Sunday, March 11, 2012

How Religion Affects the Argument for the Legalization of Marijuana

Pat Robertson of “The 700 Club” fame has recently in an interview stated that he believes marijuana should be legalized.  This on its surface seems like a shocking argument, but then when you listen to what he is saying it begins to make a bit more sense.  One of the first quotes they offer from him is, “I think: this war on drugs just hasn’t succeeded.”  Throughout the article the arguments he makes are based more on secular views than Christian ideology. 

A second article on the statement involved the reporter interviewing various Christian leaders concerning their opinion on whether marijuana should be legalized or not.  Surprisingly the split was not simply based on whether they believed the use of marijuana to be a sin or not.  They quote Reese, S.J., senior fellow at Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, as saying, “There’s a tradition within Catholic theology that the purpose of law is not to outlaw every sin. Prohibition was a classic failure of trying to do that,"

In all honesty what I find interesting about the pair of articles here is that it is the reporters and not the Christians that are interested in talking about religion.  In the New York Times article Pat Robertson’s arguments mostly talk about social justice, comparison to alcohol, and the cost of trying to fight a war that we have already lost.  His two comments on religion are that he believes “in working with the hearts of people, and not locking them up” and a statement about problems he had with alcohol before turning to God.  Even his two comments that could be tied to religion are not really core arguments.  The first is a statement that could be looked at as a statement of the proper way of deterring crime and the second as a biographical comment.

The second article goes more into the religious side of the matter.  Unlike the interview with Pat Robertson the second article looks at possible interpretations of the Bible’s stance on the use of marijuana.  A large section of the article is devoted to religious questions that were not even touched in the New York Times article.  They discuss the various ways of interpreting the Bible that could lead to seeing the use of marijuana as a sin or not, and then they discuss the opinions of various leaders about the legalization.  This is where we get the discussion that shows that the split of Christian leaders that do or do not think it should be legal does not neatly follow the same lines as those that think it is or is not a sin.

Overall the two articles combined show a move within some areas of Christian faith to look at laws with their secular effects in mind.  The articles show various Christian leaders that are pushing for social justice and an accounting of how effective a law is not whether the prohibition in the law matches to a Christian sin or not.  I believe this article shows several groups of people that while they do not disregard their religion also do not see it as something that they should enforce upon others. 


Calli W. said...

Well, I think he's right. Personally I feel that the whole war on drugs has been and continues to be a destructive and costly fiasco. More and more people are seeing the light and the reason to change the 'War on Drugs'. Most reasonable people don't want to legalize cocaine, meth, heroine, or other hard drugs. It's not just marijuana itself that's the problem, the prohibition of it is the problem. We incarcerate far too many of our citizens on pot charges. It is a waste of resources and a waste of lives. However, I do feel employers should be allowed to refuse employment to anyone whose use of such things is debilitating.

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