin or fur and believed it was deeply wrong to kill animals for food or be cruel to animals in any way. He also linked the violence and killing of animals to our own human violence and cruelty committed to each other and to those who we deem different from us. The Fillmore’s decision to become ethical vegetarian’s was influenced by Harry Church, the printer of their Modern Thought magazine, who was a Seventh Day Adventist and strict vegetarian. Church would come to their home for dinners and say, “how can you stand to serve murdered things on your table?” His strong conviction transformed the Fillmore’s consciousness about the killing animals for food and soon after, Myrtle and Charles stopped eating all animal products and advocated a strict vegetarian diet.
When Fillmore founded Unity, he acknowledged that a meatless diet was conducive to deepening spiritual thinking and a developing a strong spiritual practice. He felt vegetarianism was more humane and healthy and he advocated an animal-free diet through their writings and sermons. For the next 40 years, Fillmore wrote passionately about the mental, physical, spiritual and social harm caused by eating animal foods, and advocated that a plant-based diet was aligned with developing spiritual maturity and contributing to world peace. The Fillmore’s also established a vegetarian restaurant, a vegetarian food company and managed a large vegetable farm for their restaurant.
After creating Unity, Charles wrote 32 Statements of Faith on which Unity was founded. Statement #28 read:
We believe that all life is sacred and that man should not kill or be a party to the killing of animals for food; also that cruelty, war, and wanton destruction of human life will continue so long as men destroy animals.
Until 1939, Unity taught all 32 Statements in the church, but in 1939 Unity removed Statement #28 and within five years of abandoning this teaching over 60 million people were killed in the bloodiest war in human history.
Charles Fillmore believed every form in existence is a manifestation of life and that life is connected to the source of life. From this concept, his belief was born that ‘we do not eat matter but life.’ He believed food should be full of life and not come from death and decay. And that life vitality was found in living cells, and vibrating force and intelligence comes from living cells, but vitality and intelligence have been withdrawn from dead cells. To him, eating meat meant essentially eating a mass of dead cells and decay, which he believed ultimately, caused decay and death to the human body. He believed living cells through eating plants, vegetables and fruits became part of our consciousness and that the food we eat shapes our consciousness. Charles felt the most direct source of live vital cells could only be found in a plant-based diet, grown from the earth. He felt that when man eats an animal “divine order is disturbed, the animal is denied the right of expression, and man clogs his system with sewage and second-hand food.” (Truth Unity, As to Meat Eating).
Fillmore argued that the emotional and sympathetic mental vibrations of terror, fear, anger, torment, stress and violence felt by animals prior to and during slaughter—are transferred to the people consuming the animals—those who eat the bodies of the dead animals are consuming those tormented emotions. And that our undefined fears, terrors experienced in nightmares, daily stress and anxiety, aggression toward others, and many gastrointestinal problems and disease, can be traced to the terror felt by the animals before and during slaughter. He felt that forcing an animal against its will and the brutal, violent act of slaughter was just the opposite of the divine law of freedom and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all of God’s creatures. Charles argued “thou shalt not kill,” and believed that man’s suffering is caused by transgressing this basic law and as long as man eats meat he will continue to personally and collectively suffer.
More About Charles Fillmore, Unity Church and Veganism in the Church
- Excellent article from Truth Unity about Charles Fillmore and Veganism
- Keith Akers writes about Vegetarians in the Churches
- Vegetarian Roots of Unity – Video
- Unity Radio – Seven Step to Healthier Living, with Victoria Moran
Quotes by Charles Fillmore
“We eat the flesh of the animal for the life it contains, yet the fact is that life has disappeared in its highest degree—there is left only a lot of corpse cells in various stages of corruption and decay. These are really a burden to the organism … Yet ignorant man loads his system with these elements of discord and decay and expects to get life out of them.” (“As to Meat Eating,” 1903)
“The master on the spiritual plane is not a slave driver … He must love every creature … His love must flow forth in protecting streams when any creature is in danger of violence or destruction. He must recognize all life as God’s life … Thus he cannot in any way sanction the killing of animals for food, nor can he give passive assent by eating the flesh of those slain by the hands of ignorant man.” (“Flesh-Eating Metaphysically Considered,” 1910)
“He who eats the flesh of animals is, by and through that process, taking into his consciousness all the passions, desires, and emotions of animals. Do not deceive yourself … that it makes no difference what you eat. There is no absence of life, substance, or intelligence anywhere.” (“Flesh-Eating Metaphysically Considered,” 1910)
“… in the light of the Truth that God is love, and that Jesus came to make his love manifest in the world, we cannot believe it is his will for men to eat meat, or to do anything else that would cause suffering to the innocent and helpless.” (“Vegetarianism,” 1915)
“Spirit has shown me repeatedly that I could not refine my body and make it a harmonious instrument for the soul, so long as I continued to fill it with the cells of dead animals.” (“The Vegetarian” 1920)
“Undoubtedly the next great step forward in the reformation and refinement of humanity will be the elimination of flesh food. We do not anticipate a world-wide prohibition but a gradual adaptation of the best foods by progressive people.” (“The Vegetarian” 1920)
“We need never look for universal peace on this earth until men stop killing animals for food. The lust for blood has permeated the race thought and the destruction of life will continue to repeat its psychology, the world round, until men willingly observe the law in all phases of life, ‘Thou shalt not kill.’” (“The Vegetarian,” 1920)
“The invisible psychic agony of millions of cruelly slaughtered animals saturates our earth’s atmosphere and the whole race suffers in sympathy. We make intimate mental contact with these psychic terrors of our little sisters and brothers of the animal world when we devour their fear-shattered bodies. Our vague fear of impending danger, our troubled sleep, our dread of the future, and numerous other unidentified mental complexes may and often are the echo fears of the brutes whose flesh we have entombed in our stomach.” (“Eating and Drinking” 1931)
“If you find that you are a victim of the desire for stimulant in any of its forms, say to the appetite: ‘I no longer desire those things; I am no longer hypnotized or mesmerized by sense appetite … My stimulant is Spirit, and I desire the stimulants of Spirit only. I live in the life, the quickening energy, and the power of the Spirit.’”(“Eating and Drinking” 1931)
Here is a typical Unity Inn lunch menu from 1916:
Rice peach pudding
Typical Unity Inn dinner menu: