"We are dedicated to preserving the secret rites of the religion and passing down the traditional authentic religious practices of
Palo Mayombe, Siete Briyumba Congo & Kimbiza"

Palo, or Las Reglas de Congo are a group of closely related religions or denominations, which developed in Cuba amongst Central African slaves of mostly Bantu ancestry. Other names associated with various branches of this religion include Mayombe, Briyumba and Kimbisa. The word "palo" ("stick" in Spanish) was applied to the religion in Cuba due to the use of wooden sticks in the preparation of altars, which were also called "la Nganga", "el caldero" or "la prenda". Adherents of Palo are known generally as "Paleros"or "Ngangeros" or "Nganguleros". Membership is by initiation into a "house" or "Temple". The organizational structure follows the model of a family. During slavery when blood families often were broken up by slave holders, this model was particularly significant and taken literally.
Munanso Congo Nsasi
Templo Nsasi Congo
"The Rama of Palo Mayombe"

The ancient roots of the oldest most sacred religion in the world where all life was born the mighty Kingdoms of the Congo in the great Congo Jungle of Africa once the center of the massive single land mass called "Pangaea" where all life was born, where the oldest bones ever discovered were unearthed into our modern times, where ancient civilizations began and thrived into cities made of gold and silver, where the ancient Sumerians and the Egyptians learned Philosophy, Religion and Medicine from the mighty warrior people of the Congo.


-Kunalungo or Kunalumbu-
-Briyumba or Brillumba-
-Brillumba Kalunga Munansambi-
-Vititi Congo-
-Corta Lima-
-Guinda Vela
-Kalunga Munansambi-
-Kimbisa Santo Cristo Buen Viaje-

~Brillumba Congo~

This rama is born as an Afro Cuban innovation. Most of today's Mayombe ramas have Brillumba elements in them. Brillumba has been described as "an intelligent technique" used to construct an nkisi. This is why some people will hear some "Briyumberos" refer to "caminos" or "paths" of a prenda such as Siete Rayos Tronco Palma which translates into "Siete Rayos Palm Trunk" and describes an Nkisi that sits on or is housed in the trunk of a Palm Tree. Brillumba ramas include Brillumba Kalunga Munansambi, Vititi Congo etc. Many of the houses that currently describe themselves as Mayombe aren't actually pure Mayombe. Most if not all are Brillumba with Mayombe. Other are neither Brillumba or Mayombe, such as Musundi. Although many will characterize it as Mayombe, but those who do this will be using Mayombe as a generic term, not one of actual Mayombe con Mayombe lineage.

Siete Briyumba Congo

The branch born when seven Tata's from Brillumba combined their ngangas to create an Nsasi Ndoki.
This rama has grown through the years and is well known today

~Mayombe con Mayombe~

one of the most traditional branches of Palo Mayombe its main structure of worship requires large outdoor space for worship traditionally the Munanso was outdoors in the jungles of the Congo , the sacred alters( Nganga) were set in the roots of the trees dug into the ground, while the Munanso and tribes grew with members and rich tribal lineage so did the sacred trees and roots of the huge trees that would wrap around the sacred alters of the Mayombe

~Kimbisa Santo Cristo Buen Viaje~

There is much confusion surrounding Kimbisa. Most initiates into this rama will claim that they are Kimbisa Santo Cristo Buen Viaje. However, there is a difference between Kimbisa Santo Cristo Buen Viaje and Kimbisa. Kimbisa finds its origins in the Loango kingdom. The Loango Kingdom was founded before 1485. It was one of the Oldest and Largest Kingdoms States of the region. Once linked to the powerful Kongo Kingdom, the Loango Kingdom was dominated by the Vili, a Kongo peoples who migrated to the coastal region during the 1300s. Loango became an independent state probably in the late 1300s or early 1400s. With two other Kongo related Kingdoms, Kakongo and N'Goyo, present day Cabinda, it became one of the most important trading states north of the Congo River. The ManiKongo was the king of the Kongo, and the Kimbisa was the Nganga (Tata in Cuban terminology) of the royal court of the Loango Kingdom.
Kimbisa Santo Cristo Buen Viaje was established by a man named Andres Petit. E.C Ballard writes, "Petit was more a codifier of existing practices than an inventor of new ones, although in his own rama (the "orthodox" one) he certainly left his own imprimatur upon the tradition.
Petit authorized to explain this. They may have been some basis in fact, but they sound rather more like attempts to explain the situation than authoritative accounts. This position is further supported by three specific facts. First is that there was a nganga (in the cuban context read Tata) whose title was Kimbisa in the court of the King of Luongo. Additionally, a major initiatic tradition in the Kongo,bearing a great deal of similarity to Kimbisa existed called Kimpasi. Lastly, the term Kimbisa and Kimbisero is known throuout the French Antilles under the varients Quimbois/Quimboiseur. Clearly, these other terms rule out Petit's efforts being a completely new rama.

Do you want to be part of the oldest Lineage in the world?

Important Legal issues concerning animal sacrifice in the Afro-Caribbean Religions:

Many animal rights activists take issue with the Afro-Caribbean practices of animal sacrifice, claiming that it is cruel. when in fact it is NOT.
All followers of the Afro-Caribbean faiths point out that the killings are conducted in a humane way and in the same manner as other religions such as the Jewish religious act of Koshering, Hindu animal ceremonies , and Muslim Halal ceremonies before killing animals prayers are said and a cleaning ritual performed.
Food animals are slaughtered and are not needlessly sadisticly killed and the priests charged with doing the sacrifices are fully trained in humane ways to kill the animals. Additionally, the animal is cooked and eaten afterwards unless used in a ceremony to clean someone from illness or with someone with other health issues.
In 1993, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah that animal cruelty laws targeted specifically at Afro-Caribbean faiths were unconstitutional, and the practice has seen no significant legal challenges since then. Afro-Caribbean faiths DO NOT advocate human sacrifice.

Purpose for Animal Sacrifice:

Ritual celebrations, Dancing and Ceremonies are to celebrate life not just death, the death of the animal is also celebrated that it is killed in order to provide a better life for humans in the form of food, offerings and substance but the purpose of rituals are to make direct contact with a higher energy assocated with God, to gain their favor by offering them animal sacrifices, Fruits, Items and gifts, to obtain help in the form of more abundant food, higher standard of living, and improved health. Human and Higher Beings associated with God depend upon each other; humans provide food and other materials; the Higher Beings provide health, protection from evil spirits and good fortune. Rituals are held to celebrate events, to attempt to escape a run of bad fortune, to celebrate a seasonal day of celebration associated with the Higher Beings and God, for healing, at birth, marriage and death.

