Introduction- The Church Wins a Legal Judgment against the State of New York
In America, the state does not own you. We are free to worship whomever we please as long as that entity is not violating civil rights, or interfering with a person’s ability to live life in peace. But what happens when the church steps in and takes away your liberty? For example, what happens in the case of the State of New York vs. the First Church of Cannabis? The state, along with the “authority” of law enforcement and government, unlawfully infringed upon the free will of a group of people who wished to worship as they saw fit.
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Roman Catholics have always been taught that man created God and not the other way around. However, this doesnt apply directly to the Church of Cannabis in Indiana. The church has taken on a different approach than most religions by adding a twist to its beliefs by saying that cannabis is their god, and smoking is their holy sacrament. The church was founded in March of 2015 and it wasnt until about two months later when the police came knocking on the doors of their church. The original lawsuit was filed in May of 2015, but it was dismissed for 6 months due to an issue with the pastor having a criminal record. [ ]
Attorney Chris Eskew, who is representing the church, told Fox 59 that the judge declared that RFRA doesnt allow what they were trying to accomplish. This was a huge blow to the church who turned to change.org in hopes of raising enough money to help bring the lawsuit back to life. The Church of Cannabis has since received over $23K in donations from around the world. The attorney for the church says this is more than enough money for him and his client to be able to take on the state of Indiana again.
We are going to spend $50 million on three years of education programs that will train people to fight bigotry
The church has decided to take a stand against the state and fight for their religious freedom. When the Church first opened its doors, it wasnt long until the police were called in to investigate. Although there were no arrests made, the State still filed a lawsuit against the church. The reasoning behind it was because they believe that cannabis is illegal; even though it is an herb. They are fighting for their right to follow their own beliefs, and they are doing just that. The church has agreed to spend $50 million on three years of education programs that will train people how to fight bigotry. What they plan on teaching is the history of the herb and how it was used in different cultures throughout the world.
They have chosen to fight this lawsuit on the grounds of freedom of religion, not because they are conducting illegal business. The rules regarding cannabis are still being hashed out in different states, so the church plans on making sure they follow the rules while legalizing their own herb. They hope that they will win in court and make it easier for other churches to follow their example. The Church has promised to meet with all legislators as well as any other pastors that would like to take part in this national movement.
However, this fight does not end here. Not in a million years. The Church is now looking for their first legal seeds to grow and start their grow-op. They have agreed to provide free seeds to each church that wants to take part in this movement. This is the first step towards legalizing cannabis throughout the entire nation.
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The church is a non-profit. They are also not receiving any government funding. Their only source of funding comes from donations. The church isnt just fighting for their right to worship; they are also fighting to legalize cannabis. The church believes it should be legalized on a federal level, but each state should still have the freedom to decide whether its legal or not within its own borders. The state of Indiana has already filed two lawsuits over this issue, the most recent one being in December of 2015 when the church tried to apply for an IND state tax exemption. Both of these lawsuits have been dropped.
The church has ties with the marijuana community and believes they are entitled to worship under the first amendment of the US constitution. The state disagrees, and so far the courts have sided with the state.
The church views government as an entity that is there to provide its citizens needs, not control them. They do not believe in a “big brother” society and refuse to submit their rights to any governing body. The church has been protesting the “War on Drugs” in Indiana since 2008. Hundreds of protesters have been arrested for gathering and blocking the entrances of local government buildings. The church believes that the government should be accountable to its citizens, and they have been fighting to take back control over their own lives.