Legal

OMS and its members have legal and God-given rights to utilize sacraments such as Psilocybe Fungi, Acacia, Amanita Muscaria, Cannabis, Ayahuasca, Peyote, San Pedro, Iboga, – or any other Earth element or organism and any combination thereof – according to the laws of the land.

There are two bills that were passed by US Congress, to protect Religious Freedoms. They are:

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)

Which is a 1993 United States federal law that “ensures that interests in religious freedom are protected.”

What is religious freedom? In simple terms, Religious Freedom is the right that we all have to practice our own religion, whatever we personally define that to be, as long as we are not infringing on another person’s rights or safety.

As quoted by the American Civil Liberties Union in their article Your Right To Religious Freedom”:

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that everyone in the United States has the right to practice his or her own religion, or no religion at all. Our country’s founders — who were of different religious backgrounds themselves — knew the best way to protect religious liberty was to keep the government out of religion. So they created the First Amendment — to guarantee the separation of church and state. This fundamental freedom is a major reason why the U.S. has managed to avoid a lot of the religious conflicts that have torn so many other nations apart.”

The second law that protects the Native American Church is:

The American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA)

This is a United States federal law, passed by the US Congress in 1978.

It was enacted to protect and preserve the traditional religious rights and cultural practices of American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, and Native Hawaiians. These rights include, but are not limited to, access to sacred sites, freedom to worship through ceremonial and traditional rights, and the use and possession of objects considered sacred.

The Act requires any governmental agencies to eliminate interference with the free exercise of Native American religion. That means, particularly pertaining to us, the government cannot interfere with our Native American Ceremonies with our sacraments & sacred plant teachers such as Ayahuasca, Peyote, San Pedro etc.

A primary reason that this Act was created is because the US Government continued to deny Native Americans their First Amendment right of free exercise of religion. So this Act was created to add further protection to Native Americans and the free exercise of their religion.

As President Jimmy Carter said, in a statement about the AIRFA:

“In the past, Government agencies and departments have on occasion denied Native Americans access to particular sites and interfered with religious practices and customs where such use conflicted with Federal regulations.”

In many instances, the Federal officials responsible for the enforcement of these regulations were unaware of the nature of traditional native religious practices and, consequently, of the degree to which their agencies interfered with such practices. This legislation seeks to remedy this situation.

There are 2 federally recognized laws (The RFRA and the AIRFA) that protect and allow the Native American Church to exercise their religion, without any interference from the government, and to continue to hold sacred ceremonies with these sacraments & plants that the Native Americans have honored and worshiped as sacred teachers, for thousands of years.

There is no higher elder in the Native American Church than James ‘Flaming Eagle’ Mooney. All elders are deceased. He is the highest order of authority in the bloodline of the Native Americans that exist in America today. That means there is nobody that has higher authority than he does, to declare who has the legal protection of The Native American Mother Church.

Fortunately, we have personally received James’ blessing to create an Independent Native American Church, and therefore, receive all the legal protection that any Native American Church has the right to, as explained above.

The Rosebud Native American Church legally established their authority with the government to be a federally recognized Native American Church on July 26, 1924On March 20, 1998 the authority to start a new branch of the Native American Church was given to James Warren ‘Flaming Eagle’ Mooney of the Oklevueha Earthwalks Native American Church of Utah Inc by Blessing of Chief Leslie Fool Bull the Head of the Rosebud Native American Church. Read this story to hear how the blessing was given, and see the blessing in writing.
On August 19, 2007 the authority and rights of the Oklevueha Earthwalks Native American Church of Utah, Utah Inc by Leslie Fool Bull was verified and sustained by Richard ‘He Who Has The Foundation’ Swallow the following President of the Native American Church, Rosebud Reservation of South Dakota and Oglala Sioux Chief of the Eagle Clan. Stating, “I verify and sustain James Warren ‘Flaming Eagle’ Mooney to be the Chief Executive Officer of Oklevueha Native American Church for the remainder of his life.” This most importantly, gives us the reassurance that any blessing that James ‘Flaming Eagle’ Mooney gives us, OMS and its members, is rooted in the legal priveleges that the Mother Church – that is, a legitimate Native American Church – has the rights to.

In 2004, James ‘Flaming Eagle’ Mooney was serving Peyote in religious Native American Ceremonies off of federally recognized Native American Reservations. He was helping heroin, cocaine & drug addicts get clean; he was helping alcoholics get sober; he was providing a half-way house for people from prison, to help them re-integrate back into society, get jobs, and get back on their feet; he was providing a home and shelter to homeless women, children & families who were in need. He was helping transform hundreds, thousands of lives, using this sacrament of Peyote. Then, he was charged by the state of Utah with a felony offense and he and his wife were arrested, with several life sentences each.

He was practicing his Religious Freedom, and based on the laws mentioned above (the RFRA and the AIRFA), he should have the right of “free exercise” to practice his religion. He and Linda battled this court case, and took it all the way to the Utah Supreme Court. As this court case was brought to the Supreme Court of Utah, looking at the RFRA and the AIRFA, of course he should be allowed to practice his religion and hold these religious ceremonies.

On Jun 22, 2004, the Supreme Court of Utah ruled a unanimous decision in James’ favor, and the Oklevueha Native American Church won this court case.

A unanimous decision means that every single person who had the authority to rule in James’ favor, or against him, voted for James & the Oklevueha Native American Church (which is extremely rare in court cases).

Quoted from the official court ruling:

“On its face, the federal regulation does not restrict the exemption to members of federally recognized tribes. We therefore rule that the exemption is available to all members of the Native American Church” [6]

The bottom line is: the Supreme Court said that although Peyote is a controlled substance, all members of the Native American Church are protected by the AIRFA, which means, we may continue to have religious ceremonies with Peyote, or other sacraments such without putting ourselves in any harm’s way of criminal accusation or prosecution. In other words, anybody who is a part of the Native American Church, may continue to utilize these sacred Native American Sacraments, legally.

Through the public Blessing that James ‘Flaming Eagle’ Mooney has given us as the ONAC – Oratory of Mystical Sacraments , on May 30, 2014:

This blessing passes on any legal protection that the Oklevueha Native American Church has to our Oratory of Mystical Sacraments, and all of our members. That means all of our members have the exact same legal rights and legal protection of the Oklevueha Native American Church.

The Declaration OMS received from James ‘Flaming Eagle’ Mooney states:

“As an American Native Indigenous ‘earth’ based ‘healing’ religion that is known as Oklevueha Native American Church (Native American Church and / or NAC) I, James Warren “Flaming Eagle” Mooney, solemnly swear and declare Oratory of Mystical Sacraments will receive all rights and protections that the spiritual and incorporated trunk of Oklevueha Native American Church receives. Federal ID Number: 841-402-813” This meaning that, whether you’re a part of the ONAC – Oratory of Mystical Sacraments, or the Oklevueha Native American Mother Church, the identical legal protection applies to you.

There have been several other churches that have been holding sacred ceremonies with sacraments such as Peyote and Ayahuasca throughout America for decades. Ever since the early 1990s actually.

The other churches are:

The Peyote Way Church  (who works with the sacrament of Peyote)
The Santo Daime Church of Brazil, located in Oregon (who works with the sacrament of Ayahuasca)
The União do Vegetal (UDV) Church of Brazil, located in New Mexico (who also works with the sacrament of Ayahuasca).

About the UDV:

On November 22, 2000, the UDV filed a lawsuit against certain agencies of the federal government for violations of the First Amendment to the US Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). This was brought on because government officials previously raided the Church, and seized several gallons of the sacramental Ayahuasca tea.

On February 21, 2006 the United States Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision affirming Religious Liberty in the case of Gonzales vs. O Centro Espirita Beneficente União do Vegetal.

Both James ‘Flaming Eagle’ Mooney and The Oklevueha Native American Church and Jeffrey Bronfman and the UDV faced the Supreme Court and won, both winning their respective court cases unanimously and unquestionably.

