World’s Taboo Religions

By Johania Charles

When the clock strikes three in the afternoon, Barry is flooded with the melodic gong of the chapel’s bell showing pride in upholding Catholic values. 

Yet, those who practice “taboo” religions do not have that religious luxury. World religions like Santeria, Candomble, Vodou, Wicca, and Celticism aren’t openly practiced by their followers because it would incite fear in non-practitioners.

And, the myths, misconceptions, and rumors are widespread. Brazilian English junior Ana Carolina Aguiar shared what she knew about a taboo religion in her region. 

“My mom always says that if you pass a red house [in Brazil], chances are it’s a Candomble temple,” said Aguiar.

Sports management senior Jonathan Dominique believes there should be education on these religions to avoid ignorant speculation. 

“Being of Haitian descent, hearing certain stories about [Vodou practices] back in Haiti makes it scary. People are usually scared of things they don’t know or understand,” said Dominique.

Surprisingly, some of these religions have incorporated symbols borrowed from Catholicism.

Barry chaplain Fr. Cristóbal Torres, OP urged everyone to take a closer look at these religions in the hopes of building a tolerance to different faith traditions. 

“The word Catholic means universal. Anything we can learn about each other’s culture and religious practices is extremely valuable.  It’s important to know how to be true to your own faith while being respectful of other people’s culture,” said Fr. Torres. 

African Diasporic Religions

African Diasporic religions were influenced by Catholicism during the transatlantic slave trade. Slaves combined their own religious practices with the beliefs imposed on them by their slave owners.


Regla de Ocha commonly referred to as Santeria, originated in Cuba from the descendants of West Africans. The word Santeria comes from the Spanish word “Santo” meaning saints. It is based on the Yoruba religion of West Africa and merges Yoruba nature spirits known as “orishas” with popular saints.

Interestingly, the orisha counterpart of Santa Barbara is  Changó— the god of thunder and  representation of male sexuality and power.

Chango *Photo Courtesy of Google Images*

As mentioned in the Miami New Times back in 2011, popular Latin singer Jennifer Lopez is a Santeria practitioner. 


Candomble, on the other hand, follows the same tradition of Yoruba spirituality but is practiced in Brazil. 

There are two levels of priesthood: one is declared as a low-level Orisha (saint) and the higher level is called Babalawo, which translates to “father of secrets.”

Candomble practices were depicted in  Beyonce Knowles’ “Hold Up” music video for her Lemonade album where she resembles the popular Yoruba deity (Oxúm) who holds the keys to love.