CENTENNIAL, Colo. (Christian Examiner) – Members of the self-titled "Stoner Jesus Bible Study," a Colorado group that smokes weed and discusses the Bible, believe that reading the scripture while stoned enables them to understand God's Word better—but others who disagree aren't afraid to use the word "blasphemy."
Jennifer LeClaire, senior editor of Charisma News who says she has been saved from drug addiction, says "this half-baked Bible study may take blasphemy to a mind-numbing level."
Founded by Deb Button, who tried marijuana for the first time recently while going through a divorce—she says it has alleviated her migraines—the Stoner Jesus Bible Study (SJBS) group will smoke marijuana before cracking open their Bibles.
"I expected to see unicorns," Button told New York Magazine. "But when I started smoking I just got so connected to God."
"When I'm stoned, I can't read fast, so I look at every word," said Cynthia Joye, the first person to respond to Button's Craigslist invitation to start the group. "Like, what does each one of those words mean? Who's 'poor'?" she said, referring to the Beatitudes.
"This Stoners Jesus Bible study is standing on the word, but not the right word," LeClaire said, adding marijuana acted as a "gateway drug" in her own life.
Button is aware the Stoner Jesus Bible Study is considered nontraditional at best. "As I walk more in step with Jesus, He leads me away from the very Pharisee minded folks I find in my social network and asks me to step into a radically different place," she writes on the Stoner Jesus blog in a post entitled "The Pharisees Would Have Us Dead."
"We are just a bunch of stoners that come together and learn about Jesus and the Word of God," said group member Mia Williams to CBS4.
Button calls herself "an utter failure by church standards," but says she is closer to Jesus than ever. "Had these been different times in a different corner of the world, I'd likely be burned for witchcraft, stoned for heresy, or endured lashings for immorality," she said.
LeClaire has a different perspective on marijuana. "It's only by God's grace and prayer and a determined will that I was set free from the demon of pharmakeia," LeClaire said.
"I think the plant is sacred," group member Joye said. "It puts people in a frame of mind where you think of God." She thinks Jesus would not have turned down a pipe, New York reported.
LeClaire worries for Button's teenage children who see their mother advocate for marijuana use in religious practices. "That's why it grieves me to read stories like Button's. The enemy came in at a vulnerable time in her life—while she was in the midst of a divorce—to tempt her to take a legal drug to ease her pain," she said.
Button seems to view those who oppose the mixture of marijuana and scripture as Pharisees. "All I ask of my persecutors is to look upon the only time Jesus really expressed righteous indignation—it was never against sinners or seekers, but against those who manifested the most extreme religious observances," Button wrote. "The Pharisees of his day like their modern counterparts, Jesus teaches, are actually the farthest from God."
LeClaire exhorts Christians to "take authority over the spirits that are working to usher this harmful drug into mainstream American culture."
She warns the legalization of using marijuana will permeate the church. "Otherwise, we'll see this adopted in churches from coast to coast. Mark my words."