Summary

Oklevueha NAC (specifically James and Linda) has been to court under felony indictment for the use and distribution of Peyote. The case eventually ended as the Utah Supreme Court directed the dismissal of all charges and reprimanded the Utah County attorney for ever prosecuting the case. They indicated in their decision that ONAC is a valid Native American Church, that Peyote is a valid sacrament and that the state cannot restrict membership to only those who are of native blood or tribal membership. It is also true that the County DA tried to get the federal government to prosecute them on similar charges which they began to do, but after doing massive research chose to rescind all charges. UDV, another sacrament church went clear to the US Supreme Court to defend their right to use Ayahuasca and won.

Multiple court cases around the country have ruled that ONAC is a valid NAC and have dismissed charges based on that fact for several native sacraments. The legal team at ONAC can tell you more accurately the details of those cases if you want to contact them HERE.

We, as a religious organization & as American citizens, are legally within our rights to use any plant or earth based natural medicine or sacrament (terms somewhat interchangeable as the native definitions of those terms are slightly different than the general definitions in common use) that any indigenous people use for those purposes (spirituality and healing). Two of the ways, but not the only ways, for that to be secured at a greater level would be to change these laws through the democratic legislative process to pass a bill, or taking one of these cases to a superior court (US District, State or US Supreme Court) and wins as ONAC or UDV did, until then there is still some grey area when working sacraments other than peyote. The majority of ONAC branches work with sacraments other than peyote, and they and their members have been allowed to function without interference. We believe that those sacraments are being upheld and will be upheld within the legal protection of constitutional, civil and sacred religious freedoms and other laws currently on the books.

There are now over 300 branches of ONAC and over 35,000 members, which 99% of them have been allowed to function unhindered and without any interference from the law. There are a few people that are members of other branches of ONAC ( not OMS members) that did not overcome their charges. In most cases those were cannabis related (very large or much more than personal amounts) and in most of those cases, it can be traced to their violation of the Code of Ethics and/or the Code of Conduct but there are a couple of exceptions. This type of statistic is not unusual when it comes to these types of matters, or any human, religious, or civil rights matter. Even in medical marijuana states, such as California, there were many regular medical dispensaries and medical growers who had their rights violated but still the majority of people and dispensaries went unscathed and unhindered. History has always shown us that all advances in the rights of the people take time to be fully secured, and I believe we should all be happy, hopeful, encouraged, and grateful for any system offering a 90% success rate. Please be aware, and in order to avoid legal issues, that membership does not allow one to produce sacraments for distributing to others, or to cultivate or produce sacraments on a large scale.  The purpose of membership is to allow individuals an opportunity to practice and enhance their religion or spirituality with sacred Sacraments, especially those Sacraments that have contributed to the development and philosophy of the world’s many religions.

To those employed by the government, serving in the military or on probation (conviction) of crimes previous to joining ONAC. In all these situations, your “rights” can be affected by the employment agreement you sign or the terms of your probation. Every employer can set policies for their employees including having to pass drug testing to be demonstrably free of “illegal” substances whether they have a legal right to possess and use those substances or not. This is especially true for government work. Some people have received specific exemptions in order to participate in native ceremonies with these substances, but the government and other employers are not required to grant those exceptions. With a good lawyer, a member may be able to force their employer to allow the use of these items under medical necessity or religious freedom reasons, but we do not know of anyone doing so at this point. Those who are on probation can only participate if their Parole Officer gives them specific, written permission as they otherwise may be sent back to jail for not following the direction of their PO or violating the terms of the probation.

We believe it to be true that we have a legal right to use, possess and transport these medicines/sacraments, but be aware of the fact that ignorance, prejudice, and any illegal religious persecutions may vary from different communities and jurisdictional districts.  You may stand up for your inalienable constitutional rights by refusing to “plea bargain” and by demanding that the authorities as well as the court (including the judge) have lawfully satisfied the basic “government compelling interest” test. Also, by challenging any officers, prosecutors and judges who must prove to you that the court has lawful jurisdiction over the case. We, as an organization, are doing our best to educate those in law enforcement, and all American citizens,  as to these concepts.

