A diverse coalition of twenty faith groups unite in calling for fundamental moral change to drug policies as the United Nations prepares to convene a Special Session of the General Assembly on the World Drug Problem in April. The coalition statement highlights a moral vision for policies that value the sacredness of human beings as created in the image of God.
“We know that God desires for all of God’s people to flourish and experience wholeness.” says Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary of the General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church. “Today, communities too often experience brokenness caused by addiction and compounded by systems and policies that punish and oppress. As people of faith, we stand together to work for God’s vision of reconciliation and restoration for all.”
Humane drug policies should strengthen and stabilize communities and families, address physical and mental health needs, eradicate stigma and oppression and create restorative justice systems that do not target marginalized communities and people of color.
Rev. Dr. Iva Carruthers, General Secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference notes, “The history of the War on Drugs has been and is a story of a War on People that warrants the dismantling of national and global drug policies which has certainly fueled mass incarceration in the U.S. African American and Hispanic communities, families and children, have been victimized by decades of punitive responses to what should have been responses of community investment, care, compassion and rehabilitation.”
As global leaders continue negotiations, people of faith call for the United States to be a leader in promoting policies that prioritize public health, value all individuals and communities and create opportunities for people to thrive.
The full letter with signatories can be viewed below.
Church and Society is one of four international general program boards of The United Methodist Church. The board’s primary areas of ministry are advocacy, organizing and education and leadership formation. It has offices on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and at the Church Center for the United Nations in New York City.
Interfaith Call for Moral International Policies on Drugs
Our shared beliefs, guided by sacred texts, value humanity as created in the image of God. As believers we seek to carry out God’s intention for people to live and thrive in healthy and safe environments.
In preparation for the 2016 Special Session of the United Nation’s General Assembly on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS), our faith communities are united in our call for fundamental moral change to drug policies across the globe. As such we urge world leaders to advance drug policies that:
- Strengthen and stabilize individuals and communities impacted by problematic drug use;
- Comprehensively accommodate the physical and mental health needs of people struggling with drug use;
- Eradicate stigma and oppression of those seeking assistance;
- Invest in public health systems and harm reduction services over criminal justice interventions and incarceration to address problems of drug use;
- Create restorative justice systems to address drug trafficking that are proportional to the violation committed against public safety, include opportunities for rehabilitation and do not unfairly target minority populations.
We believe addiction disrupts and harms individuals, families and communities and we seek a world in which it no longer plagues us. However, we understand that addiction can often be caused by overarching and persistent problems including poverty, racism, oppression, sexism, stigma and historic trauma. Thus, a comprehensive, humane and restorative approach to address addiction is essential, particularly in marginalized communities often inadequately served by public health systems.
The UNGASS is a critical opportunity for member states to examine the impact of their country’s drug policy and forge a new international commitment to address addiction and drug use that values humanity over systemic injustice.
Our faith communities are united in our call for reform in this arena and we urge the United States government to lead in this effort.
Church of the Brethren, Office of Public Witness
Church of Scientology National Affairs Office
Congregation of the Mission
Disciples Center for Public Witness - Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
General Board of Church and Society – United Methodist Church
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Episcopal Church
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
National Council of Churches in the USA
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Institute Justice Team
Temple of Understanding
T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Union for Reform Judaism
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries