Church awaits ruling on religious use of hallucinogens (Ayahuasca)

By chillinwill · Feb 20, 2009 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    A new entry has been added to File Archive

    An Ashland church has filed a preemitive federal lawsuit over its use of a hallucinogenic tea.

    The lawsuit argues that the Church of the Holy Light of the Queen has the religious freedom to use Ayahuasca tea, because it's used to try to achieve a direct connection to Jesus.

    The church is a branch of the Santa Daime, which is described as a mix of Catholicism and Shamanistic Brazilian beliefs.

    Ayahuasca tea originated in the upper Amazon. It is made from two plants which contain a hallucinogenic drug called DMT. After drinking it some may get nauseous, vomit, and have powerful hallucinations.

    Neighbors of the church say they sporadically hear hymn-like singing coming from the house. They say lots of cars often visit the home, but that's stopped in recent months.

    To check it out, rate it or add comments, visit Ashland, Oregon sect files lawsuit over use of hallucinogenic tea
    The comments you make there will appear in the posts below.

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  1. chillinwill
    Church awaits ruling on use of hallucinogens

    Members of a Brazilian-based Christian church in Ashland await a decision from U.S. District Court Judge Owen Panner over worshippers' right to drink hallucinogenic tea during services.

    The Church of the Holy Light of the Queen took the case to federal court under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act after federal agents in 1999 arrested Jonathan Goldman, head of the Ashland-based branch of the Santo Daime (pronounced Die-May) sect, searched his home and seized a shipment of the disputed tea leaves.

    Goldman is the religious leader ("Padrinho") of the Ashland church, which blends Christian theology with traditional indigenous religious beliefs from Brazil. In May 1999, Goldman was arrested and jailed for 12 hours before being released. No charges were filed against him, but the decision to prosecute "remains an open question pending the decision of the United States Department of Justice," the plaintiffs allege.

    Panner heard arguments during a two-day trial that began Jan. 21 in Medford. Panner is expected to rule in the case within the next 45 days.
    Church members are requesting Panner to declare those who import, create and ingest the tea to be within their rights. Otherwise, the government could seize further shipments of their sacramental tea, and also arrest and prosecute the church members, they say.

    "All plaintiffs and members of the Church live under the constant threat of arrest, prosecution and imprisonment for quietly practicing their religion because the government refuses to respond to their requests that it abandon threats to arrest and prosecute Santo Daime Church members designated to transport the tea from Brazil to Ashland, Oregon, for services," the complaint reads.

    Goldman and other plaintiffs in the lawsuit say the tea is an integral part of their communion with Jesus. They want to protect their right to drink ayahuasca tea from two Amazonian plants that contain the hallucinogenic drug dimethyltriptamine, or DMT.

    "It is believed that only by taking the tea can a Church member have a direct experience with Jesus Christ, believed by members of the Church to be the savior."

    According to plaintiffs, "without the tea, there is essentially no religion because it is an essential element of the church ritual in which the members have placed their faith. All church members imbibe the holy tea as a form of communion."

    Court documents state the preparation of the tea requires the intensive labor of many church members and its creation is undertaken in prayer and accompanied by the singing of hymns. The document states the Oregon Board of Pharmacy has approved the use of ayahuasca tea for religious purposes.

    Calls to the Ashland church were not returned Thursday.

    By Sanne Specht
    February 20, 2009
    Mail Tribune
  2. kerang
    Re: Ashland, Oregon sect files lawsuit over use of hallucinogenic tea

    Hymn-like singing? The neighbours must be trembelling in fear.
  3. aerozeppelin123
    Re: Church awaits ruling on use of hallucinogens

    This bullshit annoys me beyond belief. What gives people the right to extra privileges just because they're the member of a religion? Why can't I make up some stupid belief system and say I have to take so-and-so drug to communicate with my almighty Lord of the Teapots or something. I realise the case hasn't been settled either way yet but people get let off with things due to religion all the time and it's completely unfair. It's discrimination against atheists - it seems that as long as you have some superstitious belief or another that's fine and you deserve your extra rights but an atheist???!! Not holding unfounded and ridiculous beliefs, how terrible...makes me mad.

    Sorry just had to rant.
  4. shagra
    Re: Church awaits ruling on use of hallucinogens

    divine experiences are common during ayahuasca experiences. it only makes sense that an institution would be formed around such an experience.
  5. enquirewithin
    Re: Church awaits ruling on use of hallucinogens

    They tried forming religious groups and declaring LSD a sacrament in the sixties and that wasn't popular with the authorities!