We encourage all members of OMS and any of its branches who have had positive experiences and have been able to overcome addiction, illness or other troubles through the ceremonies and sacraments we work with to share their stories through the website forum or emailing us. You do not need to use your full name and location. It could be as simple as “Dave from New York” or “Sharon from Southern Utah”. Telling your story is testimony to the power and blessings of these sacred ceremonies and medicines and helps us show to law enforcement and judicial personnel that we are indeed using these things to heal and bless people and that the central purpose of all we do is spiritual. You can submit those stories to oratoryofmysticalsacraments@gmail.com and we will keep your information as private as you desire. You can also share them directly with other members through the forum pages which are only available to OMS members.

Meeting in Washington D.C. on Protecting ONAC Members

PRESS RELEASE – 5/18/2015

Oklevueha NAC Leaders Pow-Wow with Federal Legal Expert

In a broad ranging discussion, two American Native spiritual leaders reaffirmed the standing and respect leaders of the Federal Government hold for the Oklevueha Native American Church (ONAC) and her branches. The legal protections that members of ONAC have under the US Constitution, the Freedom of Religion (1st Amendment), the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person’s Act (RLUIPA) were discussed and clarified.

Attorney Charles W. Galbraith (of the prestigious Kilpatrick Townsend law firm) was the White House Associate Director of Inter-Governmental Affairs and Public Engagement. He was instrumental in drafting the policies that confirm that the Federal Government respects the sovereignty of Native American Tribes and their ability to choose if they want to grow and sell cannabis and other plants on the reservations.

Galbraith emphatically declared that, by law, government agencies such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) the US Forestry Service and the Department of the Interior have no legal right or authority to mandate or restrict what is sacred land or what is or is not a sacrament (called medicine by many tribes).

These sacraments (such as peyote, cannabis, san pedro, ayahuasca and many others) can be possessed and used by members in good standing of Native American Churches that meet the government defined requirements. At this time, the only large or broad based group that has been noted as meeting those requirements is Oklevueha NAC. These religious rights have been confirmed by a number of state, district and federal court cases including those brought before the Utah Supreme Court, US 9th Circuit Court, US 10th Appeals Court and the US Supreme Court.

Galbraith also stated that the government is bound by a standard known as the governmental compelling interest standard to not interfere with the religious lands, ceremonies or sacraments chosen by the individual branches of ONAC unless those items threaten the safety or rights of the members and others. Even if they find a cause of action, they are compelled to use the “least restrictive” way to further that compelling interest. This is further clarified by RLUIPA with mandates requiring that the courts exercise “strict scrutiny” of any proposed “substantial burden” upon religious freedoms before taking any action.

Also attending were James Mooney, co-founder and senior medicine person of Oklevueha NAC and Chris White, medicine person and leader of the ONAC of Virginia branch and one of the ONAC Council of Elders.

Mr. White asked what should be done when local law enforcement personnel arrest, detain and seize assets of members and leaders of ONAC in violation of these protections. Galbraith responded, “Co-operate and the Federal Government will take swift action to protect ONAC under the afore-mentioned legislation and 9th Circuit Court Case Law.

Clarifications were sought and received concerning ONAC member’s Civil Liberties and governmental views of the legitimacy of ONAC, Native American Ceremonies, Sacred Land protection and use and the relationship between Federally recognized Tribes in regard to Cannabis and other sacraments. Interstate commerce and transportation of sacraments and spiritual symbols are protected under RLUIPA.

Also discussed was the importance of these healing and empowering sacraments and ceremonies being made available to all people through the branches of ONAC. Mr. Mooney stated “I believe that Native American ceremonies are crucial to saving the country.” Mr. Galbraith responded with a hearty, “So do I!”

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VF2gmCvNt4