Laws that protect our religious freedoms and protect our God given Civil Rights:


Saint Thomas Law Review
Spring 2008

Symposium Issue: Twelfth Annual Latcrit Conference
Critical Localities, Epistemic Communities, Rooted Cosmopolitans, New Hegemonies & Knowledge Processes
Featured Contributors


Jose A. Lammoglia [FNa1]

Copyright (c) 2008 St. Thomas Law Review; Jose A. Lammoglia (reprinted with permission)

VI.Back to Florida..718

Animal sacrifices are at the core of many religious rituals within the context of Afro-Caribbean Belief Systems. [FN1] These religions, also known as New World religions, are a mixture of Catholic and pre-Christian African beliefs, among them Cuban Santeria, Palo, and Haitian Voodoo. Cuban Santeria is also known as Yoruba, Lukumi, and Regla de Osha. [FN2] The ritual animal sacrifices found within the context of these religions follow guidelines similar to those of Muslim [FN3] and Kosher Jewish [FN4] practices. Only the healthiest animals are chosen as offerings to the gods or orishas. [FN5]
*711 The ritual sacrifice happens in a swift manner to allow for the quick draining of the animal's blood since the blood is the main part of the offering. [FN6] Ritual animal sacrifices in Afro-Caribbean religions must be conducted by an ordained priest or priestess trained in the practice of animal sacrifice. [FN7] In Cuban Santeria, this training culminates in a ceremony known as pinaldo. [FN8] Pinaldo is also the name given to the sacrificial knives. [FN9]
Moreover, the sacrificial animals are obtained from two different venues. [FN10] The larger animals are purchased from farm wholesalers. [FN11] The smaller ones, usually doves, are obtained from botánicas, which are religious goods stores for New World religions. [FN12] Botánicas can be found in any U.S. city with a significant Afro-Caribbean religious congregation. [FN13]

The meat of the sacrificed animals must be cooked according to strict religious rules such as the cooking utensils used to stir the meat of one sacrificed animal cannot be dipped into a pot containing the meat of a different animal. [FN14] These rules obey a religious taboo that ordains that those initiated under the protection of a particular orisha, which is the general name for the Afro-Caribbean deities, cannot consume the meat of an animal identified with that deity; transgressions bring negative repercussions to the offender. [FN15] Padrino and madrina de santo, which translates from Spanish to Godfather and Godmother, teach their new ahijados and ahijados, which translates from Spanish to godchildren, the *712 ways of the orishas via an oro-kinetic language. [FN16]
Not all followers of New World religions are initiated into the priesthood, [FN17] and only those who have undergone initiation can attend and partake in ritual animal sacrifices. [FN18] However, all others who share these belief systems can share in the consumption of meat from sacrificed animals. [FN19] These meats contain the blessings of the individual orisha to whom the animals were offered, and as such, carry positive energy, known as ashe. [FN20] The feast that follows is attended by initiates and followers alike. [FN21] The communion of sacrificial animal meat takes place during a feast where drumming is offered to the African deities; each Orisha has a distinctive drum beat. [FN22] All drumming must cease before sunset. [FN23]

Afro-Caribbean religions were practiced in secrecy in their countries of origin because these were originally the beliefs of the poor and dominated classes, such as African slaves. [FN24] These religions were viewed by the dominant class as backwards, ignorant, and superstitious beliefs that stood in opposition to the conversion efforts of Catholic priests. [FN25] Consequently, these religions have been associated innocently and purposefully with dark magic for centuries. [FN26]
Afro-Caribbean religions are not centralized, and they do not worship in temples erected to that effect. [FN27] Priests and priestesses belong to what is known as a Familia de Santo, a form of familial/religious congregation. [FN28] Worship takes place in the home of the Familia de Santo's main priest. [FN29] Each Familia de Santo operates independently from the others. [FN30] The *713 Pichardos, a Familia de Santo from Hialeah, Florida, and whose members were of Santeria's Priesthood class, attempted to centralize the religion in the 1980s. [FN31] As a result, a confrontation ensued between Hialeah residents, city officials, and the Pichardos. [FN32]

In the wake of the Cuban Revolution, a significant number of Cubans migrated to the U.S. with peak migration occurring during the Mariel Boat Lift. [FN33] Most Cubans settled in Florida, New Jersey, and New York. [FN34] Some brought with them the faith of the orishas. [FN35] These migrants encountered laws in the U.S. that protected their freedom of religious worship. [FN36] These laws enabled the migrants' religion to gain visibility with respectability. [FN37] However, a segment of Cuban migrants continued to oppose the practices of Afro-Caribbean religions, perpetuating the negative connotations adjudicated to these beliefs in their country of birth.

Most Cubans who oppose Santeria are either practicing or nominal Catholics. [FN38] That was the case of the Hialeah residents. [FN39] In the 1980s, this struggle gave way to a legal battle between the Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc., and Ernesto Pichardo v. City of Hialeah. [FN40] City residents and commissioners, mostly Cubans or Cuban-Americans, joined forces with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Ecclesiastical Board of Hialeah and successfully banned ritual animal sacrifices within the Church of the Lukumi's premises. [FN41]

An underlying race, language, and ethnicity issue accompanied the decision of Hialeah's City Council. Santeria and its followers have been the subject of many maligned fables since Santeria was originally a religion of an ethnic group considered inferior by Cuba's dominant class. Once in the United States, Santeria followers took their constitutional rights to heart and demanded their rightful space for their beliefs and practices within the American Society. [FN42] Their effort met resistance from upper class Cuban *714 exiles who felt that Santeria's practices and animal sacrifices would give American society an inaccurate representation of the pre-Castro Cuban society's beliefs. American society has also attempted to deny Santeria a place within the amalgam of accepted religions, an act that can be best understood if we remember that our country is still learning to overcome racial and ethnical biases. In the words of David M. O'Brien: “The hard-fought struggles of religious minorities transformed religious freedom from a tradition of freedom from governmental endorsement of any particular religion into freedom to openly practice nonconformist religions.” [FN43]
Animal rights activists also took part in the struggle, among them the Institute for Animal Rights Law, the American Fund for Alternatives to Animal Research, Farm Sanctuary, Jews for Animal Rights, the United Animal Nations, and the United Poultry Concerns. [FN44] The case escalated the ladders of the legal system up to the Supreme Court of the Nation. [FN45] At the time of the Court's ruling, the U.S. Catholic Conference withdrew from the fight asserting that it did not support either the City of Hialeah or the Church of the Lukumi; the Institute for Animal Rights Law also withdrew. [FN46] In 1993, the Court ruled in favor of Oba Pichardo and the Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye. [FN47]

Less than fifteen years after the 1993 landmark Supreme Court ruling, a new confrontation developed between an American city and a Santeria priest, this time in Euless, Texas. [FN48] There, on the eve of an initiation ritual in the home of Puerto Rican born Santeria priest Jose Merced (“Mr. Merced”), members of the city's police department knocked on his door to advise him of the illegality of animal sacrifices within city limits. [FN49] Mr. Merced, priest and president of Euless based Templo Yoruba Omo Orisha Texas, explained to the officers that animal sacrifices are to Santeria what the Eucharist is to Catholicism; however, his pleas fell on deaf ears. [FN50] A *715 short time later, Mr. Merced filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the city of Euless. [FN51]

National religious freedom and Latino advocacy groups joined forces to fight for the right of Templo Yoruba Omo Orisha Texas to continue with its religious rituals, animal sacrifices, and celebrations. [FN52] Oba Ernesto Pichardo of the Church of the Lukumi pronounced himself in solidarity with his Euless homolog, and a nation-wide call for donations began to cover the legal fees of the battle. [FN53]
The Euless case has gained national attention. Newspapers and television networks have brought the controversy to the foreground, arguing that New World religions continue to win followers in the U.S. and should receive the same treatment as that afforded to organized religions. For a detailed follow up of the story, consult the following: The Dallas Morning News January 6 [FN54] and February 4, 2007 issues; [FN55] the Free Lance-Star November 26, 2005 issue; [FN56] Newsweek February 5, 2007 issue; [FN57] and the Washington Times January 16, 2007 issue. [FN58] Also, CNN interviewed Mr. Merced in February of 2007. [FN59]

