Jesse Harvey: The Church of Safe Injection

Today’s Polarities interview is with Jesse Harvey, a harm-reduction advocate from Portland, Maine. Harvey founded the Church of Safe Injection in the face of the alarming rise in number of opiate-related deaths in the state of Maine, and the lack of access to safe syringes and other harm reduction material.

Part of this conversation is about the role of religious framing for political and social causes and how the sanctity of life unites a wide range of religious beliefs. But we also talk about how the way we look at and talk about legal and illegal drugs is socially and politically prescribed. And we talk a lot about Jesse’s own history with drugs, which he is very open about. And however you feel about the dangers of drugs like opioids, I think the power of this conversation is to show how deeply ingrained our moral judgements about drug users are. And how that moral aversion often plays into the ways we enact policies that directly or indirectly lead to preventable deaths from drug use.

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