So it turns out that using the religious freedom defense when you stand accused of slinging Heroin doesn't work. I know, right? Who saw that coming?
The innovative defense was used in a case against a drug dealer who argued that religious freedom laws protect him, because his religious beliefs drive him to sell heroin to people and he must be freed immediately because...well, just because and all.
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals didn't really see it his way. The court summarized defendant Timothy Anderson’s situation and you've got to read it to believe it:
Anderson filed a pretrial motion seeking dismissal of the indictment. In this motion, Anderson admitted that he distributed heroin, but he argued that the Government’s decision to prosecute him under the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”) violated his free exercise rights under RFRA [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act]. Anderson alleged that he “is a student of Esoteric and Mysticism studies” who created “a religious non-[p]rofit” to distribute heroin to “the sick, lost, blind, lame, deaf, and dead members of Gods’ [sic] Kingdom.” As such, he argued that the Government’s decision to prosecute him violated RFRA because his practice of distributing heroin was “an exercise of [his] sincerely held religious belief.”He's practically on a mission of mercy. He's just a misunderstood mystical Mother Teresa with an H habit.
You've got to give the guy credit for staging a pretty awesome defense though. And it's not actually as weird as you might think. In fact, it's worked before to great ironic effect.
You know how Democrats despise the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which is now cited to protect companies like Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor from the HHS Mandate? Well, get this, the original RFRA was actually originally introduced in 1993 by Chuck Schumer to protect two peyote smoking Native-Americans from being cut off from unemployment benefits. The ACLU also championed the bill at the time.
So, the dude had done his homework. There was precedent. But unfortunately, he hadn't been keeping up with current events (as is a problem of heroin addicts from what I understand). You see, what the part of the world that didn't have a needle in its arm has come to understand is that religious freedom isn't really all that in vogue anymore. At all.
Religious freedom was cool when it was about defending peyote smoking Native Americans but not now that it's protecting the Little Sisters of the Poor...not so much. Even the ACLU has now turned their backs and said they no longer support RFRA.
So, you see, religious liberty is great as long as its for peyote smoking but not for Christians. And, sadly, it turns out those who peddle H.
This isn't just a good lesson for drug dealers. It's a fine lesson for Christians too. We now know that we rank somewhere below peyote smoking aboriginals but at least not lower than heroin dealers who are into Esoteric Mysticism and stuff. Good to know.