Oklahoma Church Confiscates Woman's Oregano Because They Thought It Was Weed
Religious officials say they were merely following Department of Corrections policy.
Published on November 20, 2021

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Penn Ave Redemption United Methodist officials say they were merely following protocol when they took a woman’s bag of oregano. She sees it differently, however, and claims the church took the oregano because they thought it was weed. 

“They didn’t even let me explain!” Ashley Aliveros said in her first TikTok post with over 24,000 followers. “They automatically just accused me!! Not looking for people to feel bad for us just wanted to share! ##Fyp” (The #FYP hashtag lands TikTok posts on the highly visible“For You Page.”)

“Threatened to call the police just because I asked for the garnish back,” she continued in a second post. “I was so happy to go to church and then this happens to us! ##Fyp ##okc ##church”

According to a local news publication in Oklahoma, the dust-up occurred during a service at Penn Ave Redemption that welcomed incarcerated people, a regular occurrence at the place of worship that usually involved sharing a meal with loved ones before the Department of Corrections inmates are brought back to the correctional facility. 

Aliveros went primarily to get face time with her incarcerated sister, for whom she brought menudo, a traditional Mexican stew made from beef tripe. The problem arose, Aliveros said, over the fixings for her sibling’s stew: A plastic bag containing the standard menudo garnishes of oregano, cilantro, limes, and onions. 

In the videos she posted, a distraught Aliveros can be heard explaining the parishioners’ mistake and exclaiming, “Smell it! Smell it!” and “Sir I promise you, that’s for the menudo! I’m not like that, that’s why I’m so mad.” 

“I bring my daughter here all the time, why would I do that?” she said through tears, finishing one clip with a frustrated “pinches güeros no saben” [Rough translation: “They don’t fucking know”].

An individual can be heard telling Aliveros that she should contact the police to get her menudo fixings back in one video. 

The church said Aliveros’ account has got them totally wrong, however. A statement posted on Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church’s website on Monday says that while the church has been hosting services for incarcerated individuals since 1994, a recent policy change barred the sharing of food on-site (previously, loved ones were permitted to bring meals to share within the church.) The new rule is attributed to “an influx of contraband that had been coming into the correctional facility — incidents of which have unfortunately occurred through people attending the service.”

“Because Redemption is one of few ministries that allows for ministry with incarcerated persons outside the walls of correctional institutions, following policies is critical to being allowed to continue those ministries — ministries which not only help people to break the cycle of addiction, but allow families to spend time together,” continued the statement. 

Perhaps we will never know the true story behind the confiscation of Aliveros’ menudo oregano, but it’s pretty clear that Penn Ave Redemption will not be tolerating leafy greens of any kind during its special services.

Caitlin Donohue
Caitlin Donohue is a Bay Area-raised, Mexico City-based cannabis writer and author of She Represents: 44 Women Who Are Changing Politics and the World. Her weekly show Crónica on Radio Nopal explores Mexican marijuana culture and politics in the prohibition era. Follow Caitlin on IG @byrdwatch.
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