The IRS has incorporated an Indianapolis marijuana-smoking church as a tax-exempt religious organization.
Bill Levin, founder of the First Church of Cannabis in Indianapolis, was notified of the IRS approval last week, which will now allow donors to deduct contributions on their taxes, the CNHI Indiana Statehouse Bureau reported Saturday. IRS documents provided by Mr. Levin confirmed the agency’s approval, CNHI said.
He hopes to build the first church or temple built of hempcrete, a building material similar to concrete that includes hemp.
So far, more than 600 members have paid amounts ranging from $4.20 to $1,000 to join the church, Mr. Levin said. Fundraising is being conducted partly on gofundme.com, where the church has raised over $10,800. Once the church is established, members will be asked for individual donations of $4.20 a month, Levin said.
The First Church of Cannabis Inc. was approved by Indiana’s secretary of state after the state’s religious freedom legislation was signed into law. Secretary of State Connie Lawson approved the church as a religious corporation with the stated intent “to start a church based on love and understanding with compassion for all.”
“We are progressing to get a building property to be our holy ground,” he said. “We’re going to set up counseling for heroin since we have a huge epidemic in this country. We’ll probably have Alcoholics Anonymous, too. I’m not going to allow alcohol on the premise.”
“If someone is smoking in our church, God bless them,” Levin said. “This is a church to show a proper way of life, a loving way to live life. We are called ‘cannataerians.’”
Levin also wrote out the new “Diety Dozen,” a 10 commandments-like list with suggestions for better living.
“The bibles of other religions are yesteryear about the drinking out of goat skins. That doesn’t relate to people with GPS in their hand and 7,000 tunes in that same hand,” he said. “The church is very simple. The first good book we’re going to ask parishioners to read and understand is ‘The Emperor Wears No Clothes.’”
Levin, who owns a consulting and marketing company called Levin Consulting in Indianapolis, said he is not religious.
“I’m very faith-driven, I’m very spiritual and I’m filled with love,” he said. “I find that most religions are misled into gross perversions of what they are meant to be. This path has led me to lead a religion that people in today’s world can relate to it. We don’t have any guilt doctrine built in. We don’t have any sin built in.”
The church’s first service is scheduled for July 1 — the day the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) goes into effect.
The recreational and medicinal consumption of marijuana is still illegal in Indiana, posing an issue to members of the church, or “Cannabiterians,” who believe in using the drug on a daily basis as a sacrament. Mr. Levin said he started the church to test the application of the new law that bans government from interfering with the exercise of religion, CNHI reported.
Indiana attorney and political commentator Abdul-Hakim Shabazz wrote that Indiana legislators may have put the state in a position to acknowledge those who profess to smoke pot as a religious sacrament.
“You see, if I would argue that under RFRA, as long as you can show that reefer is part of your religious practices, you got a pretty good shot of getting off scott-free,” he wrote. “Remember, under RFRA, the state has to articulate a compelling interest in preventing you from smoking pot. I argue they can’t.”
The Church of Cannabis is just one test of many under Indiana’s new law, which has escalated to national prominence, raising questions about the future of religious freedom laws and gay rights.
RFRA prevents Indiana’s government from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion if it can demonstrate that it is the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest.
Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness- Isaiah 55:2 (KJV).
Join us at: He Is Coming -Are You Ready?
And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not- 2 Peter 2:2-3 (KJV).
While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage – 2 Peter 2:19 (KJV).
”..keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith…”-1 Timothy 6:20-21 (KJV).
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils – 1 Timothy 4:1 (KJV).
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction – 2 Peter 2:1 (KJV).
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry – 2 Timothy 4:3-5 (KJV).
Lovers of Pleasure: “lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (KJV).
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9,10 (KJV).