By Rev. Kathryn Ray The season of Lent has fallen upon us once more, a time when many Christians call to mind the forty days Jesus spent facing temptation in the desert. Some of us may choose to symbolically sojourn with Jesus through this time by taking on a Lenten discipline. This season of fasting gives us an opportunity to consider the plight of those struggling with substance abuse through the lens of our own addictions.
Rev. Kathryn Ray, an ordained Baptist minister, is the Program Coordinator for Clergy for a New Drug Policy, She is a recent graduate of University of Chicago Divinity School and School of Social Service Administration, and also serves as Minister with Children and Youth at North Shore Baptist Church. “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” With these words, Jesus spurns a Syrophoenician woman seeking healing for her daughter. His use of the word “dog,” an ethnic slur to refer to non-Jews, brands her as an outsider unfit to receive the mercy of God’s healing. These words tear at the hearts of all of us who see Jesus as a liberator, one who sought to bring the love of God to the marginalized. For the sake of my faith, I am glad the gospel does not stop there. And yet, in a country governed by policies begun during the War on Drugs, I too often see the story stopping there.
Eric E. Sterling is Executive Director of The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, a private non-profit educational organization that helps educate the nation about criminal justice issues. He is a graduate of Haverford College, has been a Quaker for more than 40 years, and serves on the Ministry and Worship Committee of the Bethesda Friends Meeting. From 1979 until 1989, he was Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary.
By Rev. Alexander E. Sharp When it comes to the War on Drugs, Christians have a lot to learn from Muslims. That’s the conclusion I draw from the accompanying essay by Muslim activist and writer Rabia Terri Harris. Her views should be taken seriously. They might even call those of us who identify as Christian back to the most profound truths of our own faith.
Increasingly, Protestants denominations are responding to the War on Drugs, which over the past 44 years has failed to reduce drug use, damaged countless lives, and contributed to the mass incarceration that shames our country. On June 20, 2015 the New England Conference of United Methodists, comprised of over 600 congregations, passed Resolution 15-203: TO END THE WAR ON DRUGS. It is expected that the resolution will be reviewed in June 2016 by the Methodist General Conference, which meets every four years to consider changes in the Methodist Book of Discipline. We are grateful to Rev. Eric Dupee, Pastor of Crawford Memorial Church in Winchester, MA, for describing the steps he took in introducing the resolution. We applaud his leadership.