Legal aspects of ritual slaughter

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The legal aspects of ritual slaughter include the regulation of slaughterhouses, butchers, and religious personnel involved with traditional shechita (Jewish) and dhabiha (Islamic). Regulations also may extend to butchery products sold in accordance with kashrut and halal religious law. Governments regulate ritual slaughter, primarily through legislation and administrative law. In addition, compliance with oversight of ritual slaughter is monitored by governmental agencies and, on occasion, contested in litigation.

Scope of regulations[edit]

In Western countries, law reaches into every stage of ritual slaughter, from the slaughtering of livestock to the sale of kosher or halal meat.

In the United States, for example, courts have ruled that kosher butchers may be excluded from collective bargaining units,[1] a Jewish beit din (court) may forbid trade with disapproved butchers,[2] retail sellers implicitly stipulate their compliance with rabbinic courts,[3] a state law (NY) may incorporate a rabbinical ruling on kosher labeling,[4] and kashrut symbols may be subject to trade infringement laws.[5]

Due to differences between ritual and mainstream slaughtering practices, kosher slaughter may be exempted from animal welfare laws. For instance, in the United States, the Humane Slaughter Act (7 U.S.C. section 1901) exempts ritual slaughter, and this exemption has been upheld as constitutional.[6]

In the United States religious slaughter is not practiced under any exemption. Instead the Humane Slaughter Act defines religious slaughter by Jews and Muslims as one of two humane methods for killing animals for food, the other being using stunning.

Nathan Lewin Dr. Isaac Lewin And The Fight For Kosher Slaughter[7] Nathan Lewin Dr Isaac Lewin and the fight for kosher slaughter

The kosher food industry has challenged regulations as an infringement on religious freedom.[8]

Secular governments also have sought to restrict ritual slaughter not intended for food consumption. In the U.S., the most prominent such case is Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah. In this case, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled unconstitutional a local Florida ban on Santería ritual animal sacrifice.

The issue is complicated by allegations of antisemitism and xenophobia. Lastly, recent debate in Switzerland has been contentious, in part, because of comparisons by a prominent activist between kosher slaughter and the methods used by Nazis in concentration camps. The metaphor was borrowed from the vegetarian and Nobel Prize laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer who said "I am not a vegetarian for my own health, but for the health of the chickens" and has one of his fictional characters say, "every day is Treblinka for the animals." [9]

Religious slaughter practice[edit]

According to Jewish law and Muslim law, "slaughter is carried out with a single cut to the throat, rather than the more widespread methods of stunning with a bolt into the head (captive bolt pistol) for bovines and goats, electric tongs for sheep or an electrified water bath for poultry before slaughter.[10][11] The animal must be alive when its throat is cut and die from loss of blood.[12] Many Muslim authorities accept reversible stunning, such as electrostunning, or concussion with a mushroom shaped hammer prior to the cut.[13] Any kind of prestunning for livestock to be slaughtered according to the Jewish Kosher method has not yet been accepted.[14] The Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC), which advises the government on how to avoid cruelty to livestock, says the way Jewish Kosher and Muslim Halal meat is produced causes severe suffering to animals.[15]

Historic bans on religious slaughter[edit]


Some rulers banned all killing on their land for some period each year, including ritual slaughter. Beop of Baekje banned all kinds of killing.[16]Emperor TenmuEmpress GenshōEmperor Shōmu banned eating meat in Japan, in 675.[17]Tokugawa Tsunayoshi who was Fifth General Shogun of Edo(Japan) made animal protection laws and when he died, about 8000 criminals (including 3800 in Edo) who had been convicted of violating the law, were released (see ja:生類憐れみの令).[18][19] According to the The Red Annals (Deb-ther Dmar-po), Möngke Khan prohibited meat eating and killing four days each month.

After conquering Bago in 1559, King Bayinnaung prohibited the practice of halal. Halal slaughter was also forbidden by King Alaungpaya in the 18th century.

According to the White History of the Tenfold Virtuous Dharma (Arban Buyantu Nom-un Caġan Teüke), Altan Khan ordered the religious code Arban Buyantu Nom-un Cagaja prohibited human and animal sacrifice.


