Wow. And wow again. The following story is fresh off the AP wires. Synopsis: It's ok to get high with your religious group as long as you are sincere. Hmm. You don't think extremists are sincere about suicide bombings? Abortion clinic blow-ups?
The drugs the group uses are illegal. What if by chance some of their children were to come across them? What if they are giving them to the children? So the message is it is acceptable to engage in illegal activities as long as it is part of your sincere religious beliefs? Maybe Ricky Williams ought to read this.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Tuesday
that a small congregation in New Mexico may use hallucinogenic tea
as part of a four-hour ritual intended to connect with God.
Justices, in their first religious freedom decision under Chief
Justice John Roberts, moved decisively to keep the government out
of a church's religious practice. Federal drug agents should have
been barred from confiscating the hoasca tea of the Brazil-based
church, Roberts wrote in the decision.
The tea, which contains an illegal drug known as DMT, is
considered sacred to members of O Centro Espirita Beneficiente
Uniao do Vegetal, which has a blend of Christian beliefs and South
American traditions. Members believe they can understand God only
by drinking the tea, which is consumed twice a month at four-hour
New Justice Samuel Alito did not take part in the case, which
was argued last fall before Justice Sandra Day O'Connor before her
retirement. Alito was on the bench for the first time on Tuesday.
Roberts said that the Bush administration had not met its burden
under a federal religious freedom law to show that it could ban
"the sect's sincere religious practice."
The chief justice had also been skeptical of the government's
position in the case last fall, suggesting that the administration
was demanding too much, a "zero tolerance approach."
The Bush administration had argued that the drug in the tea not
only violates a federal narcotics law, but a treaty in which the
United States promised to block the importation of drugs including
dimethyltryptamine, also known as DMT.
"The government did not even submit evidence addressing the
international consequences of granting an exemption for the
(church)," Roberts wrote.
The justices sent the case back to a federal appeals court,
which could consider more evidence.
Roberts, writing his second opinion since joining the court,
said that religious freedom cases can be difficult "but Congress
has determined that courts should strike sensible balances."
The case is Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao Do