Aztecs Next Door? Freedom and Neighbors Alma Boykin

Aztecs Next Door? Freedom and Neighbors

Alma Boykin

What are the limits of certain rights? If we take the Declaration of Independence at face value, and accept that certain rights are granted by the fact of our existence as humans, including “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness,” how do we square government limitations on practices that are also protected?

I use the example of Aztecs next door when I talk in class about reasonable limits on certain rights, notably the First Amendment. Setting aside the original definition of established churches, can a government limit or prohibit certain worship practices? If so, why? Or why not?

A bit of back ground on Aztec religion is probably in order, because knowing their cosmology explains some of the practices that their neighbors and the Spanish found to be a bit distasteful, either because of the problem of scale or for other reasons. The call for blood sacrifice is common to all Aztec creation stories, and even Quetzalcoatl offers his own blood, although he does not demand that others’ die for him. The story below is one example:

According to the Aztec creation stories, when the time came for a fifth sun to come into existence, none of the gods wanted to take the part. Becoming the sun involved, among other things, throwing yourself into a fire. When a volunteer was not forthcoming, the gods picked one of their number, Nanahuatl, a deity afflicted with (among other things) a skin disease, and insisted that he take the job. He agreed rather reluctantly, and after undergoing self-torture to purify himself, jumped into the fire, descended to the Land of the Dead and then became the sun. And then he stopped, hovering over the edge of the world and refusing to budge. When the gods told him to move, he refused, having become a lot more powerful than they were. They begged him, to which he replied that he would only do his part if they allowed themselves to be sacrificed and their hearts cut out. They refused and then threatened him, but he destroyed the Morning Star, the spirit sent against him. At this the other spirits gave up and allowed themselves to be sacrificed. Because the gods gave their blood for the lives of all creatures, according to the Aztecs, it was the least humans could do to repay the gift by offering blood and lives to keep the sun fed.

The Aztecs’ other gods also required human lives, as did the gods of the Maya, Toltec, and Inca (on a smaller scale). So too the gods of the Pawnee and other North American groups, but what set the Central American deities apart was the scale of the required sacrifices. We used to think that the Spanish exaggerated when they talked about thousands of people being offered to the gods at a single festival. It turns out that they were correct. And Aztec nobles (and others) made daily blood offerings via techniques I won’t mention here. You can look them up on your own. Suffice it to say that the Aztecs’ neighbors had very good reasons to want to be rid of the Aztec hegemony, and high taxes were not the only cause.

So, what does this have to do with modern government restrictions on rights? What would you do if a group moved into town, got permits for a step-pyramid (or sacred well) and started sacrificing humans to Tlaloc or Tezcatlipoca? They keep the skull rack indoors, and the priest does not wear the flayed skin outside the walls of the holy precinct, but still . . . You would call the police to report a murder. But what if the group is the First Reconstituted Aztec Church (Reformed), duly registered with the IRS et al as a religious group, and they swear that if they do not sacrifice people, the sun will not rise in the morning. And all their “victims” have been willing (or so the chief priests claim, and they have signed hold-harmless forms and legal released stating so.) Your town or city would probably whip up a new law saying that human sacrifice, for any reason, is illegal within municipal limits, and the county would do likewise.

Can that be done? Or does human sacrifice come under the clause of murder (or manslaughter)? What if the victim is willing, supposedly?

Replace human with animal and you have a legal quandary faced by the residents of Hialeah, FL some years back, in a case that ended up at the Supreme Court. A croup of Santeria practitioners, the Church of Lukumi Babaly Aye, wanted to build a new worship facility, school, and museum. Because Santeria requires animal sacrifice, the neighbors of the proposed worship and cultural complex balked, and the City of Hialeah drew up a new ordinance, augmenting extant rules against animal sacrifice that had allowed certain exemptions for kosher and halal slaughter. The new law was so worded that it obviously was an attempt to block the Santeria practitioners. They in turn sued on grounds of infringement of religion and the case went the the Supreme Court (Church of the Lukumi-Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah 508 U.S. 520 (1993).)

To quote

(Kennedy, J.) Justice Kennedy concluded that the local laws violated the Free Exercise Clause because they were designed to persecute or oppress a religion or its practices.

The Free Exercise Clause provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” “The Free Exercise Clause commits government itself to religious tolerance, and upon even slight suspicion that proposals for state intervention stem from animosity to religion or distrust of it practices, all officials must pause to remember their own high duty to the Constitution and to the rights it secures.” Accordingly, “legislators may not devise mechanisms, overt or disguised to persecute or oppress a religion or its practice.” Under the constitution, a law that is not neutral, but targets a specific action, and that does not apply generally to all people, but targets a specific group, must be justified by a compelling governmental interest and narrowly tailored to advance that interest.


The Court held that the purpose of the laws was to suppress the Santeria religion. The only conduct subject to the ordinances was animal sacrifice, the central element of the Santeria worship services, and they were therefore not neutral. The Court also held that the ordinances were not of general applicability but selectively targeted to conduct motivated by religious belief. [End of Quote]


Having waded through that, you are probably nodding a little in agreement with the Court, even if you find animal sacrifice distasteful, unnecessary, primitive, or cruel. Interestingly, Justice Souter, although in agreement with the majority, pointed out that the Court skipped over the possibility of a law that was broadly applicable and just happened by accident to interfere with worship: which is the case of our (hypothetical) First Reconstituted Aztec Church (Reformed).

Outside of S. M. Sterling and other writers’ imaginations, I really do not think that anyone wants to bring back Aztec traditional worship, even those who call out for the “return” of “Aztlan” to the Indigenous Peoples of the Southwest. In part, I suspect they would suffer unfortunate accidents that their neighbors never happened to see or hear despite taking place in the middle of a block party. I also suspect, uncharitable person that I am, that the would-be neoAztec leaders have zero desire to endure the daily self torture and mutilation required by their desired positions.

But it raises an interesting question. Animal sacrifice is allowed under the First Amendment, because to forbid it interferes with the free exercise of worship. What about human sacrifice?

201 thoughts on “Aztecs Next Door? Freedom and Neighbors Alma Boykin

  1. That’s not even a hard one. The laws against murder are generally applicable and the government has a interest in preventing it. In contrast, animals are killed everyday for food.

      1. If there was one thing I got from a childhood of watching Law and Order episodes, it was that you can’t consent to being murdered. No matter how willing the sacrifice might have been, ending that life is seen as a crime against society, not just the individual killed, so it’s still going to be prosecuted.

        Of course, that was in the late 80s and early 90s when there was still broad agreement that things like assisted suicide would be prosecuted. If the Aztecs set themselves up in Oregon, their priests got themselves certified as doctors, and the sacrifices requested that those doctors help them with their suicides…well, things could get interesting.

              1. I like to keep the organs out of the collection plate – they make all the currency gory and the last thing I want is to be accused of taking blood money.

        1. If there was one thing I got from a childhood of watching Law and Order episodes, it was that you can’t consent to being murdered. No matter how willing the sacrifice might have been, ending that life is seen as a crime against society, not just the individual killed, so it’s still going to be prosecuted.

          More than just murdered…in many jurisdictions voluntary engagement in S&M practices does not absolve the top of criminal liability. There is no right to be assaulted if you want to be assaulted.

          1. There is no right to be assaulted if you want to be assaulted.

            Yeah! That’s what prisons are for!