Most of the media has been sympathetic toward Santeria believers and to Mr. Merced in particular. They argue that the nation's ethnic and religious landscape continues to change and, as such, so should the laws protecting the right of religious practices, even when these include animal sacrifices. But most is not necessarily all, and a negative comment repeated over time by a biased and powerful association or person can have far reaching and regretful consequences. [FN60]
*716 The city of Euless' reacted to Mr. Merced's lawsuit by moving to dismiss the religious discrimination case, arguing that the act is unconstitutional because it amounts to an intrusion by Congress on the state's right to regulate the health and welfare of its residents. [FN61] In addition, Euless offered Mr. Merced a settlement that would allow him to sacrifice chickens in his home as well as to hold gatherings of more than twenty five people at any given feast; however, the gathering must not be visible to the general public or occur more than five times per month. [FN62]

Mr. Merced rejected the settlement offer arguing that four legged animal sacrifices, especially goats, are also part of the religion's rites. [FN63] Mr. Merced also noted that religious gatherings in his church-home are not conducted with the same frequency as those held by organized religions. [FN64] Finally, he explained that drumming is a cornerstone of his faith, however, some of his neighbors had complained about the drumming as well. [FN65]

Illinois, New Jersey, and New York are some states with notable growth of congregations of New World religions. [FN66] The environment is ripe for conflicts between Afro-Caribbean Religion practitioners and the cities where they worship. [FN67] Chicago has been no exception. On January 14, 2007, Fox Television Network (“Fox”) aired a documentary entitled “Chicago Santeria.” [FN68] The film provides an interview with the owner of a Chicago botánica who showed the television cameras some disturbing sights. [FN69] A biased introduction stated, “Guess What We Found Here?” [FN70] The documentary focused on religious ritual animal sacrifices in ways that *717 led the public to believe that Santeria priests and priestesses were animal torturers. [FN71] A strong and angered response from the Chicago Lukumi community followed. [FN72]

Olorisha Yomi Yomi, a Santeria priestess of Irish descent and instructor of comparative religions in the city's higher education system, sent Fox a rebuttal, stating how this film was a good example of the type of harm caused by a lack of knowledge and proper documentation. She accused Fox reporters of creating a documentary about Santeria without availing themselves of the expertise of local scholars, some of whom are members of the religion's preisthood. [FN73] Some of these scholars were members of Santeria and Voodoo priesthood. [FN74] She also condemns the reporters' carelessness in choosing an informant who, although a botánica owner, claimed to be a priest from a different religion. [FN75] Events like this one prove that legal action is often necessary to deal with situations that should have been put to rest a long time ago.

The Euless v. Templo Yoruba Omo Orisha Texas and Oba Jose Merced case has raised concerns in other U.S. cities regarding the legalities of animal sacrifices within their city limits. [FN76] Such is the case in Philadelphia, where Voodoo continues to gain believers. One home-temple is run by a professional couple. [FN77] The husband is a college art professor and the wife is an administrator at a center city architectural firm. [FN78] Their home-sanctuary, named Le Peristyle II, also serves as a wedding chapel and guidance center for Philadelphia's Voodoo congregation. [FN79] Le Peristyle II is located a block away from Temple University at North 15th Street. [FN80]

*718 Ritual animal sacrifices are performed in Le Peristyle II as part of Voodoo religious rites. [FN81] Philadelphia has laws governing animal welfare and prohibits the storage of farm animals within city limits except in certain cases, including those to be used as food. [FN82] But those animals must be killed within twenty four hours from their arrival in the city. [FN83] Some four legged animals used in Philadelphia's Voodoo rites are sacrificed in a New Jersey farm. [FN84] Thus far, there have been few complaints from neighbors related to both animal sacrifices and festivities. Nevertheless, there is no telling what the future holds if one considers that over twenty five thousand Philadelphians are followers of Voodoo or Santeria. [FN85]

Recently, the case of animal sacrifices within the context of religious rituals has flared up once again in Miami, Florida. [FN86] As noted in El Nuevo Herald on Sunday, October 21, 2007, several botánicas were visited by agents of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and they confiscated roots and other vegetable products imported from Africa that were being used for religious rituals. [FN87] After several interviews and some research, El Nuevo Herald determined that the consensus among the Santeria community was that the actions taken against their businesses were in retaliation to a city of Coral Gables incident that summer where concerned neighbors, worried by the screams of animals being sacrificed during a Yoruba religious rite in a private home, called the city's police department to intervene. [FN88] When contacted, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington D.C. responded by stating that South Florida is a major port for the illegal entry of animal and plant species that, if go unchecked, have the possibility of introducing diseases and epidemics into the United States. [FN89]

A Santeria follower now claims that, since the Coral Gables police incident, most Lukumi congregations in Metro-Dade believe they are being watched by the government. [FN90] In turn, this situation has triggered a *719 decrease in the number of Regla rituals throughout the city. [FN91] Thus far, legal action on the bases of religious discrimination has not been taken, but botánica owners do not exclude the possibility of starting such action if and when religious discrimination can be proven. [FN92] There is agreement amongst the botánica owners that this new situation resembles what their religion was subjected to during the 1980s, when the hostilities between the Hialeah City Council and the Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye began. [FN93]

Educating the general public about the nature of animal sacrifices within the religious context of New Word religions will eradicate some general misconceptions. People who can understand New World religions will make better decisions and exercise good judgment, which in turn, will lead to more tolerant behavior from everyone. But the secret character of Afro-Caribbean rituals does not facilitate educating the public about the essence and meaning of the religious rituals. The latter tends to bread fear among those unfamiliar with the religion to the point of hostility. The situation is exacerbated when considering that in spite of the growing number of followers these religions have in the U.S., they are still considered a minority. The secrecy code for Afro-Caribbean religions allows the general public to take them as one of many religious sects that do engage in animal cruelty, thus, exacerbating generalized misconceptions.

Tolerance and understanding of the religious ritual acts of Afro-Caribbean religions can be increased by achieving a consensus among all U.S. cities and states on the subject in discussion. Nevertheless, each case must be treated on an individual basis since both city and state laws differ across the country. Many states do not want to legislate on matters of religion for fear of either setting precedent that violates the Constitutional Amendment that protects the freedom of worship or ruling in favor of one religion at the expense of insulting another. Mutual acceptance among institutionalized religions is still a rough and sensitive work in progress. [FN94] Thus, difficulting tolerance towards the lesser known religions.
The Illinois case brings back old questions about both proper and credible research and good journalism. It also serves as a reminder of the *720 harm that can be done by carelessness in the information age. Many New World religions have their own web pages as well. Unfortunately, they must often use these electronic sites to denounce some form of religious discrimination committed against them by means of the written word, television, film industry, or all of them.

In historical terms, America's Civil Rights Movement is still a newborn child. Racial discrimination along ethnic and language lines is still pre-eminent in many parts of our country. Religious discrimination, especially toward minority religions is also very much alive today. The road to complete acceptance of the other, and to the true love of thy neighbor as we love ourselves, is infected with misunderstandings, some of which are an attempt at domination by the Christian moral majority. The perpetuation of such misunderstandings is, in my opinion, the equivalent to negating that we are all God's children with equal rights to be here.
There is a marked difference between New World religions and other Christian religions. Animal sacrifices are at the main point of departure between the two. While Christian religions think of Jesus as God's sacrificial lamb to cleanse the sins of the world, they are not willing to recognize that the same concept is at the core of New World religions' animal offerings.

