There’s a big holy smoke sesh being orchestrated to take place inside the largest Catholic Church in the country. Anne Armstrong, leader of Rhode Island’s heavily pro-cannabis Healing Church, said she expects the weed-burning program to go off without a hitch.
Armstrong has put in a request to book a room in Washington D.C.’s the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for August 21, the day of the solar eclipse. She said she expects the keepers of the national landmark to say, “Welcome, Deaconess Anne, and what room would you like?,” as reported by U.S. News.
But if the Basilica people do have a problem with burning a whole bunch of cannabis inside their walls, Armstrong says they can just go ahead without their okay. “It’s a big place, it’s a Monday afternoon,” she said.”We don’t need the basilica’s permission to have a prayer service in a chapel.”
What exactly does burning weed in a church have to do with cannabis advocacy or Catholicism?
A lot, if you ask Armstrong. Her church believes that early Christians and the Bible made use of cannabis. She cites the “sacred anointing oil” mentioned in Exodus 30:23 as inspiration for the weed-olive oil concoction she plans to burn during the service, even though the passage makes no mention of cannabis, only “liquid myrrh,” cinnamon, “sweet cane,” cassia, and olive oil. Some biblical scholars believe that “sweet cane” can be interpreted as cannabis, but most identify it as calamus.
The Healing Church also believes that the Tree of Life is itself cannabis, which puts them pretty much on their own among scholars.
Confusingly, the Catholics of the Healing Church also embrace pagan practices such as astrology, which is expressly forbidden by the Catholic Church. “We’re timing it to coincide with the eclipse, there’s a lot of interesting astrological things going on,” Armstrong said.
To add even more confusion, the Healing Church also has a pro-Trump tinge to it. Thomas Venditti, a church member and organizer, is also founder of a group called Catholics for Trump. “I stand with President Trump, that medical cannabis is good and that under medical comes spiritual,” he told U.S. News.
Catholicism, cannabis, and Trump make an odd combination. Pope Francis has said that President Trump “is not Christian” because of his anti-immigrant policies. And Donald Trump’s administration has made moves to prosecute state-legalized medical marijuana providers. But maybe it all makes sense if you smoke a whole lot of cannabis-infused olive oil.