      2. there we find the slippery slope that is “Assisted Suicide”. If this is legal, then human sacrifice if the sacrificed was a willing participant would be arguably the same thing. Following this, Slavery is okay in Islam so who are we the Gov’t of the USA to say they cannot have slaves? If that follows, I shall say I will start a religion that compels me to stop all those practices … forcebly if needs must … Hey, that’s my religion, they cannot deny that from me, right.

        1. Actually they can have slaves as long as they are convicted of a crime first.

          “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

          There is no functional difference between a convict in jail and a slave, it’s just that, AFAIK the State is the only one allowed to make use of their labor.

          1. Look up “Chain Gangs”. That was “involuntary servitude” and the counties often “rented out” the workers to private companies/individuals.

        2. *Boom* You’re a Rethuglican. You have a religious obligation to offer up all of those who would violate the rights protected by the United States Constitution to Lincoln-Durga. They must be throttled to death with a silken strangling cord. Note that this obligation can only be waived if the criminal is being held by the authorities, or has been punished under the direction of a legitimate court, or is being targeted by lethal force in a military operation.

          Foreigners who neither wish to legally immigrate to the United States, nor bring their homeland into the Union as a State were born that way as a result of their Karmic burden. They probably voted Democrat in a previous life or something. They can work off the debt by killing communists.

      3. As a matter of policy, you can’t consent to a crime. (This actually came up in torts class–consent is a defense against the tort of battery, for instance. But it doesn’t help you against the crime.)

        It makes sense when you consider that the victim isn’t actually a necessary part of prosecution–you don’t need them to cooperate, they’re at most a witness. It’s the state that prosecutes.

        Ergo, unless there’s a specific consent clause in the law, and the circumstances fit it exactly, it’s still murder.

      4. It remains manslaughter — “the crime of killing a human being without malice aforethought, or otherwise in circumstances not amounting to murder” — and thus malum prohibitum.

        Now, whether you can contrive a Rube Goldbergian (or perhaps, in this instance, a Jack Kevorkian) device to permit self-sacrifice is an other question.

      5. Not being a lawyer, I think human sacrifices would indeed be murder even if the victim consented… unless they were performed in accordance with an assisted suicide law.

            1. IIRC it’s not strictly legal but few questions are asked when it happens.

              I remember a case where an old woman told her son that she was wanting to die and he changed her doctor.

              “Strangely”, she changed her mind after getting a new doctor.

              The implication was that some doctors are putting older patients “out of the doctor’s misery”. [Frown]

              1. I’m not necessarily opposed to assisted suicide in principle, but in practice my great concern is exactly the type of situation you describe. It terrifies me, especially given ever-increasing government involvement in healthcare.

                1. Yep. One time I was close to death, I was actively talked into a procedure that would almost surely kill me by a doctor because “what good are you to your family?”

                2. Nod. I see several dangers in assisted suicide.

                  1) Children of the patient wanting the patient killed because the patient is “inconvenient” or because of an inheritance.

                  2) The patient’s doctor wanting to put the patient out of the doctor’s misery.

                  3) A combination of 1 & 2.

                  4) Some bureaucrat deciding that keeping the patient alive is a waste of money and the patient should be “helped” to die.

                  Note, having to deal with a mother with the Big A, I can slightly understand a care-giver’s desire for the death of the “inconvenient” patient but I can’t approve of “assisting” in the patient’s death. Thankfully, I was able to get help with Mom including the help that the nursing home gave. Fortunately, in Mom’s final illness the odds were against anything the doctors could do to keep her alive. So I just had to decide on the “keep her comfortable until the end” course of action. Final comment, I left the hospital early that morning, while she was still alive, by the end of that day she had died.

                  1. Some bureaucrat deciding that keeping the patient alive is a waste of money and the patient should be “helped” to die.

                    That one’s already going on.

                    Did you see the feel-good story this year on facebook? Last Christmas, a man whose adult son was in the hospital and had been judged, by their board, to be in a permanent vegetative state and thus going to have all life support removed (death by dehydration) got drunk and took over the hospital room with a gun.

                    He held it for several hours until SWAT got in there, and he was holding his son’s hand… and the kid squeezed it. So he starts howling about how his son is showing signs of life, and the SWAT doctor checks the kid out and identifies that he is definitely not in a vegetative state of any sort.

                    The dad got something like ten months in jail, and the son is now running a business with his dad– and not in the “dad does everything” way, but to the point where I thought that it was a brother in the interview until they identified him as the guy who was going to be killed. He’s even walking around fine, and folks here know how easy that is to jack up.

                    1. Nod, I heard about that.

                      Of course, I wonder at the competence of the board that declared the man brain-dead.

      6. There HAVE been a few cases somewhat related, and the usual argument is something of a catch-22. It goes something like:

        -Consent is only meaningful if the person so consenting is competent and functional.
        -Consenting to the -certainty- of death and grave physical harm for no personal benefit is prima facie evidence of mental incompetence and dysfunction.
        -Therefore, any consent given to be killed by someone else for their own gain is invalid, and the killing should be treated as any other murder.

        1. At the risk of seeming/being pedantic, I have to ask: in that circumstance, how do we define “personal benefit”? I mean…is “guarantee of entry to The Elysian Fields, Valhalla, etc” a “personal benefit”? Must a “benefit” be physically obvious to be legally valid and therefore evidence of “mental competence”? Must the person benefiting be seen to “benefit” from it whilst still alive? I loved the logic of this (the “mental incompetence” argument) at first, but then it occurred to me that I’ve “sacrificed” (quotes for emphasis, not disrespect) my life to Christ for no “tangible” personal benefit…what if a religion arose wherein the adherents believed that the only way to enter heaven was to consent to having their hearts cut out? Am I making even a vague amount of sense here, or am I senselessly rambling? I’ll stop now. 🙂

        1. To the best of my knowledge, it’s never come up, because all the relevant cases have occurred in jurisdictions where assisted suicide is still illegal, like Germany (the famous vore case), most of the US, Australia, NZ, etc

      7. Suicide is a crime in most states,so you can’t give consent to your murder. You might be able to force acceptance of voluntary sacrifice in the exceptions, or they might be able to keep the standards of assisted suicide.

  2. Animal sacrifice and human sacrifice are of different natures, primarily due to the concept of natural law. Animal sacrifice is not different in essence from killing animals for food, or for experimental purposes. But humans are endowed by their creator with the right to life, health, liberty, and possessions (this is from John Locke’s “The Two Treatises of Civil Government). They can’t be deprived of these without due process at the very least. An analogous question would be, can a church claim that the theft of property from non-church-members is a sacrament of their religion and thereby exempt from prosecution? I think the answer is clearly, no.

    1. Ah, but it’s generally valid for mnicipal zoning laws to prohibit, say, a slaughterhouse from some areas.

      So killing a given cow in a given location for food may be prohibited, but killing that same cow for ritual sacrifice followed by most holy BBQ and religious feast, as is required of my constitutionally protected religion, is not?

      1. Hmmmmm….. BBQfarian, will you also have sacramental beer?? None of that lite stuff BTW, that is spawn of Satan.

        1. But it is used in the ritual slaughter of Satan’s spawn’s spawn, the slug, so that the sacred sweet corn shoots are not decimated therby rendering the adult corn plants unfit to be offered to the flame on the Day of Feasting.

        1. The problem comes when you have somebody arguing who doesn’t believe that humans are anything except elevated animals.

