EULESS, Texas (AP) A Santeria priest has filed an appeal in federal court after he lost his religious-freedom challenge to a city ban on animal slaughter.
The Washington-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed an appeal Tuesday on behalf of Jose Merced to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
"The First Amendment was written to protect the ability of all faiths to worship in their own homes and in their own way," Kevin "Seamus" Hasson, president of the Becket Fund, said in a statement. "People of all faiths should be concerned when the government says someone cannot practice their religion in their own home."
Merced an Oba, or priest said animal sacrifices are an essential devotion in Santeria, a religion that emerged in Cuba when Yoruba slaves fused elements of Roman Catholicism with their religious traditions from Africa.
Merced sought a permit from Euless officials but was denied permission to sacrifice goats as part of a religious ceremony. For the rite, a 4-inch blade is used to sever an animal's carotid artery, letting blood fall on a shrine. The animal is then prepared and eaten.
Euless officials have insisted in court that local sanitation ordinances prohibit the slaughter of certain kinds of animals inside city limits. Officials could not discuss the case because the city does not comment on pending litigation, said Euless spokeswoman Betsy Deck.
U.S. District Judge John McBryde ruled in favor of the city of Euless last month, saying Merced could perform his animal sacrifices elsewhere, but not in the Fort Worth suburb.