Animal Sacrifice

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Animal sacrifice is a legally recognized religious practice within the African Traditional Religions and Hinduism

Ritual animal sacrifice is the killing of an animal as part of a religion's liturgical order of services and generally includes offering part or all of the animal's spirit, blood, meat, and/or bones to deities or spirits of the religion's pantheon. In most religions that hold to this practice, only members of the clergy or priesthood are empowered to perform ritual sacrifices.

Ritual animal slaughter is the killing of an animal in a specific manner prescribed by a religious scripture or by religious clerics; the flesh of the animal may be eaten as food thereafter. Among orthodox adherents of these religions, certain animal species may be forbidden to eat, and the meat of animals improperly slaughtered may be forbidden as well. In the religions which prescribe ritual animal slaughter, the butchering may be performed by someone who is not a member of the clergy or priesthood, but who knows how to select the approved species, how to perform the act of slaughter, and how to handle the meat for consumption.

Ritual animal sacrifice and ritual animal slaughter may be combined in religions in which part or all of the spirit, blood, meat, fat, and/or bones of the animals are offered to deities or spirits, after which the meat of the sacrificed animals is butchered, cooked, and fed to the followers of the religion that they may partake in the blessed meat after the ritual sacrifice.

Both ritual animal slaughter and ritual animal sacrifice were formerly found in many religions around the world, but today most of the religions which once institutionalized such practices no longer do so.


Ritual Slaughter in Contemporary Religions

A traditional Jewish Pesach or Passover seder plate filled with the foods eaten in this yearly family dinner ritual. An sample of each type of food served at the meal is held aloft on the plate and shown to family members as its symbolic meaning is explained. Included on the seder plate is the shank bone of a lamb which was slaughtered in a ritually-approved manner; lamb meat forms part of the dinner

Ritual animal slaughter is an integral part of Judaism and Islam. These are everyday practices which include the selection of permitted species, correct form of slaughter, and approved methods of handling meat, according to the written texts and oral traditions within these religions.

Shechita, also known as kosher slaughter, is the Jewish method of ritual slaughter for poultry and cattle in accordance with Jewish law. The method of slaughter of animals for food is the same as was used for Temple sacrifices, but since the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, sacrifices are prohibited. Biblical verse explains that animals not sacrificed must be slaughtered by the same method, and today shechita or kosher slaughtering does not include any religious ceremony.

Ḏabīḥah is the prescribed method of slaughtering all animals excluding fish and most sea-life in accordance with Islamic law.

Ritual Sacrifice in Contemporary Religions

Santería (also known as La Regla de Ocha, or La Regla Lukumí), Palo (also known as Palo Mayombe, Palo Monte, or Palo Congo), Vodou (also known as Voodoo), and other ATRs all include the practice of some form of animal sacrifice. Within these religions the animal's blood is typically offered to the gods or spirits as part of religious rituals, initiations, spiritual cleanings, or offerings.

Animal sacrifice is not practiced in contemporary Vedantic or Brahminical Hinduism, but Hindus who follow the Shakti school of Hinduism regularly sacrifice animals in their temples or at public rites, particularly during annual festivals associated with the goddesses Durga and Kali, or in honour of local village deities such as Kandhen Budhi, Samaleswari, Sureswari and Khambeswari. At festivals such as shaand and bhunda, large numbers of animals are killed by knife at temple entrances. In 2014, the high court of Himachal Pradesh state in India banned the slaughter of goats and sheep in Hindu temples or adjoining lands and buildings throughout the state. The court ordered police and other officials to enforce the ban on killing animals "to appease a god or deity," saying that such rituals "must change in the modern era."

Islam makes no general provision for animal sacrifice, however, it is considered to be incumbent upon sufficiently wealthy Muslims to sacrifice a large mammal during Eid ul-Adha (the Festival of Sacrifice), which falls during the period of Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). Typically, a sheep or goat is sacrificed, although some sacrifice cattle or a camel instead. The meat is usually given as charity to the poor.