In the 1880s, anti-Semites joined forces with Animal Protection Societies to campaign for anti-shechita legislation to be passed in Switzerland, Germany and Scandinavia.[20]

In Switzerland shechitah was forbidden throughout the whole country in 1893 after having been banned in the cantons of Aargau and St. Gallen in 1867 after plebiscites, and later a ban was introduced in the whole of Switzerland after a plebiscite at Federal level. The system of voting on individual policies using referendums (plebiscites) had only recently been introduced.[21][22] and the first plebiscite in Swiss history was on the subject of banning shechita. The government and all the political parties were against the ban, but the popular sentiment won the day.[23]

Norway banned religious slaughter without pre stunning in 1930.

Kosher slaughter was banned in Poland in 1936.[24]

Sweden banned shechita (Jewish ritual slaughter) of cattle in 1937, and of poultry in 1989.[25] Germany banned shechita nationwide three months after Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933. There had been a prior ban in the German state of Saxony, and the League of Nations had supported the Jewish Community of Upper Silesia against Hitler in rejecting the attempts by German officials to confiscate shehitah knives and ban Jewish slaughter there as had been done in the German Reich. Bans were introduced in all the countries which the Nazis occupied, as well as in the countries of the Axis allies: Italy and Hungary. Bans introduced by the German Third Reich and by Benito Mussolini were removed by Allied Command when the Allies liberated Europe.[26]

Subsequently, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms included sections on Religious Freedom that in the preliminary discussions, referred specifically to religious ritual slaughter bans.[27]

Complete information up to 1946 on every ban introduced in every country in Europe in the original languages and in English translation is to be found in Religious Freedom: The Right to Practice Shehitah (Munk, Munk and Berman) together with references to the original debates and an analysis that claims that until the rise of Hitler in 1933, the international campaign to introduce ritual slaughter/ shehitah bans had failed because the vast majority of countries where legislation had been proposed rejected the legislation realising the involvement of anti-Semites in the campaign and enacted legislation to stave off bans on Jewish and Muslim slaughter.

European Union[edit]

The European Union directive, "European Convention for the Protection of Animals for Slaughter",[36] generally requires stunning before slaughter, but allows member states to allow exemptions for religious slaughter: "Each Contracting Party may authorize derogations from the provisions concerning prior stunning in the following cases: – slaughtering in accordance with religious rituals...."

Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights provides for a right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion which includes the freedom to manifest a religion or belief in, inter alia, practice and observance, subject only to such restrictions as are "in accordance with law" and "necessary in a democratic society."


In February 2014, Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Dan Jørgensen signed a regulation which banned ritual slaughter of animals without prior stunning.[37] Prior to this, religious groups could file for an exemption to the law that required stunning if they wanted to slaughter without prior stunning, although no groups had applied for such exemption. At the time, all halal slaughter in Denmark was performed with prior stunning, while kosher slaughter (which does not allow stunning) had not been practiced in Denmark since around 2004, all kosher meat being imported. In spite of this, the Muslim and Jewish Communities in Denmark strongly opposed the decree, arguing that it constituted an infringement upon religious freedom.[35][38]


Finland's law on slaughter dates from the 1930s and allows post-stunning thereby permitting kosher slaughter and providing certain legislative protection for some forms of Muslim slaughter. Dhabhiha (halal slaughter) is practised in Finland, but there are not sufficient resources for Jewish slaughter, and all kosher meat is imported.[39] In Åland the law prohibits bleeding to death unless animals have been previously stunned or directly killed.[30]

Paragraph 4 of the 1934 Act (enacted April 14, 1934, reads:

"It is forbidden to slaughter a domestic animal in any other way, except to render the animal insensible immediately before bleeding. Whenever religious reasons so demand, let it be allowed by the Ministry of Agriculture, in such a way, that the animal is rendered insensible immediately after the arteries have been swiftly cut, but in such a case the veterinarian of the institution must be present personally to supervise the slaughtering[40]

