Do United Methodists believe that animals have souls and go to heaven?
With other Catholic and Protestant denominations, we United Methodists do not teach that animals have souls and therefore need redemption and forgiveness or heaven in the same way that humans do.
However, we do teach that "All creation is the Lord's, and therefore we are responsible for the ways in which we use or abuse it [including the animals and diverse forms of life on the planet]." (¶ 160, 2016 Book of Discipline)
Further, "We support regulations that protect and conserve the life and health of animals, including those ensuring the humane treatment of pets, domesticated animals, animals used in research, wildlife, and the painless slaughtering of meat animals, fish, and fowl. We recognize unmanaged and managed commercial, multinational, and corporate exploitation of wildlife and the destruction of the ecosystems on which they depend threatens the balance of natural systems, compromises biodiversity, reduces resilience, and threatens ecosystem services. We encourage commitment to effective implementation of national and international governmental and business regulations and guidelines for the conservation of all animal species with particular support to safeguard those threatened with extinction." (¶ 160C, 2016 Book of Discipline)
We include in our Book of Worship a liturgy for the blessing of animals and we see animals as companions and "friends" to humans and believe that all of them belong to God.
Rev. Dan Benedict
Center for Worship Resources
General Board of Discipleship