Thursday, February 09, 2012
establishment clause prohibits the government from passing legislation to establish an official religion or preferring one religion over another. It enforces the "separation of church and state." Some governmental activity related to religion has been declared constitutional by the Supreme Court. For example, providing bus transportation for parochial school students and the enforcement of "blue laws" is not prohibited. The free exercise clause prohibits the government, in most instances, from interfering with a person's practice of their religion."
I thought that I would start tonight's post with a little Constitution Law, because issues associated with this amendment have been all over the news lately. My [right]wingnut friends are outraged for my Catholic friends because they say that his Oness and his folks are infringing on their religious freedoms. (Quick point: I am married to a good South Louisiana Catholic.) Apparently Catholics don't believe in contraception. Strictly au natural when you get your freak on.
Still, I suspect that this is about restricting the rights of women when it comes to their own bodies . It is not about being outraged that Catholics are not being allowed to practice their religion without the "evil" government telling them what to do. (BTW, most Catholic schools already provide contraception coverage in their health plans for their employees, and 28 states already have a similar law in place.) I just wish that all these outraged wingnuts were around when Catholic priests were practicing their own form of birth control by getting their freak on with young boys.
Anyway, all this talk of religious freedom got me thinking about my favorite religious group here in A-merry-ca. Where are all the A-merry-can people and conservatives rallying around religious freedom for them?
"Rastafarianism - The Rastafarian faith is similar to Semitic religions. They believe in the same god and in the same prophets. However, the Rastafarian people also believe that the Ethiopian emperor Haille Selassie was the next messiah. The Rastafarians are usually associated with a "back to Africa" mindset however this is only a minor role in the religion. Rastafarians are against any type of tyranny. They are against any type of oppression. Originating in Jamaica. The frontman of the religion is Bob Marley, by and large he was the person who most led to the spread and proliferation of the Rastafarian religion. They typically use their sacrament, Marijuana, during religious services to become closer to god. Rastafarianism is one of the less then 2,000 official religions recognized by the United States Government.
Marijuana - A naturally occurring herb. It's active ingredient, Tetrahydracannibinol, is best known for the "high" it gives it's users. This high is most commonly defined as a body euphoria, with increased sensory appreciation and awareness. Marijuana is the most widely used illegal psychoactive in the world. It has been used for over a millenia, accounts are seen in manuscripts spread throughout the history of the world. It use to be sold in American pharmacy's until it became a controlled substance in 1937 due to the Marijuana Tax Act. Which is interesting because both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, two of our founding fathers, grew marijuana on their farms. (Marijuana)
Precedents Supporting Religious Use of illegal Sacraments
A. Volstead Act - The act in 1919 that banned the creation, consumption and sale of alcoholic beverages exceeding .5% alcohol by volume. The government made an exception for the Christian churches to continue using wine as a sacrament during their religious gatherings (at the time, a controlled substance).
B. Religious Freedom Restoration Act - Bill Clinton signed this act in 1993. It strengthened the rights citizens and religions have in the united states. It reads "that there now must be a compelling state interest to infringe on alleged religious liberties"(Justices). The argument now becomes, does controlling illegal substances count as a compelling state interest and thus give them the right to infringe on religious liberties.
C. UDV and their "Tea" - The Uniao de Vegetal is a Brazilian church which has roughly 130 members and is located in New Mexico. The sacrament of their official religion is a hallucinogenic tea made with DMT a scheduled substance just like marijuana. They became allowed to use hallucinogenic tea as of a March 31st 2006 court decision by the supreme court. According to the Christian Century, a religious journal, Chief Justice Roberts is quoted as saying "If such use is permitted... for hundreds of thousands of Native Americans practicing their faith, it is difficult to justify denying consideration of a similar exception for the 130 or so American members of the UDV who want to practice theirs,"(Court). The question now becomes why is this Brazilian religion with their equally illegal tea given preference over Rastafarians and marijuana? If the substances in question are of equal value in the eyes of the government, then why are Rastafarian not granted this very same right to sacrament of choice. Are these Brazilians with their official religion somehow more entitled to their constitutionally guaranteed rights then Rastafarians?
The United States of America is a great place, however it's historical treatment of the Rastafarian people and their constitutionally guaranteed right to use their religious sacrament, marijuana, have been unequal which violates the separation of church and state which can overtime bias our society. What needs to be done is clear. It is our duty as citizens and as people with a vested interest in the outcome of this government/society to campaign for the legalization of marijuana for the religious use of the Rastafarian people to keep our government unbiased. The government has made exceptions for the Christian people during the Volstead Act in 1919, and for the Brazilian church UDV during the RFRA Act in 2006. Why not for the Rastafarians? We can make a difference. Go out and vote for the NORML political organization. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
"Justices OK use of hallucinogenic tea." Christian Century Vol. 123 Issue 621 May 2006 14. 18 Oct 2006 .
"Court protects `religious' marijuana use.." Human Events Vol. 52 Issue 723 Feb 1996 pg. 5. 18 Oct 2006 .
"Marijuana." As a Drug. Taima. 18 Oct 2006 ." [Source]
Hell even the Santeria folks get more love than my 12 Tribe of Israel and Nyabinghi friends. But I see a little light at the end of the tunnel, so maybe all is not lost.
Anyway, here is hoping that all these passionate defenders of religious freedom will stand up and defend religious freedom for all A-merry-cans. (Oh, and Jamaicans....)
*Pic courtesy of Harmonist