As we all know, Christians are a highly persecuted group in the US, forced against their deeply held beliefs to not discriminate against the LGBT community. The situation has got so bad that various states are passing their own versions of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to provide relief to this beleaguered group. Indiana is one of those states that passed such legislation and the governor of the state Mike Pence signed it into law
Bill Levin noticed that the new law seemed to allow him to apply for tax-exempt status for a church and so founded the First Church of Cannabis. Yesterday, he proudly announced that the IRS has recognized it as a church and granted it tax-exempt status.
“What a GLORIOUS DAY it is folks,” the church’s founder Bill Levin wrote in a post on Facebook announcing that the IRS had approved making the church a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization. “WE ARE 100 % a LEGAL CHURCH… All say HALLELUJAH and SMILE REAL BIG!… We are OFFICIAL!”
Levin, the self-appointed “minister of love,” formed the church this year partly as a means to test the state’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which offers protections against the government infringing on religious practices.
Levin plans his first official church service July 1 — the day RFRA becomes law — where his members will follow blessings by smoking marijuana in what he describes as a religous practice. But some legal experts doubt such an illegal act would be exempted from prosecution by the religious protections offered by RFRA.
You can listen to Levin make the case for why he did this and what the church services would be like. He sounds like a cool guy and I can see the church becoming popular. His message sounds a lot better than that you can hear in most traditional religious churches.
I have been strongly critical of the practice of the IRS granting tax-exempt status to any religious institution, a situation that has led to all manner of abuse by scoundrels taking advantage of it make money for themselves. Let’s see what they do if other groups start doing something similar to Levin.