          1. Put “A Rat Is a Pig Is a Dog Is a Boy”in your search engine of choice and you will get both Peta’s argument in support of that proposition and the most devastating defenestration of it, courtesy of Wesley J. Smith.

                    1. Actually, I like tofu done right.

                      When you have two no meat days most weeks and two long (40+ day) and two short (1-2 weeks) meatless periods in a year (although my observance has been off since last summer) you learn to make tofu appealing.

          2. Those types should be the first to be sacrificed (if we sacrifice anybody). [Very Very Big Evil Grin]

  3. Hmmm…it may be necessary for practitioners to set up their pyramid outside the country in an undisclosed location and have the worshippers watch the proceedings over the Internet.

    Is it necessary for the worshippers to actually ebe present on site during the ceremonies?

    1. Hard to say, because observers were supposed to shed a little blood as well. Probably today you could observe from long distance, but that leads to a different set of questions about who else might be watching and if non-members start observing does it shift from a voluntary religious ritual to something prohibited by broadcast law. (A logical argument from people who would want the whole thing stopped and the priests and acolytes prosecuted.)

      1. They might have to keep the feed private for registered users only.

        Side note, the idea of a ‘public’ online murder where the public was invited to ‘participate’ was a very good episode of that Tv show Millennium. The murderer dressed in executioners robes and would only kill his (unwilling) victim if he got enough hits.

  4. The deal with “animal sacrifice” isn’t the killing of animals, it’s *why* the animals are killed.

    There are accepted standards for the slaughtering of animals; as long as those are followed, I don’t see any difference between killing a chicken for a Wendy’s chicken sandwich or to attract the attention of the loa.

    1. Well….deliciousness??

      More seriously – or at least on topic – what about states with assisted suicide laws?

      Could Aztec ritual be adapted to allow people to offer themselves?

      1. That is but one of the slippery slopes in that kind of law.

        And that was actually the scenario Alma laid out:
        “and they have signed hold-harmless forms and legal released stating so.)”

    2. In our household, we’ve long since established that the occasional chicken must be sacrificed in order to appease the spirits that live in your computer and allow Word to open your file and make it actually be the same thing that you saved. We’ve also established that eating a 6-pack of chicken nuggets is a perfectly acceptable way to make said sacrifice.

      1. “In our household, we’ve long since established that the occasional chicken must be sacrificed in order to appease the spirits that live in your computer and allow Word to open your file and make it actually be the same thing that you saved.”

        Sacrificing a chicken apparently also helps to appease the “tail row-tor spirits” of an Mi-24 helicopter. In that instance, I doubt that chicken nuggets would be acceptable.

    3. I don’t see any difference between killing a chicken for a Wendy’s chicken sandwich or to attract the attention of the loa.

      Embrace the power of “and”?

  5. Animals aren’t people. Getting too squeamish about certain animal slaughter practices brings trouble.

    A good chunk of the problem out west that’s causing these sagebrush rebellions is excess government softness for certain animals. Wild horses are overpopulated. We can’t give the horses away to be adopted. Running the wild horse program as a kill shelter exceeds budget and causes a lot of protest. So the horse lots are always full and the land degrades, requiring the reduction of cattle permits to balance out (and the ire of ranchers).

    The solution is pretty simple, let butchers make a buck in the dog food trade. The law is written that way. The BLM extra-legally refuses to allow it.

    1. Years ago I recall an attempt to open a horse processing plant near where I grew up, northern Illinois. They had a ready and assured market for the processed meat air lifted direct to Japan.
      Naturally, the idea was met with massive protests, and the plant never opened. Excess equines continued to be shipped off to be processed into pet food.

    2. Several times Congress has backdoor outlawed horse slaughter by refusing to pay for the inspection of the plants, while requiring that they be inspected.

      No idea what the status of this is ATM, though.

    3. It’s not so much ‘government softness’ (at least on the ground level) as it is the danged activists who make the spineless high-ups miserable. I’m a contractor for the BLM, and there is not *one* person in the field office where I work (the largest in the bureau, incidentally) that is happy about wild–excuse me, FERAL–horse overpopulation. The general consensus is that “yes, they can be pretty, no we don’t want to kill all of them, but dammit these activist-horse-people seem to think it’s better to let them starve/die of thirst/wreck the rangelands than round them up or otherwise control the population.” But because of the folks that run the EPA (a conflict of interest if ever there was one) and, more to the point, the people who start howling to the moon the minute steps are taken to try and reduce the horse population, the congress-critters and their ilk cave. But in general, most of the government employees dealing with the actual horses and their overpopulation would really, really like to do something like issue hunting permits for them. (The person can catch the horse or kill it, but either way they are then responsible for it–they can eat it, keep it, whatever they like…) 😀

    4. Last I heard, we had been shipping the horses to the parts of Europe where there was a market for horse-meat.

      Then Hollywood got involved…

      1. Well, given some of my recent gov’t interactions cats would be more efficient and less cruel than gov’t employees so I’m down with it.

  6. Let the First Reconstituted Aztec Church (Reformed) set up shop in some out of the way place and have them start their services with the Church of Lukumi Babaly Aye (whatever the hell that is) as the guests of honor. Tell them to invite the PETA folks to the initial purification ceremony with an eye to recruiting new screwballs to their cause.

    Let ’em have the incarcerated pedophiles next, then follow up with the politicians. One thing we don’t have in the U.S. is a shortage of fodder to keep the sun running. And, you know, anyone who complains about global warming…

    Me, I like animals. I’d tell the Santeria worshipers to take a hike on the general principal that the one thing we do not need in our society is more devil worshiping religious zealots chasing their tails and barking at the moon. Yeah, yeah, constitutional rights are all that. Stable dressing, I say.

    1. “I’d tell the Santeria worshipers to take a hike on the general principal that the one thing we do not need in our society is more devil worshiping religious zealots chasing their tails and barking at the moon.”

      Considering what some “anti-theists” say about Christians, I’ll fight any government that attempts to suppress the Santeria.

      Your opinion of them is only your opinion, but when people take actions, legal or extra-legal, against the Santeria then that’s wrong.

      Now if the Aztecs want to sacrifice humans, that’s another story and they should be stopped.

      1. (AP): The question of the local First Reconstituted Aztec Church (Reformed) was resolved by an unexpected mass self-sacrifice in which all members killed one another in an orgy of blood-letting.

        There were suspicions that some of the non-believing locals were the actual perpetrators of the slaughter, but no witnesses could be found to dispute their alibis and the jury was unwilling to convict.

      2. To be honest with ourselves, I think the primary objection we have isn’t to people being sacrificed, but specifically which people we are sacrificing and how the sacrifice is performed.

        See, it’s A-OK to knowingly release illegal alien criminals who are likely to go on to kill citizens of no particular provenance, but the idea that we’d let a New Reformed Aztec Church cut the hearts of criminals out on the altar? Yeah, that’s a problem, there…

        We allow and authorize killings of other human beings all the time. Why else do we allow chronic drunk drivers to continue to ply their chosen pastime? We know that they’re eventually going to kill someone, but we don’t know who they are, or specifically when they’re going to die, but we do know from statistics that we’re going to see someone eventually die from Mr. I-can-t-keep-myself-from-drinking-and-driving and his bad habits…

        From on-demand abortion for contraceptive purposes to releasing chronic criminal offenders or criminal aliens, we know that people are going to die. And, that we’re essentially sacrificing those people to appease our own inner demons of vanity, as we virtue-signal others in our society for how understanding and kind we are to our fellow man.

