By DAVID CRUMM
Sweeping across the boundaries between the world’s great religious traditions is a growing concern for the care of all the creatures living on Planet Earth: human and non-human.
As we reported last autumn, Pope Francis is not alone in calling the entire world to a renewed appreciation of compassionate care for the lives all around us. Evangelical Protestant leaders, who historically have not been known for heralding this particular cause, have now come together with a unified message on this same theme: God cares about animals as well as humans and our collective future depends on our taking this spiritual calling seriously.
Then, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) published a book-length overview of teachings about care for living things issued by many major religious groups. The HSUS book is called, Every Living Thing, and this spring that book has been recommended by a noted vegetarian journal.
NEW, in spring 2016: The HSUS is offering free lesson plans to help young children begin to build their own compassionate awareness of God’s world.
The curriculum was developed by the HSUS director of learning programs Stephanie Itle-Clark. Writing to educators in a separate background paper about “Humane Education,” Itle-Clark explains:
Humane education, a form of character education and a partner to social and emotional learning, encourages empathy and compassion for humans, animals, and the environment as well as assesses the intimate connection among the three. Why Implement Humane Education? Humane education makes academic concepts tangible and encourages critical thinking in a way that includes feelings,respect for others, and problem-solving activities.
Interested in learning more?
HSUS has added a special webpage to introduce the new curriculum, complete with an easy-to-view preview of the first lesson. You’ll have to complete a free registration on the website to get the full set of classroom materials.
What’s included? Here’s how HSUS describes these lessons:
The five-lesson curriculum is designed for students in grades K-5 and includes the following lessons:
Animals are Important to God,
Being a Helping Hand for Birds and Wildlife,
The Joy of Animals,
The Earth and Animals Belong to God.
Each lesson includes hands-on projects, and the curriculum also includes a list of supplemental resources for the instructor to enrich his or her knowledge and background on the connection between animal protection and faith, as well as on humane education.