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Definition:   a syncretistic religion practiced mostly in the Caribbean. Santeria combines the beliefs of the Yoruba religion of West Africa with Roman Catholicism. The people worship Orishas, which are considered manifestations of God (Olorun), and are associated with Catholic Saints. Animal sacrifices, often chicken, are performed and the blood offered to a particular Orisha for good luck and forgiveness of sins. Santeria has priests and priestesses (Olorisha) who possess secret knowledge and oral traditions that have been handed down. It is not a “religion of the book.” The Olorisha perform sacred rituals, including rhythmic sounds and feverish dancing, which are believed to cause individuals to be en-tranced and possessed by the Orisha.  The good characteristics of the Orisha invoked are believed to enter the person. Ancestors (“Ara Orun” – people of heaven) are also venerated and referred to for moral guidance.

Discussion: The Bible calls for the worship of the LORD God only, the Father of all creation (Ex. 20:5). Scripture has been given to us that we may know God and His ways. Secret knowledge and oral traditions are not necessary, and contradict the sufficiency of God’s word (2 Tim. 3:16). The Bible also condemns divination (Lev. 19:26). The sacrifice of Jesus for the forgiveness of sin was a “once for all time” sacrifice, and is utterly sufficient for those who believe. Animal sacrifices are of no value, and deny the infinite value of the substitutionary atonement of Christ (Heb. 10:4-10).

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