‘A Drug-Using Atheist’

Christian columnist and professor Mike Adams recently admitted past drug use and commented on Obama’s past drug use:

In addition to smoking marijuana — sometimes laced with substances like PCP — for a number of years, I also experimented with drugs like hashish, powdered cocaine, LSD, and methamphetamines (including ecstasy). I regret my decision to use illegal drugs in my youth and I’m really sorry. Now that my past drug use is out of the way, let’s move on to Barack Obama.

I may surprise a number of people by saying that I don’t think Obama’s past drug use — including the use of powdered cocaine — in any way disqualifies him from being President. I know I’ve had no trouble refraining from illegal drug use since I joined a Christian church many years ago.

I had not heard about Obama’s drug use, but an article from the Washington Post confirms it:

Long before the national media spotlight began to shine on every twist and turn of his life’s journey, Barack Obama had this to say about himself [in Dreams From My Father]: “Junkie. Pothead. That’s where I’d been headed: the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man. . . . I got high [to] push questions of who I was out of my mind.” … Through his book, Obama has become the first potential presidential contender to admit trying cocaine.

I agree with Adams that Obama’s past drug use does not disqualify him for the presidency (and Republicans can hardly argue the point, given the man they put into office). However, Adams suggests that the reason we can trust Obama not to return to drug use is that he converted to Christianity — which is ridiculous. Many Christians abuse drugs, including alcohol, while many atheists do not. What’s important is for somebody to build a better moral character. I personally know people who, in that process, became religious, but that’s because they saw religion as the only alternative to the moral subjectivism that had troubled them. I also personally know people who, as they overcame drug abuse, either remained atheists or moved away from religion and toward a secular morality. (I particularly recommend Craig Biddle’s Loving Life and Tara Smith’s Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics for their discussions of rational virtues.)

I started out as a Christian; then I became an atheist who abused drugs (particularly alcohol, but a few times other drugs). Finally I grew up, took a hard look at my past mistakes, and started to work hard to improve my character. (I’m still working out a few details.)

I know I’ve had no trouble refraining from drug abuse since I rejected first the Christian church and then a pragmatic subjectivism many years ago.