Animals and religion: A guide to issues, organizations and experts

As concern for the environment has grown in faith communities, greater emphasis is being placed on how people care for and treat animals. The verse in Genesis – a text sacred to Judaism, Christianity and Islam – that gives mankind “dominion” over the animals is no longer universally interpreted as awarding carte blanche over domestic, wild and food-source animals.

Instead, a more nuanced interpretation is gaining ground, one that says humans have a religious duty to protect animals – a duty some interpret as requiring people of faith to speak out and act against animal cruelty, testing, abuse and even ownership. Today, many groups celebrate an “Animal Sunday” or a “Blessing of the Animals” near the October feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, and people from the major faith traditions are involved in the animal rights, welfare and liberation movements.

Animal advocacy groups have begun outreach programs to people of faith, hoping to find strong allies in their various fights. In 2008, the Humane Society of the United States released the film Eating Mercifully, which aims to persuade many people of faith to make more humane food choices. Numerous religious-based animal advocacy groups have popped up and grown strong. It is not uncommon for secular and religious activists to find themselves on the same side of the debate over meat, fur and animal testing.

ReligionLink’s source guide on animals and religion shines a light on some of the varied ways these two topics intersect, and provides experts and other resources for coverage.

Major issues and debates

Members of the animal rights and animal welfare communities are not always one and the same. Yet both groups are beginning to compete for the growing number of individuals motivated by their religious faith to speak and act on behalf of animals. How will these two groups reach people of faith interested in animals? Which group will be the most successful, and why?

A growing number of Christians are changing their idea of stewardship – how they manage God’s creation – from simply using natural resources to caring for them, including animal rights and animal welfare. For some, this means adopting a meat-free diet and faith-based activism. Many religious groups are including concern for animals in their official policies, both on the denominational and local levels. How will this affect religious practices? Will churches redistribute ministry funds to animal welfare or rights issues? What tensions might result if others within a denomination hold more traditional views on the subject?

The violence and extremism of some animal rights activists, illustrated in the 2008 bombings aimed at scientists affiliated with the University of California, Santa Cruz, present a conflict for those who see animal rights/welfare as a religious issue, as violence conflicts with most religious teachings. (Such tactics are also abhorrent to most within the animal rights/welfare community. Indeed, many have distanced themselves from groups, such as the Animal Liberation Front, that seem to condone violence or property destruction on behalf of animals.) Many religious people find themselves asking “How far is too far?” in terms of activism.

Do animals have souls? Some religions say yes, some say no, but members of those faiths may or may not agree. How do people of faith reconcile the differences between what their faiths say about animals and their personal beliefs on the matter? If people of faith accept that animals have souls, like many religions say humans have, what does that mean to their personal theology? What are they doing to convince others to join them in their opinion?

More congregations and religious leaders are offering religious services and rites for animals. Today, there are animal funerals, blessings for pets and more, many performed by ordained clergy. Counseling is offered for people grieving a pet’s death. Hospice for animals — focusing on their spiritual as well as physical passage through the dying process – has become a new and rapidly growing movement. Do all these services benefit the animals or just their owners/human companions? Do they rankle some people of faith while inspiring or comforting others?

In 2007, the Best Friends Animal Society gathered representatives of 20 different faiths to sign and promote a document titled “A Religious Proclamation for Animal Compassion.” It was billed as a “call to action for people of all faiths to reclaim a commitment to animals.” Can shared concern for animals unite people of different faiths? What is the status and effect of this document?

Background

Definitions

Animal rights – the idea that animals, because they are sentient beings, have the same or similar rights as human beings and that the rights and concerns of human beings do not necessarily take precedence over those of animals.

Animal welfare – the idea that the suffering of animals should be reduced, minimized and, ideally, eliminated in all areas of human-animal interaction, including pet ownership, laboratory testing and the use of animals as sources of food and clothing.

Animal protection – the idea that mankind bears responsibility for shielding animals from harm by humans.

Animal liberation – the idea that human beings do not have the right to own other sentient beings.

