Conservatives have a habit of claiming moral authority, typically of the Christian variety. Perhaps it’s time for them to revisit the basics. For example, Matthew 7:1: “Stop judging, that you may not be judged.”

Consider Philadelphia, the latest focus of moral outrage among conservatives. There, a group of public health advocates have proposed a safe injection site, which would be the first place in the United States where opioid users could openly use drugs such as heroin under medical supervision (while also being connected with addiction treatment options).

The facility has animated some on the right for fear that it promotes drug use and lawlessness. After a federal judge ruled on Oct. 2 that the proposed safe injection site would not violate federal law, the Trump administration quickly vowed to appeal the decision. Meanwhile, eastern Pennsylvania’s U.S. attorney, Trump appointee William M. McSwain, issued a threat Tuesday to “use all enforcement tools” at his disposal to shut down the facility if it moved forward

These conservatives should tread this ground carefully. This isn’t a fight they will win easily. They are taking drug addiction, a serious public health problem, and treating it like a sin — and that is morally wrong.

McSwain and his fellow skeptics raise a reasonable concern about the proposed facility: Would it not, they argue, encourage drug trafficking, particularly in the neighborhoods near the facilities?

The evidence says no. Cities have been operating similar safe injection sites in other developed countries for years, and while the research on such facilities remains sparse, the much feared “honey pot effect” has simply not materialized. Meanwhile, the Insite facility in Vancouver, B.C. — perhaps the most studied safe injection site in the world — appears to have reduced fatal overdoses in the nearby area and promoted safer injection habits among drug users, studies have found.

Nevertheless, conservative opponents see such facilities as no better than crack houses, encouraging rather than combating addiction. Baked into this objection is an absolutist Christian view of substance abuse that has promulgated negative stereotypes about addiction for decades.

No person has advocated this viewpoint more forcefully than Attorney General William P. Barr. Last week, he delivered a speech at Notre Dame Law School laying out a grand conservative theory that the only way our democracy can function is with a morally grounded populace — stressing Judeo-Christian values in particular. As part of his speech, he argued that the rise of “secularism” and “moral relativism” led directly to the drug crisis.

Per Barr’s theory, safe injection sites are simply a secularist phenomenon that “makes it harder for society to restore itself.” In other words, instead of promoting abstinence from drugs, our increasingly godless society is enabling their use. He compared it to accepting abortion as the answer to “growing illegitimacy” or addressing the “breakdown of the family” by providing public aid to single parents.

You might already balk at the notion of this administration offering us lessons on the decline of morality. But it’s still worth challenging the fantasy world produced by Barr — one in which a society could somehow “restore itself” if only religious morality remained intact.

First, addiction is a disease, not a moral failing. We’ve known this for a long time; drugs hijack the dopamine channels in the brain and make it impossible for someone suffering from substance abuse to break from the chemical without a constant pull to relapse. The medical community has fought hard to dismantle the stigma surrounding addiction; Barr is doing that essential work no favors.

We should also acknowledge that we’re living in a particularly dangerous time to be addicted to drugs. Fentanyl, a highly potent and cheap synthetic opioid that has infiltrated the drug supply, often without the users’ knowledge, has caused overdoses to skyrocket. Users can’t be sure what poisons are in their products; safe injection sites are simply a frontline attempt to get that crisis under control.

That doesn’t mean religion has no role in combating our addiction epidemic. In fact, one could argue that setting up a safe injection site is a purely Christian exercise. As the Bible tells us: “Those who oppress the poor revile their Maker, but those who are kind to the needy honor him” (Proverbs 14:31). Protecting drug users from overdoses and directing them to treatment options surely lives up to those standards. We could go further and argue that morality calls our democratic institutions to massively expand access to health care and addiction treatment.

Somehow critics of safe injection sites — wrapped up in their own self-righteousness — miss this. They are so quick to judge the mistakes of others that they forget they have a moral obligation to help them. They stand against the efforts of activists who seek to help their drug-ravaged communities, leaving the most vulnerable in peril.

And for that, it is their turn to be judged.