        Yeah, so when the local Aztec Reformed guys come to me and say “Hey, we want to start killing people as human sacrifices…”, about all I’m really going to care about is specifically who they’re going to select as victims. Tell me that they’re going after random passers-by? I’ll have a problem.

        Tell me that they’re gonna be sacrificing politicians, leftists, and criminal aliens?

        Baby, where do I sign to join the church?

        1. First, I have plenty objections toward “abortion only for Birth Control” and even many sane “pro-choicers” frown on that.

          Second, IMO there’s a big difference between “releasing some individual who *might* kill another person” and allowing a religion that *will* sacrifice people.

          1. You release one guy, and there’s a statistical uncertainty whether or not he’ll kill. Release 20? 200?

            There is, I’m going to have to point out, a statistical near-certainty that people are going to die. But, because we don’t know their names or when it will happen, we’re somehow OK with this sacrifice to our vanity, as we signal our virtue to the universe at large by creating this situation.

            Explain the difference to me, please? I’m not seeing it, at all. Either way, innocent lives are lost. If you don’t object to the one, why the other? With the Aztec Reform sacrifice, at least the willing (key difference, there…) have a chance to arrange their affairs and say goodbye to their loved ones…

            What was Kate Steinle, again, except a sacrifice to the gods of Social Justice?

          2. How’s that different from Islam? Crowds of Islamics throughout the world are murdering hundreds, even thousands, every day of the week, yet Islam is tolerated here in the US, even when some of its adherents do go killing mass quantities of innocent Americans.

            1. Well Other Sean, if the Islamics want to practice that part of their religion here, then we should play the little game of “Cowboys and Muslims”. [Very Big Evil Grin]

        2. Let’s lock you up, then. Because it MIGHT result in a death, letting you run around, and so it’s human sacrifice.

          1. I notice that this “Kirk” hasn’t continued the discussion.

            I wonder why? [Very Big Evil Grin]

      3. “Now if the Aztecs want to sacrifice humans, that’s another story and they should be stopped.”

        How do you feel about your neighboring left-wing loon turning your city into a “sanctuary”, or the local church sponsoring a homeless camp in your neighborhood? Or, the genius “Christian activists” that take money from the government to sponsor Muslim Somali “refugees” to come to America and not assimilate? How about the local “soft on drunk driving” prosecutor, who has allowed dozens of chronic offenders back on the streets? Or, the nice people in the legislature, who are releasing violent offenders back onto the streets, in the name of “racial justice”? Then, there are the wonderful federal prosecutors who decline to prosecute firearms crimes, letting off chronic offenders who have dozens of charges for felony firearms violations, but who allow those offenders to plea down to misdemeanors with no prison terms?

        In all cases, we know that innocent lives are going to be lost. We just don’t know when, or who. So, why the objection to our hypothetical Aztec-theme worshipers? The only difference is the predictability of who and when, yes? Is that the problem?

        Face it: We all love human sacrifice, so long as it appears random and we’re not actively doing the killing.

        1. People are not potatoes. One can morally toss a 10 lb bag of potatoes in the trash in exchange for a 20 lb bag. One cannot morally kill one person who is not an immediate threat to save 10 or 20 other peoples lives.

            1. OK, they could figure out a way to immorally toss a 10 lb bag of potatoes to get a 20 lb bag. But they were geniuses at that sort of thing.

              1. I actually meant I thought it moral to kill either or both of them, in order to save untold billions from what their ideas would inflict.

          1. I would disagree. If the 10 lb bag is perfectly good, then it is immoral to waste it. Using the potatoes in a potato gun, fine. Playing dodge the potato, fine. But simply throwing food away is immoral.

            1. Forgot to add- even though the government does it all the time. Price supports, production quotas, whatever.

        2. “You’re wrong and what you propose will end badly” is not a rational basis for self-defense just because you *know* that eventually that “badly” might be some woman dead in a ditch.

          We *know* that driving cars will end with the deaths of well over 30,000 Americans this year.

          What do you suppose ought to be done about that?

          1. Clearly, what we need is more car-control regulation. We must close the for sale by owner loophole. All sellers of used cars, even if they only sell one in year, must obtain a federal license to sell a car. They must store that car any such cars securely, separate from their own personal car(s), and a background check must be run on any potential purchasers. After all, cars are dangerous, and we can’t allow just anybody to buy or sell them.

            1. While recovering after open-heart surgery my wife went on a two-month Judge Judy binge. One thing I noted was that Judith Scheindlein believes you can’t buy, register, or insure a car without having a valid driver’s license. I don’t know how things work in New York where the practiced law or in California where she practices television, but the State of Arkansas doesn’t care whether you have a driver’s license when you purchase or register a car; all they’re concerned about is whether you paid tax, if applicable.

              The only time an insurance company asked to see my driver’s license is when I wrote a check.

  7. There’s also the property rights issue. If they wanted to build their church in an area zoned for industries like slaughterhouses that’s one thing, but setting up in an area where surrounding residents or businesses would have no reason to expect animal slaughter causes active harm.

  8. One of the few good things the Conquistadors did was exterminating the Aztecs and their religion. Even the Aztec’s neighbors agreed and formed the bulk of the army.
    Religious freedom does extend to killing people or creating public nusciances or hazards.

    1. Sure it does. You just don’t want it direct, or out in the open.

      If you think that religious freedom shouldn’t extend to killing people, or creating public nuisances/hazards, why the hell aren’t you out there stopping people from teaching communism in academic settings? That’s a religion, when you get down to it, and one that openly discusses killing scads of people as a “necessity”. Nobody objects to them teaching communism, or advocating for it in the public square, but worship of the Aztec gods in the traditional manner is wrong…?

      Again, what people object to isn’t the killing. It’s the predictability and the openness of it. The majority of us are fine with killing, so long as it’s cloaked in the depths of second- and third-order effects. After all, it’s one thing to say “I’m going to kill this person on the altar”, but entirely another to say that “I’m going to kill this person because it would be inconvenient to me if they were born, and I had to raise them to adulthood…”.


        1. No, I’m pointing out the flawed thinking here.

          This kind of thing just annoys the hell out of me, when people do it–You’re basically reinforcing the thinking of the Social Justice types, and you’re not even cognizant you’re doing it.

          I object to unwitting human sacrifice, period. Whether it’s on the altar, or at random as a chronic drunken driver kills someone, I don’t want it happening. And, when you get down to essentials, that’s what’s going on: The sole difference is that people who object to the one when it’s cloaked in religion don’t seem to think that the other is equally objectionable when cloaked in the veil of political correctness.

          I find the promulgation of communism to be as despicable and inhuman as the religious precepts of the Aztec, in this regard. If it’s OK for one to advocate for the one in public, why not the other?

          The point that I’m trying to make is that the majority of us here in this country are not really in opposition to human sacrifice. What we are in opposition to is the idea that the lives sacrificed on the altar should be directly chosen, and that the time and place of the sacrifice should be known.

          So long as it’s down to something we can term “random”, that is.

          1. There’s a lot of sh*t happening in today’s society that I don’t like but I see no strong reason to take “extra-legal” methods to stop.

            Human Sacrifice is something that I’d approve of taking “extra-legal” methods to stop.

            When you claim that our society doesn’t “really” disapprove of human sacrifice because of the sh*tty stuff happening, you are showing your arrogance nothing more.