Polls

  • PollingReport.com: Animals

    Pollingreport.com posts results of surveys about animals, including a May 2008 Gallup Poll which found that 97 percent of Americans support some rights for animals but that 64 percent reject a ban on all animal testing in laboratories. Sentiment about buying and wearing animal fur has shifted slightly in recent years, according to Gallup, but a majority continues to consider it morally acceptable.

  • “See Spot Go to Heaven? The Public’s Not So Sure”

    An ABCNews/Beliefnet poll conducted in 2001 found that 43 percent of people believe that pets go to heaven. Slightly fewer – 41 percent – said all animals, not just pets, go to heaven.

Helpful websites

  • BBC Religion & Ethics

    News about religion and ethics from the BBC.

    The website includes detailed accounts of different religions’ views about animals. See, for example, how Christian thinking on the subject has evolved; what Islam requires when an animal is slaughtered; and what Judaism says about hunting.

  • BBC–Ethics: Animal Ethics

    The BBC posts a number of articles on ethical issues involving animals.

  • Encyclopaedia Britannica: Animal rights

    Encyclopaedia Britannica’s entry on the modern animal rights movement includes a discussion of the varying moral and theological viewpoints involved.

  • The International Vegetarian Union

    The International Vegetarian Union is a global network of independent organizations that promote vegetarianism worldwide by educating people on the history, prevalence and religious influences of vegetarianism.

  • Animals in Islam

    Animals in Islam is a website dedicated to animal welfare from an Islamic perspective.

  • “Animal Rights and Islam”

    The Islamic Foundation maintains a page devoted to Islam and animal rights.

  • The Jew and the Carrot

    The Jew and the Carrot is a blog by The Jewish Daily Forward for Jews interested in sustainability and the politics of food. It maintains a list of contributing writers.

  • Taking Action for Animals

    The Web site of the annual Taking Action for Animals conference, sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States, includes a list of speakers at the 2008 gathering, some of whom represent religiously motivated animal rights/welfare groups. Email through the website.

    Contact: 888-259-5088.
  • USDA–APHIS: Animal Welfare

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service dedicates a section of its Web site to animal welfare issues.

  • Animal Welfare Information Center

    Part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Library. Established as part of a 1985 revision to the Animal Welfare Act. Has resources about laboratory animals used in biomedical research including legislation, publications, training, meetings, and organizations.

    Contact: 301-504-6212.

Media

Articles

Organizations

Advocacy

  • Humane Society of the United States

    The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization.

    It has a Faith Outreach program, which engages people and institutions of faith on animal protection issues. The web site includes links to denominational statements about animals. Faith Outreach provides a variety of resources including St. Francis Day in a Box!, the 26-min documentary, Eating Mercifully, and an upcoming Animal Ministry Guide. The HSUS also publishes The Humane Steward, a monthly e-newsletter aimed at people of faith.

    Contact: 301-548-7793.
  • Best Friends Animal Society

    Best Friends Animal Society is a nonprofit in Kanab, Utah, that runs an animal sanctuary and many programs that benefit animals. Its Best Friends Network is an online gathering space for people concerned about animals. It has an animals and religion section on its website.

  • Coalition for Animals

    Coalition for Animals is an umbrella organization for several groups, some of them religiously oriented, that seek the “end of all animal domination.” It is based in Somerville, N.J.

  • People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

    Based in Norfolk, Va., PETA is the strongest national voice against animal research. PETA urges scientists to abandon animal-poisoning tests (for drug toxicity) in favor of methods that do not use animals.

    It has several religious outreach programs, including JesusVeg and Humane Kosher, that promote a vegetarian diet among adherents of Christianity and Judaism.

    Contact: 202-483-7382 ext. 2199.

Religious

Buddhist

  • Shabkar

    Shabkar promotes vegetarianism as a way of life for Buddhists of all schools. It is based on the teachings of Shabkar Tsodruk Rangdrol (1781-1851), a Tibetan yogi who espoused vegetarianism.

Christian

  • American Scientific Affiliation

    The American Scientific Affiliation is an organization of scientists who are also Christian. The group maintains no official position on the intelligent design-evolution debate but tries to strike a balance between the two. It maintains a page of papers, articles, definitions and positions on the debate.

