Tuesday, June 26, 2007

of drugs and religion...

I read this article on HuffPo and it really made me think about the use of drugs as a religious sacrament. Christianity, traditional Native American religions, and Rastafarianism all use drugs as religious sacraments--alcohol, peyote, and marijuana respectively. Where are the legal lines?

Let's look at Christianity first. Communion (traditionally) uses wine. I don't know how many congregations/denominations still do (especially in the US), but that's not the point. A core religious sacrament of Christianity involves a drug, which is provided to minors. How many priests. reverends, etc. are getting arrested for that? I don't think I've ever heard of it, even though it's illegal. (I'm not going to go into the fact that the concept of communion gives me a serious case of the heebie-jeebies...that's another post entirely.)

Well, peyote is ok for traditional Native American religions...the only problem is that you don't qualify unless you are at least 1/4 Native American--at least one grandparent. There are a few states that allow peyote use by non-Native Americans as a religious sacrament, but not many. This seems to make sense--at least on the surface--but that's some pretty serious racial/ethnic/religious discrimination, when you think about it.

Rastafarians regard marijuana as a religious sacrament given by god to enjoy. As with traditional Native American religion, practice of the religion involves an illegal substance. Rastafarians, however, can be arrested for possession of use of their sacrament, regardless of race or ethnicity. I'm not endorsing a racial requirement for Rastafarians--I don't think they should have to prove that they are at least 1/4 Jamaican--but it doesn't make sense to me.

For the record. I am not a recreational drug user and I never have been, nor do I condone the use of recreational drugs. Hell. I rarely even drink, and even when I do it's not to excess. Even though it's not my thing, I'm pro-legalization of marijuana. I think it should be legalized, closely regulated, and taxed to hell and back. To be completely honest, drunk people scare me a lot more than people who have smoked pot. Beyond that. alcohol is physically addictive, while marijuana is not (although it is psychologically addictive..but so are video games and wikipedia.)

I'm not sure where I stand on the use of drugs as religious sacraments...but I do feel that the rules need to be consistent across religions. If marijuana were legal then it would be a much easier issue, but that complicates things a lot for Rastafarianism. If it's legal for Rastas to smoke marijuana, then it would truly be a church to be reckoned with! Entire college towns would be Rasta strongholds.

As an atheist and a drug-free zone of one, I don't think I am in any way qualified to comment on these issues....but that hasn't stopped me yet. ;) So what do you think? Discuss!

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1 comment:

Mojoey said...

I apologize for this in advance, but as new members of the Atheist Blogroll, I have tagged you for the latest meme to make the rounds.