An alternate headline for this piece could have been: “Attention-seeking stoner mocks religion.” The deference shown to him is maddening.
The self-proclaimed minister of love and “Grand Pooba” has created The First Church of Cannabis, described on the church’s Go Fund Me page as “based on love and faith with the plant we know and love.”
Possession of marijuana is illegal in the state, but [Bill] Levin claims its usage in his church is a religious practice, undoubtedly testing the law. Members of the First Church—cannabiterians—will light up in worship at 12:01 p.m. July 1 in Indianapolis—just one minute after RFRA becomes a valid defense for religious practices in Indiana. “It’s possibly going to be one of the greatest test cases in the world—religious freedom,” Levin told MSNBC. “We’ll find out how religious freedom really works here in Indiana.”
The First Church has gained recognition as a tax exempt religious organization and purchased a church building, joining the national ranks of religious institutions—some whose religious practices seem just as odd as those of The First Church of Cannabis.
Churches that meet the basic description of a church outlined by the Internal Revenue Service automatically receive a tax exemption. No application is required for these unconventional churches to receive the same religious classification afforded to denominations of yesteryear.
“This is the problem when you have the government involved in deciding what is and what is not a religion by giving [churches] that preferential treatment—that [the government] can’t make that judgment call about whether this is a sincerely held belief or not,” Nick Fish, the national program director for the American Atheist Center, told RealClearReligion. “They have to take [churches’] word for it.”
The IRS Manual says it “cannot pass judgment on the merits of the applicant’s asserted religious belief.”
Secular materialists faithfully fall back on this argument. To preserve a Constitutionally mandated neutrality, the state has to play dumb, they say.
Do they really expect us to believe the Establishment Clause dictates that you can’t tell the difference between phonies like Levin and people who worship and are inspired to good works by the God of mercy and grace? The Founders were too discerning to believe such obtuse silliness.
A limited government respectful of citizens is vested in their ability to support each other. Even from a secular point of view, belief in Jesus’ divinity and incumbent commandments to love your neighbor and serve the weak is an attitude you want to encourage. The same cannot be said for getting high. A state that wants to oppress citizens is equally vested in such waste of human and intellectual capital.
As for Levin, he’s a walking, talking proof of concept. He deserves the tyranny that his abuse of liberty solicits—which would be fine with me if he lived in a hermetically sealed bubble. But, unfortunately, that tyranny must also apply to more people, nobler people, than just him. In a free society, the rights the state allows you is proportional to the responsibility you show in exercising them.