Cockfighting ban in La. violates religious rights, Livingston pastor’s lawsuit says

Cockfighting recently was made a federal crime.
Cockfighting recently was made a federal crime.
Updated: Jul. 7, 2020 at 9:30 AM CDT
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LIVINGSTON PARISH, La. (WAFB) - In a federal lawsuit filed in June, a man who identifies himself as the pastor of Holy Fights Ministries sues the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office and district attorney over a state ban on cockfighting.

The lawsuit says pastor Lloyd Plumbar’s arrest by deputies on cockfighting charges and the district attorney prosecuting him violate his constitutionally-protected religious freedoms.

“Reverend Plumbar, Holy Fight Ministries and its congregation hold the sincere religious belief that cockfighting represents that while they strive for CHRIST, they have a necessary symbolic physical manifestation, an epiphany through the fighting cock, a religious mandate of the struggle between good and evil, a struggle for life or death for the Salvation of the soul, and thus cockfighting is an integral and essential part of their religious faith,” wrote attorney Jim Holt.

The lawsuit cites scriptures that detail humans having “dominion” over animals. It further argues cockfighting within the church won’t spill out into a public issue, citing the religious exemption given to peyote users.

“The peyote exception, however, has been in place since the outset of the Controlled Substances Act, and there is no evidence that it has ‘undercut’ the Government’s ability to enforce the ban on peyote use by non-Indians,” the lawsuit states.

“Some things happen that you never could imagine,” said District Attorney Scott Perrilloux.

Perrilloux notes Rev. Plumbar has the right to ask the court to intervene if he sincerely believes the state’s cockfighting ban is written in a way that is “vague, overly broad, and sweeping in scope,” as stated in the lawsuit.

A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit also argues Plumbar’s bond for chicken fighting is “higher than the bond some persons charged with the felonies of Attempted Murder and/or Pornography with a Juvenile have been given in Livingston Parish.”

The lawsuit says Plumbar’s bond was initially $375,000.00. A sheriff’s office spokesperson said Plumbar was given a $50,000 bond for 15 counts of a cockfighting charge.

Louisiana became the last U.S. state to outlaw cockfighting in 2007 through legislation signed by then-governor Kathleen Blanco.

The law took effect in 2008, but lawmakers curtailed support for the sport by immediately passing a ban on gambling on the fights in 2007.

The initial law only prohibited “chicken fights.”

A rewrite signed in 2014 by then-governor Bobby Jindal added roosters and game fowl, and made it illegal to possess, sell, or buy paraphernalia used to fight chickens.

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