Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tiny Church's Beliefs Offend Some

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tiny Church's Beliefs Offend Some

Article excerpt

The 50 members of Mandarin's newest church believe in

possession by the spirits of their deities.

And they will sacrifice chickens to their gods in order to

bring them luck and prosperity and to initiate new priests into

the Candomble religion.

But only three days after the Ile Xango Candomble temple opened

in an old church on Whitmore Road, someone took exception to

their beliefs. Police say eggs were thrown on the whitewashed

edifice and two statues were stolen from the church the morning

of July 18.

The church is facing other problems.

Neighbors are upset after watching church members dance under

torchlight to the sounds of drums July 14 and 16. One day before

the vandalism, police responded to complaints about the drums,

but issued no citation.

Despite those problems, church founder Maria Del Sol said the

temple will stay, and she forgives whoever vandalized it.

"It is someone who doesn't understand love and respect," Del

Sol said. "I don't believe they did it because they are mean.

They did it because they think they are doing something right."

Candomble is the Brazilian version of Santeria, a religion that

blends elements of Catholicism and Yoruba of West Africa.

The religion dates back to when African slaves were brought to

Brazil by the Catholic Portuguese. Pressured to give up their

native religion and embrace Catholicism, the slaves wrapped the

mantle of Christianity around their native beliefs.

One of the most controversial tenets of the religion is animal

sacrifice. Del Sol said animal sacrifices are rare and will

occur only once or twice a year.

"I believe the chicken prefers to die for the gods, with

everyone dressed in white and praying around it, rather than die

and go in the supermarket," she said. "It is going to die the

same way."

A native Brazilian, Del Sol first opened a spiritual store on

Atlantic Boulevard last year, then opened a church at a former

veterinary office on Beach Boulevard. …

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