Speculating about animal souls is just part of a wider focus on religious values, animal welfare and environmentalism, said Charles Camosy, a professor of theology at Fordham University, a Catholic school in New York.
“The focus on animals and theology is really hot right now,” he said.
In a recent book, “For Love of Animals,” Camosy opposed eating meat from factory farms because of the inhumane conditions there.
He said some older adults resist such concerns, but not students. “They’re trying to figure out, if this is bad, what is OK? What about free-range chicken, or fish?” he said.
Even some religious traditions that don’t believe in a heaven still hold beliefs about animals and the afterlife. Hinduism, for example, holds that all beings have souls that move from one body to another after death, according to Pandit Suresh Joshi, a priest at the Hindu Jain Temple of Pittsburgh.
While most people find comfort in the thought of pet heaven, Litzinger said she had counseled clients who had a humanist perspective on life.
“They were kind of offended when people got into the heaven piece,” she said. What she tells people is, “Your animal will always live in your heart. That will last your lifetime.”
Information from: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, http://www.post-gazette.com