    Some group, whether it's the Catholic Church, Buddhist monks, Shaman in the Amazon, or Scientologists, will always try to institutionalize the so-called 'divine' and cash in on it.

    Ayahuasca should be allowed, of course, anyway.
  6. Stephenwolf
    Re: Church awaits ruling on use of hallucinogens

    they are not asking for "extra rights" they are asking to be allowed to actually be allowed to use one of their rights, You COULD easily get a large following, surrounding say, opium, and use that as a religious thing, having enough people makes the change, Ayahuasca also has an ESTABLISHED religious use in areas like brazil; which makes the case....

    i've seen a thing about a U.S.churchthing using pot, asking for the use,

    Religious Rights are garunteed in the constitution, as an Atheist you have the right to NOT be FORCED into a religion, but do not have the right to commune with god if you do not believe in him,

    of course an Atheist COULD use the drug if visiting the church to Acquire a belief god
  7. enquirewithin
    Re: Church awaits ruling on use of hallucinogens

    Ayahuasca is not really very recreational which is, I suspect, why it is sometimes allowed.
  8. bcubed
    Re: Church awaits ruling on use of hallucinogens

    I don't really understand how the gov't can simultaneously determine what constitutes a "worthy" religion and still adhere to constitutional guidlines prohibiting the establishment of state religion(s).

    After all, I was told the reason a public building can't have a Christmas tree or Nativity scene was because then they couldn't just let in "worthy" relgions, such as mainstream Christian and Jewish sects--they'd (for instance) have to let the Satanists put up a goat's head, let the Klan hang a flaming cross, etc, etc...weeding out "true" from "false" religions runs afoul of the constitution.

    So, how does the gov't get away w/ violating this precedent with drug use? I mean, if I wanted to start the "Church of the (literally) most High Almighty SWIM," excluding me but letting in the Methodists smacks of "State establishment of religion(s)!"
  9. Stephenwolf
    Re: Church awaits ruling on use of hallucinogens

    peter mcwilliams argues the same exact thing in "Ain't Nobody's business if you do''

    So long as your religious beliefs don't include infringing upon the constitutional rights of others then you SHOULD be allowed to do it.

    congress shall make NO law respecting the establishment of religion...
  10. ATWA
    Re: Church awaits ruling on use of hallucinogens

    Well for example when the feds made peyote illegal for non natives to ingest in church ceremonies one excuse they sighted was that the plant was endangered. They will do anything to make any drug that increases awareness or shifts it illegal. The DEA has been described as "a religious suppressive agency".
  11. aerozeppelin123
    Re: Church awaits ruling on use of hallucinogens

    Fair enough but why do they single out religious rights in particular, and not others? For example, what if I established an art appreciation society that had no supernatural beliefs whatsoever but we wished to use ayahuasca or any other psychedelic drug as a means of increasing our enjoyment or appreciation of art. That would not stand a chance of being allowed, yet if I attach some hocus-pocus religious bullshit to our beliefs, it's suddenly acceptable to use the drug?

    People should not need to prove any belief to exert themselves from the law, if it's acceptable for religious people then non-religious people should be allowed to do it too.
  12. Stephenwolf
    Re: Church awaits ruling on use of hallucinogens

    thtas the very next step in legitamizing anything... the constitution permits anything(that doesn't infringe on others' rights) under the umbrella of religion. After it is acceptable religiously then it can more easily become acceptable outside of religious use... i think the art society could make the argument that it explore's the soul of the artist... or some such other shit, for religious extension.. the fact of it is, the freedom Of religion isn't followed anyway. No "Consensual Crimes" should exist at all... no one is hurt other than the User/Purchaser of prostitute/gay couple/sodomite/et-fucking-cetera.

    If you could find some clause in the constitution that permitted you as an Atheist, to do whatever drug YOU prefered wouldn't you try for it?

    it's not a discrimination issue against you however, because you COULD do it. you'd have to try sampling their beliefs or something, but it would be available to you to try... the point that was made about illegalizing peyote for non-native users because it was "endangered" is still against that whole freedom of religion thing...
  13. enquirewithin
    Re: Church awaits ruling on use of hallucinogens

    Name any government in the world which is consistent in it's laws. In the Us in some states you can go to prison for smoking pot and yet can drink alcohol and smoke tobacco, both know to be harmful.

