Charles Lewis writes on the Holy Post blog about a court case in which the state has charged two men with marijuana offenses who are defending their cannabis actives by claiming they were religious acts, and thus protected from prosecution. As part of the legal argument, Professor Katherine Young of McGill University offered the quote below as evidence in the case before the court. Her expert testimony was placed before the court as it wrestles with what legally constitutes a religion.
Prof. Young told the court that trying to come up with a definition is an enormous problem for scholars because of the complexity or religious beliefs and the number of variables involved.
For this case, she and a colleague looked at the characteristics of major and minor religions and then compared those characteristics with the Church of the Universe.
She said all religions should have: a supernatural dimension, whether it be God, gods, ghosts or spirits; help people to live with such paradoxes as life and death, good and evil, and order and disorder; have a source of authority from scripture or ancestral teaching or a magisterial structure like the Catholic Church; a system of symbols; sacred times, such as holy days, and sacred places, such as temples or pilgrimage routes; rituals; an ethical system and taboos; offer a comprehensive way of life; sustain a group, not just individuals; and have an identity that is passed from one generation to the next.
Read more: http://life.nationalpost.com/2010/06/14/marijuana-church-case-may-lead-to-legal-definition-of-religion/#comments#ixzz0qsSyznPf