RI Church to celebrate with marijuana at national park

By Matt Blanchette

 mblanchette@abc6.com

 @mattblanchette

The Healing Church holds its ceremonies in West Greenwich, but have been granted a permit to have a special event called “The Celebration of Holy Fire” at Roger Williams National Park on May 23.

But it’s what they will be doing at that ceremony that may raise some eyebrows. The small religion uses cannabis, or marijuana, in its prayer based on their interpretations of the bible.

“All over the world wherever there is a religion there is a sub current underneath is with cannabis at its origin,” says church leader Alan Gordon.

In their services they use cannabis as an anointing oil, as a drink, and they smoke it.

The group says there is no better place to celebrate their religion in the country than at Roger Williams Park in Providence because Williams is the father of religious freedom in America.

“Providence is religious sanctuary from religious bigots,” church leader, and former RI Gubernatorial candidate Anne Armstrong said.

The church applied for a permit that was approved by the National Parks Service, but not without careful thought.

“It is our job to find the balance between protecting the applicants and attendees first amendment rights with making sure the law is upheld whether it is a federal site a state site or a local site,” said Jennifer Smith, the site manager at Roger Williams.

Though marijuana is a controlled substance its use in a religious ceremony is protected, the church says.

Its members aren’t worried about any police involvement during the celebration on May 23rd.

“Really you are going to call the authorities if we respectfully and reverently use something that our scriptures say is sacred material and tell us to use? I don’t think so,” Armstrong said.