            When you claim that you see no difference between human sacrifice and the other sh*tty stuff happening, you are showing either bad rhetoric or stupidity.

            Oh, earlier you talk about “us” might approve of sacrificing some politicians.

            While there are people who I might want dead to “relieve my misery”, I would oppose any individual killing another person to “put them out of his misery”.

            I’m sure there are people out there who would “want me dead” and I’m sure that there are people out there who would want any of the regulars here dead.

            While there are criminals out there who deserve the death penalty, that’s a matter for society not a matter for individuals otherwise we’d have a society where everybody would have to worry about everybody else wanting them dead.

          2. No, I’m pointing out the flawed thinking here.

            Not agreeing with you is not flawed.

            You made it clear that you’re going to abuse the word “sacrifice” and want to equate taking a higher risk than you prefer with murder, without bothering to even make an argument to support that the risk is excessive.

            For example, higher up you figured it backwards when you said that for each criminal released, there was a whatever chance of them killing.
            The reality is that there is zero chance for most of them to kill– and 100% for some. It’s only if you group them together that they start killing .00023523 people per release. It’s the same way that I don’t have 1.8 children, I have four, but the average proportion for whatever group is 1.8.

      1. Talk vs actions. Preach either as much as you like; when the knives or the gulags come out I start shooting.

      2. [W]hat people object to isn’t the killing. It’s the predictability and the openness of it.

        “The naked truth” is a familiar expression. In reality, truth is always naked, because if it is dressed up, it is no longer truth. That is probably why so many people avoid the truth. They are sorely embarrassed by its nudity.
        — Rabbi Eizel of Slonim
        Quoted at Jewish World Review 01/08/16

      3. First, as others have said, you can preach the Aztec religion as much as you want, but if you start acting on the human sacrifice part, the police and the DA should be arresting you for murder.

        The same goes for Communism.

        As for the “releasing drunk drivers, violent felons, illegal immigrants, etc back into the population is human sacrifice” part: granted, some of these people are going to kill others, *but* that’s the result of the choice of these individuals. Some of them never murder, and even go on to become upstanding citizens.

        What level of risk are we willing to take? As much as I may have come to disagree with George W Bush’s policies, should we have put him in prison or executed him on his one and only drunk-driving charge? If so, isn’t this a type of human sacrifice as well? Indeed it would be: we would be offering up drunk drivers to the God of Safety in the hopes that this appeasement will prevent drunk driving deaths.

        The problem with this bit of reasoning is that it can be applied to any risk. Indeed, this is used by anti-gun rights to justify banning guns: every gun is a risk that you will commit suicide or kill your neighbor. Some anti-gun types go so far as to claim that there is no such thing as murder, and that every shooting justified by self defense shouldn’t have happened. In their mind, shooting in self defense is sacrificing someone so that you could preserve your own life.

        Of course, if you’re going to go that far down into anti-gun-death derp, you suddenly find yourself in a situation where you have to sacrifice someone’s life, or become the human sacrifice (to be raped, tortured and/or murdered) in order to end gun violence.

        There is a difference between taking a risk, and taking someone’s life. You would have us believe that by accepting the risk of automobile accident death, we are sacrificing lives to transportation, when in reality, we are merely accepting the fact that we might die when we get into that car, but that risk is far more acceptable than having to walk an hour to visit the doctor when that hour would take ten minutes in the car.

  9. This question was resolved most adequately and definitively by a British General during their rule of India.
    “Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.”
    General Sir Charles James Napier

  10. Government *can* pass laws that restrict the “free exercise of religion”, but only when the laws are written in such a fashion that they’re not obviously focused on one particular religion (or set of religions). Native Americans will occasionally clash with the government over stuff like this (generally, involving peyote or bald eagle feathers). And I’ve occasionally seen news articles about very small “religions” that involve having the “priestess” engage in sex with male “worshippers” who leave an “offering”. Needless to say, the latter show up in the news because the cops are making arrests for prostitution, and the courts always end up supporting those arrests.

    In short, given society’s distaste for the killing of humans, it probably wouldn’t be hard to close any legal loop-holes that the neo-Aztecs were taking advantage of. The anti-Santeria law probably only failed because it made allowances for Halal and Kosher butchers. Killing humans is generally considered distasteful enough that you probably wouldn’t need special carve-outs in the anti-Aztec law to protect some other group of individuals engaged in somewhat similar practices.

    1. I’m actually OK with genuine witting and willing humans offering themselves as sacrificial victims. Kids do it all the time, down at the local recruiting office, so why not as votaries of a church? Church, state, the local sexual deviant…? I don’t care, so long as it’s a freely-entered and thought-out decision.

      I don’t object to you smoking, either–And, that’s a lot worse (and, far more lengthy…) of a death than laying back on an altar and thinking of Quetzalcoatl as a professional hacks out your heart…

      Where I have a problem is in the sacrifice of dumb animals for religious reasons alone. If you’re eating the meat, fine; I don’t give a damn what fripperies you add on to the killing, so long as it’s pain-free and humane. What I object to is killing for killing’s sake, and torture. That’s something beyond countenance, regardless of whatever religious fantasy you’ve come to accept.

      1. The hacking out the heart ritual was specifically not dedicated to Questsalcoatl. I think it was Huit… something something something.

        1. Huitzilopochtli “Hummingbird on the Left (or of the South)” was one of the main sacrifice recipients. Quetzalcoatl, “Feathered Serpent” or “Beautiful Twin,” did not accept human sacrifices. Xipe Totec, the fertility god, and Tláloc, the rain god, had their specific sacrifices (skins and children, respectively). The goddesses also had certain sacrifices, but Huitzilopochtli, Xipe Totec and Tláloc were the predominant ones.

          If you think about it, there’s an odd (to me, not to the Meso-Americans) idea at play that blood is precious and must be spilled for the gods, but human lives are not that important. Or are super important, which is why you sacrifice them to the gods (especially people from other tribes).

          1. Tlaloc would the real sticking point in any attempt for genuine Atzec. The point was to sacrifice children and make them cry copiously to ensure rain. No way that would pass muster.

      2. You’re mixing up sacrifice and risk again. Going to war isn’t a sacrifice literal sacrifice of life. Rather, you are choosing to risk your own life (and the lives of your enemies) over some sort of cause. Whether that cause is just and appropriate or not, is always up to debate, but sometimes there are things so important that you have to stand up and say “No more!” and shoot at anyone who tries to stop you.

  11. I cannot understand the ones who dream of the return of Aztlan. They seem to ignore the reality of Aztec life.

    1. They want all the modern trimmings, modern economy, and to be the ones on the top of the pyramid (so to speak), without the blood, gore, and lack of sanitation. I highly doubt they’d last long in the area in northern Mexico and the southwestern US they call Aztlan if someone removed the water and power infrastructure.

      1. I happened to run into a car wash run by a local student organization and discovered that it was run by a Latino student organization. One of the you men there was talking about Aztlan, and land redistribution (while the gals did all the work). I was going to mention all the available farm land in Kansas, decided not to since farming is hard work, and he did not appear to be up for the challenge. And it would turnout like wrestling a pig.

    2. My assumption is that they’re the standard “all bad things in the world come from White males, so if we just go back to the way it was before those evil Europeans came, all women and gays and minorities and transsexuals and [insert vicitm group of the week here]s would all be able to live happy fulfilling lives.”

