Monday, November 16, 2009

Religious Absurdities

When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an animal cruality ordinance for the City of Hialeah Florida, in 1993, Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah , the Court legalized the practice of Animal Sacrifice for religious purposes.

The Afro-Cuban/Caribbean religion known as Santeria, who was the Plaintiff in the case, rejoiced as animal rights activists despaired.

Contemporary mainstream Religions (Catholics, Christians, Jews and the like) renounced the Court's decision, lest they risk being associated with such barbaric practices. The fact is though, ever since animal sacrifices (for religious purposes) were made legal some 16 years ago, more and more mainstream religious sects have been returning to there ancient rituals.

Here we have Rabbi Shea Hecht from a synagogue in Queens, N.Y., who demonstrates to an NPR news reporter how to swing a chicken.

"You take it by the wing," explains the Rabbi "You put one wing over the other wing. See? And you swing it over your head like this."

Hecht holds the bird, waves it three times above his head, and says the prayer of Kapparot aka Kapparos, depending on heritage.

He prays that his sins will be transferred to the bird and he will escape the divine punishment that he deserves. The prayer is centuries old, and countless Orthodox Jews recite it every year in the days before Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement.

Hecht says waving the chicken isn't the point of this ritual. "The main part of the service," he says, "is handing the chicken to the slaughterer and watching the chicken being slaughtered. Because that is where you have an emotional moment, where you say, (preferably in a New York, Jackie Mason style dialect) 'Oops, you know what? That could have been me'."

While the hands of the authorities may be tied when it comes to religious sacrifice, New York City has given fines for leaving public places a mess and looking like a slaughterhouse, with blood and dead chickens all over the place.

You see the sacrifice of animals is nothing new. It's occurred throughout history in nearly every religion and every culture around the world. From Europe to Africa, from Asia to the Americas.

Most sacrifices were performed to appease angry Gods or to ensure prosperity. Sacrifices were also used to predict the future and of course to wash away sins.

The whole concept is very much supported by "The Holy Book of Hear Say" (a/k/a The Bible). Some of you might be familiar with the story of "Legions". It seems there was this man who lived near a cemetery and as a result had "Legions" of Evil Demons possessing him. God cast out the demons into a nearby herd of pigs. Those pigs, wild with demons, ran off a cliff and killed themselves therefore shedding blood and resolving the man of his sins.

This is very much the same way that Christians believe it was necessary for Jesus to die and shed his blood for their sins to be resolved.

Just Thinking...

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Thanks for reading!


  1. the sacrifice of animals rather than human sacrifice was considered a giant leap forward in its time. the idea that an all seeing, all loving, all KNOWING G-D would need a sacrifice of ANY kind defies logic... unless you're one of those morons who thinks tha t the Almighty can be bribed and fooled. but that could just be the the secular humanist Jew in me...

  2. You reckon the have a special Rabbi that swings the minks and other furry little critters that could get together enough pelts to whip me up a nice Kosher coat?
    Trust me, I have sinned, I'd venture to say that I qualify for something full length with a nice sable collar and cuffs. I could probably even stray a bit more if it would earn me a matching hat and muff.