SAN JOSE, Calif. — Services at the Coachella Valley Church begin and end with the Lord’s Prayer.
In between, there is the sacrament.
“Breathe deep and blow harder,” intoned Pastor Grant Atwell after distributing small marijuana joints to 20 worshipers on a recent Sunday afternoon. “Nail the insight down, whether you get it from marijuana or prayer. Consider what in your own life you are thankful for.”
A middle-aged man wearing a “Jesus Loves You” baseball cap piped up. “Thank you, God, for the weed,” he called out. “I’m thankful for the spirit of cannabis,” a woman echoed from the back. “I am grateful to be alive,” said another young woman, adding that she had recently overdosed — on what, she did not say — for the third time.
The small room, painted black and gold and decorated with crosses and Rastafarian symbols, filled with pungent smoke after an hour-long service of Christian prayers, self-help slogans and inspirational quotes led by Atwell, a