A Santeria priest sued county prosecutors, the sheriff and police, claiming his arrest for sacrificing a chicken in his backyard temple interfered with his ability to adopt children.
In his federal complaint, plaintiff Jorge Badillo says he is a santero – a priest in the Afro-Caribbean Santeria religion, which performs animal sacrifices.
It all began, Badillo says in his complaint, when Sheriff’s Lt. Martin and a canine officer came to his home, with a warrant, looking for a gun that belonged to Badillo’s brother.
“He [Lt. Martin] contacted Victor Amato and made the initial accusations of animal cruelty after seeing a chicken that had been sacrificed in front of the temple in plaintiff’s backyard,” the complaint states.
This detailed report notes the several times officers went on Badillo’s property without permission. They cited him for cruelty based on the animals, dead and alive, that were around. But Badillo claims to sacrifice an abused animal to the gods (Orishas) or to cause it to suffer is forbidden in the religion. The charges are causing problems for Badillo in his bid to adopt two children. He also claims there was no poultry ordinance in effect at the time he was charged.
Is this a case of religious persecution? Where do we draw the line with what is acceptable under freedom of religion? If it interferes with other laws, then that is a clear issue but what WAS Badillo really guilty of? This appears to be a complex case – a strange mix of occult practices clashing with modern life.
Tip: Rick Alan Ross