The first decade of the twenty first century is seeing new legal problems at the core of Afro-Caribbean Religions, their practice of ritual animal sacrifices and the cities where some of their congregations thrive. The Euless case has not been resolved, recent developments in Metro-Dade are still ripe for conflict, and Philadelphia, though quiet so far, is a potential cradle of turmoil. States and the federal government could be forced to solve these conflicts once and for all before they begin to sprout in different areas of the country, an event that can be safely assumed if we pay attention to the Free Lance-Star's assessment of the in-progress growth in the following of Afro-Caribbean religions in the U.S. today.

[FNa1]. MA Florida International University, Latin American Studies. The author thanks Dr. Terry Rey, Professor of Religion at Temple University, who directed the MA thesis, and who has an incredible amount of faith in him, his research, and his educational goals, to the point of pushing him to participate in conferences like LatCritXII. The author extends a special thanks to the conference organizers and participants and stated it was an incredible professional and personal experience. The author also extends his gratitude to both the past and present journal editors.

[FN1]. See Leonora LaPeter & Paul de la Garza, Mercury in Rituals Raises Alarms, St. Petersburg Times, Jan. 26, 2004, at 1B.

[FN2]. See Migene González-Wippler, Santería: The Religion 2-3 (2d ed., Llewellyn Publications 2004) (1989).

[FN3]. See generally Al-Hafiz B. A. Masri, Animal Experimentation: The Muslim Viewpoint, in Animal Sacrifices: Religious Perspectives on the Uses of Animals in Science 171-98 (Tom Regan ed., 1986) (considering the Muslim viewpoint on animal sacrifices).

[FN4]. See generally Rabbi Dr. J. David Bleich, Judaism and Animal Experimentation, in Animal Sacrifices: Religious Perspectives on the Uses of Animals in Science 61-114 (Tom Regan ed., Temple University Press 1986) (explaining Judaism and its perspective on animal sacrifices).

[FN5]. Cf. Joseph M. Murphy, Santería: African Spirits in America 135-36 (2d ed. 1993) (discussing the orishas' specific requests for certain kinds of animal sacrifices and the practice of eating the meat of the sacrificed animal; thus, it is in the best interest of everyone involved to select only the healthiest animals). Moreover, orishas are defined as “[d]ivine beings of santería” or a “saint.” Id. at 181.

[FN6]. See id. at 44, 136.

[FN7]. See David M. O'Brien, Animal Sacrifice & Religious Freedom: Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah 28 (Peter Charles Hoffer & N. E. H. Hull eds., 2004).

[FN8]. Murphy, supra note 5, at 141.

[FN9]. Id. See also Jorge Castellanos & Isabel Castellanos, Cultura Afrocubana 3: Las Religiones Y Las Lenguas 125 (1992).

[FN10]. Jose A. Lammoglia, Botánicas: Absence in Cuba, Proliferation in the United States 14, 49 (2001) (published MA Thesis, Florida International University) (on file with author and library).

[FN11]. Id. at 49.

[FN12]. See Murphy, supra note 5, at 39-41. See also O'Brien, supra note 7, at 47 (stating that botánicas “sold small animals ... used in Santeria rites”).

[FN13]. See Murphy, supra note 5, at 39.

[FN14]. See generally González-Wippler, supra note 2, at 184-85.

[FN15]. See id. at184.

[FN16]. See Murphy, supra note 5, at 50, 55 (translating Padrino and Madrina to Godfather and Godmother); O'Brien, supra note 7, at 11 (translating ahijados and ahijadas to godchildren).

[FN17]. González-Wippler, supra note 2, at 84.

[FN18]. See Murphy, supra note 5, at viii-ix.

[FN19]. See id. at 86.

[FN20]. González-Wippler, supra note 2, at 155. Ashe is defined as “the blood of cosmic life, the power ... toward life strength, and righteousness.” Murphy, supra note 5, at 8.

[FN21]. González-Wippler, supra note 2, at 190-91.

[FN22]. Id.

[FN23]. Cf. id. at 79.

[FN24]. See generally Charles Wetli, M.D., Foreword to González-Wippler, supra note 2, at viii-ix (1989). The identity of reglas rested on ethnic ancestry up to the early 1900s when criteria for membership began to lean more on spiritual paths followed by those called to serve in the religion's priesthood. Murphy, supra note 5, at 33. It is at this point that membership became open to whites. Id.

[FN25]. O'Brien, supra note 7, at 32.

[FN26]. See id. at 36.

[FN27]. See id. at 6-7.

[FN28]. See id. at 7.

[FN29]. See id. at 28-29.

[FN30]. Id. at 29.

[FN31]. See O'Brien, supra note 7, at 19.

[FN32]. See id. at 33-36.

[FN33]. See id. at 19-20.

[FN34]. See id. at 19, 35.

[FN35]. See id. at 21.

[FN36]. See id. at 137, 149.

[FN37]. See O'Brien, supra note 7, at 35.

[FN38]. See id. at 31, 35-36.

[FN39]. See id. at 35-36.

[FN40]. See id. at 33-35.

[FN41]. See id. at 35-36.

[FN42]. See id . at 47.

[FN43]. O'Brien, supra note 7, at 50 (emphasis added).

[FN44]. Id. at 108.

[FN45]. Id. at 116, 118.

[FN46]. Id. at 109.

[FN47]. Id. at 137, 153.

[FN48]. See Michael Grabell, A Clash over Ritual Sacrifice--Santeria Leader Fights Euless Ban on Killing of Animals as Affront to Faith, The Dallas Morning News, Jan. 6, 2007, at 1A [hereinafter Grabell, A Clash over Ritual Sacrifice].

[FN49]. See id.

[FN50]. Id.

[FN51]. See id.

[FN52]. Michael Grabell, Euless Pushes Judge To Toss Santeria Suit--Priest Challenging City's Ban on Killing Animals As Affront to His Faith, The Dallas Morning News, Feb. 4, 2007, at 1B [hereinafter Grabell, Euless Pushes Judge]. Among the groups is Consejo de Latinos Unidos. Id.

[FN53]. See generally Grabell, A Clash over Ritual Sacrifice, supra note 48.

[FN54]. Id.

[FN55]. Grabell, Euless Pushes Judge, supra note 52.

[FN56]. Margaret Ramirez, Faith Based on African Rites Gaining Popularity in U.S., The Free Lance-Star (Virginia), Nov. 26, 2005.

[FN57]. Lisa Miller, BeliefWatch: Slaughter, Newsweek, Feb. 5, 2007, at 16.

[FN58]. Hugh Aynesworth, Suit Calls Sacrifice a Religious Right, The Wash. Times, Jan. 16, 2007, at A09.

[FN59]. Paul Zahn Now 13-14 (CNN television broadcast Feb. 19, 2007) (transcript available in LEXIS, News Library, CNN news file, no. 021901CN.V99).

[FN60]. To the best of my knowledge, all newspaper and television networks that covered the Euless case have at least presented it objectively and without biases. See generally Ramirez, supra note 56; Grabell, A Clash over Ritual, supra note 48; Michael Grabell, Can Euless Man Sacrifice Chicken?, The Dallas Morning News, Jan. 10, 2007, at 12A; Aynesworth, supra note 58; Grabell, Euless Pushes Judge, supra note 52; Miller, supra note 57, at 16; Paul Zahn Now, supra note 59, at 13-14; Michael Grabell, Euless Offers Settlement in Santeria Case-- But Priest Says He'll Reject It Because Ban on Goat Sacrifice Would Stay, The Dallas Morning News, Mar. 21, 2007, at 7B [hereinafter Grabell, Euless Offers Settlement]; Jessica DeLeón, Santeria Priest Rejects City Deal, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Mar. 22, 2007, at B7.

[FN61]. See Grabell, Euless Pushes Judge, supra note 52. See also Grabell, Euless Offers Settlement, supra note 60.

[FN62]. Grabell, Euless Offers Settlement, supra note 60.

[FN63]. See id.

[FN64]. See id.

[FN65]. Id.

[FN66]. See González-Wippler, supra note 2, at 7.

[FN67]. See Frank Burgos, Landlord Ousts Santerias from Hialeah Church, The Miami Herald, Feb. 4, 1988, at 7B. See also, e.g., Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520 (1993).

[FN68]. Chicago Santeria (Fox Television broadcast Jan. 14, 2007).

[FN69]. The Chicago Santeria Meetup Group, http:// santeria.meetup.com/107/messages/boards/thread/2948697#8173140 (Apr. 10, 2007, 10:36 EST).

[FN70]. Id.

[FN71]. Id.

[FN72]. Id.

[FN73]. Id.

[FN74]. Id.

[FN75]. The Chicago Santeria Meetup Group, supra note 69.

[FN76]. See generally Natalie Hope McDonald, The Spirits Move Them: There Are 25,000 Practitioners of Voodoo in Philly. And Not a Single Pin., Philadelphia City Paper, Mar. 28, 2007, http:// www.citypaper.net/articles/2007/03/29/the-spirits-move-them (last visited June 4, 2008).

[FN77]. Id.

[FN78]. Id.

[FN79]. Id.

[FN80]. Id.

[FN81]. Id.

[FN82]. McDonald, supra note 76.

[FN83]. Id.

[FN84]. Id.

[FN85]. Id. See also Ramirez, supra note 56.

[FN86]. Daniel Shoer Roth, Batidas contra botánicas de Miami, El Nuevo Herald, Oct. 21, 2007, at A1.

[FN87]. See id.

[FN88]. See id.

[FN89]. See id.

[FN90]. See id.

[FN91]. See generally id.

[FN92]. Roth, supra note 86.

[FN93]. See id.

[FN94]. Madeline Korbel Albright, The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs 143 (Harper Collins 2006).

Supreme Court Protection Regarding Animal Sacrifice
U.S. Supreme Court
508 U.S. 520
No. 91-948
Argued November 4, 1992
Decided June 11, 1993

Petitioner church and its congregants practice the Santeria religion, which employs animal sacrifice as one of its principal forms of devotion. The animals are killed by cutting their carotid arteries, and are cooked and eaten following all Santeria rituals except healing and death rites. After the church leased land in respondent city and announced plans to establish a house of worship and other facilities there, the city council held an emergency public session and passed, among other enactments Resolution 87-66, which noted city residents' "concern" over religious practices inconsistent with public morals, peace, or safety, and declared the city's "commitment" to prohibiting such practices; Ordinance 87-40, which incorporates the Florida animal cruelty laws and broadly punishes "[w]hoever . . . unnecessarily or cruelly . . . kills any animal," and has been interpreted to reach killings for religious reasons; Ordinance 87-52, which defines "sacrifice" as "to unnecessarily kill . . . an animal in a . . . ritual . . . not for the primary purpose of food consumption," and prohibits the "possess[ion], sacrifice, or slaughter" of an animal if it is killed in "any type of ritual" and there is an intent to use it for food, but exempts "any licensed [food] establishment" if the killing is otherwise permitted by law; Ordinance 87-71, which prohibits the sacrifice of animals, and defines "sacrifice" in the same manner as Ordinance 87-52; and Ordinance 87-72 which defines "slaughter" as "the killing of animals for food" and prohibits slaughter outside of areas zoned for slaughterhouses, but includes an exemption for "small numbers of hogs and/or cattle" when exempted by state law. Petitioners filed this suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging violations of their rights under, inter alia, the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Although acknowledging that the foregoing ordinances are not religiously neutral, the District Court ruled for the city, concluding, among other things, that compelling governmental interests in preventing public health risks and cruelty to animals fully justified the absolute prohibition on ritual sacrifice accomplished by the ordinances, and that an exception to that prohibition for religious conduct would unduly interfere with fulfillment of the governmental interest, because any more narrow restrictions would [508 U.S. 520, 521] be unenforceable as a result of the Santeria religion's secret nature. The Court of Appeals affirmed.
The judgment is reversed.
936 F.2d 586, (CA 11 1991) reversed.
JUSTICE KENNEDY delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, IIA-1, II-A-3, II-B, III, and IV, concluding that the laws in question were enacted contrary to free exercise principles, and they are void. Pp. 531-540, 542-547.
(a) Under the Free Exercise Clause, a law that burdens religious practice need not be justified by a compelling governmental interest if it is neutral and of general applicability. Employment Div., Dept. of Human Resources of Ore. v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 . However, where such a law is not neutral or not of general application, it must undergo the most rigorous of scrutiny: it must be justified by a compelling governmental interest, and must be narrowly tailored to advance that interest. Neutrality and general applicability are interrelated, and failure to satisfy one requirement is a likely indication that the other has not been satisfied. Pp. 531-532.
(b) The ordinances' texts and operation demonstrate that they are not neutral, but have as their object the suppression of Santeria's central element, animal sacrifice. That this religious exercise has been targeted is evidenced by Resolution 87-66's statements of "concern" and "commitment," and by the use of the words "sacrifice" and "ritual" in Ordinances 87-40, 87-52, and 87-71. Moreover, the latter ordinances' various prohibitions, definitions, and exemptions demonstrate that they were "gerrymandered" with care to proscribe religious killings of animals by Santeria church members but to exclude almost allother animal killings. They also suppress much more religious conduct than is necessary to achieve their stated ends. The legitimate governmental interests in protecting the public health and preventing cruelty to animals could be addressed by restrictions stopping far short of a flat prohibition of all Santeria sacrificial practice, such as general regulations on the disposal of organic garbage, on the care of animals regardless of why they are kept, or on methods of slaughter. Although Ordinance 87-72 appears to apply to substantial nonreligious conduct and not to be overbroad, it must also be invalidated because it functions in tandem with the other ordinances to suppress Santeria religious worship. Pp. 533-540.
(c) Each of the ordinances pursues the city's governmental interests only against conduct motivated by religious belief, and thereby violates the requirement that laws burdening religious practice must be of general applicability. Ordinances 87-40, 87-52, and 87-71 are substantially underinclusive with regard to the city's interest in preventing cruelty [508 U.S. 520, 522] to animals, since they are drafted with care to forbid few animal killings but those occasioned by religious sacrifice, while many types of animal deaths or kills for nonreligious reasons are either not prohibited or approved by express provision. The city's assertions that it is "self-evident" that killing for food is "important," that the eradication of insects and pests is "obviously justified," and that euthanasia of excess animals "makes sense" do not explain why religion alone must bear the burden of the ordinances. These ordinances are also substantially underinclusive with regard to the city's public health interests in preventing the disposal of animal carcasses in open public places and the consumption of uninspected meat, since neither interest is pursued by respondent with regard to conduct that is not motivated by religious conviction. Ordinance 87-72 is underinclusive on its face, since it does not regulate nonreligious slaughter for food in like manner, and respondent has not explained why the commercial slaughter of "small numbers" of cattle and hogs does not implicate its professed desire to prevent cruelty to animals and preserve the public health. Pp. 542-546.
(d) The ordinances cannot withstand the strict scrutiny that is required upon their failure to meet the Smith standard. They are not narrowly tailored to accomplish the asserted governmental interests. All four are overbroad or underinclusive in substantial respects because the proffered objectives are not pursued with respect to analogous nonreligious conduct, and those interests could be achieved by narrower ordinances that burdened religion to a far lesser degree. Moreover, where, as here, government restricts only conduct protected by the First Amendment and fails to enact feasible measures to restrict other conduct producing substantial harm or alleged harm of the same sort, the governmental interests given in justification of the restriction cannot be regarded as compelling. Pp. 546-547.
KENNEDY, J., delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, III, and IV, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and WHITE, STEVENS, SCALIA, SOUTER, and THOMAS, JJ., joined, the opinion of the Court with respect to Part II-B, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and WHITE, STEVENS, SCALIA, and THOMAS, JJ., joined, the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts II-A-1 and II-A-3, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and STEVENS, SCALIA, and THOMAS, JJ., joined, and an opinion with respect to Part II-A-2, in which STEVENS, J., joined. SCALIA, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., joined, post p. 557. SOUTER, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, post p. 559. BLACKMUN, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which O'CONNOR, J., joined, post, p. 577. [508 U.S. 520, 523]
Douglas Laycock argued the cause for petitioners. With him on the briefs were Jeanne Baker, Steven R. Shapiro, and Jorge A. Duarte.
Richard G. Garrett argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief were Stuart H. Singer and Steven M. Goldsmith. *
[ Footnote * ] Briefs of amici curiae urging reversal were filed for Americans United for Separation of Church and State
et al. by Edward McGlynn Gaffney, Jr., Steven T. McFarland, Bradley P. Jacob, and Michael W. McConnell; for the Council on Religious Freedom by Lee Boothby, Robert W. Nixon, Walter E. Carson, and Rolland Truman; and for the Rutherford Institute by John W. Whitehead.
Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed for the International Society for Animal Rights et al. by Henry Mark Holzer; for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals et al. by Gary L. Francione; and for the Washington Humane
Society by E. Edward Bruce.
Briefs of amici curiae were filed for the United States Catholic Conference by Mark E. Chopko and John A. Liekweg; for the Humane Society of the United States et al. by Peter Buscemi, Maureen Beyers, Roger A. Kindler, and Eugene Underwood, Jr.; for the Institute for Animal Rights Law et al. by Henry Mark Holzer; and for the National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs by Nathan Lewin and Dennis Rapps.
JUSTICE KENNEDY delivered the opinion of the Court, except as to Part II-A-2.Fn
The principle that government may not enact laws that suppress religious belief or practice is so well understood that few violations are recorded in our opinions. Cf. McDaniel v. Paty, 435 U.S. 618 (1978); Fowler v. Rhode Island, 345 U.S. 67 (1953). Concerned that [this [fundamental nonpersecution principle] of the First Amendment was implicated here,] however, we granted certiorari. 503 U.S. 935 (1992). [508 U.S. 520, 524]
Our review confirms that the laws in question were enacted by officials who did not understand, failed to perceive, or chose to ignore the fact that their official actions violated the Nation's essential commitment to religious freedom. The challenged laws had an impermissible object; and in all events, the principle of general applicability was violated because the secular ends asserted in defense of the laws were pursued only with respect to conduct motivated by religious beliefs. We invalidate the challenged enactments, and reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals.
