Monday, May 31, 2004

Accommodating polytheists . . . and who else?

This commentary from USA Today got under my skin. When the Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye won its court case a few years ago, I was pleased overall, although the "leaving dead chickens under bushes" part seemed pointless to me. A number of my students have cited the case in papers as evidence of the expanding boundaries of American religious freedom. Likewise, we have frequently discussed the Smith case, when the Native American Church collided with the state of Oregon, leading to new federal legislation . . . that was overturned as unconstitutional (see final paragraphs).

But, indeed, how far should courts go in the name of religious freedom? The part about beating the puppy to death as part of a shamanic ritual: from a detached (let's say Martian) perspective, is that any different than the Santeria sacrifice? But it bothers me so much more.

And don't get me started on people like this. I don't feel like cutting them any slack at all.


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