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Thread: Indiana Church Plans Pot-Smoking Worship Service in Test of Religious Freedom

  1. #1

    Indiana Church Plans Pot-Smoking Worship Service in Test of Religious Freedom

    Indiana Church Plans Pot-Smoking Worship Service in Test of Religious Freedom

    Indiana’s First Church of Cannabis plans to host its inaugural worship service July 1, the same day the state’s controversial religious freedom law takes effect. If all goes according to plan, the service will offer a bold test of the law’s ban on government burdens on the exercise of religion.

    Adherents of the recently established church worship cannabis, which is illegal to grow, use or possess under state law.

    The first service, church founder Bill Levin says, will open with “Amazing Grace” played on harmonica by a popular young musician and move to a quick sermon and short member testimonies about positive things that happened in the past week.

    And then, as anticipation mounts in what’s likely to be a packed house, Levin will issue a call to worship and the sanctuary will fill with smoke.

    “I’m an old-school producer. We start off the show soft and we have a build-up and then in the end we explode in glory and we all dance around the hall,” he says.

    There are a few hurdles Levin must clear before that happens, and it’s unclear if local police and prosecutors are prepared to accept church claims the conduct is protected by the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

    Levin says he’s working hard to find a church willing to lease him space and is aggressively pursuing leads. He says the service will happen come hell or high water and that he will consider any suitable alternative, be it a religious campground, private land or a public park.

    The church likely has the financial means to rent space, having raised more than $10,000 on the crowdfunding site Go Fund Me. And Levin says the church Facebook page’s 31,000 followers include a core group of local cannabis activists certain to attend the event.

    ...
    http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/...igious-freedom



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  3. #2
    A church that worships cannabis is just as legitimate as any other religion if not more so in my book..

    But I wonder if Indiana is really ready for true religions freedom? What about a crack smoking church or a heroin church?
    "He's talkin' to his gut like it's a person!!" -me
    "dumpster diving isn't professional." - angelatc


    "Each of us must choose which course of action we should take: education, conventional political action, or even peaceful civil disobedience to bring about necessary changes. But let it not be said that we did nothing." - Ron Paul

    "Paul said "the wave of the future" is a coalition of anti-authoritarian progressive Democrats and libertarian Republicans in Congress opposed to domestic surveillance, opposed to starting new wars and in favor of ending the so-called War on Drugs."

  4. #3
    Cannabis church gets tax-exempt status

    When it comes to living the high life, the First Church of Cannabis is on its way.

    The Internal Revenue Service recently notified the Indianapolis-based church that it had been granted tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the tax code, which covers nonprofit organizations. The designation means the First Church of Cannabis will get the benefits of being considered a public charity, such as exemption from federal income tax and allowing donors to deduct their financial contributions.

    That could prove to be a major boon for the First Church of Cannabis, which is raising money through a "crowdsourcing" site as it tries to find a home. The organization was created partly in response to Indiana's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which protects religious organizations from government interference, church founder Bill Levin told CBS MoneyWatch. The church plans to hold its first service on July 1, when the law goes into effect.

    "It's a statement of love from the IRS," Levin said, adding that he expects the tax-exempt status to encourage bigger donations. "I'm expecting love from foundations, and a lot from around the world."

    An IRS spokesperson was not immediately available to comment.

    Cannabis is considered the sacrament of the church, Levin wrote on its Facebook page. "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," he noted.

    The real test may come when the church lights up its sacrament on July 1, given that possession of the drug is illegal in Indiana. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, pot smokers can be fined up to $5,000 and punished with up to one year in jail for "possession of even a single joint."

    Despite those sanctions, Levin said that thousands of people have indicated they want to participate in the church's first service, including worshippers from across the U.S. and internationally.

    Asked how church members will use cannabis to express their faith during services at the church, Levin responded, "Real simple. You put it in your mouth and light the other end and suck."

    He added that the church won't supply marijuana. "It's BYOB: Bring your own bud. The church won't supply, trade or buy. We are about staying within the guidelines of the law."

    ...
    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cannabis...exempt-status/

  5. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by dannno View Post
    A church that worships cannabis is just as legitimate as any other religion if not more so in my book..

    But I wonder if Indiana is really ready for true religions freedom? What about a crack smoking church or a heroin church?
    Personally I'm okay with folks calling the consumption of any banned substance a religion and labeling the building or location used for consumption a "church" if doing so holds government at bay....

  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by tod evans View Post
    Personally I'm okay with folks calling the consumption of any banned substance a religion and labeling the building or location used for consumption a "church" if doing so holds government at bay....
    Hallelujah!