    Its Web site includes the writings of members who reconcile their faith with the use of laboratory animals. Search under “animal rights.”

  • Animal Families

    Animal Families is a ministry that promotes the caring stewardship of animals as a biblical principle. It is a division of Russell Ministries.

  • Catholic Concern for Animals in the United States

    Catholic Concern for Animals in the United States would like to increase animal rights and animal welfare activism within the Catholic Church. Contact through the website.

  • Christian Bowhunters of America

    The Christian Bowhunters of America is based in Greenville, Ohio, and promotes Christianity among bowhunters. Its statement of faith includes biblical verses that it says support hunting. It maintains a list of chapters nationwide.

  • Christian Deer Hunters Association

    The Christian Deer Hunters Association is based in Silver Lake, Minn., and encourages the hunting of deer as a means to Christian fellowship and faith. Tom Rakow is its founder.

  • Christian Hunters and Anglers Association

    The Christian Hunters and Anglers Association seeks to encourage men to adopt an outdoor lifestyle as a way of deepening their Christian faith. The association, which is based in Tyler, Texas, advocates and engages in the hunting of animals. Contact through the website.

  • Christian Vegetarian Association

    The Christian Vegetarian Association promotes the practice of vegetarianism as a Christian principle. It is based in Cleveland and has a British chapter as well.

  • Episcopal Network for Animal Welfare

    The Episcopal Network for Animal Welfare is a volunteer organization of clergy and lay people within the Episcopal Church who would like to raise awareness of animal welfare in Episcopal congregations.

  • The Healing Species

    The Healing Species provides classroom curricula and programs that bring rescued animals into schools in the belief that engaging children with animals will teach them compassion and prevent animal cruelty. Its website includes a statement of belief in a “Higher Power,” “Creator” and “Lord.” Cheri Brown Thompson is founder and president. It is based in Orangeburg, S.C.

  • Universal Equalitarian Church

    The Universal Equalitarian Church is based on the principle that all species are created equal. It is based in Lamar, Mo.

  • Vegetarian Friends

    Vegetarian Friends is a Quaker organization dedicated to helping Quakers and others keep a vegetarian diet. The group publishes a monthly journal, The Peaceable Table.

Hindu

  • Lakshmi Cow Sanctuary

    The Lakshmi Cow Sanctuary in Bangor, Pa., rescues cows headed for slaughter because, among other things, “cows are dear to Lord Krishna.” Its founder is Sankar Sastri. Contact through the website.

    Contact: 610-599-8824.

Interfaith

Jewish

  • Jewish Veg

    Jewish Veg is the Web site of Jewish Vegetarians of North America. It is dedicated to promoting vegetarianism among Jews by linking it to Halakhah (Jewish law). Richard Schwartz is the president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America, which is based in Newport News, Va. Contact through the website.

Mormon

  • BYU Vegetarians

    BYU Vegetarians is an organization of students, faculty and others affiliated with Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Christopher Foster is faculty adviser.

    Contact: 801-623-0525,.
  • Mormons for Animals

    Mormons for Animals is an organization of students, faculty and others affiliated with Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Christopher Foster is faculty adviser.

Unitarian Universalist

Research

Note: These are secular organizations dedicated to reconciling animal welfare and animals rights issues with the needs of scientists. There are many of these organizations, which you will find links to on the websites of the following groups.

  • AltWeb

    AltWeb, the Alternatives to Animal Testing Web site, is an informational clearinghouse for those involved in animal research, welfare, testing and more. Its primary goal is to reduce animal testing by providing researchers with alternatives to animal testing. It is a project of the Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing and maintains a list of its financial supporters. Michael Hughes is the communications manager.

  • Institute for Laboratory Animal Research

    The Institute for Laboratory Animal Research is organization which supports the use of animals in laboratory testing. Dorothy Zolandz is acting director.

Other

  • Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty

    The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty promotes a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles. The institute is ecumenical and defines itself as conservative. It is based in Grand Rapids, Mich. The Rev. Robert A. Sirico is president. Contact John Couretas, director of communications.

