Under the influence of the New Zealand Meat Board, a new spiritual influence has penetrated our country. It began with a series of meat deals with the nation of Iran. The first deal was signed in October 1979. The New Zealand Meat Board agreed to supply Iran with 200,000 tonnes of lamb over a four-year period.
One of the conditions attached to this trade is that all stock had to be killed according to Islamic regulations (Sharia). To support the contract, a number of freezing works were converted and licensed for halal slaughtering. In the first year, 21 Iranian slaughtermen were brought to New Zealand to slaughter lambs in these freezing works. In later years, Moslems were brought from Fiji and trained as slaughtermen.
In the early 1980s, nearly one fifth of New Zealand lamb went to Iran. However, this market quickly became very unstable, as Iran had difficulties paying for meat. The Meat Board responded by exporting lamb to other Moslem countries. Halal meat is now exported to many Moslem countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Although Iran is no longer an important market for New Zealand lamb, Halal slaughtering is still an important part of our meat export industry. The Meat Board makes this very clear on its website (www.meatnz.co.nz). A section headed, Compliance with Islamic Religious Codes, declares,
New Zealand prides itself on meeting the religious requirements of its Muslim customers. Beef from New Zealand that is certified Halal has been slaughtered in accordance with the Islamic Sharia, using humane, hygienic techniques.
New Zealand is the world's largest exporter of Halal slaughtered sheep meat and is a significant exporter of Halal slaughtered beef.
At New Zealand meat plants producing for Muslim customers, all cattle are slaughtered by Muslim slaughtermen using humane hygienic techniques in accordance with the Islamic Sharia. This ensures there is no possibility of Islamic customers receiving non-Halal meat.
Halal slaughtering involves four things.
- The slaughterman must be a practicing Moslem,
- He must face Mecca (Alkaabah Alsharifah)
- The words "Allah Akbar" (Allah is great) must be prayed as the animal is slaughtered
- The animal must be killed with a sharp knife.
These requirements appear to be innocent, but to a Christian, they are a serious concern, because religious and spiritual actions have a greater effect than is often realised
The modern materialistic worldview says that spirituality and religion are private personal and subjective, and have no impact beyond the person who practices them. This is not true. The spiritual dimension is the most important part of life, and effects the whole of it (if you do not understand this, you will not understand the rest of this article). Therefore, understanding the spiritual implications of Halal slaughtering for New Zealand is very important.
Islam is Idolatry
The religion of Islam is not consistent with Christianity. Firstly, Islam does not recognise Jesus as the Son of God. It is a basic belief of Christianity that God has revealed himself through his only Son, Jesus Christ. No one can come to God except through him (John 1:18; 14:6). In contrast, the following words are inscribed inside the dome of the Islamic mosque in Jerusalem:
There is no God but Allah who never produced a son, nor had a companion, nor needed a protector. Praise his greatness.
This is a clear denial that Jesus is the Son of God, in the very city where Jesus died and rose again. It is also a denial of the Holy Spirit. From a Christian perspective, Allah is not great, but is a false god.
Secondly, Islam requires obedience to the detailed laws and regulations laid down in the Koran (Islam means "submission"). Salvation is earned through fasting, almsgiving, pilgrimages to Mecca and other religious duties. In contrast, Christians believe that salvation cannot be obtained through obedience to laws. It comes as a free gift to all who believe in Jesus, through his death and resurrection. If salvation is possible through obedience to laws, then Christ died for nothing (Galatians 2:21). Islam is a false way. By following this way, Moslems are blinded to the salvation that God is offering to them through Jesus.
The Islamic religion is contrary to Christianity, so the halal slaughtering technique for killing lamb involves the worship of a false god. This is wrong, because it breaks the first commandment:
You shall have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3).
The men who slaughter the lambs for Iran in our freezing works are worshipping a false god.
If it were just a few individuals saying a Moslem prayer, this would not be a serious problem. Moslems should be free to practice their religion. People of other religions are praying everywhere. The problem arises because this idolatry is organised by the New Zealand Meat Board, and paid for by the Meat Exporters.
Idolatry by legal authorities is far more serious that idolatry by individuals. The Bible has very harsh words against those in authority, who encourage or force other people to worship false gods (Deuteronomy 13:6-17). This is what the New Zealand Meat Board has done. The Board is established under the Meat Board Act, 1997. It has legislated authority to control the export of meat and is funded by farmers, through a compulsory levy on all meat that is exported. The Meat Board has used this legal authority to institutionalise idolatry in our freezing works.
Corporate, institutionalised idolatry places the land under a curse. The Bible has the following warning for nations that institutionalise idolatry.
All these curses will come upon you and overtake you:
you will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country.
The Lord will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put you hand to
because of the evil you have done in forsaking him.
The Lord will strike you with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew (Deuteronomy 28:15,16,20,22)
The reality is that the sins of the Meat Board can affect a whole nation. This makes Halal slaughtering very serious.
Dangerous for Agriculture
By accepting Halal slaughter regulations to sell our meat, we are submitting to the Islamic Sharia (law). When we submit to a person, we give that person power over us. When we submit to a religion, we give that religion power over. To the modern worldview this does not seem to be very serious. However, behind all false religions, there are spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12). The Bible refers to false religions as the doctrines of demons.
The sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God.
(1 Corinthians 10:20).
