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Preaching Acceptance of Santeria in Modern Society


Santeria is regarded as the syncretic religion of the Caribbean origin. Originally, it is formed on the biblical legends and oral legends of the Africans. All the santerians are officially regarded as Catholics, and the participation in Catholic church is the obligatory condition for joining santerian sect. As for the accepting Santeria as the official religion, it is necessary to mention that initially this issue was raised in 1993 in the United States Supreme Court in the case of Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah (Clarke, 1998). However, the Supreme Court considered it close to Yoruba religious traditions and declined this issue. The fact is that, there was precedent, according to which Yoruba practice of animal sacrifice has seen no significant legal challenges since then, consequently, it is considered unlawful.

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Taking into account the fear of the religions based on pagan legends, it will be difficult to persuade the officials to accept Santeria as the official religion. The art and the everyday life represent Santeria as the unification of black magic, voodoo traditions and human sacrifice and the consumption of aborted fetuses, as several thrilling movies, such as the 1987 movie, The Believers based on the 1982 novel The Religion, and the 1997 Spanish-Mexican-American movie Perdita Durango showed Santeria from this perspective.

Santeria or as it is also called “La Regla Lucumm” is also regarded as the traditional faith of the Yoruba inhabitants. As Fein (2003) emphasizes, this religion sprung from the traditional slave trades that occurred in early days of the religion. The Yoruban natives were abducted from their country and unwillingly transported to the Caribbean countries of Cuba, Haiti and Brazil, Trinidad, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic among other Caribbean islands.

The issues of acceptance the Santeria traditions in modern society are closely linked with the overcoming of the religious prejudice and the destroying of stereotypes, which point out that Santeria is the pagan religion with the traditions of human and animal sacrifice. It should be stated, that the historical development of Santeria in Cuba should be clearly understood first for the elaboration of the legislative project which would define Santeria as the official religion. However, before this happens, the society should clearly realize that these traditions are close to Christianity and do not require animal and human sacrifices, and have nothing to deal with voodoo or Yoruban paganism. Indeed, according to Mcneal (2006), the religion has undergone a variety of inclusionary and exclusionary processes within the Cuban national project. While its current status as “national folklore” suggests that Santeria has been officially accepted, it is necessary to be critical of the current folklore status of the religion. Indeed, considering the religion strictly as folklore idealizes Santeria to the point that the spiritual significance of the religion is severely devalued and is almost lost.


It is stated that Santeria is required to overcome numerous barriers for the acceptance in the society, as there are numerous and powerful stereotypes appeared during its existence. These stereotypes are supposed to be ruined for the creation of loyal attitude towards Santeria. Closeness to Christianity and argumentative confirmation of this closeness and confirmation of the absence of occult traditions will promote the acceptance process.


Avalos, Hector, ed. Introduction to the U.S. Latina and Latino Religious Experience. Boston: Brill, 2004.

Carter, Stephen L. “The Free Exercise Thereof.” William and Mary Law Review 38.5 (1997): 1627-1661.

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Clarke, Peter B., ed. New Trends and Developments in African Religions. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998.

Ebrahim, Haseenah. “Afrocuban Religions in Sara Gomez’s One Way or Another and Gloria Rolando’s Oggun.” The Western Journal of Black Studies 22.4 (1998): 239.

Fein, Bruce. “Ruling Makes Religion Bill Unnecessary for Freedom.” Insight on the News 2003: 34

Mason, Michael Atwood. “”I Bow My Head to the Ground”: the Creation of Bodily Experience in a Cuban American Santería Initiation.” Journal of American Folklore 107.423 (1994): 23-39.

Mcneal, Keith E. “David H. Brown Santeria Enthroned: Art, Ritual, and Innovation in an Afro-Cuban Religion.” Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies 31.61 (2006): 257

Melling, Philip. “Cultural Imperialism, Afro-Cuban Religion and Santiago’s Failure in Hemingway’s the Old Man and the Sea.” The Hemingway Review 26.1 (2006): 6

Murphy, Joseph M. “Santeria: The Beliefs and Rituals of a Growing Religion in America.” Theological Studies 67.1 (2006): 211

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Shirey, Heather. “Santeria Enthroned: Art, Ritual, and Innovation in an Afro-Cuban Religion.” African Arts 40.4 (2007): 93

Tweed, Thomas A. Our Lady of the Exile: Diasporic Religion at a Cuban Catholic Shrine in Miami. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

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