     

     

    It posts commentaries on environmental stewardship, including essays dealing with dominion over animals.

National sources

Academic

Ethics/ philosophy and animal rights/ welfare

  • Gary Lynn Comstock

    Gary Lynn Comstock is a professor of philosophy at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C., where he conducts research on ethical questions in the biological sciences. He has written about ethics and the humane treatment of animals.

  • Gary L. Francione

    Gary L. Francione is a professor of law and philosophy at Rutgers University in Newark, N.J., where he is an expert in animal rights and teaches a seminar on the subject. He was the first academic to teach animal rights theory in an American law school. His books include Rain Without Thunder: The Ideology of the Animal Rights Movement.

  • Anita Guerrini

    Anita Guerrini is a history professor at Oregon State University. She has taught a course on the history of animal use in science and is the author of Experimenting With Humans and Animals: From Galen to Animal Rights. She can be contacted here.

  • Tom Regan

    Tom Regan is a professor emeritus of philosophy at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C. His book The Case for Animal Rights (University of California, 2004) is considered a classic in the area.

  • Bernard Rollin

    Bernard Rollin is the university distinguished professor, professor of philosophy, professor of animal sciences, professor of biomedical sciences, and university bioethicist at Colorado State University. He pioneered the area of veterinary ethics and is the author and editor of numerous books. He edited the two-volume The Experimental Animal in Biomedical Research: Care, Husbandry, and Well-Being – An Overview by Species (CRC-Press: two volumes, 1989 and 1995).

  • Andrew Rowan

    Andrew Rowan is executive vice president for operations at the Humane Society of the United States and CEO of the Humane Society International. He has a doctorate in biochemistry, is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is former director of the Tufts University Center for Animals and Public Policy.

  • Peter Singer

    Peter Singer is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the Princeton University Center for Human Values. Singer was the founding president of the International Association of Bioethics, and with Helga Kuhse, he founded the journal Bioethics. His Animal Liberation (Ecco Press, republished in 2001) launched the animal rights movement in 1976. He is also a noted humanist and was recognized as the Australian Humanist of the Year by the Council of Australian Humanist Societies in 2004.

  • Bernard Unti

    Bernard Unti is senior policy adviser and special assistant to the president of the Humane Society of the United States. He holds a doctorate in U.S. history and is the author of Protecting All Animals: A Fifty-Year History of the Humane Society of the United States.

General, religion and animals

  • Laurel Kearns

    Laurel Kearns is an associate professor of the sociology of religion and environmental studies at Drew University in Madison, N.J. She has written about Spiritualism and women. She is co-editor, with Catherine Keller, of Ecospirit: Religions and Philosophies for the Earth (2007) and is an expert on eco-theology.

  • Kimberley Christine Patton

    Kimberley Christine Patton is a professor of the comparative and historical study of religion at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., where she has taught a course in animals and religion. She is co-editor of A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion, Science & Ethics (2006).

  • Lisa Portmess

    Lisa Portmess is a philosophy professor at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pa. With Kerry Walters, she co-authored two books, one about the history of religious vegetarianism and the other on the history of ethical vegetarianism.

  • Tom Regan

    Tom Regan is a professor emeritus of philosophy at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C. His book The Case for Animal Rights (University of California, 2004) is considered a classic in the area.

  • Bron Raymond Taylor

    Bron Raymond Taylor is a religion professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he helped to launch a graduate program in religion and nature. Taylor was also instrumental in the formation of the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture and served as its first president from 2006-2009. He is considered a leading scholar on religion and nature, and his books include (as editor) the Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature and (as author) Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future.

     

  • Paul F. Waldau

    Paul F. Waldau works at the intersection of animal studies, ethics, religion, law and cultural studies. He is an associate professor and lead faculty member for the anthrozoology graduate program at Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., as well as the president of the Religion and Animals Institute.

  • Kerry Walters

    Kerry Walters is a philosophy professor at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pa. With Lisa Portmess, she co-authored two books, one about the history of religious vegetarianism and the other on the history of ethical vegetarianism.

