Religion And Other Animals
An essay by Professor Paul Waldau discusses whether or not non-human animals can have a religious sensibility. Waldau also argues that communities of faith are often quite understanding of and responsive to the complex connections between humans and animals.
This philosophical essay debates whether or not animals can be “religious,” which is a growing field of interest at the American Academy of Religion.
According to the author, “communities of faith are among the institutions that are most responsive to the complex connections between humans and other animals. One increasingly finds that contemporary religious communities have reinstituted the ancient practice known often as ‘blessing of the animals.’ Some communities of faith are quite creative in recognizing the pastoral value of concerns for their members’ interactions with nonhumans—some offer worship services in which believers can bring their nonhuman companions, and others provide grief counseling when a nonhuman family member dies.”
Human attitudes toward animals continues to evolve, particularly as the number of companion animals in households exceeds the number of human children. Polls indicate that a large number of people consider their dog or cat to be a “family member.”