It’s like a miracle. And a real kick in the apse for minority religions. In its first religious-freedom decision under Chief Justice John Roberts, the US Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that a branch of a South American religious sect can legally cook up hallucinogenic tea called ayahuasca in a ritual that allows members of the congregation to commune with God. The court said the government cannot hinder religious practices without proof of a “compelling” need to do so.
This is good news to artist Clancy Cavnar, a longtime friend of Randy Barbato and a member of one of the churches that have been battling the court. She comments after the jump.
The United States Supreme Court has ruled that the use of ayahuasca is legal in religious ceremonies performed by the UDV, a small group with its origins in Brazil. Ayahuasca is a tea made of the bark of a vine and the leaves of a tree. It was used by Aztecs in religious ceremonies. It produces visions sometimes accompanied by vomiting. In the 1930s a rubber-tapper encountered some Indians in the Amazon of Brazil who shared the tea with him. He had vision of “the queen of the forest” that combined Christianity with native Brazilian beliefs. That became the church of Santo Daime, and the UDV (uniao de vegetal) and barquinha (little boat) churches were also formed at this time. Ayahuasca churches can be found in Japan, Italy, Spain, France, Holland, the USA, the Czech republic, Germany, England, Ireland, Canada, Mexico, and most of South America. Ayahuasca is legal for religious use in Spain, Holland, Canada, most of South America, and now the USA.
(Painting by Clancy Cavnar)