More than 100 Ohio clergy members are promoting the "Believe Local" campaign to combat marijuana and drug decriminalization. Chad Hayes, pastor of Caesarea Baptist Church in Mansfield, was among the several who appeared at a recent press conference to explain their position.
"It is a large problem," he asserts. "The opioid crisis is a big thing right now with the legalizing of marijuana. They are attempting to do that also, and we're just trying to prevent that from coming on the ballot this fall."
According to Frontlines Ohio, the clergymen referenced records from states who have already legalized marijuana. They have shown negative impacts on brain development in youth, increases in road deaths, surges in chronic absenteeism, and the fortification of the black market.
The pastors have issued an open letter asking local mayors and chambers of commerce to join the campaign.
As that is pursued, Hayes points out that drug abuse is a spiritual problem.
"The ultimate issue is a sin problem, and we have a sin problem in our nation, and it's even here locally," he recognizes. "Obviously, sin brings down a nation; it brings down our cities and our communities, and the answer to that is Christ."
In addition to preaching the Word of God, Hayes' church is active in another way; the pastor leads RU Recovery, a Christ-centered program to help local drug abusers turn away from that lifestyle and toward Christ.
The clergymen believe their campaign will be a defining moment for their region.