Buddhism and animals

  • Christopher Key Chapple

    Christopher Key Chapple is a professor of Indic and Comparative Theology in the Department of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. His research has focused on the renouncer religious traditions of India including Yoga, Jainism, and Buddhism. He has written about nonviolence toward animals in the Asian traditions.

  • Eric Reinders

    Eric Reinders is an associate professor of religion at Emory University in Atlanta. He has written about Buddhist attitudes toward animals.

Christianity and animals

  • Regis John Armstrong

    Regis John Armstrong is a professor of historical theology and spirituality at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. A Capuchin Friar Minor, he is an expert on St. Francis of Assisi.

  • Calvin DeWitt

    Calvin DeWitt is a professor at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is concerned with the ethics of farming and uses of the natural environment, including animals. He is co-founder of the International Evangelical Environmental Network.

  • Laura Hobgood-Oster

    Laura Hobgood-Oster is a professor of religion at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. Her areas of expertise include animals in the history of the Christian tradition and contemporary religious-ethical issues related to other-than-human animals. She is the author of Holy Dogs and Asses: Animals in the Christian Tradition (2008).

  • Andrew Linzey

    Andrew Linzey is a lecturer in theology at the University of Oxford in Oxford, England . He has written widely on animals and Christianity, including a series of liturgies for animals.

  • Stephen Webb

    Stephen Webb is a professor of religion and philosophy at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind., and a member of the American Academy of Religion’s group on animals and religion. He has written multiple books on animals and religion.

Hinduism and animals

  • Christopher Key Chapple

    Christopher Key Chapple is a professor of Indic and Comparative Theology in the Department of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. His research has focused on the renouncer religious traditions of India including Yoga, Jainism, and Buddhism. He has written about nonviolence toward animals in the Asian traditions.

  • Hindu American Foundation

    The Hindu American Foundation is an advocacy organization for the Hindu American community. The foundation educates the public about Hinduism, speaks out about issues affecting Hindus worldwide and builds bridges with institutions and individuals whose work aligns with HAF’s objectives. HAF focuses on human and civil rights, public policy, media, academia and interfaith relations. It is based in Washington, D.C.

    The HAF contributed a section to HSUS’ online Religious Statements on Animals online library Hinduism and the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PDF).

    Contact: 202-223-8222.

Islam and animals

  • Richard Foltz

    Richard Foltz is a professor of religion at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, and director of its Centre for Iranian Studies. He is considered a pioneer in the academic field combining religion and ecology and is an expert in Islamic religious and cultural attitudes toward animals. His books include (as author) Animals in Islamic Tradition and Muslim Cultures and (as editor) Worldviews, Religion and the Environment: A Global Anthology. He has also researched Mormonism.

  • Aminah B. McCloud

    Aminah B. McCloud is a professor of religious studies at DePaul University in Chicago and director of the Islamic World Studies Program. She has written about black Muslims. She can also discuss the place of animals in the Muslim world. The notion of animal rights is a new one for Muslim societies, she says.

  • Ingrid Mattson

    Ingrid Mattson holds the London & Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies at Huron University College in London, Ontario, Canada, and is widely respected among American Muslims for her scholarship. She is an expert in Islamic law.

     

    She can also discuss animal rights and Islam. She wrote an article titled “Bismillah: Eating in the name of God” that appears on the website of the Duncan Black Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations.

Jainism and animals

  • Christopher Key Chapple

    Christopher Key Chapple is a professor of Indic and Comparative Theology in the Department of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. His research has focused on the renouncer religious traditions of India including Yoga, Jainism, and Buddhism. He has written about nonviolence toward animals in the Asian traditions.

Judaism and animals

Native American traditions

  • Rodney Frey

    Rodney Frey is a professor of American Indian studies and anthropology at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho. He is an expert on the religious and spiritual attitudes and practices of Native American tribes of the West and animals.

  • Jace Weaver

    Jace Weaver is a religion professor at the University of Georgia, Athens, who specializes in American Indian cultures and religious traditions. Weaver directs the university’s Institute of Native American Studies.

    He can discuss the relationship of Native American religions to animals and the state of animal rights/welfare movement within Native American communities.

