The Humane Society of the United States’ Faith Outreach program is working to get faith communities across the country involved in animal protection issues.
The society’s Faith Advisory Council has representatives from numerous religious communities that build awareness for people to be responsible for the well-being of animals. They also provide guidance and leadership for the organization.
The society’s Dharmic Leadership Council, an affiliate of the Faith Advisory Council, consists of professionals and activists from the Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and Sikh faiths. Ahimsa, or nonviolence toward all living beings, is a core practice in these faiths that includes the ethical treatment of animals. They also serve as ambassadors for the Dharmic community across the country and lead global efforts about the Humane Society’s initiatives.
In 2015, the Humane Society was part of the launch for the Every Living Thing campaign. This effort was a call for evangelical Christians to take a stand and engaged in animal protection issues. They were also asked to sign the Evangelical Statement on Responsible Care for Animals. The book, “Every Living Thing: How Pope Francis, Evangelicals and Other Christian Leaders Are Inspiring All of Us to Care for Animals,” shares teachings from Christian denominations including the Roman Catholic Church, Southern Baptist Convention, United Methodist Church, Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ and Seventh-day Adventist Church to support animal protection.
The Faith Outreach program offers a variety of resources for Bible study or Sunday school. “ Eating Mercifully,” is a short documentary film from the society that focuses on food and faith. It is based off the findings of a Pew Commission report on U.S. industrial animal agriculture and explains factory farming practices from several Christian viewpoints.
The society offers an online Sunday school curriculum, “Caring for God’s Creation in the Classroom.” It is a five-lesson curriculum for students in grades K-5 and based on animal protection issues and biblical teachings.
The Fill the Bowl Project provides solutions for people who can’t afford to buy food for their pet by organizing pet food pantries at faith communities. The project has cultivated relationships with pet food companies to have pantries set up for them. Currently, the Faith Outreach program is asking the public to host a discussion and movie screening for a film titled “ANIMA: Animals. Faith. Compassion.” It was created by The Guibord Center for Animal Defenders International and brings together leaders from 12 faith traditions give an interfaith voice against animal cruelty.
In addition, they are working on an online hub for pet blessings that will take place in October across the country for people and their pets to attend. It was inspired based on the animal blessings by St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment.