Ruling Makes Religion Bill Unnecessary for Freedom

By Fein, Bruce | Insight on the News, July 19, 1993 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Ruling Makes Religion Bill Unnecessary for Freedom

Fein, Bruce, Insight on the News

In June, the Supreme Court staunchly defended the free exercise of religion by the politically unpopular.

Writing for the majority in Church of the Lukumi Bablu Aye vs. City of Hialeah, Justice Anthony Kennedy declared unconstitutional a Florida city's ordinances manifestly targeted at ritual animal sacrifices practiced by adherents of the Santeria religion.

The ruling substantiates that those in and out of Congress who have assailed the court's 1990 ruling in Employment Division vs. Smith as giving license to religious persecution were wrong, and it substantially undercuts the justification for the mischievous Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

A central feature of the Santeria faith is animal sacrifice as a form of devotion, no oddity within the universe of religious practices. References to animal sacrifice are numerous in the Old Testament, and the practice was an important part of Judaism before destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Muslims commemorate Abraham's sacrifice of a ram in lieu of his son in annual sacrifices.

The Santeria religion has been largely imported by Cuban exiles fleeing Fidel Castro, and about 50,000 members live in South Florida. In April 1987, a Santeria church announced plans to establish a house of worship in Hialeah, which provoked a swift community response. The City Council hastily passed ordinances disingenuously designed to prohibit the Santeria practice of animal sacrifice.

The council 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 it prohibited ownership or possession of an animal for slaughter or sacrifice whether or not consumption was intended. Animal slaughter for food purposes by licensed establishments in zoned areas was permitted, however, and an exemption from the zoning restriction was created for small-scale slaughtering and processing of hogs or cattle.

The language of the ordinances suggested a religiously neutral and constitutionally legitimate objective: preventing unnecessary, cruel or insalubrious animal killings. But the history and application of the ordinances proved the contrary

A City Council resolution cited citizen concern over proposed religious practices as the motivation for the ordinances. Cheers echoed at a public hearing when a council member said that in prerevolution Cuba "people were put in jail for practicing the [Santeria] religion." Another council member avowed that he was "totally against the sacrificing of animals," but exempted Kosher slaughter because of its "real purpose." He explained that the "Bible says we are allowed to sacrifice an animal for consumption, but for any other purposes, I don't believe the Bible allows that.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Ruling Makes Religion Bill Unnecessary for Freedom


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?