This case involves practices of the Santeria religion, which originated in the 19th century. When hundreds of thousands of members of the Yoruba people were brought as slaves from western Africa to Cuba, their traditional African religion absorbed significant elements of Roman Catholicism. The resulting syncretion, or fusion, is Santeria, "the way of the saints." The Cuban Yoruba express their devotion to spirits, called orishas, through the iconography of Catholic saints, Catholic symbols are often present at Santeria rites, and Santeria devotees attend the Catholic sacraments. 723 F.Supp. 1467, 1469-1470 (SD Fla. 1989); 13 Encyclopedia of Religion 66 (M. Eliade ed. 1987); 1 Encyclopedia of the American Religious Experience 183 (C. Lippy & P. Williams eds. 1988).
The Santeria faith teaches that every individual has a destiny from God, a destiny fulfilled with the aid and energy of the orishas. The basis of the Santeria religion is the nurture of a personal relation with the orishas, and one of the principal forms of devotion is an animal sacrifice. 13 Encyclopedia of Religion, supra, at 66. The sacrifice of animals as part of religious rituals has ancient roots. See generally 12 id., at 554-556. Animal sacrifice is mentioned throughout the Old Testament, see 14 Encyclopaedia Judaica 600, 600-605 [508 U.S. 520, 525] (1971), and it played an important role in the practice of Judaism before destruction of the second Temple in Jerusalem, see id., at 605-612. In modern Islam, there is an annual sacrifice commemorating Abraham's sacrifice of a ram in the stead of his son. See C. Glasse, Concise Encyclopedia of Islam 178 (1989); 7 Encyclopedia of Religion, supra, at 456.
According to Santeria teaching, the orishas are powerful, but not immortal. They depend for survival on the sacrifice. Sacrifices are performed at birth, marriage, and death rites, for the cure of the sick, for the initiation of new members and priests, and during an annual celebration. Animals sacrificed in Santeria rituals include chickens, pigeons, doves, ducks, guinea pigs, goats, sheep, and turtles. The animals are killed by the cutting of the carotid arteries in the neck. The sacrificed animal is cooked and eaten, except after healing and death rituals. See 723 F.Supp., at 1471-1472; 13 Encyclopedia of Religion, supra, at 66; M. Gonzalez-Wippler, The Santeria Experience 105 (1982).
Santeria adherents faced widespread persecution in Cuba, so the religion and its rituals were practiced in secret. The open practice of Santeria and its rites remains infrequent. See 723 F.Supp., at 1470; 13 Encyclopedia of Religion, supra, at 67; M. Gonzalez-Wippler, Santeria: The Religion 3-4 (1989). The religion was brought to this Nation most often by exiles from the Cuban revolution. The District Court estimated that there are at least 50,000 practitioners in South Florida today. See 723 F.Supp., at 1470.
Petitioner Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. (Church), is a not-for-profit corporation organized under Florida law in 1973. The Church and its congregants practice the Santeria religion. The president of the Church is petitioner Ernesto Pichardo, who is also the Church's priest and holds the religious title of Italero, the second highest in the Santeria faith. In April, 1987, the Church leased [508 U.S. 520, 526] land in the city of Hialeah, Florida, and announced plans to establish a house of worship as well as a school, cultural center, and museum. Pichardo indicated that the Church's goal was to bring the practice of the Santeria faith, including its ritual of animal sacrifice, into the open. The Church began the process of obtaining utility service and receiving the necessary licensing, inspection, and zoning approvals. Although the Church's efforts at obtaining the necessary licenses and permits were far from smooth, see 723 F.Supp., at 1477-1478, it appears that it received all needed approvals by early August, 1987.
The prospect of a Santeria church in their midst was distressing to many members of the Hialeah community, and the announcement of the plans to open a Santeria church in Hialeah prompted the city council to hold an emergency public session on June 9, 1987. The resolutions and ordinances passed at that and later meetings are set forth in the Appendix following this opinion.
A summary suffices here, beginning with the enactments passed at the June 9 meeting. First, the city council adopted Resolution 87-66, which noted the "concern" expressed by residents of the city "that certain religions may propose to engage in practices which are inconsistent with public morals, peace or safety," and declared that "[t]he City reiterates its commitment to a prohibition against any and all acts of any and all religious groups which are inconsistent with public morals, peace or safety." Next, the council approved an emergency ordinance, Ordinance 87-40, which incorporated in full, except as to penalty, Florida's animal cruelty laws. Fla.Stat. ch. 828 (1987). Among other things, the incorporated state law subjected to criminal punishment "[w]hoever . . . unnecessarily or cruelly . . . kills any animal." 828.12.
The city council desired to undertake further legislative action, but Florida law prohibited a municipality from enacting legislation relating to animal cruelty that conflicted with [508 U.S. 520, 527] state law. 828.27(4). To obtain clarification, Hialeah's city attorney requested an opinion from the attorney general of Florida as to whether 828.12 prohibited "a religious group from sacrificing an animal in a religious ritual or practice," and whether the city could enact ordinances "making religious animal sacrifice unlawful." The attorney general responded in mid-July. He concluded that the "ritual sacrifice of animals for purposes other than food consumption" was not a "necessary" killing, and so was prohibited by 828.12. Fla.Op.Atty.Gen. 87-56, Annual Report of the Atty.Gen. 146, 147, 149 (1988). The attorney general appeared to define "unnecessary" as "done without any useful motive, in a spirit of wanton cruelty or for the mere pleasure of destruction without being in any sense beneficial or useful to the person killing the animal." Id., at 149, n. 11. He advised that religious animal sacrifice was against state law, so that a city ordinance prohibiting it would not be in conflict. Id., at 151.
The city council responded at first with a hortatory enactment, Resolution 87-90, that noted its residents' "great concern regarding the possibility of public ritualistic animal sacrifices" and the state-law prohibition. The resolution declared the city policy "to oppose the ritual sacrifices of animals" within Hialeah, and announced that any person or organization practicing animal sacrifice "will be prosecuted."
In September, 1987, the city council adopted three substantive ordinances addressing the issue of religious animal sacrifice. Ordinance 87-52 defined "sacrifice" as "to unnecessarily kill, torment, torture, or mutilate an animal in a public or private ritual or ceremony not for the primary purpose of food consumption," and prohibited owning or possessing an animal "intending to use such animal for food purposes." It restricted application of this prohibition, however, to any individual or group that "kills, slaughters or sacrifices animals for any type of ritual, regardless of whether or not the flesh or blood of the animal is to be consumed." The ordinance [508 U.S. 520, 528] contained an exemption for slaughtering by "licensed establishment[s]" of animals "specifically raised for food purposes." Declaring, moreover, that the city council has determined that the sacrificing of animals within the city limits is contrary to the public health, safety, welfare and morals of the community," the city council adopted Ordinance 87-71. That ordinance defined sacrifice as had Ordinance 87-52, and then provided that "[i]t shall be unlawful for any person, persons, corporations or associations to sacrifice any animal within the corporate limits of the City of Hialeah, Florida." The final Ordinance, 87-72, defined "slaughter" as "the killing of animals for food," and prohibited slaughter outside of areas zoned for slaughterhouse use. The ordinance provided an exemption, however, for the slaughter or processing for sale of "small numbers of hogs and/or cattle per week in accordance with an exemption provided by state law." All ordinances and resolutions passed the city council by unanimous vote. Violations of each of the four ordinances were punishable by fines not exceeding $500 or imprisonment not exceeding 60 days, or both.
Following enactment of these ordinances, the Church and Pichardo filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Named as defendants were the city of Hialeah and its mayor and members of its city council in their individual capacities. Alleging violations of petitioners' rights under, inter alia, the Free Exercise Clause, the complaint sought a declaratory judgment and injunctive and monetary relief. The District Court granted summary judgment to the individual defendants, finding that they had absolute immunity for their legislative acts and that the ordinances and resolutions adopted by the council did not constitute an official policy of harassment, as alleged by petitioners. 688 F.Supp. 1522 (SD Fla. 1988).
After a 9-day bench trial on the remaining claims, the District Court ruled for the city, finding no violation of [508 U.S. 520, 529] petitioners' rights under the Free Exercise Clause. 723 F.Supp. 1467 (SD Fla. 1989). (The court rejected as well petitioners' other claims, which are not at issue here.) Although acknowledging that "the ordinances are not religiously neutral," id., at 1476, and that the city's concern about animal sacrifice was "prompted" by the establishment of the Church in the city, id., at 1479, the District Court concluded that the purpose of the ordinances was not to exclude the Church from the city, but to end the practice of animal sacrifice, for whatever reason practiced, id., at 1479, 1483. The court also found that the ordinances did not target religious conduct "on their face," though it noted that, in any event,
"specifically regulating [religious] conduct" does not violate the First Amendment "when [the conduct] is deemed inconsistent with public health and welfare." Id., at 1483-1484. Thus, the court concluded that, at most, the ordinances' effect on petitioners' religious conduct was "incidental to [their] secular purpose and effect." Id., at 1484.
