NewsBriefs BUTTONS

Our Church Leader Convicted


January 1995

Rev. Tom Brown, the leader of Fayetteville, Arkansas' Our Church, was convicted Nov. 30, 1994 on charges of growing marijuana and peyote (Brenda Kilby, "Jury Convicts Arkansas Church Leader," Tulsa World, Dec. 2, 1994, p. 1; "Pastor Convicted of Drug Charges," Dallas Morning News, Dec. 2, 1994, p. 33A).

As was reported in the Sept./Oct. issue of NewsBriefs, law enforcement officers seized marijuana and peyote in a raid on church land on August 2, 1994. Brown was arrested ten days later.

Brown, who served as his own counsel, argued that Our Church considers marijuana a sacrament. He said that the church was growing the marijuana and peyote for religious and medical use by church and non-church members. U.S. District Judge H. Franklin Waters did not allow the religious or medical necessity defense (Brenda Kilby, "Judge Rejects Pot Religion Argument," Tulsa World, Nov. 30, 1994, p. 10).

The judge also rejected Brown's attempt to bring in evidence of an alleged drug smuggling conspiracy based in Mena, Arkansas, involving Presidents George Bush and Ronald Reagan, law enforcement officers, and CIA agents. Brown has also sought to remove the judge from his case, accusing him of covering up evidence and halting investigations of drug smuggling operations.

Brown has filed two lawsuits against Washington County (Brenda Kilby, "Our Church Preacher Claims Discrimination," Tulsa World, Dec. 25, 1994, p. 26). He claims that his religion entitles him to have access to marijuana and certain religious documents in his cell. In the other suit, Brown claims that he was not able to meet with his legal adviser Kitty Kezele. She is another member of Our Church and served prison time in 1994 on a drug charge.