Oakland ‘Church’ Gives Out Mushrooms and Pot to Help People ‘Experience God’
This is insipid and wrong. A person doesn’t have to abuse drugs to “experience God.” If you’re looking to “experience God,” you can try prayer, reading the Bible, or taking a walk outside and observing nature, or maybe try helping someone in need.
(Link): Oakland ‘church’ gives out mushrooms and pot to help people ‘experience god’
by John Sexton
August 17, 2022
This is one of those only in the Bay Area stories. An organization that calls itself the Zide Door Church of Entheogenic Plants opened its doors in 2019. The leader of the group says he gave weekly sermons until the pandemic made that impossible. But he continues to give out drugs to those who pay a monthly membership fee plus donations.
Church founder Dave Hodges said when the church opened, he conducted weekly sermons at the Oakland building but basically stopped during the pandemic.
During the sermons, he dressed in robes adorned with pictures of cannabis plants and talked about “the insights” he experienced when going into “these deep realms” after taking mushrooms.
Prior to COVID, Hodges would pass out joints to his members before giving his sermon. The church does not allow people to take mushrooms on-site due to safety issues and instead encourages people to take psychedelics in a place where they won’t have to drive for at least 8 hours.
Since the pandemic, Hodges said he has had only one in-person sermon — in February — with about two dozen people.
Hodges said he doesn’t sell drugs. Instead, members of the church pay a $5 membership fee per month and donate money to get the church’s sacrament — cannabis or mushrooms, which the church grows. Hodges said he has issued almost 60,000 membership cards total and that on average, up to 200 people come per day to the church to pick up cannabis or mushrooms.
… In 2020, police raided the “church” on the grounds that it was an unlicensed marijuana dispensary. They seized about $200,000 worth of drugs in the raid and now the group’s leader is suing the city demanding they reimburse him. Whether or not he’ll win the case depends on if the court decides his “church” is really a religion and not a clever way to deal drugs.
Hodges said he and his members sincerely hold their beliefs. And the church creates a “progressive and creative worship experience for its members, offering meditation, prayer and study groups,” the complaint states. “Central and essential” to their religion is the “sincere, sacramental use of entheogenic plants, and fungi, including cannabis and psilocybin.” …
… The overwhelming majority are just paying Hodges and collecting drugs. Regardless of how he sees it, I’d be willing to bet the majority of them just see him as a drug dealer.
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