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Suzanimal View Post
    Hallelujah!
    Now, praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

  8. #7
    So who are these pot worshippers? What do they stand for or believe in? And will police respect their appeal to religion to defend their marijuana use?

    In the beginning…

    Levin, a 59-year-old carpenter, started the church on March 26, 2015, to push the limits of Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which prohibits the government from “substantially burdening” anyone’s right to exercise his or her religion. Earlier this year, the controversial bill sparked protests from gay rights groups claiming it would allow for businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians citing religious beliefs.

    Levin also protested the bill, but said that in signing it, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence provided the “fertilizer” that allowed his new religion to bloom.

    “After Pence made the announcement that he would sign it in a private ceremony, I became born again,” Levin said.

    Doctrine

    More than 700 people have already paid for membership to the church: $50.40 for one year, $100.80 for two years. (The group also sells “Holy Rollers” rolling paper — the proceeds of which go to the church.)

    Members of the congregation, called “Cannabiterians,” say they smoke marijuana to connect more closely with themselves and others.

    They believe in the “Deity Dozen,” a list of 12 tenets for living a good life, which is the cannabis congregation’s equivalent of the Ten Commandments:

    View galleryFirst Church of Cannabis - logo
    The First Church of Cannabis’ kickoff service is scheduled for July 1, 2015.
    1) Don’t be an a--hole. Treat everyone with love, as an equal.
    2) The day starts with your smile every morning. When you get up, wear it first.
    3) Help others when you can. Not for money, but because it’s needed.
    4) Treat your body as a temple. Do not poison it with poor quality foods and sodas.
    5) Do not take advantage of people. Do not intentionally hurt anything.
    6) Never start a fight, only finish them.
    7) Grow food, raise animals, get nature into your daily routine.
    8) Do not be a “troll” on the Internet; respect others without name-calling and being vulgarly aggressive.
    9) Spend at least 10 minutes a day just contemplating life in a quiet space.
    10) When you see a bully, stop them by any means possible. Protect those who cannot protect themselves.
    11) Laugh often, share humor. Have fun in life, be positive.
    12) Cannabis, “the Healing Plant,” is our 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.

    Services

    The Church of Cannabis’ first service is scheduled for July 1 (the day the state’s religious freedom law goes into effect) at 12:01 p.m. The location has not yet been announced.

    Levin, who has crafted titles for himself like Grand Pooh-bah and Minister of Love, described the upcoming service as a beautiful and moving “celebration of life’s great adventure.”

    “We’re going to do all the good things that churches do. Celebrate life, love, compassion and good health,” Levin said. “Everyone is going to leave in a happy, spiritual, healthy way.”

    The opening ceremony will kick off with a young harmonica prodigy playing “Amazing Grace.” Then the church’s music minister will lead the house band through three more songs with a bit of chatter in between each.

    Next, Levin will speak for five minutes about each of the seven themes that the church holds dear: live, love, laugh, learn, create, grow and teach.

    “I will bring people up to testify on the podium of life about what they’ve learned about those subjects this week,” he said. “It’s a completely interactive service.”

    The congregation will rise in unison and recite the Deity Dozen before smoking cannabis together.

    “After the 12th pathway, we will light up and celebrate life and the birth of a great new religion with a party,” he said.
    http://news.yahoo.com/tune-in--toke-...155421770.html
    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Paul View Post
    The intellectual battle for liberty can appear to be a lonely one at times. However, the numbers are not as important as the principles that we hold. Leonard Read always taught that "it's not a numbers game, but an ideological game." That's why it's important to continue to provide a principled philosophy as to what the role of government ought to be, despite the numbers that stare us in the face.
    Quote Originally Posted by Origanalist View Post
    This intellectually stimulating conversation is the reason I keep coming here.

  9. #8
    “Everyone is going to leave in a happy, spiritual, healthy way.”
    Boy I sure hope so.........



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  11. #9
    I like it better than the Flying Spaghetti Monster Church already!
    Quote Originally Posted by Torchbearer
    what works can never be discussed online. there is only one language the government understands, and until the people start speaking it by the magazine full... things will remain the same.
    Hear/buy my music here "government is the enemy of liberty"-RP Support me on Patreon here Ephesians 6:12

  12. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by heavenlyboy34 View Post
    I like it better than the Flying Spaghetti Monster Church already!
    Me too. I wonder if there's going to be a Sister Mary Jane...
    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Paul View Post
    The intellectual battle for liberty can appear to be a lonely one at times. However, the numbers are not as important as the principles that we hold. Leonard Read always taught that "it's not a numbers game, but an ideological game." That's why it's important to continue to provide a principled philosophy as to what the role of government ought to be, despite the numbers that stare us in the face.
    Quote Originally Posted by Origanalist View Post
    This intellectually stimulating conversation is the reason I keep coming here.

