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Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy

Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index

Toward a Moral Drug Policy.

Dennis, Richard J. (1991).
Washington, DC: Cato Institute.

ISBN: None

Description: Wrappered, stapled, 18-page pamphlet, Cato's Letters series.

Contents: 1 essay, information on the Cato Institute.

Note: This is not primarily about psychoactive sacraments, but Dennis's approach to drug policy is grounded in a religious perspective combined with libertarian, public health, and economic elements.

Excerpt(s): Why should the clergy actively oppose the war on drugs? I can think of five good reasons firmly anchored in the Judeo-Christian ethic. First, it does more harm than the evil it aims to remove, thus failing the test of St. Augustine's just war theory. The major argument against legalization-repeated like a mantra-is that there would be a concomitant increase in the use of legal drugs and consequent addiction. ... But the poll that I commissioned showed that the fear of increased addiction is exaggerated to serve the interests of the drug warriors . Less than 4 percent of respondents said they would be very likely to try legal marijuana, and less than 1 percent would be very likely to try legal cocaine. ...

Second, the drug war ignores the proverb, "He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind." Unlike the Vietnam War, the drug war is a war at home. It is being waged against a people whose main fault-in addition to lack of personal discipline-is their lack of bourgeois sensibility. ... And the innocent victims of this war aren't the peasants of My Lai but infants and schoolchildren shot down in our ghettos. ...

Third, the clergy should help society to heed the biblical injunction. "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." Drug use may be a very bad idea, but like other bad ideas it can only be combatted through persuasion. A caesar or czar who acts as a censor usurps the role of moral arbiter. Should we defend the right to sin while encouraging voluntary repentance rather than crush moral freedom under a jackboot? Government's invasion of a sphere more properly reserved for clergy and counselors risks upsetting the delicate balance between God's world and Caesar's.

Fourth, drug warriors violate a central Christian ethic by hating the sinner instead of the sin. "User accountability" is a not-so-subtle code phrase for a reign of terror over ordinary people. The national drug czar wants to behead dealers; the Los Angeles police chief proposes to line up and shoot users. The politicians and drug warriors get lots of milage from demonizing drug users. ...

Fifth, the drug war violates the Golden Rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. None of us is free of vice or temptation. Religion rests on the idea that individuals can recognize their moral failings and choose to seek guidance and absolution. Does any one of us really want to be jailed for our moral shortcomings? ... (pages 11-13)

There are three important audiences to whom clergy should address their efforts to halt the drug war.

First, the clergy must remind society at large that government is not the greater power that will save us from ourselves. ... In an Age of Disbelief, our values are up for grabs. But religious leaders won't prevail by quietly acquiescing as the government usurps their moral authority.

Second, the clergy must remind those in government that the grotesque disproportionallity of sentences for infractions of the drug laws threatens to undermine our government's claim to legitimacy. ...

Finally, the clergy must remind their flock of the crucial difference between vice and crime. ... If vice is allowed to equal crime, then we come perilously close to legislating religion. (page 14)

This compilation by Thomas B. Roberts & Paula Jo Hruby, © 1995-2003 CSP

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