    In the sixties, many people did invent "churches" for this reason. It didn't work.
  14. aerozeppelin123
    Re: Church awaits ruling on use of hallucinogens

    Yeah I realise that I could do it, but what annoys me is the fact that it would have to be dressed up as religion to be seen as acceptable. I shouldn't have to claim that it 'explores the soul of the artist' - why is it necessary to incorporate unfounded and supernatural beliefs into one's argument in order to gain acceptance? I should be able to simply say I want to use it because it helps me enjoy art, or any other reason for that matter. The inconsistency is ridiculous.

    For example there is substantial evidence to support the idea that certain psychedelic drugs help alleviate cluster headaches (look at the links here: yet someone suffering from this condition would not be permitted to use such drugs. But a member of the Native American Church or Santo Daime or whatever can just say it is their 'belief' that they must take otherwise illegal drugs with no evidence whatsoever to back up the validity of their claims, and that's just fine.

    It should be one law for everybody. There should be no discrimination against particular groups for their beliefs (or the lack thereof).
  15. Alfa
    Re: Church awaits ruling on use of hallucinogens

    Religious use of drugs means a church, followers, rites/ceremonies and many other things that consitute a religion.
    Religious freedom is a human right, which is enacted in this way. Churches have fought for this and are still fighting, as they should.
    However freedom of thought is also a human right. But no one fights for this. There is the main difference.
  16. bcubed
    Re: Church awaits ruling on use of hallucinogens

    Yeah, this really rubs Lizard wrong.

    Much of what he's gotten out of psychadelics is insights into the supernatural, metaphysical, etc. Use of them has caused him to increase his belief in (a de-anthropomorphised) god (though simultaneously decreasing his belief in religion).

    So, his motive for use is fundamentally consistent with that of a religion's use, but he lacks dogma and the belief that he requires a third-party intermediary between him and the Great Whatever.
  17. Terrapinzflyer
    Re: Church awaits ruling on use of hallucinogens

    Court to hear US AG's appeal of judge's ruling on Oregon church's use of hallucinogen

    PORTLAND, Ore. — A federal appeals court has agreed to hear an unusual case in which the U.S. government is at odds with a district judge over his ruling on the use of a hallucinogenic tea by a small Oregon church that blends Christian theology with indigenous beliefs from Brazil.

    The Church of the Holy Light of the Queen, based in Ashland, imports, distributes and brews a hallucinogenic tea known as ayahuasca and drinks it in religious ceremonies.

    The church's leader, Jonathan Goldman, was arrested in 1999 for possessing the tea after U.S. Customs agents intercepted a shipment sent from Brazil.

    Church members sued in 2008, saying their use of the tea was protected by their religious rights.

    A year later, U.S. District Judge Owen Panner ruled that the church could use the tea in its ceremonies under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Panner acknowledged at the time that the tea could be abused, but agreed with a church member who said he hadn't seen anyone harmed and that it was against church regulations to use the tea outside religious ceremonies.

    In his ruling, Panner said the DEA can't inspect or audit records to make sure the tea leaves aren't diverted. He also ruled that church members can withhold from DEA inspection any items they believe would violate their First Amendment rights.

    His ruling prohibits the federal government from prosecuting church members who follow a list of regulations set out in his order.

    In February, Attorney General Eric Holder filed a brief with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals challenging Panner's decision, arguing it went too far.

    In the brief, Holder says he does not challenge Panner's finding that the church has the right to use the tea under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. But Holder argued that existing drug enforcement regulations already provide for the legitimate use of controlled substances under certain circumstances.

    The brief also stated the church doesn't make "the important, but relatively simple, distinction" between their freedom to use the drug and their freedom from having the government regulate its use.

    "Virtually every argument (the church makes) in this case is based upon an attempt to blur that distinction," and to portray DEA regulations as violations of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, according to the brief.

    The hallucinogenic component in the tea is a highly-restricted federal drug with numerous registration, reporting and inspection requirements.

    "The court took this action even though (the church) never alleged that any of these regulations substantially burden (the church's) exercise of religion or violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act," Holder wrote to the appeals court. "The district court's injunction must be vacated as an abuse of discretion."

    NIGEL DUARA Associated Press
    First Posted: July 14, 2011 - 6:42 pm
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