During 1996, the debate over the practice of shechita (Jewish religious slaughter of animals) in Finland continued. Although a motion to pass a law prohibiting shechita (on animal rights grounds) was defeated in December 1995, thereby allowing the practice to continue in Finland (on the condition that the slaughtering takes place simultaneously with a stunning blow), parties opposed to shehitah were not satisfied. The debate has spanned several years, became an election issue during the 1995 general election and often took on an unpleasant tone, as the proponents of the ban (some of whom were politicians) equated shehitah with female circumcision and mutilation.[41]


Ritual slaughter is permitted, with some restrictions.[30]

In Jewish Liturgical Association Cha'are Shalom Ve Tsedek v. France, 27 June 2000,[42] (App No. 27417/95) the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights interpreted Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights in a case involving a lawsuit by Glatt kosher slaughterers against a French law recognizing a non-Glatt association (the ACIP) as having the exclusive right to conduct Jewish ritual slaughter in France. The Court stated that ritual slaughter is a practice covered by the Article 9's guarantee of the right to manifest religious observance:

"It is not contested that ritual slaughter, as indeed its name indicates, constitutes a rite or "rite"...whose purpose is to provide Jews with meat from animals slaughtered in accordance with religious prescriptions, which is an essential aspect of practice of the Jewish religion...It follows that the applicant association can rely on Article 9 of the Convention with regard to the French authorities’ refusal to approve it, since ritual slaughter must be considered to be covered by a right guaranteed by the Convention, namely the right to manifest one's religion in observance, within the meaning of Article 9."

The Court then clarified the scope of Article 9, holding that it applies only to restrictions which would prevent consumers from being able to obtain ritually slaughtered meat:

"In the Court's opinion, there would be interference with the freedom to manifest one's religion only if the illegality of performing ritual slaughter made it impossible for ultra-orthodox Jews to eat meat from animals slaughtered in accordance with the religious prescriptions they considered applicable. But that is not the case. It is not contested that the applicant association can easily obtain supplies of "glatt" meat in Belgium. Furthermore, it is apparent from the written depositions and bailiffs’ official reports produced by the interveners that a number of butcher's shops operating under the control of the ACIP make meat certified "glatt" by the Beth Din available to Jews."[42]

Thus, under the Court of Human Rights' interpretation (not unanimous) of the European Convention on Human Rights in the Cha'are Shalom case, restrictions on ritual slaughter are permissible, but only if they do not prevent religious adherents from obtaining religiously slaughtered meat.


On January 15, 2002 the German Federal Constitutional Court held that the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany provides a broader guarantee of human rights in the area of religious freedom than the European Convention on Human Rights. In an appeal by a Turkish citizen who practiced Islamic ritual slaughter, the German court struck down Germany's former ban on ritual slaughter,[43] holding that the German Basic Law's guarantee of religious freedom prohibited the German government from applying a law requiring stunning prior to slaughter to observant Muslims who practice ritual slaughter for religious reasons, and that the Basic Law's guarantee of religious freedom applies to slaughterers as well as consumers of meat.[44][45] The German court held that under Article 2.1 of the German Basic Law, religious slaughterers have a distinct fundamental right to practice a religiously-recognized vocation. It also explained that merely permitting importation of ritually slaughtered meat is inadequate to protect the religious rights of individuals under Articles 4.1 and 4.2 of the German Basic Law (Constitution) because personal contact is important to ensuring compliance with religious requirements. It held that an exemption from laws that conflicted with this was therefore mandated:

It is true that the consumption of imported meat makes such renunciation [of meat-eating] dispensable; however, due to the fact that in this case, personal contact with the butcher and the confidence that goes with such contact do not exist, the consumption of imported meat is fraught with the insecurity whether the meat really complies with the commandments of Islam....Under these circumstances, an exemption from the mandatory stunning of warm-blooded animals before their blood is drained cannot be precluded if the intention connected with this exemption is to facilitate, on the one hand, the practice of a profession with a religious character, which is protected by fundamental rights, and, on the other hand, the observation of religious dietary laws by the customers of the person practicing the occupation in question. Without such exemptions, the fundamental rights of those who want to perform slaughter without stunning as their occupation would be unreasonably restricted, and the interests of the protection of animals would, without a sufficient constitutional justification, be given priority in a one-sided manner.[44]


