Here we go again. It was just a couple weeks ago that I expressed some concern over the seemingly misinformed animal control and welfare officers employed in the state of Pennsylvania, and now they’re in the news again over a “huge find” in an abandoned house.
“Police are investigating a case of possible animal cruelty after the remains of 75 animals and a large altar composed of primate skulls were found today inside a house in the city’s Feltonville section. The animals are believed to have been sacrificed as part of satanic worship and Santeria rituals, investigators said. Pentagrams were also seen in the house … George Bengal, director of law enforcement for the Pennsylvania SPCA, said the agency’s officers had entered the living room and found an altar constructed of about 50 primate skulls. “This is a huge find,” Bengal said. Those involved in the rituals “usually take the skull and the feet and the blood and drain the blood from the animal. They’ll drink the blood and use the skull and feet as part of the altar.” Neighbors said that a man in his 50s or 60s lived at the property, but that they had not seen anyone there for months.”
Satanism? Santeria? The “altar” found in the house, and the supposed rituals described in making it, don’t follow traditional practices for either faith (indeed, most modern Satanists don’t even sacrifice animals). I’m also curious as to why this is a “huge find” for them. Because it involves so many animal corpses? Or is it because it fits into certain preconceived notions about what those faiths do with animals? Remember, the George Bengal quoted above is the same George Bengal who recently warned of mysterious Winter “high holidays” where animals were sacrificed in large numbers.
“An animal welfare official says a beheaded dog and cat found in Philadelphia appear to be the result of a ritual sacrifice. George Bengal, Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals director of investigations, said the dog and cat were found … near a bike path in Philadelphia’s Olney neighborhood along with three beheaded chickens. He said he believes the animals were killed elsewhere and the remains dumped where a passer-by found them. Mr. Bengal said there is usually an increase in ritual animal sacrifices at this time of year because of “a lot of high holidays that different groups celebrate.” But he said most of those sacrifices involve goats and chickens.”
So never mind that various experts in religion and animal abuse cases agree that “huge finds” like this usually aren’t manifestations of Santeria or Satanism, but of disturbed individuals (often teens) who usually construct a hodge-podge of half-understood ritualism to justify their aberrant urges and behaviors. Why go with the boring old truth when you can create a darkly sinister religious “other” to battle? Why listen to experts when you can hector innocent Satanists on bogus abuse charges instead? I would really like to know who exactly is training animal control officers and local ASPCA officials in Pennsylvania concerning ritual sacrifice. Do they even know what a normal Santeria ritual is like? Have they even met a real Satanist? This current trend could be heading for a train-wreck of racial and religious profiling that could seriously damage the effectiveness of animal control officials among minority faiths. After all, why report a co-religionist who’s abusing animals if they’ll just think you’re in on it too?