Judge to Euless: Santeria Priest Can Sacrifice Goats

Court strikes down city's animal slaughter ban

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    A federal judge has barred enforcement of a rule preventing a Santeria priest from sacrificing animals in his home.

    A federal judge has barred Euless from enforcing a rule to prevent a Santeria priest from sacrificing animals in his home.

    In a final judgment this month, U.S. District Judge John McBryde of Fort Worth also ordered Euless to pay for the costs incurred by Santeria priest Jose Merced.

    His attorney, Eric Rassbach, said Tuesday the ruling means Merced can resume priest ordination ceremonies involving animal sacrifice.

    Merced's suit accused Euless of violating his religious rights. The city argued the sacrifices jeopardized public health and violated its slaughterhouse and animal cruelty ordinances.

    Earlier this year, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans sided with Merced, ruling the Euless ordinance placed a substantial burden on Merced's free exercise of religion.

    A message left for a Euless spokeswoman was not returned Tuesday.