Euless Santeria Priest Loses Battle to Sacrifice Goats in Home

January 22, 2008

Author: Michael Grabell

Source: The Dallas Morning Star

A Santeria priest who sued Euless for the right to sacrifice goats in his home lost a key round in court Thursday when a judge ruled that one of the laws he sued under doesn't apply. Jose Merced filed the federal discrimination lawsuit in December 2006 after city officials told him he couldn't kill goats for a ceremony.

Followers of the African-Caribbean religion consider animal sacrifice as essential to Santeria as Communion is to Catholics. Mr. Merced argued that the ritual was protected under the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which says governments must show a compelling public interest before enforcing laws that could interfere with religious practices.

But U.S. District Judge John McBryde ruled that the city's slaughtering ban regulated only conduct, not the use of land.

A trial is set for March on the other claims but is likely to be delayed.