      (I can’t remember if it was the Aztecs that punished homosexuals by having their intestines pulled out or if that was another Central American tribe, but it doesn’t matter. These people believe that life was better under the Aztecs. There is no fact I could give them that would give them pause.)

  12. I know of at least one case where a woman was killed for religious reasons, and the perpetrators were found innocent. It was my grandmother. She was beaten to cleanse her sins, and died.

    Then there’s the Catholics who flagellate themselves, sometimes dying as a result.

    So, in fact, dying for religious reasons is OK.

      1. I have been told I am an evil person for thinking this, but I have always maintained that the intro to Ray Stevens’ Everything Is Beautiful says:

        “Jesus flagellates the children,
        all the little children of the world.
        Red or yellow, black and white,
        they are beaten in his sight,
        Jesus flagellates the little children of the world.”

        In fairness to my critics, that is not the only reason I have been told that.

        1. Well, you only say such things because you want stuff thrown at you … like carp. [Very Big Evil Grin]

            1. I would think that smoking carp would lead to bad things, like lung cancer and emphysema. Maybe we should encourage him to try eCarps, to see if that can help him quit.

      2. I don’t think that particular form of ascetic mortification has been in vogue since the Early Modern (ie, St. Teresa of Avila’s time).

        However, my (really limited) understanding is that the point was not that hairshirts or self-swats with a little stick or other forms of mortification caused pain or drew blood. The sacrificial aspect was that they were annoying and bothersome, and one offered that up. The theory was that ascetics were better able to understand the trouble that Christ went through to save us, and one could love him more. The other idea was that you trained your body and mind to stop complaining about little bothers by giving it something to cry about; or by making bodily discomfort annoyingly normal by doing training for it on a regular schedule. “Ascetic” comes from one of the Greek words for “athletic training.”

        Ascetic practices that actually hurt the practice-ee’s health and wellbeing have always been forbidden, which was why religious superiors often grounded enthusiastic young monks, nuns, etc. from doing any mortifications or fasting (usually after finding them doing mortifications or fasts that hadn’t been assigned by someone in charge).

        1. Because Kipling is always appropriate:

          Saintly and clean was the Bishop,
          Ruling himself aright
          With prayer and fast in the daytime
          And scourge and vigil at night.

          Out of his zeal he was minded
          To add one penance the more –
          A garment of harshest sackcloth
          Under the robes he wore.

          He gathered the cloth in secret
          Lest any should know and praise –
          The shears, the palm and the packthread –
          And laboured it many ways.

        1. It’s neither a widespread practice nor catholic doctrine-approved when it reaches the “killing” level.
          Look, women in Portugal also make pilgrimage on their knees to Fatima. My older son was appalled at the amount of damage done to their knees by that (think over 100 miles on your knees.) It’s common, but not Catholic-doctrine-approved. While the village priests HAVE to put up with it, the practice dates back to Celtic rituals and has continued through the centuries.

          1. Your older son should indeed be appalled. That is just a really, really bad idea for ones musculoskeletal system, particularly the lower portion. The human body simply is not adapted for that form of locomotion.

          2. In fact at one of the catholic churches I visited in LA I saw women on their knees moving closer to the altar (not during Mass). they would pause, pray, then move a few feet more and repeat until they reached the Altar. In every case they seemed to be Mexican or Latin American.

              1. Well, it’s traditional to go up the Holy Stairs in Rome on your knees (because Jesus walked up them at Pontius Pilate’s praetorium, before they were brought from Jerusalem to Rome; and who is going to walk where Jesus was dragged along?). That seems to have spread the idea through Europe, and it mixed in with other “do a pilgrimage that includes a lot of walking circuits” idea (very popular with all the Celtic-descended peoples). So yeah, it’s in Mexico now too.

                Walking on your knees is maybe easier for women than men. I’ve done it for brief periods. If you’re doing a circuit with lots of getting up and kneeling down again, like doing the Stations of the Cross by yourself, in a parish church where they are close together, you may as well stay on your knees.

                OTOH, doing something difficult or painful as a penance or prayer (especially for the benefit of other people whom one cannot help any other way) can help a person get peace of mind about a situation that is out of one’s control, instead of constantly mentally ripping themselves up about it.

        2. Kind of like the Fat Tuesday “celebrations,” or the Saint Patrick’s day excesses, doing it on a claim that it’s religious doesn’t make it any more in accordance with the faith.

      3. Catholics flagellate themselves?
        In Northern New Mexico there are chapels devoted to the practice that I have seen with my own eyes, and I’ve been reliably informed are still used. I’m quite sure dying is not a goal, if it ever was. These are usually in the very small, hidden mountain towns where most of the people speak archaic Castilian Spanish.

        Nevertheless, killing for religious reasons, e.g. my grandmother, is a lawful practice. Although perhaps it would be prosecuted today in the U.S. with a different result.

        1. In Northern New Mexico there are chapels devoted to the practice that I have seen with my own eyes, and I’ve been reliably informed are still used.

          They also have an (unapproved, obviously) patron saint of murder, and a boatload of flatly superstitious “pious practices” the least damaging of which is junk like burring a saint’s statue upside down until your house sells, as a sort of blackmail.

          The group you heard about is most likely Los Hermanos Penitentes. They’re a “secret society,” and they were ordered to abolish themselves and reform as a licit group over a century ago, in the format of the Third order of St Francis.
          They did not, and were by valid authority ordered to disband.

          They’re about as Catholic as “Catholics for Choice.”

          Nevertheless, killing for religious reasons, e.g. my grandmother, is a lawful practice. Although perhaps it would be prosecuted today in the U.S. with a different result.

          Do you have any sort of link to the court case?

          Because from the few details you’ve offered, it was either an obvious miscarriage of justice and the law, or the version of events that went to trial was radically different.

          1. From what Jesse said it was not an intentional killing.

            The attackers likely should have faced criminal charges for the “beating” but not for murder if the court was convinced that they did not intend to kill the grandmother.

            Mind you, I agree that more information is needed.

          2. From: Morbid Fact Du Jour
            On October 17, 1951, the St. Paul Dispatch, then a flourishing afternoon daily with decidedly tabloid tastes, reported the startling news that a woman had been whipped to death in the small suburban community of Lauderdale. The details were horrifying. Anna (my grandmother) 64, was “found in a pool of blood in a bed” at the home of her daughter and son-in-law, Marie and Patrick ?. Numerous lashes from a brown leather whip had caused her to die of shock and internal injuries, or so it appeared. Another woman, 35-year-old Ardith ?, whose husband Curtis had wielded the whip as part of a cult ritual designed to cleanse the devil from sinners, was also discovered in the modest home on Carl Street. Severely injured from a brutal flogging, she would die the next day at Ancker Hospital in St. Paul.

            The saga of the “whipping cult,” as it became known in the newspaper shorthand of the day, produced an outpouring of stories in the Dispatch and its morning twin, thePioneer Press, all accompanied by photographs remarkable for their intimacy and their unflinching realism. The most graphic and disturbing picture, taken by staff photographer Jack Loveland, shows Ardith * lying in bed in an apparent state of shock, her eyes open and her lips scarred by bloody cuts.

            Sorry, but you don’t need to know last names.

            As it turns out, I was wrong, Curtis pled guilty to two charges of third degree murder, and was sentenced to 14 years for beating his wife and my grandmother to death.

            According to my father and newspaper speculation, my aunt and uncle were the leaders of the cult. I do know they were not convicted of any crime because I read all the newspaper reports. My father did not speak to his sister for more than 15 years afterwards.

