Monday, May 27, 2024 May 27, 2024
75° F Dallas, TX



Last week while we were out, an interesting lawsuit was filed in Euless protesting that city’s interference with a santeria ceremony that involved animal sacrifice, which is a part of the religion’s core practice. Jeff Weiss at the DMN religion blog picked up on the story and attempted to put the issue in context. The question is whether the city’s ban on animal slaughter is generic enough to block the religious sacrifice. My guess is that religious use must be exempted. This follows, among other laws and cases, the 1993 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the right to perform religious sacrifice in an appeal involving the Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye in Hialeah, a heavily Catholic and Cuban suburb of Miami, whose presiding priest I interviewed in American Voudou: Journey into a Hidden World.

These cases surface occasionally, and are likely to do so in this area as practioners of santeria, a New World adaptation of African-based orisha voudou, the most repressed religion in U.S. history, increase. My own experience with religious sacrificial ceremonies in the American voudou and santeria communities (in the book, if you’re interested) is that the practice is critical to the religion, and that the animals are killed humanely and then eaten later as a part of religious feasts. The U.S. Supreme Court felt much the same in the Hialeah suit, or at least enough to say that the government needs to stay out of the internal practices of this religion, as strange as it may seem to those from other faiths.