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Killing Bald Eagles in the Name of Religion

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The Northern Arapaho tribe won the right to kill two bald eagles for a religious ceremony. So if I’m to understand this correctly, while the 1940 Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act prohibits the killing of bald eagles, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is able to grant an exclusion to the Northern Araphao based on that tribe’s religious conviction that using eagle feathers does something magical for them.  This is both obscene and absurd and frankly I can’t understand how this exclusion isn’t an explicit violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Matt Hogan, the regional supervisor with the Fish and Wildlife Service, is quoted on NPR as saying, “the entire permitting process comes down to respect.” Respect?  Where have I seen that word before?  Oh yes, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” I may be in over my constitutional head on this one because the deal has been cut with a semi-sovereign non-US governmental entity; but nonetheless, this is yet another issue of religious tradition trumping rational thinking. Sad and outrageous.


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