We are a group of religious leaders that have
come to believe that the "War on Drugs" has not only
failed in its efforts to make America free of "illicit drugs"
but in the process has constructed laws that are highly unjust,
racist in application, a threat to individual freedom and a danger
to our public health.
The religious institutions we serve affirm
that all human beings are created in the image of the Creator
and are members of the household of God. We know that each of
us has fallen short of the glory bestowed on us and at times
have engaged in habits we cannot control or break. However, we
now institutionalize and criminalize only one group of us, those
who use and deal with illicit drugs. We have labeled them "dangerous"
and "unclean parasites." Although most illicit drug
users are white, most of the victims of drug abuse and of drug
policy are people of color. For them, there is either death or
imprisonment. (By the end of 1994, 73,400 African-Americans had
died of drug-related AIDS; and between 1986 and 1991 there was
a 60% increase of African-Americans in our prison system due
to drug law violations.)
We believe that those of us who have been
sent "to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance
to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind and to set at
liberty them that are bruised" are called on in this time
to speak a prophetic word of judgment to the present situation.
It is not enough for us to pray for them and ask God to heal
the addiction of drug users. We believe we have a sacred obligation,
born of our vocation, to help redress the grievances and correct
the injustices of our present drug laws that condemn drug related
criminals to harsh penalties and indeterminate prison sentences.
We call upon our religious communities to
take seriously the task of examining and speaking out on our
current drug policies, helping to reform and make more realistic
and less punitive our attempts to deal with drug users and addicts.
We hope that our churches, mosques and synagogues
will help their members to become informed and to speak out in
determining the direction of our efforts to deal with the drug
problem. It is our hope that the religious and moral dimension
that has been largely missing may guide our nation to more sensible
and humane drug policies.
Religious Leaders for a More Just and Compassionate
237 Thompson Street
New York, NY 10012
|Imam Mohammed Agwa
Msg. Howard B. Basler
Rabbi Balfour Brickner
Rev. Calvin Butts, III
Dr. John B. Cobb, Jr.
Rev. Wm. S. Coffin, Jr.
Prof. Harvey Cox
Sister Marion Defeis
Rev. Richard R. Fernandez
Rev. William Finlator
Rev. James Forbes
Dr. Beverly Harrison
Rev. Anne Higgins
Abigail Hastings, Office Coordinator
|Prof. Bruce Jones
Rev. George McClain
Dr. Charles McCoy
Bishop Paul Moore
Rev. Robert Raines
Rev. Nancy Sehested
Dr. Roger Shinn
Prof. Glenn Stassen
Rev. Richard Shaull
Rev. Bill Webber
Prof. Walter Wink
Rev. Alfonso Wyatt
Rabbi Lina Zerbarini
Rev. Howard Moody , Coordinator