Latvia legalized ritual slaughter in 2009[46] Halal meat products are exported to Sweden and animals are slaughtered using post-cut stunning[47]


Ritual slaughter is permitted, and regulated by a special convention concerning ritual slaughter.[30] The Party for the Animals (Dutch: Partij voor de Dieren; PvdD) was voted into the Dutch Parliament's Lower House with two MPs. Their election program had been to introduce an effective ban on ritual slaughter: Jewish shechita and Muslim Dhabiha. The bill was passed in the Lower House of the Dutch Parliament with 116 votes to 30. Debate over the matter swiftly became a focus of animosity towards the Netherlands' 1.2 million-strong Muslim community[verification needed]. The country's Jewish population is comparatively small at 50,000.

Following months of debate a last-minute concession was offered - the Muslim and Jewish communities would have a year to provide evidence that animals slaughtered by traditional methods do not experience greater pain than those that are stunned before they are killed.[48]

Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks visited the Netherlands in May 2011 to lobby against the ban, arguing that pre-stunning failed in up to 10 percent of cases and that caused more pain than the swift cutting of the throat by a razor-sharp knife. He blamed the vote on "a mischievous campaign by the animal rights lobby, based on emotive images and questionable science."

Dr. Joe Regenstein of Cornell University prepared a Preliminary Report for the Dutch government in May 2011.[49] The Dutch Senate (Upper House) held a long debate, and voted down the bill. Ritual slaughter is to proceed as before, with a provision for post-cut stunning should the animal survive for more than 40 seconds. The stunned animal will be neither halal or kosher. [50][51][52] [53] [54] [55] [56] [57] [58] [59] Only the Freedom Party of Geert Wilders, the Social Party, and the Animal Party wanted to forbid ritual slaughter in The Netherlands.


Poland banned slaughter of non-stunned animals in January, 2013, thus losing to neighbouring countries, such as Lithuania, an annual half-a-billion euro export trade to Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Iran and other Muslim-majority nations.[60] The claim was made by animal rights activists that kosher slaughter represented cruelty to animals.[61] The legal developments were complex, involving a government amendment to a law requiring all animals to be stunned prior to slaughter. The amendment allowed an exception to protect the religious freedoms of Poland's tiny Jewish and Muslim communities.

After pressure from animal rights groups, the Constitutional Court quashed the amendment on the grounds that it is not permissible to amend a law so that the original intention of the law is contradicted. In December 2014, the Polish Constitutional Court overturned the ban on kosher and halal slaughter since the protection of animals "does not take priority over constitutional guarantees of religious freedom," with Judge Maria Gintowt-Jankowicz stating in her final verdict that "the constitution guarantees the freedom of religion which includes the carrying out of all activities, practices, rites and rituals which have a religious character."[62][63]


Animal welfare is controlled under the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 32/2007, of November 7th. Article 6 of the act concerns slaughter of animals, including ritual slaughter:

"When the slaughter of animals is carried out according to the rites of Churches, religious denominations or communities registered in the Register of Religious Entities,[64] and the stunning requirements are inconsistent with the rules of the respective religious rite, the competent authorities will not demand the compliance with such requirements provided that the procedure is carried out within the limits referred to in Article 3 of the Organic Law no. 7 of 5 July 1980 on Religious Freedom. In any case, the slaughter according to whatever religious rite shall be carried out under the supervision and according to the instructions of the official veterinarian. The slaughterhouse shall notify the competent authority that it will carry out this kind of slaughter in order to have it registered for this purpose, without prejudice to the authorisation provided for in the European Community legislation."[65]


All domestic animals must be stunned before slaughter.[66] Ritual slaughter of cattle without stunning has been prohibited since 1937, and of poultry since 1989. [30] Halal slaughter of stunned animals takes place in Sweden.[67][68]

