|Born||May 16, 1939
|Died||December 31, 2014
Meritus Medical Center, Hagerstown, Maryland, USA
|Occupation||Author, animal advocate|
|Alma mater||University of Maryland, College Park|
|Period||late 20th century; early 21st century|
|Subjects||vegetarianism, veganism, animal rights, spirituality|
|Literary movement||Animal rights; religion and animal rights; religion; animal advocacy|
|Relatives||Nelson (son) and Kyra (daughter)|
Norm Phelps (born Norman Nelson Phelps, III) (May 16, 1939 – December 31, 2014) was an American writer. He was a founding member of the Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians (SERV), and a former outreach director of the Fund for Animals. He authored three books on animal rights: The Dominion of Love: Animal Rights According to the Bible (2002), The Great Compassion: Buddhism and Animal Rights (2004), and The Longest Struggle: Animal Advocacy from Pythagoras to PETA (2007).
Phelps spoke at numerous conferences, including the National Conference on Organized Resistance, the University of Oregon’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, several of the annual Animal Rights Conferences sponsored by the Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM), and the Compassionate Living Festival. He also published articles, essays, and book reviews in several periodicals: Journal of Critical Animal Studies, Philosophia, Satya, The Animals’ Voice, and VegNews.
Phelps had become a vegetarian and then a vegan following the death of his dog Czar in 1984. As Phelps describes this change process on his website, "Czar was a person. He had a personality as individual and well-defined as any human being. He could love, he could trust, he could share, he could enjoy, he could fear, he could worry, he could look forward to the future and remember the past, he had a sense of who he was, and he would have sacrificed himself for me without a moment's hesitation. . . . If Czar was a person, what about other animals? What about cows, pigs, chickens and sheep? Weren't they people, too? How could we love some and eat others?"
In 1994, Phelps retired from the federal government and joined the campaigns office of The Fund for Animals in Silver Spring, Maryland, where he became active in the campaign to end the live pigeon shoot which was then held every Labor Day in the village of Hegins, Pennsylvania. (The shoot ended in 1998.) When The Fund for Animals merged with The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Phelps joined the staff of the HSUS wildlife protection campaign, where he worked until he resigned for reasons of age and health in 2011. (From 2002 until his death, Phelps had suffered from myasthenia gravis, an auto-immune neuromuscular condition that causes severe fatiguable weakness.)
As an animal rights theorist, Phelps argues that the animal rights movement must: 1) Engage religious communities on the side of animal rights, 2) Join with progressive movements for social and economic justice and environmental protection to create a genuine universal rights movement, and 3) pursue a "two-track" strategy of advocating veganism and the abolition of all animal exploitation while simultaneously campaigning for more moderate reforms, such as Meatless Mondays and the abolition of battery cages for laying hens. Although he is generally opposed to militant direct action on the grounds that it is counterproductive, Phelps supported live rescues of animals from farms and laboratories. In 1994, he was arrested at a pigeon shoot in Pikeville, Pennsylvania for releasing 200 pigeons who were slated to become living targets. He spent two days in Berks County Prison and was subsequently convicted of malicious mischief.
He lived in Funkstown, Maryland (USA) with his second wife, Patti Rogers. He is survived by his 2 children, his son Nelson and his daughter Kyra.
- The Dominion of Love: Animal Rights According to the Bible. Lantern Books, New York, 2002. 208 pages.
- The Great Compassion: Buddhism and Animal Rights. Lantern Books, New York, 2004. 240 pages.
- The Longest Struggle: Animal Advocacy from Pythagoras to PETA. Lantern Books, New York, 2007. 368 pages.
- A Chronology of Animal Protection: Part I: The Ancient World - begins at 250,000 YBP
- Why the Animals Need Religion
- An Open Letter to the Dalai Lama, June 15, 2007
- Use a Sharp Knife: Animals and Islam
- Ethical Eating: Comments on the Unitarian Universalist Association's Draft Statement of Conscience
- Changing the Game, Part II (7/23/2013) - Transcription by Brandon Chung, 7/30/2013
- The Dominion of Love: Interview with the Abolitionist Online
- The Great Compassion: Interview with the Abolitionist Online
- Animals and the Holocaust: Eternal Treblinka by Charles Patterson
- Tales of Common Sorrow: Job Enters a Pain Clinic and Other Stories by Roberta Kalechofsky
- Trying to Walk before We Can Crawl: Speciesism by Joan Dunayer
- Speaking of the Unspeakable: the Holocaust and the Henmaid's Tale by Karen Davis
- History of the Animal Rights Movement (17:11), Apr 10, 2013, featured at the Animal Rights 2012 National Conference, organized by Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM) of Bethesda, MD - argues for the secular roots of the animal rights movement, as 'the orphan child of the 1960s' and as having secularist roots from the European Enlightenment, contrasting it with the animal welfare movement which he said had emerged from 18th century religious roots, when contemplation of the moral meaning of sentience was centrally important to reflection on animals.
- Alex Hershaft
- Christian Vegetarian Association
- Ethical veganism
- Henry Spira
- Moral status of animals in the ancient world
- Oxford Group (animal rights)
- Richard Schwartz
- Stephen R. Kaufman
- Biography at animalsandethics.org
- Norm Phelps – 1939-2014, Compassion Over Killing
- Website of the Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians
- Phelps, Norm (2007). The Longest Struggle. Lantern Books.
- Phelps, Norm (2008). "Rhyme, Reason, and Animal Rights", Journal for Critical Animal Studies, vol 6, issue 1
- LinkedIn profile, Norm Phelps
- Personal website: Animals and Ethics
- Personal website: NormPhelps.org (includes some essays)
- Obituary: Norm Phelps, Animals 24-7, by Merritt Clifton
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