The District Court proceeded to determine whether the governmental interests underlying the ordinances were compelling and, if so, to balance the "governmental and religious interests." The court noted that "[t]his "balance depends upon the cost to the government of altering its activity to allow the religious practice to continue unimpeded versus the cost to the religious interest imposed by the government activity." Ibid., quoting Grosz v. City of Miami Beach, 721 F.2d 729, 734 (CA 11 1983), cert. denied, 469 U.S. 827 (1984). The court found four compelling interests. First, the court found that animal sacrifices present a substantial health risk, both to participants and the general public. According to the court, animals that are to be sacrificed are often kept in unsanitary conditions and are uninspected, and animal remains are found in public places. 723 F.Supp., at 1474-1475, 1485. Second, the court found emotional injury to children who witness the sacrifice of animals. Id., at 1475-1476, 1485-1486. Third, the court found compelling [508 U.S. 520, 530] the city's interest in protecting animals from cruel and unnecessary killing. The court determined that the method of killing used in Santeria sacrifice was "unreliable and not humane, and that the animals, before being sacrificed, are often kept in conditions that produce a great deal of fear and stress in the animal." Id., at 1472-1473, 1486. Fourth, the District Court found compelling the city's interest in restricting the slaughter or sacrifice of animals to areas zoned for slaughterhouse use. Id., at 1486. This legal determination was not accompanied by factual findings.
Balancing the competing governmental and religious interests, the District Court concluded the compelling governmental interests "fully justify the absolute prohibition on ritual sacrifice" accomplished by the ordinances. Id., at 1487. The court also concluded that an exception to the sacrifice prohibition for religious conduct would "`unduly interfere with fulfillment of the governmental interest'" because any more narrow restrictions - e.g., regulation of disposal of animal carcasses - would be unenforceable as a result of the secret nature of the Santeria religion. Id., at 1486-1487, and nn. 57-59. A religious exemption from the city's ordinances, concluded the court, would defeat the city's compelling interests in enforcing the prohibition. Id., at 1487.
The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed in a one-paragraph per curiam opinion. Judgt. order reported at 936 F.2d 586 (1991). Choosing not to rely on the District Court's recitation of a compelling interest in promoting the welfare of children, the Court of Appeals stated simply that it concluded the ordinances were consistent with the Constitution. App. to Pet. for Cert. A2. It declined to address the effect of Employment Div., Dept. of Human Resources of Ore. v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), decided after the District Court's opinion, because the District Court "employed an arguably stricter standard" than that applied in Smith. App. to Pet. for Cert. A2, n. 1. [508 U.S. 520, 531]
The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, which has been applied to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment, see Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 303 (1940), provides that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . . ." (Emphasis added.) The city does not argue that Santeria is not a "religion" within the meaning of the First Amendment. Nor could it. Although the practice of animal sacrifice may seem abhorrent to some, "religious beliefs need not be acceptable, logical, consistent, or comprehensible to others in order to merit First Amendment protection." Thomas v. Review Bd. of Indiana Employment Security Div., 450 U.S. 707, 714 (1981). Given the historical association between animal sacrifice and religious worship, see supra, at 2, petitioners' assertion that animal sacrifice is an integral part of their religion "cannot be deemed bizarre or incredible." Frazee v. Illinois Dept. of Employment Security, 489 U.S. 829, 834 , n. 2 (1989). Neither the city nor the courts below, moreover, have questioned the sincerity of petitioners' professed desire to conduct animal sacrifices for religious reasons. We must consider petitioners' First Amendment claim.
In addressing the constitutional protection for free exercise of religion, our cases establish the general proposition that [a law that is neutral and of general applicability need not be justified by a compelling governmental interest even if the law has the incidental effect of burdening a particular religious practice.] Employment Div., Dept. of Human Resources of Ore. v. Smith, supra. Neutrality and general applicability are [interrelated], and, as becomes apparent in this case, failure to satisfy one requirement is a likely indication that the other has not been satisfied. A law failing to satisfy these requirements must be justified by a compelling governmental interest, and must be narrowly tailored to [508 U.S. 520, 532] advance that interest. These ordinances [fail to satisfy the Smith requirements.] We begin by discussing neutrality.
In our Establishment Clause cases, we have often stated the principle that the First Amendment forbids an official purpose to disapprove of a particular religion or of religion in general. See, e.g., Board of Ed. of Westside Community Schools (Dist. 66) v. Mergens, 496 U.S. 226, 248 (1990) (plurality opinion); School Dist. of Grand Rapids v. Ball, 473 U.S. 373, 389 (1985); Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38, 56 (1985); Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97, 106 -107 (1968); School Dist. of Abington v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 225 (1963); Everson v. Board of Ed. of Ewing, 330 U.S. 1, 15 -16 (1947). These cases, however, for the most part, have addressed governmental efforts to benefit religion or particular religions, and so have dealt with a question different, at least in its formulation and emphasis, from the issue here. Petitioners allege an attempt to disfavor their religion because of the religious ceremonies it commands, and the Free Exercise Clause is dispositive in our analysis.
[At a minimum, the protections of the Free Exercise Clause pertain if the law at issue discriminates against some or all religious beliefs or regulates or prohibits conduct because it is undertaken for religious reasons.] See, e.g., Braunfeld v. Brown, 366 U.S. 599, 607 (1961) (plurality opinion); Fowler v. Rhode Island, 345 U.S. 67, 69 -70 (1953). Indeed, it was ["historical instances of religious persecution and intolerance that gave concern to those who drafted the Free Exercise Clause."] Bowen v. Roy, 476 U.S. 693, 703 (1986) (opinion of Burger, C.J.). See J. Story, Commentaries on
the Constitution of the United States 991-992 (abridged ed. 1833) (reprint 1987); T. Cooley, Constitutional Limitations 467 (1868) (reprint 1972); McGowan v. Maryland, 366 U.S. 420, 464 , and n. 2 (1961) (opinion of Frankfurter, J.); Douglas v. Jeannette, 319 U.S. 157, 179 (1943) (Jackson, J., concurring in result); [508 U.S. 520, 533] Davis v. Beason, 133 U.S. 333, 342 (1890). These principles, though not often at issue in our Free Exercise Clause cases, have played a role in some. In McDaniel v. Paty, 435 U.S. 618 (1978), for example, we invalidated a state law that disqualified members of the clergy from holding certain public offices, because it "impose[d] special disabilities on the basis of . . . religious status," Employment Div., Dept. of Human Resources of Ore. v. Smith, 494 U.S., at 877 . On the same principle, in Fowler v. Rhode Island, supra, we found that a municipal ordinance was applied in an unconstitutional manner when interpreted to prohibit preaching in a public park by a Jehovah's Witness, but to permit preaching during the course of a Catholic mass or Protestant church service. See also Niemotko v. Maryland, 340 U.S. 268, 272 -273 (1951). Cf. Larson v. Valente, 456 U.S. 228 (1982) (state statute that treated some religious denominations more favorably than others violated the Establishment Clause).
Although a law targeting religious beliefs as such is never permissible, McDaniel v. Paty, supra, at 626 (plurality opinion); Cantwell v. Connecticut, supra, at 303-304, if the object of a law is to infringe upon or restrict practices because of their religious motivation, the law is not neutral, see Employment Div., Dept. of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith, supra, at 878-879, and it is invalid unless it is justified by a compelling interest and is narrowly tailored to advance that interest. There are, of course, many ways of demonstrating that the object or purpose of a law is the suppression of religion or religious conduct. To determine the object of a law, we must begin with its text, for the minimum requirement of neutrality is that a law not discriminate on its face. A law lacks facial neutrality if it refers to a religious practice without a secular meaning discernable from the language or context. Petitioners contend that three of the ordinances fail this test of facial neutrality because they use the words [508 U.S. 520, 534] "sacrifice" and "ritual," words with strong religious connotations. Brief for Petitioners 16-17. We agree that these words are consistent with the claim of facial discrimination, but the argument is not conclusive. The words "sacrifice" and "ritual" have a religious origin, but current use admits also of secular meanings. See Webster's Third New International Dictionary 1961, 1996 (1971). See also 12 Encyclopedia of Religion, at 556 ("[T]he word sacrifice ultimately became very much a secular term in common usage"). The ordinances, furthermore, define "sacrifice" in secular terms, without referring to religious practices.
We reject the contention advanced by the city, see Brief for Respondent 15, that our inquiry must end with the text of the laws at issue. Facial neutrality is not determinative. The Free Exercise Clause, like the Establishment Clause, extends beyond facial discrimination. The Clause "forbids subtle departures from neutrality," Gillette v. United States, 401 U.S. 437, 452 (1971), and "covert suppression of particular religious beliefs," Bowen v. Roy, supra, at 703 (opinion of Burger, C.J.). Official action that targets religious conduct for distinctive treatment cannot be shielded by mere compliance with the requirement of facial neutrality. The Free Exercise Clause protects against governmental hostility which is masked as well as overt. "The Court must survey meticulously the circumstances of governmental categories to eliminate, as it were, religious gerrymanders." Walz v. Tax Comm'n of New York City, 397 U.S. 664, 696 (1970) (Harlan, J., concurring).
The record in this case compels the conclusion that suppression of the central element of the Santeria worship service was the object of the ordinances. First, though use of the words "sacrifice" and "ritual" does not compel a finding of improper targeting of the Santeria religion, the choice of these words is support for our conclusion. There are further respects in which the text of the city council's enactments discloses the improper attempt to targe
Obtain your own complete personal copies of these complete legal transcripts free