It's often been said that one should never argue over religion.

Just such an argument led Christian Hernandez to use a sawed-off rifle to fatally shoot another man in the head in May, according to a statement he gave to Philadelphia homicide detectives.

Yesterday, Hernandez, 18, was held for trial on first-degree murder by Municipal Judge Patrick F. Dugan.

Hernandez, of Camac Street, North Philadelphia, shot Luis Freire, 55, because they had argued over whose version of the Afro-Caribbean religion Santeria was better, according to the statement, which the prosecution presented as evidence.

"Unfortunately, in this day and age, it's a sad commentary that killings happen over disputes ranging from heated arguments about religion to minor disputes over someone looking at someone the wrong way," said Assistant District Attorney Brian M. Zarallo.

While walking on Allegheny Avenue near D Street on May 29, five days after the argument, Hernandez saw Freire and followed him onto Boudinot Street, Hernandez said in the statement.

Hernandez approached Freire from behind, drew his rifle and shot him twice in the head, he told detectives.

Attempts to reach F. Michael Medway, listed as Hernandez's court-appointed attorney, were not successful.

Santeria is an Afro-Caribbean religion based on the Yoruba beliefs and traditions that originated in West Africa, with Roman Catholic elements added.

Believers of Santeria, which grew out of the slave trade in Cuba, seek to build bonds with powerful spirits through the use of drums, dance, song and animal sacrifice while worshiping, according to various sources.