Santeria Priest Banned from Animal Killing

January 16, 2007

Source: Beliefnet

Wire Service: UPI

EULESS, Texas, Jan 16 -- A Santeria priest has taken a Texas town to court, arguing its ordinance against slaughtering animals within the city limits is religious discrimination.

Santeria is one of several religions brought from Africa to the Caribbean and American South with slaves. Because its practitioners had to operate in secret for centuries, Santeria has no churches or temples, holding its services in private homes.

Jose Merced of Euless, a town outside Dallas, filed a lawsuit after police interrupted a ritual last year, informing him that the planned sacrifice of a chicken would violate local laws, the Austin American-Statesman reported. Merced is the only Santeria priest in a large part of North Texas.

Ernest Pichardo, who heads the religion in the United States, won a favorable ruling in the 1990s from the U.S. Supreme Court when he challenged a Hialeah, Fla., ordinance.

"It appears that city officials are either deliberately defying the Supreme Court justices on this ruling, or they're simply confused," Pichardo said.