Celebrating Indiana’s commitment to religious freedom, Bill Levin has founded the First Cannabis Church and is planning a reefer revival in early July. Levin’s plan is to hold the revival the same day the Religious Freedom Restoration Act officially begins. It’s a great test, both of Indiana’s prohibition policy and the extent of the state’s commitment to religious freedom. And why not? Moses took commands from a burning bush, so there’s precedent!
The First Cannabis Church was founded in response to Gov. Mike Pence signing the RFRA, which originally allowed business to discriminate against people if they felt their religious freedom was being harmed by serving these people. LGBTQ people were the primary target of the backward, mouth-breathing legislation. However, much like the Satanists in Missouri, Levin and the First Cannabis Church are acting to show that Christianity isn’t the only protected religion under the RFRA.
Based on the RFRA, many legal experts have opined that the First Cannabis Church is fully protected and that Indiana really has no legal power to prosecute those who choose to worship the herb as their “higher” power. It’s a daring test, especially since Indiana refuses to decriminalize the Holy Herb. However, it looks like Levin and the Church may be right: Local authorities haven’t issued any statements other than that they might get involved if the revival is held on city or county property.
A source in the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, Pam McLeish, said that she is not aware of any meetings between police and prosecutors about stopping the revival. Typically, such a meeting would be held if the authorities were planning to intervene. As of today, the Church plans to hold the revival at the legendary Vogue Theatre, which is used by many touring musical acts.
Levin said, “I don’t think anyone [authorities] is going to come into the church. After our [Indiana’s] 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!’”
So what does a reefer revival entail? The service will begin with a rousing rendition of “Amazing Grace” played on harmonica by a local musician. Next up, a sermon and a discussion of the state of personal affairs of the congregation. Finally, Levin will invoke the Holy Sacrament of the Herb and the congregation will respond with glorious and enthusiastic worship, blazing up until the church is filled with Holy Smoke.
Personally, I couldn’t be happier over this news. It makes me chuckle to see that there are those (the First Cannabis Church and the Temple of Satan) who are actively turning the tables on the discriminatory RFRAs around the country. As you know from reading my posts, I’m not Willy Wonka; I don’t sugarcoat a damn thing. Let’s face it, the whole RFRA thing was started because certain very uptight Christians felt that they were being harmed because they couldn’t be flaming discriminatory a-holes. I wonder how they feel as other religions are benefitting from their pet law?
Religion should be a path of peace, love and acceptance not a bigot club used to bash people over the head. Not everyone believes in the Christian God and those who don’t shouldn’t be forced to follow that religion’s dictates. The Satanists don’t concern themselves with forcing others to follow their beliefs; neither does the First Cannabis Church. It seems to me that the more “mainstream” religions could learn a thing or two from their black sheep cousins.
I’m thinking that, from a purely marketing angle, the First Cannabis Church should reach out to the Indiana Pizza Queen. The demand for some good ‘za is gonna be higher than the Church’s parishioners after the service. Since Her Highness is such an RFRA supporter, she should be more than willing to make a buck (or a thousand) off of another RFRA-protected entity.