Rastafarian Church Fights for Legal Recognition in Jamaica

The Church of Haile Selassie I, a Rastafarian church in Jamaica, is continuing its 14-year fight for legal recognition by the country’s lawmakers but the organization is yet to receive parliamentary approval. Church spokesman Abuna Foxe told BBC Caribbean that misconceptions about the use of certain herbs in its religious sacraments have contributed to the delay in being granted legal status. The church has stressed that what they use is the herb cassias, not marijuana, in its rituals.

Committee Chairman Senator Hyacinth Bennett told members there was a need to clarify the concept of the word “herb.” Senator Mark Golding, on the other hand, insists that the church has made it clear that it does not use marijuana and that too much emphasis is being placed on the legislation that aims to define the organization’s sacrament. He adds that “The concern of some of the members of the committee is that they don’t want, by passing the bill, to appear to be condoning the use of ganja.”

If approved, the Church of Haile Selassie I would have the legal rights to property ownership, to open schools, and would have tax benefits.

For full article, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/caribbean/news/story/2010/03/100301_rastachurch.shtml

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