Denver Cannabis Church's founder says city's order violated religious freedom

Denver Cannabis Church's founder says the city's order violated its religious freedom. (Photo by Jo Kassis from Pexels)

Following the city's order to remove a sculpture, the International Church of Cannabis' founder believes that the demand is an assault on the church's right to religious freedom.

Violating Religious Freedom

According to Mail Online, The International Church of Cannabis has asserted that the order issued by the city one month ago demanding that it remove a pink android sculpture violates its right under the First Amendment to exercise its religion.

The city of Denver stated that even if the church requested a permit, it would likely be denied since the sculpture threatened motorists driving on the roadways near it.

The church's founder, Steve Berke, commented that the calls to remove the artwork are disingenuous because they originate from a community that views itself as liberal.

Berke also stated that he hopes that Denver recognizes their right to exist and to have the religious effigy, representing the freedom of religion that all Americans should have.

The eleven-foot-tall pink sculpture, Public Defender, in front of the church on the corner of a road intersection, was given to the church by the artist who built it.

The church is also open to the public as a tourist attraction. It now holds the seventh spot on Trip Advisor's list of the "Best Attractions in Denver." 

It has a restored chapel with psychedelic patterns painted all over the walls and often hosts light displays there.

Berke expressed his disfavor with the fact that the judgment about the sculpture had already been decided, claiming that it was evidence of the city's discriminatory treatment of the church. 

Dispute Over Sculpture

Fox News reported that a heated disagreement has broken out between the City of Denver and the International Church of Cannabis over a sculpture in front of the church.

While the city says that the sculpture is unsafe and poses a hazard to cars and has issued an order to remove it, the church maintains that it expresses their religious views and should be allowed to remain.

Since its installation four months ago, the congregation of "elevations" believes that the sculpture is sacred and is an essential component of the church's practice, consisting of members observing a period of quiet and meditation lasting 42 seconds.

The city has stated that it is beyond the boundaries of the church's land and is located in the public's right of way without the necessary licenses. Berke noted that he does not comprehend how something like that could be true.

According to Berke, the irony of the situation is that the building in question is called "public defender," and it symbolizes "the invasion of the city upon the First Amendment." Hence, regarding us, not only is this a matter of religious liberty, but it also pertains to the Constitution.

In an email thread with Berke about the order of removal, the city stated that the church could submit an encroachment permit but that removing the structure or offering concept plans would be a better move because it would "prevent wasting your time and fee payment awaiting initial results of permit review when it is already known as a not permissible location."

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