Evangelical calls out Christian right for continuing to oppose therapeutic weed: 'America is sick'
Jesus illustration (gst / Shutterstock.com)

In a column for the New York Times, religion writer Jonathan Merritt made the Christian case to evangelicals who aligned themselves with the Republican Party during the Ronald Reagan era to accept that therapeutic marijuana could ease the suffering of hundreds of thousands of pain sufferers -- and that Jesus would approve.

According to Merritt, who admits he grew up the son of an evangelical pastor, that he was raised to believe that "marijuana was just one more sinful tool that the devil used to shred America’s moral fabric."

But then he got sick.

"On a gray morning in December four years ago, I awoke in my cramped Brooklyn apartment and could not feel my hands. Over the following weeks, the numbness morphed into burning, tingling, stabbing pain that spread all over my body. The pain was soon accompanied by panic attacks, crippling depression and something bordering on suicidal thoughts," he wrote before adding that nothing helped and he only ended up with "a cabinet full of nerve pills, painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs that clouded my mind and were accompanied by side effects that were often worse than the symptoms themselves."

According to Merritt, he then sought out a medical marijuana prescription that turned his life around.

"That evening, I sampled a small dose and experienced what some might call a miracle. The excruciating pain receded and the cloud encircling my head lifted for the first time in months. I laid in bed and wept for more than an hour," he recalled before stating his continuous use -- along with other lifestyle changes -- changed his life.

He then made the case that Christians who enlisted in Reagan's "war on drugs" were misled and turned their backs on Jesus' admonition to comfort the afflicted.

"As a doctor friend of mine in New York recently commented, if medical marijuana was a synthetic pill produced by Pfizer and not a historically villainized substance, it would be fast-tracked by the Food and Drug Administration and celebrated as a 'miracle drug' by every respectable health practitioner in America," he wrote. "America is sick, and the Christian call to compassion obligates the faithful to act. Chronic pain and illness now affect tens of millions of Americans, and in many cases the cause eludes the brightest medical minds. "

"Christian ethics has long taught that the faithful must take an active role in caring for the ailing among us," he lectured. "The New Testament repeatedly commands the people of God to engage in 'healing the sick,' an act that plays a central role in Jesus’s ministry in all four Gospels. In fact, one of Jesus’s most famous parables, in Matthew 25, lists humans’ willingness or failure to care for sick people as one of the chief criteria upon which they will be judged by God in the afterlife."

"Right now, most Christian leaders are unwilling to step up and speak about such a stigmatized topic," he continued. "American Christians are as divided as ever over all manner of cultural issues, and it remains to be seen whether the mass of the faithful will have the energy and interest to address this issue on the level it deserves."

He then added, "Historically, conservative Christians have been Johnny-come-latelys to leading-edge cultural conversations. That needs to change, and not just when it comes to cannabis."

You can read more here.