            Even after 65 years, I still have vivid memories of this crime. Not completely accurate memories as it turns out. Before she moved in with my aunt and uncle, my grandmother lived just three blocks away from us, and my sister and I would go visit her on a fairly regular basis.

            1. I wish more of those involved in hear death had been punished.

              While I know it’s an incredibly bad idea to introduce some sort of blasphemy law, I dearly wish there was a way to punish those who do obvious evil in the name of good.

            2. Sarah, ma’am? I know that it’s a pain in the rump and will break the formatting– but can you delete his post?

              He’s been admirably honest, and doesn’t want to be easily identified, and there’s enough in it to do so.

                1. What can be appropriately done is to suggest that “interested parties” quell their interest in respect for the privacy of others.

                  I know, I know — respect the privacy of others? How retro! What if it should catch on???? Next thing you know people might start respecting the privacy of others by not over-sharing.

                  1. *shrug* It’s not the many that will respect privacy that are the matter, but the one who will disrespect– nay, abuse– information to which they have no right.

                2. If someone wants to find me, they will (of course, they’ll have to figure out whether it was my maternal or paternal grandmother; and no, I’m not going to say). Bringing up something that happened 65 years ago, although painful for me, isn’t going to cause me any trouble. So leave the post up.

                  Besides, talking about what happened helps me. If someone else wants to talk about it, while attacking me, I can easily ignore whatever they have to say.

    1. Then there’s the Catholics who flagellate themselves, sometimes dying as a result.

      If they cause themselves actual harm, then they’re committing a sin. There’s a danged good reason that any mortification is to be done only under very close supervision of a spiritual director.

      I can’t find any news reports of anybody dying, but I did find the Bishops publicly scolding those who started doing sinfully dangerous things.

      Some of the usual “I was a nun and here’s all the crazy things I was forced to do” that’s been a tabloid staple for hundreds of years, now.

  13. Skimmed the conversations so ignore if this has already come up, but there seems to be an issue being overlooked: for the sacrifices to be willing, they’d gave to believe that the ceremony was necessary to continue the seasons. Who told them that and do they have access to alternative information?

    What exactly constitutes ‘informed consent’?

    1. Especially for the child sacrifices. Thus the (Reformed) bit. Convincing someone that they had to die so the sun will rise tomorrow would take a lot of work. Or so I’d like to think, although the more I read about some of what comes out of college campi, and the desperation some people have to belong to a group, the more possible something like a Reconstituted Aztec Church (Reformed) seems.

      1. Convincing someone that they had to die so the sun will rise tomorrow …

        Given that I am quite convinced that if you kill me the sun (from my perspective) will not rise tomorrow, this would seem to expect far more generosity of feeling toward my fellow humans than it seems likely I could muster.

    2. One of the great mysteries of Atzecs was that, except for the sacrifices to Tlaloc, they used prisoners of war. And often there were quite complex rituals where the victim* had a large part. HOW did they get them to do it? Drugs powerful enough to stupefy them would have made them incapable of the rite.

      *The original meaning,t here.

      1. Why do so many of the people that the leftists send to literal and metaphorical gallows go crying ‘if only Stalin knew’, or ‘but I am not a sexist’?

        Aztec Triple Alliance would have had substantial local prestige. Look at all the people who assumed that because the USSR was so big and powerful that it could not be fundamentally evil and in need of destruction. The Aztecs similarly could have gotten into the headspace of their neighbors.

        The Mexica were the ethnicity that ran the ATA, and maybe some of their prey neighbors were also Mexica. The prey neighbors may even have had compatible custom.

        Being captives, there may have been Stockholm syndrome.

        We are still developing and spreading solidly thought out anti-communism. The locals didn’t have Christianity. I don’t know that they had any philosophical foundation suited to resisting the Aztec mind poison.

        It is also possible that they convinced the captives that not cooperating would see reprisal against their tribe.

        1. IIRC Aztec Sacrifices were also considered “messengers to the gods”.

          The Aztec subject tribes may have had similar beliefs so the individual may have seen it an honor.

          *If* the sacrifice was a tribal warrior, he may have seen his “capture” in battle as a way for the Aztecs to choose the “best possible messenger”.

          Mind you, this an explanation only for the sacrifices where the “victim” had to play a more or less willing part.

          It’s obvious that the subject tribes were willing to support the Spanish against the Aztecs so many of the sacrifices (and their tribes) were unwilling to take part.

  14. The argument has been made that the right to life is inalienable — and therefore, that it cannot be signed away. That, incidentally, is also the barrier to the voluntary acceptance of slavery. But it hasn’t been litigated to a final conclusion. Test cases are rare, to say the least.

  15. I cannot tell you what the one true religion is. But I have my own checklist for false religions.
    1. Does it require human sacrifice? Y=false
    2. Does it require actual (as opposed to symbolic) sacrifice of any life? Y=false (requirements that an animal be slaughtered in a particular way to be eaten doesn’t qualify as sacrifice.)
    3. Does it require that people who leave the religion be killed? Y=false
    4. Does it require that all or some people who aren’t of the religion be killed? Y=false
    5. Does it allow slavery and bondage of fellow humans? Y=false
    6. Does it allow the church leader, elders, or whatever to pick and choose among the followers who they will have sex with? Y=false

    Note that 3,4, and 5 are all current and past practices of the Religion of Peace™ sanctioned by their unholy book. 6 is something that frequently appears in cults such as the Children of God headed by Moses David (David Berg).

    The first amendment protects freedom of religion. But there are restrictions on all rights. I think existing laws cover 1, 3, 4 and 5 quite well. I think the SC ruled wrongly on #2 in the Santeria case. #6? Ooh, about that. Under current rulings, brought to us by liberal courts, seems that any kind of consensual sex is OK, as long as participants are of age. So as long as the leader limits his (or her) picks to persons over the age of consent for that state… But then there are laws that prohibit sex between teachers and students, regardless of age… Do they apply to clergy and parishioners? If freedom of religion is absolute, there are a whole bunch of laws that need be struck down. But it isn’t. Where are the boundaries? We used to use “common sense” to make such decisions, but it seems liberal courts have outlawed that.

  16. Growing up in St. Louis, I saw many humans sacrificed on the Consecrated Diamond of Busch Stadium, for the purpose of creating scoring opportunities. Fortunately, they uniformly survived the sacrifices, generally none the worse…. 😉

    1. Given the recent research with respect to concussions, “none the worse” may be slightly generous.

        1. I missed the diamond part. But the St. Louis Rams did play at Busch for a while, right? I’m not dreaming that part up, am I?

  17. Just for that *particular* question…. we kill animals to eat them (or sometimes just because we’ve got far too many roosters and they’re raping the hens). Killing humans is murder (outside of war and self-defense). Saying that it’s okay to kill a chicken or pig and butcher it but it’s not okay to kill a chicken or pig as part of a religious ceremony seems a bit hard to support even if we’re personally horrified by animal sacrifice. There are usually laws about *how* animals are killed so if the religion required torturing the animal first they’d probably run afoul of animal cruelty laws. But it’s really not a slippery slope to human sacrifice since the very few times it’s okay to kill a person are *extremely* narrowly defined in the law.

    OTOH, with “right to die” stuff taking off here or there it would make an excellent subject for a short story or novel where people who want to die because they are ill are now joined by people who want to die because the Sun God wants their blood… sort of Jonestown become normalized. Since death cults really aren’t that unusual.

