Welcome, Dear Reader, to what will hopefully be another new feature that I wil; be regularly adding to: awesome religions of the world. Let me start by saying that I am an atheist, but I have no problem with people being religious. Whatever gets you off, I don’t give a fuck. Just don’t try and force your stupid beliefs on me, and I will give you the same level of respect. Deal? Great. Now let’s get things started.
The Peyote Way Church of God was founded in 1977 by Reverend Immanuel Pardeahtan Trujillo (the owner of 160-acre Peaceful Valley Ranch in Arizona where the church is housed), Right Sister Anne L. Zapf, and Rabii Matthew S. Kent. They say that the church was found for the purpose of “stewarding, ingesting, distributing and growing the Holy Sacrament Peyote as the essential and inseparable part” of the members’ religious beliefs. In other words, the members of the church grown and take peyote, a highly hallucinogenic drug, to bring them closer to God. What they’ve really done is find a way to get fucked up on peyote legally. Nice.
See, in the United States, peyote is protected by Federal law, but only for Native American members of the Native American Church. But there is a loophole. There are five states where use of peyote by people who aren’t Native American is protected: Arizona (where this church is based), New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon. For a church founded by three people busy getting high on their own supply, they’re pretty fucking smart.
Their actual beliefs are pretty vague, as the purpose of the church isn’t really worshipping God, but more “achieving spiritual enlightenment” or some shit. Take this quote from their website:
People often want to know what we believe, but our purpose in designing the Peyote Way Church was not to create more dogma. Our purpose was to make the Holy Sacrament Peyote available to seekers in a safe environment. So, when you ask what we believe, our answer may be a bit vague.
What we believe is personal, and we are not interested in forcing our beliefs on anyone else. We also believe that the government has no place inside your conscience.
We focus more on conduct and being present. The mural on the Congregation House depicts symbols of five major religions: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. Peyote is available to the communicant regardless of his/her religious preference.
The church is available to anyone who is interested, regardless of religious belief. If you are interested, you can always head down for something called “The Spirit Walk“. In the Spirit Walk, people are given a huge jar of peyote that’s been brewed into a tea, sent out into the massive estate by themselves, and told to drink the contents of the jar over the 8-12 hours the experience is usually said to take, the purpose of which is to “experience a loss of selfishness and become aware of the god within”. If you don’t want to do this yourself, you can see Australian comedian John Safran go through this experience on his excellent documentary series John Safran vs God. I would post a YouTube link, but unfortuantely, nobody has posted this shit. You’ll just have to go out and buy the DVD.
Ultimately, it seems what the Peyote Way Chruch of God experience boils down to is this: you have a place where people of any religious background can get together, and spend time in a safe environment enjoying a silly little drug for personal and recreational use, an activity that should probably just be legal anyway. Now that’s a chruch I can get behind.