Judaism, in times past, did provide for animal sacrifices at the Temple in Jerusalem, but after the destruction of the Second Temple by the Roman military occupation in the first century CE, the practice was abandoned, since it had only ever been a centralized function performed in one place, at one altar.

In the religions of Buddhism and Jainism, animal sacrifice is forbidden.

In the religion of Christianity, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, allowed himself to be sacrificed as the Paschal Lamb, and therefore the further shedding of sacrificial blood is considered unnecessary.

Sacrificing Animals in Accordance with Civil Law

AIRR's Code of Ethics, in keeping with regional, state, and national animal anti-cruelty and anti-abuse laws, provides that any AIRR associate who sacrifices animals according to the precepts of an African Traditional Religion must treat the animal humanely and with respect
Animal sacrifice is one of the most controversial topics found in modern day religious practice.

The landmark decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of the Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye vs. The City of Hialeah in 1993 upheld the practice of ritual animal sacrifice as a valid religious activity. However, while there is freedom of religious practice in the United States, local ordinances and state laws must be followed in order to sacrifice animals legally.

Laws governing animal sacrifice may address the housing, treatment, and care of animals prior to sacrifice, as well as the disposal of any biological remains after the animals have been sacrificed. These laws serve to respect the dignity and physical comfort of the animal prior to sacrifice, to maintain hygiene, and to prevent the spread of disease.

Laws governing animal sacrifice may also specifically limit the methods used when sacrificing animals. For instance, in a number of states, the ritual sacrifice of animals is confined to methods similar or identical to those used in kosher Jewish or halal Muslim ritual slaughter of animals, by severing the carotid arteries. These laws serve to eliminate undue suffering or pain prior to or during the ritual sacrifice.

AISC's Stance on Animal Sacrifice

The Association of Independent Spiritual Churches (AISC) welcomes all deities to its altars, and as an inter-faith organization, AISC respects the legal right to practice ethical ritual animal sacrifice within the African Traditional Religions, Hinduism, Islam and other world religions, but AISC itself, as a Spiritualist church, does not promote, advocate, or engage in acts of ritual animal sacrifice.

AIRR's Stance on Animal Sacrifice

The Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers (AIRR) is a committee of the Association of Independent Spiritual Churches (AISC), but Associates of AIRR need not be Spiritualists, nor are they required to be members of AISC. AIRR Associates are free to practice their own religions. However, all AIRR Associates swear to uphold both the AIRR Code of Ethics and the AIRR Code of Conduct.

The AIRR Code of Ethics specifically states that ethical workers are required to operate within the law of their region, state, or nation, including laws that describe humane housing and treatment of animals prior to sacrifice and laws that limit or govern approved methods of killing. Therefore, practitioners of religious ritual animal sacrifice who are Associates of AIRR must adhere to their own regional, state, and national laws regarding animal sacrifice.

The AIRR Code of Conduct specifically forbids AIRR Associates to engage in or recommend any legally defined acts of animal abuse, abandonment, cruelty, or torture, even at the request of a client.

Animal Torture is Illegal and Unethical

Animal torture, animal cruelty, animal abuse, and abandonment of domestic animals are unethical activities that go against every value and code that AIRR and AISC accept and promote. The Board of Bishops of Missionary Independent Spiritual Church and the Associates of AIRR actively stand against animal torture in magical work or religious practice.

Acts of animal torture, cruelty, and abuse -- including neglect of proper feeding and watering of an animal held for ritual sacrifice or inflicting pain or injury on an animal prior to or during the performance of an animal sacrifice -- are illegal in most regions, states, and nations, and thus these forms of activity violate the AIRR Code of Ethics regarding legal behaviour amd are not tolerated by the Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers, nor by Missionary Independent Spiritual Church.

Furthermore, even in regions, states, and nations where animal torture, animal cruelty, and animal abuse are not specifically illegal, these practices violate the AIRR Code of Conduct and are not tolerated by the Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers, nor by the Association og Independent Spiritual Church.

Any Associates of AIRR or members of AISC discovered to be practicing animal torture, animal cruelty, or animal abuse will be immediately removed from our Association, will be censured by the church, and may be subjected to public censure.

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