It’s not actually a church. Or a religion. At least, not yet
Near the town of Lewiston, Maine there is a recovery coach, Jesse Harvey aka “Narcan Jesus” who has become the face of the provocatively named Church of Safe Injection. Jesse himself is a recovering addict from alcohol, opioids, and methamphetamine, and went through the Godless “higher power” centered 12-step program a few years ago.
Harvey, age 26 started this so-called “church” with the purpose of helping those who are addicted to drugs as an alternative to faith-based addiction recovery programs. He is currently running his “church” of Safe Injection out of the back of his car near the Lewiston’s Kennedy Park one night a week. The “Narcan Jesus,” as Jesse is referred to by many in the community, is focused on providing the distribution of clean needles and Narcan to addicts. Of course, the “church” of Safe Injection does not provide faith-based teaching. Without the vital teaching and focus on Christ as our Redeemer and Savior none of these self-centered good deeds will have any true meaningful impact on those “Narcan Jesus” and his followers are trying to help.
Sadly, others have taken up Harvey’s idea, establishing 18 branches of the so-called “church” across eight states. Each chapter must abide by the organization’s only three rules: Congregations are required to welcome people of all faiths, atheists included; to serve all marginalized people; and, most importantly, to support harm reduction, which involves keeping drug users safe and healthy, instead of focusing solely on getting them into addiction treatment.
Note rule number three and the contradiction that it entails. While rules number one and two are what any faith-based recovery program would offer and not problematic, it is rule number three that’s worrying. What is troublesome with rule number three is how the “church” of Safe Injection defines “keeping drug users safe and healthy.” It would seem that by the example of Jesse’s own actions this definition includes the continued use of drugs by the evident distribution of clean needles and Narcan. How is this keeping drug users “safe and healthy”? In actuality, this is quite counterproductive and is actually going against their own rules. You cannot keep someone “safe and healthy” by allowing them to continue in their abusive behavior.
While Jesse’s and his followers ideas may come from good intentions, a good intention will not keep people from the gates of hell. Without the preaching of the Gospel and the rebirth found through a relationship in Christ, this good intention is an eternal waste. It is akin to going to the doctor to get treated for cancer, and he sends you home with painkillers and tells you that you will be fine. You may feel fine for a time, but you will still die of cancer. Just like Jesse’s “Church of Safe Injection” may seem to provide a surface cure, death is still calling and without Christ that death leads to an eternity in hell.
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