This book celebrates the endurance of the Native American Church, which now has some 80 chapters throughout the country. Prayer meetings, the sacramental use of peyote, and the significance of various practices and objects are described. Eloquent testimony of Church members from different tribes demonstrates that peyote is not used to obtain "visions" but to heal the body and spirit and to teach righteousness. The authors describe the legal battle to overturn the Supreme Court's Smith decision of 1990, which cited peyote use to deny the Native American Church the First Amendment right to "the free exercise of religion". The American Indian Religious Freedom ActAmendments, passed by Congress in 1994, providing an exemption allowing the use of peyote by the Native American Church, was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1997.
Huston Smith is a world authority on the history of religion and the philosophy of comparative religions. He is a professor at the University of California-Berkeley and is the author of many religious studies, including The Big Picture, Buddhism, The Forgotten Truth, Islam, and Why Religion Matters.