The M+G+R Foundation

The Utilization of Hallucinogenic Drugs as a Way to Approach God

Another Aberration of the New Age World

A Guest Document

by Lee Penn

It might seem inconceivable - but there are well-known spiritual leaders who support the use of hallucinogenic drugs (enthoegens) as a way to approach God. Some of these advocates of entheogens (1) have had an audience at prestigious globalist meetings, such as the State of the World Forum, in recent years.

This should not be a surprise, since the US Government and other powerful interests fostered the spread of hallucinogens in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Since then, the US Government's seemingly incoherent drug policy has had a three-fold effect: the spread of soul-destroying vice among drug users, the gain of new police power by government at all levels, and the establishment of precedents and structures for financial globalization.

Could any mere human (or human institution) have planned policies with such perverse results?

The Players  (for good and for ill)

The United Religions Initiative (URI) is a syncretic interfaith movement founded in 1995 by William Swing, the bishop of the Episcopal Church's Diocese of California. The movement has become worldwide, and its adherents include followers of almost all persuasions (from leftist Neopaganism to Sun Myung Moon's rightist Unification Church) except orthodox Christianity. (For a current story on the URI, see "The One World Religion: The Details - Learn to Recognize Them.") (2)

Huston Smith, author of The World's Religions (a text on comparative religion which has sold 2.5 million copies worldwide), has taught at Washington University, MIT, Syracuse University, and the University of California at Berkeley. (3)

He has long favored the interfaith movement - including the United Religions Initiative (URI). In June 1998, Smith hailed the URI as "the most significant" ongoing interfaith effort, saying that "I think it is a much-needed move in our time." (4) In 2000, he donated to the URI. (5)

Smith's commitment to religious syncretism goes beyond public pronouncements. In 1999, Smith said that Christianity and his family formed his character. "Throughout my life it has continued to be my meal," he said, "but I am a strong believer in vitamin supplements- spiritual insights gleaned from other religions." (6)

One of Smith's more off beat spiritual "vitamin supplements" has been the use of entheogens to attain mystical experiences (7).

Barbara Marx Hubbard is a New Age futurist and a prominent supporter of the United Religions Initiative (URI). She helped write its draft Charter (8), and said in 2002 that "I believe that URI is extremely important," and "other interfaith organizations, I hope, will merge with them." (9)

The State of the World Forum (SWF) is a globalist think-tank, headed by Mikhail Gorbachev. Like the URI, it was founded in 1995. The SWF has attracted prominent politicians [including former President George H. W. Bush (10), Margaret Thatcher (11), James Baker, and George Shultz, government officials during the first Bush Administration (12), philanthropists (including George Soros (13) ), New Age gurus, and other "change agents" - including Huston Smith (14), Barbara Marx Hubbard (15), and other supporters of the URI] to its luxurious meetings.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), established in 1947, was intimately involved in the LSD research scene from the early 1950s onward. It had been testing a wide range of drugs as interrogation tools since World War II, including "dosing" employees and prisoners - with and without consent. (16) A detailed history of CIA involvement in LSD and the counterculture says, "It was impossible for an LSD researcher not to rub shoulders with the espionage establishment, for the CIA was monitoring the entire scene." (17)

People with CIA ties "turned on" Aldous Huxley, Allen Ginsberg, Ken Kesey, and Timothy Leary. (18) These counter culture leaders then spread the psychedelic message to anyone who would listen, thinking that this drug would support the radical cultural revolution that they desired. As Leary wrote in 1970 in The Politics of Ecstasy, "Drugs are the religion of the twenty-first century." (19)

What Some of the Players Have Said  (and done)

Huston Smith

Huston Smith became involved in use of "entheogens" in 1961 - and 39 years later, was still writing that psychoactive chemicals could bring people closer to God. Smith acknowledges that he was "initiated to the entheogens through Timothy Leary and psilocybin in his home in Newtonon New Year's Day, 1961." (20) In the final chapter of Cleansing the Doors of Perception, Smith claims that "With the exception of peyote, which I took in the line of duty while working with the Native Americans, it has been decades since I have taken an entheogen." (21)

Smith still advocates use of entheogens, even though he acknowledges that they yield diminishing spiritual returns and may open doors "onto the demonic." He says:

"Even among those who are religiously responsible, entheogens appear to have (in the parlance of atomic decay) a half-life; their revelations decline. They are also capricious. Opening the gates of heaven at the start, there comes a time - I can attest to this myself - when they begin to open either to less and less or onto the demonic." (22)

At the end of an essay which was published in 2000, "Do Drugs Have Religious Import? A Thirty-Five-Year Retrospect, "Smith laid out his current vision for better religion through chemistry:

"My personal, very tentative suggestion is to see if the drug authorities would be willing to approve of a duly monitored experiment on the issue. Find a church or synagogue, presumably small, that is sincerely open to the possibility that God might, in certain circumstances, work through selected plants or chemicals (as I personally believe he did through Soma and Newman's typhoid fever and continues to work through the peyote of the Native American Church).

