Church founder Jesse Harvey’s findings are backed by CDC and WHO.

Jesse Harvey, the founder of the eyebrow-raising Church of Safe Injection, is unlike any other church founder. Harvey puts less emphasis on faith and more on science. To him, miracles exist, and it takes the form of a former heroin addict who is now sober. Harvey should know, being a recovering addict himself. The church founder himself was churned through the 12-step program a few years back to recover from alcohol, methamphetamine, and opioid addiction.

More than 70,000 Americans died due to drug-related causes in 2017. These statistics surpassed other causes of death like gun violence, car crashes, and HIV infections. The majority of deaths were due to opioids. According to Harvey, many deaths among the statistics could have been avoided. The physical form of the Church of Safe Injection is radically different than the stately grace which is almost a hallmark of other churches. Harvey runs his “church” from the trunk of his Honda Fit hatchback. He usually parks his car beside Kennedy Park in Lewiston, Maine a favorite place for drug users to meet. He and a few other volunteers distribute clean needles and Narcan, a brand-name of naloxone, an overdose-reversal drug. The distribution of these two is accompanied by assertive preaching where Harvey insists that Jesus would have welcomed and also supported drug users, not ignore them. This philosophy has attracted many religious people, appalled by the hostile attitude of orthodox church congregations when they encounter a drug addict.

Harvey has big plans for his church. He wants to incorporate it as a nonprofit entity. After this is achieved, he wants to apply for a religious exemption to take advantage of the Controlled Substances Act. If this is granted, he can then open a place where safe injections of the drug could be given to addicts who are not yet ready for treatment. The drug injection will be done under supervision. Vancouver, British Columbia, offers a similar safe space called Insite which was profiled in Buzzfeed‘s Netflix show, Follow This.

Harvey’s plans were met by opposition. Those who oppose his venture point out that his prescribed methods of reducing harm will actually jeopardize the safety of the public and may encourage increased use of drugs. However, his plans are backed by research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

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