This is why halal slaughtering is so dangerous for New Zealand. We are not just submitting to the religion of Islam, but also to the spiritual forces behind Islam. We are placing ourselves in the power of these wicked spiritual forces. Their destructiveness is evident in the harshness of some Islamic practices. In biblical times, one of the most powerful spiritual beings opposed to God was the Prince of Persia (now Iran). We have given him authority in our land by submitting to him (Daniel 10:12-14,20,21).
The spiritual forces behind Islam, to which we are submitting, are destructive to agriculture. Much of the land of North Africa, which was once a rich grain growing area, has turned into desert, as Islam has spread. As Islam has expanded so has the desert. By giving the same spiritual forces power in our land, we have opened our agriculture to destruction. This should make all farmers very concerned.
In 1979 it was believed that the trade with Iran would be a long-term solution for our meat industry. In fact, our meat marketing problems soon got worse. The annual negotiation with Iran added awful uncertainty to the industry. In 1983, sales to Britain fell to only half the level in the previous year. The Meat Board had to take over all sales of meat to prevent a collapse of the British market. New cold stores had to be built to store unsold meat. Farmers needed subsidies (SMPs) to keep their industry viable.
The 1980s were a terrible time for sheep farmers. The number of sheep in New Zealand almost halved. Many sheep farmers lost their farms. At the same time, sheep farmers experienced difficult climatic conditions in many of the areas where halal slaughtering is carried out. In some places there have been severe droughts and in others there has been too much rain (Amos 4:7).
The meat export companies have not had a happy time since halal slaughtering was introduced. This is not surprising. The only way of access to God is through Jesus Christ. Since the Moslems who pray over the lambs are not praying through him, they are not reaching God. They are really praying to the spiritual forces behind Islam. The meat export companies are paying people to say prayers, which are really a curse. This can only bring trouble.
One meat company with a very peaceful record had its worst strike in twenty years after it introduced halal slaughtering. A couple of years later, it experienced a severe loss of profit. Many of the companies which first started halal killing got into economic difficulties. They had to be rescued by mergers and takeovers engineered by the Meat Board, but in the process their shareholders carried large losses.
Trading with the World
All this does not mean that trade with non-Christian nations is wrong. The Bible teaches that a Christian nation will have financial dealings with the rest of the world (Deuteronomy 15:4-6). Through the blessing of God, a Christian nation will trade from a position of strength and not of weakness. It will be able to set the terms under which the trade will take place. Because New Zealand has lost the blessing of God, it has to trade from a position of weakness.
Iran was able to dictate the terms for the meat trade between the two nations. To sell our meat to Iran, we were forced to submit to their religious practices. Trade with Iran is not wrong in itself. There is nothing wrong with buying Iranian oil. Trade with the world is only wrong, when the world sets inappropriate conditions for trade. The meat trade with Iran was wrong, because we had to submit to Islamic Sharia as a condition for that trade. If Iran had agreed to buy meat without halal slaughtering, then the meat deals would have been quite legitimate and presented no spiritual problems.
Meat offered to Idols
Some Christians wonder if they should eat meat that has been halal killed, if it is sold in New Zealand. Meat killed in this way comes into the category of 'meat offered to idols'. The Bible teaches that, while it is wrong to offer meat to false gods, it is not wrong for Christians to eat this meat if it comes onto the market.
Everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer (1 Timothy 4:4,5)
Provided Christians give thanks for what they eat, they should have no fear of such meat. Even though it has been offered to a false god, it has been consecrated by their prayers. The only situation where eating halal killed meat would be wrong is where it may cause a brother to stumble. No food is unclean in itself. But if your brother is distressed by what you eat, it is better not to eat it (Romans 14:14-21).
What Shall We Do?
We should work and pray to see our nation turn Back to God. This nation was founded by God-fearing people. As a result, he has blessed this land and made us prosper. However, we have allowed our prosperity to come between us and God. As we have done this, God has removed his blessing and we now face all kinds of problems. The only solution is for us to turn Back to God, and give him first place once more. If we Return to him, he will restore our land, and give us blessing and peace. We would then be able to trade from a position of strength, as the nations would want to share in our blessing.
Farmers should refuse to have their stock killed by halal slaughtering methods. They do not get paid for their lambs, until they go over the scales and are graded. Technically, the lambs still belong to the farmers when they are killed. The farmer who allows his stock to be killed in this way is submitting to the Spirit of Islam, and being yoked with unbelievers. It may be costly for farmers to take this stand, but in the long run God will bless them. This country needs men who are willing to pay the price of standing against unrighteousness. Many farmers who refused to allow their sheep to be halal slaughtered experienced great blessing from God.
We should try to persuade the Meat Board and the Freezing Companies Association to stop all halal slaughtering in New Zealand. Although they do not realise it, they are encouraging people to worship false gods. This has placed them under the wrath of God. As long as they continue their present practices things will continue to go wrong for the meat industry. Only if they turn Back to righteousness, will God begin to bless them. The destiny of our nation is in the hands of God. It does not matter what deals we make, if we do not have the blessing of God, they cannot save us. If we stopped halal slaughtering in New Zealand we might lose some important markets for lamb. However, in the long run, it is better to do what is right, than what is most profitable. The blessing of God is more important, than any particular deal.
(This information first published in November 1979)
This article raises two important questions. Should Christians eat meat that has been Halal killed. My response is in Halal Food
Other Christians asked if farmers could get their sheep kosher killed. My response is in Kosher Meat.