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hummingbird goblet

Mana Pottery
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Evidence In Support of the American
Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1994

Peyote

The following is an excerpt from evidence presented to Congress in support of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1994, guaranteeing the members of the Native American Church legal access to peyote for religious use in all fifty states:


The Supreme Court's reliance on Oregonís position on Smith that the State has an interest in protecting the health and safety of its citizens from the "dangers" of peyote is highly questionable. As pointed out by Justice Blackmun in his dissent in Smith, Oregon's position "rests on no evidential foundation at all," and is therefore entirely speculative." As underscored by the dissent, the majority agreed with Oregon's assertion, notwithstanding that Oregon failed to offer any "evidence that the religious use of peyote has ever harmed anyone." To the contrary, the record in Smith amply showed that:

(1) Factual findings of other courts contradict Oregonís assumption that the religious use of peyote is harmful;

(2) Medical evidence, based on the opinion of scientists and other experts, including medical doctors and anthropologists, is that peyote is not injurious;

(3) The distribution and use of peyote has nothing to do with the vast and violent traffic in illegal narcotics that plagues the country-,

(4) There is virtually no illegal trafficking in peyote -- Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) data indicates that between 1980 and 1987, only 19.4 pounds of peyote were confiscated, while during the same period the DEA seized over 15 million pounds of marijuana;

(5) The distribution of peyote is strictly controlled by Federal and Texas State regulations--the only State where peyote grows in significant quantities;

(6) The carefully circumscribed religious context in which peyote Is used by Indians is far removed from the irresponsible and unrestricted recreational use of unlawful drugs, and is similar to the sacramental use of wine by the Roman Catholic Church, which was exempted from the general statutory ban on possession and use of alcohol during Prohibition;

(7) The Federal Government and 23 States [now 281 provide an exemption from respective drug laws for the religious use of peyote by American Indians,

(8) Native American Church doctrine forbids the nonreligious use of peyote, and also advocates self-reliance, familial responsibility and abstinence from alcohol;

(9) Spiritual and social support provided by the Native American Church has been effective in combating the tragic effects of alcoholism among the Native American population;

--Excerpt from 103D Congress, 2d session/ House of Representatives / Report 103-675

All of these statements could apply the Peyote Way Church of God, except that our members do not live on reservations and have not been the victims of Government sponsored genocide.

Road Runner