Authors, spiritual leaders

  • Carol J. Adams

    Carol J. Adams is an independent scholar and self described “feminist-vegan” based in Dallas, Texas. She writes and lectures widely. She has written about the relationships between religion and animals.

  • Allen and Linda Anderson

    Allen and Linda Anderson run the Angel Animals Network, a website for those who believe animals communicate and guide people before and after their deaths. They are the authors of numerous books about the spirituality of animals, including Angel Animals: Divine Messengers of Miracles and God’s Messengers: What Animals Teach Us About the Divine. They are based in Minneapolis.

  • Rynn Berry

    Rynn Berry is the author of Food for the Gods: Vegetarianism & the World’s Religions and an adviser to the North American Vegetarian Society. He is based in New York City.

  • June Cotner

    June Cotner is the editor of Dog Blessings: Poems, Prose and Prayers Celebrating Our Relationship with Dogs (2008). She lives in Poulsbo, Wash.

  • Bonnie Duncan

    The Rev. Bonnie Duncan runs All Creatures Animal Sanctuary and Fellowship Church in Cedar Hill, Mo.

  • Diana L. Guerrero

    Diana L. Guerrero is an animal behaviorist and the author of What Animals Can Teach Us About Spirituality. She is based in Southern California.

    Contact: 800-818-7387.
  • Sandra Helton

    Sandra Helton is an astrologer and spiritualist who conducts animal spirituality workshops. She is also active in animal activism.

  • I. Carter Heyward

    I. Carter Heyward is an Episcopal minister and a professor of theology at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass. She is the author of Flying Changes: Horses as Spiritual Teachers.

  • Jean Houston

    Jean Houston is the author of Mystical Dogs: Animals as Guides to Our Inner Life. She is based in Ashland, Ore.

  • Roberta Kalechofsky

    Roberta Kalechofsky is the founder of Jews for Animal Rights and Micah Publications of Marblehead, Mass. She participated in a panel on reaching out to religious groups at the Animal Rights 2003 conference. She requests that reporters contact her by email first and that they identify themselves fully in the subject line.

  • Stephen Kaufman

    Stephen Kaufman is a physician and a clinical assistant professor of surgery at Northeast Ohio Medical University in Canton, Ohio. He has been involved in leadership of the Christian Vegetarian Association. He has written on animal experimentation as well as Christian spirituality and vegetarianism.

  • Mitzi Lynton

    The Rev. Mitzi Lynton is an interfaith pastor who participated in a grief support Webinar for Best Friends Network that discussed how animals grieve and how people mourn the deaths of animals. She is based in Arizona.

  • Susan Chernak McElroy

    Susan Chernak McElroy is the author of All My Relations: Living With Animals as Teachers and Healers and Why Buffalo Dance: Animal and Wilderness Meditations Through the Seasons (2006).

  • Rita Reynolds

    Rita Reynolds is the founder of Animals’ Peace Garden in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and the author of Ask the Cow: A Gentle Guide to Finding Peace (2008). She frequently writes and speaks about the spiritual lessons taught by animals.

  • Matthew Scully

    Matthew Scully is the author of Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals and the Call to Mercy, which argues for decent treatment of animals from various points of view, including religious. He is a Los Angeles-based journalist and a  former speechwriter for Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

  • Niki Behrikis Shanahan

    Niki Behrikis Shanahan is the author of several books on animals and Christian spirituality, including There Is Eternal Life for Animals. She lives in Tyngsborough, Mass.

  • Kim Sheridan

    Kim Sheridan is the author of the Animals and the Afterlife: True Stories of Our Best Friends’ Journey Beyond Death. She says that as more people have brought animals into their homes, they have increasingly come to see them as spiritual teachers and guides.

    Contact: 760-796-7949.

Medical and pharmaceutical researchers, advocates

  • Jacquie Calnan

    Jacquie Calnan is president of Americans for Medical Progress, a nonprofit group that views the use of animals in medical research as vital and opposes what it calls “animal rights extremism.”

