A new cult is making its appearance across North America. The rationale, if it is to be taken seriously, is the bizarre theory of what its proponents call “expanding consciousness.” Principal promotion comes from the attention currently being given to lysergic acid diethylamide, better known as LSD, and other drugs that, taken internally, produce outlandish mental images.

High priest of the LSD cult is ex-Roman Catholic Timothy Leary, 45-year-old psychologist who in 1963 was fired from Harvard University for using students in LSD experiments. He then went on to become the world’s leading exponent of “mind-opening substances.”

“We regard him with the same special love and respect as was reserved by the early Christians for Jesus, by the Moslems for Mohammed, or the Buddhists for Gautama,” said Arthur Kleps in testimony last month before a United States Senate subcommittee. Kleps is identified as director of the “Neo-American Church,” which is supposed to have 500 members and churches in the Northeast, Florida, and California and is spreading.

Kleps, 38, says his title is sometimes given as “Chief Boo Hoo,” which leads observers to wonder whether the whole thing is a joke. In his testimony on Leary, however, Kleps was not funny. He issued a warning on what might happen if the movement’s leader were ever jailed (Leary is appealing a thirty-year prison sentence on a conviction of possession of narcotics).

“On the day prison doors close behind Tim Leary,” Kleps declared, “if these ill-considered laws of religious suppression are upheld by the courts, this country will face religious war.”

“Open conflict will most certainly result if the courts uphold these laws against us … and I would certainly advise my people to use LSD to fight ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.