On Friday, October 6th, 1989, the following news article appeared in "The Orlando Sentinel" regarding the CLBA court case.
A federal judge upheld the city of Hialeah's ban on animal sacrifice Thursday, saying the Constitution protects only the Santeria religion's beliefs, not its practices.
The ruling caps a legal struggle over an ordinance passed in 1987 after a Santeria priest announced he would open a church that would engage in sacrificing animals under the tenets of the Afro-Cuban religion.
U.S. District Judge Eugene P. Spellman, who listened to both public health and religious experts during the August trial, said the city's witnesses established a public purpose in regulating animal sacrifice.
''The ordinances are not targeted at the Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye practitioners of Santeria but are meant to prohibit all animal sacrifice, whether it be practiced by an individual or a religion or a cult,'' the judge wrote in his 50-page opinion.
Hialeah officials said they were delighted with the ruling.
''We spent substantial time in drafting ordinances that we felt addressed the issues to minimize the effect on religious practice of the church,'' said Deputy City Attorney Richard Gross. ''We hope the church is able to continue to practice its beliefs.''
But Maurice Rosen, who represented Santeria followers, said he was disappointed and would appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.
Robyn Blumner, head of the American Civil Liberties Union in Florida, said Santeria beliefs and practices cannot be separated.
''We have today seen that a community can bar certain religions because they find their orthodoxies distasteful,'' she said.
The judge agreed with the city that its ordinances fulfilled a public purpose, rather than simply regulating a controversial religion.
He referred to Santeria 's 400-year history, tracing its roots from Africa to Cuba and into the United States, saying the religion now has an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 followers in South Florida.
Spellman wrote that the U.S. melting pot has absorbed cultures from around the world and noted the First Amendment protected the beliefs of immigrants who follow widely varying religions.
But freedom of religion is not absolute ''when we are dealing, as here, with the manner in which the religion is conducted, rather than the beliefs of those seeking to exercise it,'' Spellman wrote.
The Santeria religion had its origins in present-day Nigeria and was carried by slaves to Cuban sugar plantations. The slaves adopted many Roman Catholic practices, including some saints, which were woven into Santeria
Santeria is considered a lower-class religion by many Cubans and was underground until Ernesto Pichardo publicly announced the founding of the church to touch off the legal controversy.