Over 600 Churches Unite In Call to End War on Drugs

By McCarton Ackerman 07/15/15

Pastor Eric Dupee drafted a resolution to stop the injustice of the drug war that has caused "more harm" than good.

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Advocates calling for an end to the War on Drugs have gotten a surprising new ally in the form of a group representing over 600 churches.

The New England Conference of the United Methodist Church voted during its annual conference last month to back legalization by supporting efforts to address the drug abuse crisis across the country through “means other than prohibition.” The resolution noted that “to people of color, the War on Drugs has arguably been the single most devastating, dysfunctional policy since slavery.”

Eric Dupee, the resolution writer and also the pastor of Crawford Memorial United Methodist Church in Winchester, Mass., said the goal is for the church to address this issue at their global conference next year.

"It's a justice issue," he explained. “What I wanted to do is put forth the idea that our drug war is creating more harm, more problems than it's solving, and I wanted people to be aware of that."

The group also listed several other reasons why they were in favor of legalization including the overcrowded prison system, loss of lives due to drug trafficking and public health issues. They stated that providing addicts with help in the form of treatment, instead of punitive measures, was the Christian thing to do.

"Restorative justice grows out of biblical authority, which emphasizes a right relationship with God, self and community,” the resolution said. “When such relationships are violated or broken through crime, opportunities are created to make things right."

Other religious groups have also joined forces to challenge the War on Drugs. Protestant pastors and Jewish rabbis united to create the group, Clergy for a New Drug Policy. Launched by Chicago pastor Rev. Al Sharp, its members are in full support of taxing and regulating marijuana, drug treatment over prison for non-violent offenders and greater access to medical marijuana for those who need it.

“It’s a bigger issue than marijuana legalization. My position is that it’s more important for us to be healing these people,” said Rev. Tom Capo, pastor of DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church in Naperville, Ill. “We need to offer them assistance, drug rehab, so they can put their lives back together. Putting them in prison does not stop people from using drugs. It just isolates them from the rest of society.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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