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The Humane Society of the United States and Religious Leaders Target Factory Farming

13 Aug

For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON (Aug. 13, 2008) -Today, The Humane Society of the United States announced the launch of its new "All Creatures Great and Small" campaign, which aims to increase awareness about our moral responsibilities to all animals, including those raised for food. The announcement was made on a teleconference media call with religious leaders from various faiths.

"All religious institutions call upon their followers to adhere to the principles of charity and compassion and concern for others. More and more, we recognize that we must apply these principles to all of God's creation," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS.

"We are urging people of faith to take a small step in their daily lives by switching to cage-free eggs or egg substitutes during the month of October as an act of compassion for farm animals. In the United States alone, almost 280 million egg-laying hens spend their lives in wire cages no bigger than a piece of notebook paper, and this is a violation of our covenant with creation."

In the last 30 to 40 years, agriculture has taken a harsh turn away from responsible animal husbandry on family farms to unacceptable mistreatment of animals on industrialized, factory farms. Factory farms warehouse animals and often confine them in cages or crates, denying them the ability to manifest even their most basic God-given instincts: to fly, to care for their young, even to walk or turn around in their enclosures. Many never see the light of day.

Eating is a morally and spiritually significant act. Religious traditions are filled with examples of ritualizing this act through fasting and feasting; from kosher to communion, Ramadan to Halal. The pledge covers October, a month with notable dates in many religions. October is an active month on the religious calendar: Ramadan ends on Oct. 2; Oct. 4 is The Feast of St. Francis, who is the patron saint of animals and Yom Kippur is observed Oct. 8-9.

"As stewards and caretakers, we have a responsibility toward animals that are part of that creation," said Christine Gutleben, director of The HSUS' Animals & Religion program. "Through this campaign, we encourage people of all faiths to align their principles with their daily choices."

Some comments from leaders representing different traditions agree.

Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Haifa, said, "I wholeheartedly endorse the campaign of The HSUS. It is a basic value of our Jewish religion and tradition to refrain from 'Tza'ar Ba'alei Chaim,' or to refrain from inflicting pain and suffering on any living creature ...He has made all that is alive and He is the source of all life. Let us try to follow His ways and be compassionate to every living creature."

And the Right Rev. John Bryson Chane, Bishop of Washington, also endorsed the campaign, saying, "Our faithful stewardship of creation includes being mindful of the animals entrusted to our care. The principles that underlie the All Creatures Great and Small campaign are consistent with the religious spirit that compels us to show them our mercy and regard. More humane and sustainable dietary choices can be a powerful testimony of our faith and service to the Lord, especially in a time when the whole of creation depends so heavily upon our goodwill."

Other campaign events include:

  • September: The debut screening of a new short film on Christian perspectives on food and faith at The Washington National Cathedral.
  • October: The blessing of the animals at the Washington National Cathedral. Pacelle will also be a Sunday Forum guest at the Cathedral.
  • October: Pacelle will be a Forum guest at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.

For details go to the events section of the "All Creatures Great and Small" web site. For a full list of religious leaders who have endorsed the campaign and to read more of their comments, please go to

Media Contact: Kristen Everett, 301-721-6440,

The Animals & Religion program of The Humane Society of the United States engages religious communities in critical animal protection issues, with a focus on promoting faithful stewardship of animals in agriculture.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization - backed by 10.5 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty - On the web at

Media Contact: Kristen Everett, 301-721-6440,


The organizations and/or individuals who submit materials for distribution by Religion News Service are solely responsible for the facts in and accuracy of their materials. Religion News Service will correct any errors brought to its attention.

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