MALIBU, Calif. — Last week, the deans of Seaver College internship program at Pepperdine University officially refused to approve the application of sophomore political science major Victoria Stanzione to intern at the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), a national non-profit organization dedicated to reforming marijuana laws. Associate Dean Michael Feltner said “the internship is not aligned with the mission and purpose of Pepperdine University and I cannot approve the internship for academic credit.”
According to its website, the university’s mission is detailed as follows: “Pepperdine is a Christian university committed to the highest standards of academic excellence and Christian values, where students are strengthened for lives of purpose, service, and leadership.”
The university’s affirmation statement goes on to say that, “As a Christian university, Pepperdine affirms that truth, having nothing to fear from investigation, should be pursued relentlessly in every discipline.”
“We are extremely disappointed that Pepperdine University would deny any student the opportunity to learn about public policy by working on this important social justice issue,” said Morgan Fox, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project. “We do not promote marijuana use, but we recognize that marijuana prohibition has failed and does far more harm than good. A growing number of clergy members are recognizing that criminalizing non-violent marijuana users is a destructive and misguided policy, and even more have spoken out in favor of allowing the seriously ill to use marijuana medicinally. Pepperdine needs to consider the message it is sending with this decision.”
Rev. Alexander Sharp, Executive Director Emeritus of Protestants for the Common Good, also criticized Pepperdine's decision, saying, "We are called as Christians to engage this world, not run away from it. Our current drug policies raise fundamental questions of compassion and justice. We cannot avoid these issues and still be true to the Gospel."
In the spring of 2012, conservative Christian televangelist Pat Robertson drew widespread attention when he spoke out in favor of treating “marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol.”
He said, “I believe in working with the hearts of people, and not locking them up.” Denominations that support allowing the medical use of marijuana include the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church USA, the Union of Reform Judaism, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church 's Board of Church and Society.