  13. #11

  14. #12
    The First Church of Cannabis made its debut on the day Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act became law. But the one-hour, 40-minute church service was held without any use of the illegal drug. Doing so could have led to not only arrests, but also an anticipated court battle to test the law meant to prevent government encroachment on religion.

    Near the end of the service, after people recited the "Deity Dozen" — a sort of stoners' version of the Ten Commandments — church founder and Grand Poobah Bill Levin merely showed a "sacrament box" that would otherwise be used for marijuana. Instead, he puffed on his cigar, having previously announced that the church would pursue a civil lawsuit under RFRA, rather than take its chances in criminal court.

    The service included many testimonials on the healing power of cannabis and why it should be legalized. Levin introduced his "Cannaterians" — the moniker for his congregants — to parts of what their new religious service entailed.

    "We say three words five times," Levin said. "This is the best prayer on earth: 'I love you.'<TH>"

    People repeated the words five times. At one point, Levin asked them to turn to the back of the church and tell the media that they loved them.

    There was a heavy police presence, but officers appeared to have little to do, except for mild disputes outside between protesters and supporters of the church. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department reported no arrests. A contingent from the group Cop Block, which documents police abuses, said it had nothing to report.

    "IMPD's presence at today's event was to ensure that the laws set forth by the State of Indiana and the City of Indianapolis were adhered to, and to carry out the department's duty to ensure the safety of all individuals and community members," said a statement from chief Rick Hite. "Overall, today's event was very civil and peaceful and culminated with zero arrests or any other law enforcement action by IMPD."

    Some Church of Cannabis members, however, were upset that Wednesday morning just happened to be the time an Indianapolis Power & Light Co. truck arrived to install a surveillance camera on an electrical pole near the church.

    For blocks around the church, which is in a residential area, there were IMPD "no parking" signs and lots of yellow tape put up by residents to keep people from parking on their property. Police said they were merely enforcing an existing law prohibiting parking on a street less than 24 feet wide. The comedian who spoke said he wanted to thank police for the cardio workout to get to the church service.

    ...

    Said Ottinger of his concerns, "They get going and they get that little high, all of a sudden they're breaking in and stealing all your stuff. We know (Levin has) been lobbying Downtown for years for marijuana. Everything he's done has failed. We're praying that this will be another failure as well."

    ...
    http://www.indystar.com/story/news/2...site/29561919/

  15. #13
    Indiana's Church of Cannabis files religious liberty suit

    INDIANAPOLIS —The First Church of Cannabis filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the state of Indiana and city of Indianapolis, challenging state laws on possession and use of marijuana as infringing upon religious beliefs.

    The complaint, filed in Marion County Circuit Court, contends that cannabis is the church's sacrament and its members believe marijuana "brings us closer to ourselves and others."

    "We are taking legal action today to ensure love has no barriers in our land," said Bill Levin, Church of Cannabis founder, in front of the Indiana Statehouse.

    "Today we invite the state of Indiana and all its leaders to joyfully meet us in a court of law for clarifications on our core religious values," he said. "We look forward to engaging them on the high plane of dignity and discipline, with love and compassion in our hearts, to find a swift and sensible answer for our questions of religious equality."

    Under the state's new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which took effect July 1, the government must prove it is enforcing a compelling interest in the least restrictive way if a person claims an undue burden on religious liberty. The Church of Cannabis had its first service July 1 but said its members would not use cannabis after law enforcement warned that police would arrest anyone who smoked pot.

    Its second service will be at 7 p.m. ET Wednesday.

    Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Attorney General Greg Zoeller, Superintendent Douglas G. Carter of Indiana State Police, Indianapolis Police Chief Rick Hite, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and Marion County Sheriff John Layton also are defendants in the lawsuit.
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/n...abis/29878885/
    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Paul View Post
    The intellectual battle for liberty can appear to be a lonely one at times. However, the numbers are not as important as the principles that we hold. Leonard Read always taught that "it's not a numbers game, but an ideological game." That's why it's important to continue to provide a principled philosophy as to what the role of government ought to be, despite the numbers that stare us in the face.
    Quote Originally Posted by Origanalist View Post
    This intellectually stimulating conversation is the reason I keep coming here.

  16. #14
    its members would not use cannabis after law enforcement warned that police would arrest anyone who smoked pot.
    "We don't make the laws we just, erm........"



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