Last week a series of raids in Hawaii netted 14 arrests on marijuana charges, including the leader of The THC Ministry, Roger Christie. Now more details are emerging as to what went down on Hawaii’s Big Island.
Thursday he (Chrisite) got arrested, along with more than a dozen others, picked up in various locations from Hilo to Honokaa. Drug enforcement agents, sheriffs, county police, immigrations and customs and even postal agents were part of the bust. Sources say 14 people in all were taken into custody.
“They were only after people that they had federal indictments for,” said Nathan Clark, who lives in the THC Ministry building called The Moses Building. “They left all my things alone. They told me I was free to go.”
Clark said he is from Iowa and has been out of jail himself since May 11th.
“The DEA, it’s one of their last hurrahs in their failed drug war, the war against cannabis,” Clark said.
The suspects were put on a Coast guard c-130 plane bound for Oahu. Authorities declined to comment.
It does not come as a surprise that these arrests were federally motivated and directed. It’s seems Mr. Christie – with his message of religious freedom, including the freedom to use cannabis as a sacrament – is a thorn in the side of U.S. authorities.
People who know me know I’m the last person to defend organized religion. I believe people should be able to worship in any way they want, and they don’t have to give their money to a big church in return for “salvation.” And with 60,000 members, The THC Ministry qualifies to me as a big church, even if it is a church I might be interested in joining.
But I also believe the highest power in this country in the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights cannot be any clearer on the point of religious freedom.
In the past associates of Christie have been arrested as far away as the East Coast. At the time of a high-profile raid in Florida 2 years ago, Christie told KHON2 his religion is a defense against prosecution.
“Everyone in the USA is born into the right to cultivate and to use cannabis,” he said. “Every state in the United States guarantees religious freedom for each of their citizens, and the federal government does, too.”
Obviously the Constitution doesn’t mention any rights to use cannabis, but his point is valid. The main reason the pilgrims left Great Britain was to escape religious persecution and establish a new colony where they could worship freely. To say Mr. Christie’s religion is not being persecuted in this instance is a hard case to make.
I’ve never met Roger Christie; I couldn’t tell you if he really believes cannabis is holy, or if he just uses religion as shield from prosecution. Federal authorities obviously believe the latter, but it really doesn’t matter. We don’t have lie detector tests for religion and belief. But I would think that authorities will have to prove Mr. Christie doesn’t believe what he says about cannabis to make a case against him. Otherwise they are persecuting a religious man for his beliefs, which is strictly forbidden in the Constitution.