    1. Absolutely allowed under the first amendment, and like the laws about humane killing of animals which incidentally prevent the practice of Santeria which are constitutional, to the extent that killing people in general is legal then human sacrifice is also legal. One cannot make a law just to prohibit human sacrifice (like one cannot make a law just to prevent animal sacrifice) however laws which have a different purpose can incidentally prohibit human sacrifice. Aztecs would have problems finding otherwise legal victims for human sacrifice in the US, there are a few states which allow assisted suicide and those could be sacrificed – I would recommend they go to Canada which is far more open to the concept. Conversely Baal worshipers who want to sacrifice infants would have no problem in most of the US and could simply set up shop next to an abortion mill.

      1. Unless the infants have to be alive for the sacrifice – then the Baal worshippers would be competition.

  18. Sideways to the main topic, this telling of the Aztec religion made me think the whole thing is a legendization of the outcome of a particularly nasty war, where the winner committed genocide on the defeated and rounded-up opposition, but was sufficiently “civilized” to feel a need to make it all look like a Good Thing.

    And I’d guess the majority of sacrifices thereafter were a convenient method of getting rid of obstreperous POWs, mostly defined as “rounded up villagers who were in our way”.

    1. Sorry, but the Aztecs were as bad as the Spanish said they were.

      Note, noted Liberal Mercedes Lackey had no problem with making worshipers of the Aztec gods as the “Bad Guys” in one of her urban fantasies.

      1. But Misty is an Okie, hence compelled by her blood to be a racist. Biology forces Okies and Texans to hate Mexicans.

        The Aztec pantheon strikes me as derived from other Meso American pantheons, same for myths and sacrificial practices.

        The legend of the founding of Mexico city probably does mean that the Mexica immigrated from somewhere. (That said, the eagle with a snake on a cactus flag is more or less the equivalent of a German state half a millennium in the future using a Swastika flag.)

        Civilization does not mean nice. Civilization does not mean good. Speculation that the ability to build great sacrificial altars and make elaborate records precludes remorseless genocide is not well supported by the records we have from evil civilizations.

        There may have been a political angle to slowly killing neighboring men of military age. However, the Flower Wars were explicitly fought for the purpose of collecting sacrificial victims, and they collected far too many to be a trivial effort.

        I would quibble. The Aztecs may have been worse than the Spanish were able to communicate.

        1. Sometime ago, there was a documentary on the History of Human Sacrifices.

          Obviously the Aztecs had to be included.

          It was “funny” to listen to people, not denying the Aztec practice of Human Sacrifices, still trying to say “but the Aztecs were civilized. Look at the cities they built”. [Sad Smile]

          As you said, Civilized doesn’t mean Nice.

          1. I heard a guy saying that a certain law was the worst law of any civilized society. I figured he was either hyperbolic, dishonest, or had a weak grasp of history.

        2. It’s also possible that they’d use ways to convey the horror that we totally don’t notice– like the phrase “a fate worse than death”?

          1. My initial thought was ‘She said Quetzalcoatl didn’t have human sacrifices. So there are grounds to think that, but it doesn’t seem consistent. Could something have been left out of the Spanish historical records?’

            1. I think people took the (few) deities who did not require a human life sacrificed to them, plus the Black legend (Spanish Catholics were Eeeeeevullll) and a dash of cultural relativism and decided that the Aztec could not have been as bad as all that, since the Inca and others didn’t sacrifice that many people. Noble savage, right? Emphasis on the noble, and on the lovely cities (thank you Diego Rivera et al).

    2. The archaeologists would disagree, Reziac, given what they keep turning up in Mexico City. Apparently there was more truth than a lot of people want to admit in the Spanish account of the conquest of Mexico.

      1. The idea that the Spaniards had any reason to lie about the Aztecs strikes me as terribly ethnocentric. It isn’t as if they thought to themselves, “Four centuries from now genocide is going to be frowned upon, so we better make this look justified by depicting these Aztec blokes as right rotters.”*

        The Conquistadors had no reason to be other than as accurate as they reasonably could in their descriptions of the natives.

        *Translated from the Spanish.

        1. The Conquistadors had recently fought off the Moor, and were fighting men of a people who were not in a particularly squeamish mood. Nor were they particularly inclined to view the pagan in a friendly light. The idea of being judged by people with our modern perspective should have been entirely alien.

          Furthermore, what could they have possibly seen that could have inspired them to fabricate such? The Meso American pantheons are not a thinly disguised version of the Greek or Roman pantheons. This was not something they could have invented from scratch, and they were not the sort of people to have material they could counterfeit it from. Unless Sarah’s missing Iberian pre Christian fairy lore was the now fully suppressed model for all of Meso American culture.

        1. I think so to, but the same argument that RES and Bob were making about the Conquistadors could apply to the Aztecs as well: in a world where killing enemy tribes was a way of life, would a bunch of warriors who slaughtered their way through Mexico really feel the need to dress up their genocide as a necessary sacrifice to the Sun God? Or would they be more likely to say, “We won, we killed them down to the last baby, we rock, let’s have a party on a giant pile of their skulls”?

          1. I thought I might’ve said as much, but was mistaken.

            Civilization does not mean good or nice. Societies are not a quantized thing where having the same artifacts means having the same mores. There’s a lot of reason to think that many peoples who carried out acts we consider vile did so without remorse or a guilty mind. (I suspect that prehistoric peoples of the typical sort practiced a lot of rape and sexual abuse due to not having a rape taboo.) Some of cosmopolitanism ‘walk in their shoes’ stuff is bizarrely provincial. So the Conquistadors probably weren’t lying, and the Aztecs were not trying to suppress Christian theory of the value of human life.

            That said, there was purpose there beyond the usual sort of endemic warfare society shenanigans.

            1) Quite a lot of theocratic polities have found it convenient to say ‘here is where we make the sacrifices that hold the world together’. Look at China, and maybe Egypt. I’m thinking of the Zhou dynasty in particular.
            2) Constantly raiding a semi-subject people for slaves is a way to keep them weak, and guard against them becoming strong.
            3) There seems to be enough inhibitions about killing and mutilation wired in to make them an obvious road to magical power. Note that I’m talking purely about psychology.
            4) I do not know whether the Aztecs were cannibals or not. I do expect that the scarcity of human meat may drive some of the magical thinking in some societies. Or for some serial killers in ours.

            Some people are sick. Some people are evil. I think serial killers should be stopped if we are able. I don’t see why it should matter if they have enough friends to dress up things as religion, culture, or politics.

            1. 1) Quite a lot of theocratic polities have found it convenient to say ‘here is where we make the sacrifices that hold the world together’. Look at China, and maybe Egypt. I’m thinking of the Zhou dynasty in particular.

              That would be Zhou Enlai and the imposition of the one child policy?

              1. Ha. 🙂

                They found out the Shang dynasty wasn’t mythical because they dug up a bunch of oracle bones. They also found out something of the Shang’s cultic practices. (Essentially the Shang royalty was super important.)

                The myth for the fall of the Shang was that the last Shang king was simply too evil.

                The Zhou took over and set up shop. They also set themselves up as religious figures borrowing from the Shang. I recall that the Zhou set up a bunch of satellite states, whose rulers were not necessarily blood relatives, but who looked to the central dynasty for ritual purposes. At least according to the Zhou.

                Some of the later dynasties kept the royal families of prior dynasties around for ritual purposes. IIRC.

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