  • Theodora Capaldo

    Theodora Capaldo is president/executive director of the New England Anti-Vivisection Society, which spearheads Project R&R: Release and Restitution for Chimpanzees in U.S. Laboratories. Capaldo is a licensed psychologist, a trustee of the American Fund for Alternatives to Animal Research and past president of Psychologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

  • Larry Carbone

    Dr. Larry Carbone is a veterinarian at the University of California, San Francisco. He is the author of What Animals Want: Expertise and Advocacy in Laboratory Animal Welfare Policy.

  • Alan Goldberg

    Alan Goldberg is a professor of environmental health sciences and director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing. The center works with scientists to find new methods to replace laboratory animals in experiments, reduce the number of animals tested and refine necessary tests to eliminate pain and distress. It is based in Baltimore.

  • Michael Greger

    Dr. Michael Greger is a physician and director of public health and animal agriculture in the farm animal welfare division of the Humane Society of the United States. He is an expert on the public-health implications of using antibiotics and growth hormones in livestock and other food-safety issues.

  • Betsy Nessen Merrill

    Betsy Nessen Merrill is director of development and communications for AltWeb, the Alternatives to Animal Testing website, a project of the Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing in Baltimore.

  • Andrew Rowan

    Andrew Rowan is executive vice president for operations at the Humane Society of the United States and CEO of the Humane Society International. He has a doctorate in biochemistry, is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is former director of the Tufts University Center for Animals and Public Policy.

  • Michelle Thew

    Michelle Thew is chief executive of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection and has worked on a number of campaigns regarding the use of animals for research and testing, including successful work on a European Union-wide cosmetics testing ban.

  • Frankie Trull

    Frankie Trull is founder and president of the Foundation for Biomedical Research, an organization that promotes the responsible use of animal testing in scientific labs.

    Contact: 202-457-0654.
  • John Young

    John Young is director of comparative medicine at Los Angeles Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and chairman of Americans for Medical Progress, a pro-animal testing group.

Others

International sources

Regional sources

In the Northeast

  • Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus

    Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus is a professor of religion at Wheaton College in Norton, Mass. He can discuss Jewish approaches to the treatment and rights of animals.

  • David Dion DeGrazia

    David Dion DeGrazia is a philosophy professor at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He has written about the ethics of animal research and is the author of Animal Rights: A Very Short Introduction.

  • Katherine C. Grier

    Katherine C. Grier is professor of material culture studies in the University of Delaware’s Winterthur Program in Early American Culture. She has studied the relationships between humans and animals, and her books include Pets in America: A History (2006).

  • Lori Gruen

    Lori Gruen is an associate professor of philosophy and of women’s studies at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. Among her areas of interest is injustice to animals. As a guest on a May 11, 2004, podcast of Philosophy Talk, she discussed the morality of eating animals.

  • Andrew Isenberg

    Andrew Isenberg is a history professor at Temple University in Philadelphia. He is an expert on the history of American environmentalism, especially in the American West. He contributed a chapter on the moral ecology of wildlife to the book Representing Animals.

  • Charles Robert Pinches

    Charles Robert Pinches is a professor of theology and religious studies at the University of Scranton, Pa. He has written about Christian approaches to animal well-being.

  • James Serpell

    James Serpell is a professor of humane ethics and animal welfare at the University of Pennsylvania’s school of veterinary medicine. He directs the Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society.

  • Nancy Taylor

    The Rev. Nancy Taylor is senior pastor of the Old South Church, a United Church of Christ congregation in Boston. In May 2006, she preached a sermon on the blessings given and received by animals.

  • Kevin M. Trainor

    Kevin M. Trainor is associate professor of religion at the University of Vermont, Burlington. He can discuss attitudes toward animals in Buddhism.

  • Victoria Weinstein

    The Rev. Victoria Weinstein is pastor of First Parish Church of Norwell, Mass., a Unitarian Universalist congregation. In May 2006, she delivered a sermon on the spiritual value of animals.

    Contact: 781-659-7122.
  • Donna Yarri

    Donna Yarri is an associate professor of theology at Alvernia College in Reading, Pa. She has written multiple times on animals and religion.

In the South

  • Chaplain of Pets

    Chaplain of Pets is an interfaith ministry to pets and their people. It’s based in Stone Mountain, Ga.

