The Humane Society of the United States and other animal-rights groups are now using religious arguments to advance anti-meat campaigns. The effort is designed to make the public back away from or feel guilty about consuming meat or dairy products derived from animals reared in confinement settings.

“Animal-rights groups are using religious arguments to get people to change their behavior,” says Wes Jamison, associate professor, Palm Beach Atlantic University. He points out that animal-rights groups are using the approach that confinement animal production is sinful or immoral. For example, HSUS has worked with liberal or progressive denominations to increase donations for animal-rights efforts. HSUS is even providing messages for sermons.

One reason why animal activists have chosen to go after the religious community is that people who view themselves as spiritual or religious give money at a higher rate than those who don’t, Jamison notes.

“The tactic forces livestock producers to defend themselves even though they have done nothing wrong,” he adds. Jamison urges livestock producers to feel comfortable with revealing their own thoughts on the subject of meat consumption because consumers often only need “permission” to consume meat.