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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 Drug Policy
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.
Wayne Cowan
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

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