Despite a number of American states legalizing the use of marijuana, most pastors strongly oppose the idea, a new study of more than a thousand Protestant pastors revealed. The study was conducted by Lifeway Research in Nashville and found that 76% of pastors either somewhat or strongly disagreed with marijana legalization for any purpose, with 56% saying they disagreed strongly to its legalization.
According to the Christian Post, only 18% of the surveyed pastors agreed that marijuana should be legalized in America for any purpose and 6% remained unsure. The results of the study also showed that Protestant pastors in the Northeastern states were more likely to support legalization of marijuana with 24%, versus those in Southern states with 16%. The study also found that mainline pastors represented 43% of those who were for marijuana legalization in America versus only a small portion of evangelical pastors with 10%.
The Lifeway Research study found that Methodist and Presbyterian Reformed pastors were more likely to back marijuana legalization in America with 37% and 35% respectively, versus Restorationist movement pastors with 21%, Lutherans with 15%, Pentacostals with 10%, and Baptists with 7%. The study was conducted between September and October last year.
“There are about as many opinions on marijuana as there are ways to consume it,” Lifeway Research executive director Scott McConnell said. “When asked about legalizing all such uses, the majority of pastors are strongly opposed.”
A recent Pew Research report showed that most Christians support the idea of marijuana being legalized in America, with 53% of Catholics and 60% of Protestants saying that they support its legalization. The question now is, should conservative Christians be worried about this trend?
“Cannabis and the Christian” author Todd Miles believes so. In talking to Biblical Recorder, Miles pointed out the contrast between pastoral support for marijuana legalization and public approval, saying that it “should be a warning for pastors.” He argued, “The fact that only 18% of pastors support legalizations shows the influence of the clergy in America is not as strong as it once was.”
Miles added, “All indications are that public desire for legalization of marijuana is growing rapidly. The church must be ready to minister in that context.”
CP reported that Pastor Craig Gross, a cannabis proponent and Christian Cannabis founder argued that marijuana use among adults should not be an issue if used responsibly and that it should be treated like alcohol. Gross said God “created the plants before” creating humans and had created them on the third day and while it may be abused, marijuana must only be used by “legal, responsible adults.”
Gross called upon the Church to “stay ahead of the conversation on marijuana” because he believes it may be “too late if we wait 18 years. The time is now. Start this conversation.” He warns that once marijuana is legalized, there will be throngs of Christians in church who will have questions about it and the church must be able to give an informed answer.
In 2019, Gross, then the leader of XXXchurch, said cannabis use helps him worship God.
He said he was raised a Baptist and that he has never lifted his hands in a worship service. But when he uses marijuana, he said he finds it easier to do that.
Dr. Michael Brown, responding to Gross’s assertion that cannabis helps him worship God, called his declaration an irony.
“Ironically, it’s for this same reason that some strippers get high before performing or some actors have a few drinks before engaging in a sex scene. The drugs or drink loosen them up and relax them, helping to remove their inhibitions,” he wrote in an op-ed.
Brown, a self-confessed former pot smoker, said cannabis use is “the opposite of spiritual liberty.”
He added that despite Gross’s claims of marijuana being a helpful substance in the worship of God, “It has nothing to do with holiness and it is totally unrelated to worship.”
The theologian explained that marijuana destroys sobriety, which the Word of God demands of Christians. He added that pot is a “gateway drug” that opens the way for other things that feeds and flesh and makes room for the enemy.
He contended that the Word of God tells Christians to be wise, sober, and “filled with the Holy Spirit,” which is something that cannabis use will not allow.
“So, before you get high (whether for the first time or again), ask yourself these questions: Is this light or darkness? Is this feeding my spirit or my flesh? Is this exalting Jesus or opening the door to the enemy?“