Other countries[edit]

In the rest of Europe the legal situation of ritual slaughter differs from country to country. While some countries have introduced bans, other countries - the US, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands - introduced legislation protecting shehitah.[30]


"The debate on Jewish religious slaughter in Norway first evolved in the animal protection movement in the late 1890s, but did not become a public matter until the Jews of Norway’s capital Kristiania (now Oslo) were forced by the city authorities to abandon the practice of kosher slaughter (shehitah) within the city borders in 1913. From that moment and until the law prohibiting the practice on a national level was adopted by the Norwegian parliament on the 12th of June 1929, the debate made the headlines on several occasions in Norwegian newspapers in the interwar years. Hundreds of articles, letters and editorials discussed the case which was known as the «Schächtning-affair».1 The issue received especially much attention from the nationalist right-wing of the Agrarian movement, and the Jewish slaughter practice became subject to a massive campaign from the Agrarian press and from Agrarian party members of parliament. In its final phase during the 1920s, many of the critics were also heavily influenced by the modern anti-Semitic ideology that had evolved in Germany since the late 1870s. One of the most quoted statements from the debate was made by the Agrarian MP, and later prime minister Jens Hunseid (1883-1965) during the conclusive parliamentary session on June 12, 1929: «We have no obligation to deliver our domestic animals to the cruelties of the Jews, we have not invited the Jews to this country, and we have no obligation to provide the Jews animals to their religious orgies»."[69]

Norway copied the Swiss campaign to ban ritual slaughter. The same arguments were presented as in the Swiss campaign and an appeal was made by the Jewish community to the Norwegian parliament not to introduce the legislation. After the ban was introduced, Norwegian Jews imported kosher meat from Sweden until it was banned there too.

In the 1890s, protests were raised in the Norwegian press against the practice of shechita. The Jewish community responded to these objections by assuring the public that the method was in fact humane. Efforts to ban shechita put sincere humane society activists in league with antisemitic individuals. Those opposing the ban included Fridtjof Nansen, but the division on the issue crossed party lines in all mainstream parties, except the Farmer's Party, which was principled in its opposition to schechita.[70]

The Food Health regulations were controversial, especially the stunning requirement, as they would lead to a fundamental change in the meat producing market. A committee was commissioned on February 11, 1927 that consulted numerous experts and visited a slaughterhouse in Copenhagen. Its majority favored the changes and found support in the Department of Agriculture and the parliamentary agriculture committee. Those who opposed a ban spoke of religious tolerance, and also claimed that schechita was no more inhumane than other slaughter methods. C J Hambro was one of those most appalled by the discussion, claiming that "where animal rights are protected to an exaggerated extent, it usually is done with the help of human sacrifice"[71][verification needed]

New Zealand[edit]

In May 2010, Minister of Agriculture David Carter issued a ban on kosher slaughter, rejecting the recommendations of his advisors.[72] Carter held shares in a firm which exports meat and prior to instituting the ban he met senior managers of the firm who wanted a ban on kosher slaughter to reduce their competition.[73] In November 2010, the ban on kosher slaughter of chickens was overturned, but the ban on kosher slaughter of beef was still in effect and kosher beef had to be imported from Australia.[74] In June 2011 the World Jewish Congress adopted a resolution calling on the New Zealand Government to abrogate its ban on kosher slaughter.[75]


The Swiss banned kosher slaughter in 1893 after a plebiscite so that a law requiring stunning prior to blood letting (exsanguination), which by definition excludes Jewish and Muslim religious slaughter methods, was included in the Swiss Constitution. The plebiscite had been preceded by a long anti-Semitic campaign, in which Jews were supported by Catholics, who had suffered under Otto von Bismarck in his anti-Catholic Kulturkampf. Catholic priests gave sermons encouraging their parishioners to vote against the effective ban, and the results of the referendum showed that French-speaking Cantons had voted against the ban, but German-speaking Protestant cantons that had voted for the ban.