  • J. Baird Callicott

    J. Baird Callicott is a professor in the philosophy and religious studies department at the University of North Texas in Denton. His expertise includes ecological ethics. He has written several books, including In Defense of the Land Ethic: Essays in Environmental Philosophy and Earth’s Insights: A Multicultural Survey of Ecological Ethics From the Mediterranean Basin to the Australian Outback.

  • Mike Jaynes

    Mike Jaynes is a lecturer in the humanities and English at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He has written for About.com about animal rights, including a rebuttal of Christianity’s idea of dominion over the animals.

  • Nancy Jensen-Case

    Nancy Jensen-Case is the founder of Dreamtime Sanctuary for animals outside Elgin, Texas. She is a graduate of the Episcopal Theological Seminary in Austin, Texas, and is a chaplain.

  • Dr. Jay McDaniel

    Dr. Jay McDaniel is director of the Steel Center for the Study of Religion and Philosophy at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark. He and his students study Jains, Sikhs and Hindus in the Arkansas area. His data suggests that the majority of local Sikhs are not affiliated with a gurdwara (sanctuary) but worship in small groups in private homes.

  • Nathan Nobis

    Nathan Nobis is an assistant professor of philosophy specializing in animal rights and bioethics at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga. He can discuss and outline the debate over the treatment of laboratory animals.

  • Religious Order of the New Compassionests

    The Religious Order of the New Compassionests is an interfaith animal ministry in Perryville, Ark., that accepts members and monks.

In the Midwest

  • Yossi Feintuch

    Rabbi Yossi Feintuch is the rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom in Columbia, Mo. He is a vegetarian and often discusses a plant-based diet as a Jewish ideal.

  • Matthew Halteman

    Matthew Halteman is an assistant professor of philosophy at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he teaches a course titled “Peaceable Kingdom: Transforming Our Relationship With Animals,” about the Christian idea of stewardship with animals. He wrote a booklet for the Humane Society of the United States titled Compassionate Eating as Care of Creation, which examines the connection between animals, food choices and faith.

  • Nancy R. Howell

    Nancy R. Howell is a professor of theology and philosophy of religion at the St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Mo. She wrote an article titled “Going to the Dogs: Candid Ethology and Theological Reflection” for the journal Zygon in 2006. She has also written several papers on the theological and philosophical implications of the interplay and relationship between humans and primates.

  • Thomas Hughson

    The Rev. Thomas Hughson is an associate professor of theology at Marquette University in Milwaukee. He is a member of the American Academy of Religion’s group on animals and religion and author of a paper titled “Wolves and Religion: Can Christianity Assimilate ‘Religious Experience’ of Animals?”

  • James P. Sterba

    James P. Sterba is a professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. He has written about animal rights and environmental ethics.

In the West

  • Khaled Abou El Fadl

    Khaled Abou El Fadl is an internationally recognized law professor and the Omar and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Fellow in Islamic Law at the University of California, Los Angeles. He teaches a course on Islamic law and has also taught about Middle Eastern investment law, immigration law and human rights and terrorism. His books include Speaking in God’s Name: Islamic Law, Authority and Women, and he wrote the entry on Shariah for The Oxford University Handbook of Islam and Politics.

    He has written about Islamic attitudes toward dogs.

  • Suzanne Crawford O’Brien

    Suzanne Crawford O’Brien is an assistant professor of religion and culture at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash. She is an expert on the religious and spiritual attitudes and practices of Native Americans and animals.

  • John P. Gluck

    John P. Gluck is a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Originally a comparative psychologist specializing in learning ability of nonhuman primates, he now studies the ethical justification of animal research.

  • Zayn Kassam

    Zayn Kassam is professor of religious studies at Pomona College in California. She is an expert on Islamic society.

    He wrote an entry, “The Case of the Animals Versus Man: Towards an Ecology of Being,” in the book A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion, Science & Ethics (2006).

  • David Gordon White

    David Gordon White is a professor of religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is an expert on the religions of South Asia and contributed an entry on dogs to The Encyclopedia of Religion.

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