First Church of Cannabis approved; marijuana worship has unlikely origin

By Oscar Pascual |

Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) may have initially led to business discrimination, but it also spawned an institution that Gov. Mike Pence wasn’t expecting — the First Church of Cannabis.

The newly formed church recently achieved tax-exempt status from the IRS, gaining nonprofit approval under 30 days after applying, reports the Huffington Post.

59-year-old Bill Levin founded the church in protest to the recently enacted RFRA law, which when first introduced would have allowed businesses to discriminate against individuals with differing religions or sexual orientations. After pressure from national attention, however, Gov. Pence went on to sign a revised version that doesn’t allow businesses to deny goods or services to LGBT people, or individuals practicing other faiths.

“If someone is smoking in our church, God bless them,” Levin said in an interview with the Washington Post. “This is a church to show a proper way of life, a loving way to live life. We are called ‘cannataerians.’”

“It’s a new religion for people who happen to live in our day and age,” Levin told the Huffington Post. “All these old religions, guys walking across the desert without Dr. Scholls inserts, drinking wine out of goat bladders, no compass, speaking Latin and Hebrew — I cannot relate to that sh*t. I drive by Burger Kings, bars and corn fields. I cannot relate to an antique magic book.”

The First Church of Cannabis also implements a list of righteous commandments, imploring churchgoers not to be an a**hole or an Internet troll. It also names marijuana as their lone sacrament, as described in their final commandment:

Cannabis, “the Healing Plant,” is our sacrament. It brings us closer to ourselves and others. It is our fountain of health, our love, curing us from illness and depression. We embrace it with our whole heart and spirit, individually and as a group.

Levin is now looking for a building for the hallowed house of pot, and plans to hold the first service July 1, the first day that the RFRA goes into effect.

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