"In Switzerland, a ban on kosher slaughter has been enforced since 1897, when the people supported this measure through a referendum with clear anti-Semitic undertones. At the time, Jews had recently been granted full civil rights and some Swiss citizens feared an invasion of Jewish migrants from Eastern Europe, who they considered to be unassimilable, foreign, and unreliable. By banning the performance of a core Jewish ritual, the Swiss people found a disguised way to limit the immigration of Jews into Switzerland."[76]

According to the US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour "Ritual slaughter (the bleeding to death of animals that have not first been stunned) was made illegal in the country in 1893; however, a 1978 Law on the Protection of Animals explicitly allows for the importation of kosher and halal meat. Imported from France and Germany, this meat is available in the country at comparable prices. In 2003, a popular initiative to protect animal rights and prohibit the import of meat from animals bled without stunning was filed; in December 2005, however, the sponsors withdrew their initiative before it had been submitted to a national vote after Parliament adopted a revision of the Law on the Protection of Animals."[77]

There was a backlash against a proposal to lift the ban in 2002. "In 2002, when the Swiss government attempted to lift the century-old ban, animal rights activists, political groups (on the left and the right), and unaffiliated citizens expressed strong opposition. They called shechita practice a "barbaric" and "sanguinary", an "archaic tradition from the time of the ghettos", and asked Jews to either become vegetarian or leave the country."[76]

Proposals to extend ban to imports[edit]

Switzerland has considered extending the ban in order to prohibit importing kosher products. The Swiss Animal Association called for a referendum on banning kosher imports.[78] Christopher Blocher, a cabinet minister for the Swiss People's Party, has supported calls to ban the import of kosher and halal meat.[79] "A recent survey showed more than three-quarters of the population said they would like to see their government ban even the import of kosher meat. Erwin Kessler, president of Verein gegen Tierfabrik (Association against animal factories)[80] who has several convictions for racial offenses, including the comparison of Jewish ritual slaughter of animals with the Nazi treatment of Jews ,[81] has been campaigning vigorously for this. He's 40,000 short of the 100,000 signatures needed to trigger a referendum to completely ban kosher and halal meat entering Switzerland. Kessler has inflamed the controversy by publicly quoting vegetarian and literature Nobel Laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer[82] comparing kosher slaughter to the methods used by Nazis in concentration camps, but denies that his motives are anti-semitic."[83]

"Should a proposed ban on the import of kosher meat be accepted by the Swiss people in 2006, it will effectively force Jews who observe kashrut to abstain from the consumption of meat. Muslims will also be affected by this move."[76]

United States[edit]

The United States is one of the countries that has legislation for protection of shechita (Jewish) and dhabihah (Muslim) ritual slaughter. The Humane Slaughter Act defines ritual slaughter as one of two humane methods of slaughter.[84]

Since 1958 the United States has prohibited the shackling and hoisting of cattle without stunning them first.

In Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah 508 U.S. 520 (1993), the United States Supreme Court struck down a ban imposed by the City of Hialeah, Florida, on Santería religious animal sacrifices practiced by the Church as contravening the religious freedoms guaranteed by the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution of the United States. While the City of Hialeah claimed that its ban on ritual slaughter "not for the primary purpose of food consumption" was motivated by concerns for animal welfare and public health, the Supreme Court held that ample evidence showed that it was in fact motivated by animosity to the Santería religion and a desire to suppress it:

That the ordinances were enacted "'because of,' not merely 'in spite of'", their suppression of Santería religious practice is revealed by the events preceding enactment of the ordinances. The minutes and taped excerpts of the June 9 session, both of which are in the record, evidence significant hostility exhibited by residents, members of the city council, and other city officials toward the Santería religion and its practice of animal sacrifice. The public crowd that attended the June 9 meetings interrupted statements by council members critical of Santería with cheers and the brief comments of Pichardo with taunts. When Councilman Martinez, a supporter of the ordinances, stated that in pre-revolution Cuba "people were put in jail for practicing this religion", the audience applauded. Other statements by members of the city council were in a similar vein. For example, Councilman Martinez, after noting his belief that Santería was outlawed in Cuba, questioned, "if we could not practice this [religion] in our homeland [Cuba], why bring it to this country?" Councilman Cardoso said that Santería devotees at the Church "are in violation of everything this country stands for." Various Hialeah city officials made comparable comments. The chaplain of the Hialeah Police Department told the city council that Santería was a sin, "foolishness", "an abomination to the Lord", and the worship of "demons." He advised the city council that "We need to be helping people and sharing with them the truth that is found in Jesus Christ." He concluded: "I would exhort you . . . not to permit this Church to exist." The city attorney commented that Resolution 87-66 indicated that "This community will not tolerate religious practices which are abhorrent to its citizens...." Similar comments were made by the deputy city attorney. This history discloses the object of the ordinances to target animal sacrifice by Santería worshippers because of its religious motivation.
In sum, the neutrality inquiry leads to one conclusion: The ordinances had as their object the suppression of religion. The pattern we have recited discloses animosity to Santería adherents and their religious practices; the ordinances by their own terms target this religious exercise; the texts of the ordinances were gerrymandered with care to proscribe religious killings of animals but to exclude almost all secular killings; and the ordinances suppress much more religious conduct than is necessary in order to achieve the legitimate ends asserted in their defense. These ordinances are not neutral, and the court below committed clear error in failing to reach this conclusion

The Court also found that the city's proffered reasons for its ban simply did not explain or justify it.

Respondent claims that [the ordinances] advance two interests: protecting the public health and preventing cruelty to animals. The ordinances are underinclusive for those ends. They fail to prohibit non religious conduct that endangers these interests in a similar or greater degree than Santería sacrifice does. The underinclusion is substantial, not inconsequential. Despite the city's proffered interest in preventing cruelty to animals, the ordinances are drafted with care to forbid few killings but those occasioned by religious sacrifice. Many types of animal deaths or kills for nonreligious reasons are either not prohibited or approved by express provision.

The United States Supreme Court held that animal sacrifice and ritual slaughter were practices protected by the First Amendment's guarantee of religious liberty and that government could not enact targeted legislation suppressing religious practices under a guise of protecting animal welfare or promoting public health.[citation needed]

Temple Grandin, who is both an animal welfare activist and the leading American designer of commercial slaughterhouses, has outlined techniques for humane ritual slaughter.[85][86] She considers shackling and hoisting of animals for slaughter to be inhumane, and has developed alternative approaches usable in production plants. Grandin has coordinated this with the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative movement in the United States, and in 2000 the Committee voted to accept her approach, ruling that "Now that kosher, humane slaughter using upright pens is both possible and widespread, we find shackling and hoisting to be a violation of Jewish laws forbidding cruelty to animals and requiring that we avoid unnecessary dangers to human life. As the CJLS, then, we rule that shackling and hoisting should be stopped."[87]

In an investigation by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, undercover video was obtained of kosher slaughtering practices at a major kosher slaughterhouse run by Agriprocessors in Postville, Iowa.[88] The methods used there involved clamping the animals into a box which is then inverted for slaughter, followed by partial dismemberment of the animal before it was dead. Those methods have been condemned as unnecessarily cruel by PETA and others, including Grandin and the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, but are endorsed by the Orthodox Union,[89] which supervises the slaughterhouse. An investigation by the USDA resulted in some minor operational changes. A lawsuit under Iowa law is pending. Grandin's comment was "I thought it was the most disgusting thing I'd ever seen. I couldn't believe it. I've been in at least 30 other kosher slaughter plants, and I had never ever seen that kind of procedure done before. ... I've seen kosher slaughter really done right, so the problem here is not kosher slaughter. The problem here is a plant that is doing everything wrong they can do wrong".[90] In 2006 the Orthodox Union, Temple Grandin and Agriprocessors had reportedly resolved their problems.[91] In 2008, though, Grandin reported that Agriprocessors had again become "sloppy" in their slaughter operation and was "in the bottom 10%" of slaughterhouses.[92]

European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms[edit]

Article 9 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is headed – Freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

2. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

In those countries that have signed the convention, and, at the same time have enacted laws that effectively ban ritual slaughter have a conflict between the Convention and the law. In international law two principles apply: one being which law was enacted first, the other being the intentions of the lawmakers. (This principle was challenged in Pepper v Hart in the context of the UK.

