Weed-loving Indiana church will fill sanctuary with pot smoke to test new religious freedom law
Indiana’s First Church of Cannabis has announced plans to hold its first worship service on July 1 — the same day the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act formally becomes law.
The first service of the marijuana-worshipping church will begin with ‘Amazing Grace’ played on harmonica, a short sermon, and member testimonies about positive experiences in their recent life, church founder Bill Levin tells U.S. News.
And then: “Levin will issue a call to worship and the sanctuary will fill with smoke.”
Levin, “citing an influx of free legal advice,” is unafraid of law enforcement busting heads at the inaugural service.
“I don’t think anyone is going to come into the church,” Levin tells U.S. News. “After our last media exposure we need as much love as we can get in this state. Even right-wing conservatives have smiled at me and said, ‘Do it!’”
Members of the First Church of Cannabis believe that marijuana is a holy sacrament. “It brings us closer to ourselves and others. It is our fountain of health, our love, curing us from illness and depression. We embrace it with our whole heart and spirit, individually and as a group,” the church’s Facebook page explains.
Levin tells a Chicago ABC affiliate that he founded the First Church of Cannabis “since religion is governing the states.”
Indiana’s Republican Governor, Mike Pence, signed the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act in March. U.S. News describes the governor’s policy end goal as a means to “[protect] religious business owners from having to supply same-sex weddings with cake, photography or flowers after the court-ordered legalization of such unions.”
In an op-ed published by the Wall Street Journal, Pence makes the case “to Hoosiers and every American that despite what critics and many in the national media have asserted, the law is not a ‘license to discriminate,’ either in Indiana or elsewhere.”
Expressing concerns about “government infringement on deeply held religious beliefs” wrought by the Affordable Care Act — and with a shoutout to Hobby Lobby — Pence declares, “The hospitality and character of Hoosiers are synonymous with everything that is good about America. Faith and religion are important values to millions of Indiana residents. With the passage of this legislation, Indiana will continue to be a place that respects the beliefs of every person in our state.”