The preparatory discussions for Article 9 of the European Convention dealt specifically with Shehitah as the matter was raised by a Jewish pressure group [93] dealt specifically with effective bans on religious slaughter imposed by the Nazi Reich on countries in occupied Europe raised by a Jewish pressure group, and it has been pointed out that in disputed legislation the proper procedure is to refer back to the debates and discussions at the time of drafting the legislation, in order to see clearly what was intended. (reference later). Those countries that are signatories to the Convention and retain effective bans today are not abiding by the convention.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Aurora Packing Co. v. National Labor Relations Board, 904 F. 2d 73 (D.C. Cir. 1990) as cited by
  2. ^ S.S. & B. Live Poultry Corp. v. Kashrut Ass'n of Greater NY, 158 Misc. 358, 285 N.Y.S. 879 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. City, 1936) as cited by
  3. ^ Cohen v. Silver, 277 Mass 230, 178 NE 508 (Supreme Judicial Court, 1931) as cited by
  4. ^ People v. Gordon, 14 NYS2d 333, 172 Misc 543 (Sp.Sess. 1939) as cited by
  5. ^ Levy v. Kosher Overseers Association of America, Inc., 104 F. 3d 38 (2d Cir. 1997) as cited by
  6. ^ Jones v. Butz, 374 F. Supp. 1284 (S.D.N.Y. 1974); aff'd, 95 S.Ct. 22 319 US 806, 42 L.Ed.2d 806 (1974) as cited by
  7. ^ Nathan Lewin Dr. Isaac Lewin And The Fight For Kosher Slaughter
  8. ^ "Kosher Food Regulation and the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment" by Gerald F. Masoudi, The University of Chicago Law Review, Vol. 60, No. 2. (Spring, 1993), pp. 667–696 JSTOR link
  9. ^ Quoted on this site in French: “En pensée, Herman fit l'oraison funèbre de la souris qui avait partagé une partie de sa vie et qui, à cause de lui, avait quitté cette terre. "Tous ces érudits, tous ces philosophes, les dirigeants de la planète, que savent-ils de quelqu'un comme toi? Ils se sont persuadé que l'homme, espèce pécheresse entre toutes, domine la création. Toutes les autres créatures n'auraient été créées que pour lui procurer de la nourritures, des fourrures, pour être martyrisées, exterminées. Pour ces créatures, tous les humains sont nazis; pour les animaux, c'est un éternel Treblinka.”
  10. ^ halal certification
  11. ^ Halal and Kosher slaughter 'must end', BBC News, June 10, 2003, accessed September 18, 2006 BBC article from June 10, 2003 reporting that the FAWC thought that ritual slaughter in Britain should be banned. These recommendations were rejected by the government.
  12. ^ Sharp rise in halal abattoirs slaughtering animals without stunning them first, The Telegraph
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  16. ^ 百濟第二十九主法王諱宣。或云孝順。開皇十年己未即位。是年冬。下詔禁殺生。放民家所養鷹鸇之類。焚漁獵之具。一切禁止。三國遺事 卷3
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  18. ^ [鳥銃濫発禁止令」「犬猫を繋ぐことの禁止令」「鳥魚貝等の憐れみ令」「犬猫憐れみ令」「馬匹憐れみ令」「猪鹿狼憐れ み令]
  19. ^ 生類憐みの令の真実
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    pages 9–10 "Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland as well as six Austrian provinces allow no exemption to pre-mortem stunning of the animal. Conversely, this exemption is granted in France, UK, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. Conditions for exemption are not always the same in all countries. For instance, in Spain exemptions only apply to sheep and goats but not to cattle."
    page 14 "Eventually, in 2002, the German constitutional court granted to a Muslim butcher the right to slaughter without stunning similarly to Jewish butchers"
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Further reading[edit]