Permit this church to legally include a psychoactive as sacramental, perhaps once a month in its Eucharist. And finally, commission professional social scientists to observe what happens to this congregation in respect to religious traits - notably compassion, fervor, and service.

A variant on this proposal would be to obtain legal permission for seminary students to have at least one entheogen experience in a religious setting if they so wanted. I was fortunate in being introduced to the entheogens as part of Harvard University's 1960-63 research program when they were not only legal, but respectable. I support the effort of the Council on Spiritual Practices to afford others the same opportunity." (23)

It's significant that Smith proposes this as an experiment that would occur with government permission and support - just as occurred in the 1950s and early 1960s. Smith's essay was in a book published by the Council on Spiritual Practices, an organization which promotes use of "plant sacraments" as a way to obtain "primary religious experience."(24)

Barbara Marx Hubbard

In her 1998 book Conscious Evolution, Barbara Marx Hubbard put "mind-expanding substances" on a par with the civil rights movement as a way to foster social change:

"The environmental movement, the antiwar movement, the Apollo space program, the women's movement, the civil rights and human rights movements, new music, transcendental meditation, yoga, and mind-expanding substances all encouraged a young generation to act as instruments of social transformation- striving to birth the still-invisible societal butterfly." (25)

The State of the World Forum

The State of the World Forum has provided a high-status platform for advocates of "spiritual" drug use.

A 1996 Forum panel on "Drugs, Technology and the Mind in the 21st Century" involved a nostalgic look at the drug culture of the 1960s. The report was written by Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Lindesmith Center, a drug policy advocacy organization funded by George Soros. (26) The Forum panel's report said:

"Robert Jesse and Jeff Bronfman focused on the religious aspects of hallucinogenic drugs and discussed the implications of their work for drug policy. Other participants who included Ram Dass, Michael Aldrich, John Perry Barlow, Mitch Kapor, Steve Kubby and Howard Kornfeld, spoke about therapeutic uses of these drugs, their own and others' personal experiences, and the political responses which these drugs generate in the U.S. and other societies.

The panel presented a remarkable opportunity to renew some of the discussions which proliferated a generation ago, but which then were lost as one of the casualties of the war on drugs." (27)

At an October 30, 1998 forum on "Rogue Nukes: The Mafia and Drug Cartel Connection," former Senator Alan Cranston and Men's Wearhouse CEO George Zimmer proposed that we should "legalize marijuana, and re-examine laws on other drugs." (28)

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) involvement in LSD, as discussed above, reflects that organization's habits from the beginning.

CIA involvement in drug trafficking goes back to the 1940s, when they supported Corsican mobsters to fight French Communist unions in Marseille (giving birth to the "French Connection" for heroin smuggling) (29). During the Indochina wars, the CIA supported Chinese Nationalist and Hmong warlords whose income came from opium. "The CIA protected the heroin business of its warlord allies while its operatives distributed heroin in Vietnam." And the US-supported anti-Communist rebel forces, the "Contras" in Nicaragua, smuggled cocaine. (30)

Likewise, US assistance to the radical Islamic resistance to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan came at great cost; "the rebels raised money for arms by selling opium, with CIA complicity." (31) And as we have since learned, some of the mujahideen Afghan fighters that the US trained in the 1980s became the anti-US jihad warriors of the 9/11 era.

With its other hand, the US government has passed ever-harsher anti-drug laws since World War II, laws which (with such provisions as no-knock raids, broad search and seizure powers, and "civil forfeiture") punched holes in the Bill of Rights and pre-figured the Patriot Act. (32)

The US has supported similar legislation in other nations, and has helped to place these provisions into international law. As a result: "The United States since 1985 has propelled the rest of the world towards co-ordinating and harmonizing controls over black-market money. The US has sought to align all countries with the new control regime, preferably voluntarily but ultimately under international pressure.

'The fight against the laundering of drug-money will ultimately lead to something that was never intended: a uniform global regulatory regime,' a Dutch commentator noted. 'In this way, the war on illegal intoxicants is helping to produce a far-reaching and unlooked-for integration of the countries of the world'." (33)

Bishop William Swing and his United Religions Initiative (URI)

Amidst all this, Bishop William Swing and his United Religions Initiative (URI) have rejected entheogens. No URI documents have ever endorsed use of drugs, for spiritual purposes or for any other reason - even though, as noted above, some proponents of entheogens also support the URI. Bishop Swing learned in late 2002 that there had been illegal drug use and a non-fatal overdose at an all-night dance held at an Episcopal parish in his diocese by the Rhythm Society (34), a rave group whose leaders were suspected of promoting use of entheogens. Swing intervened; the congregation's rector and the rave group quickly agreed to leave the parish. (35)

Since then, Swing has issued a clear condemnation of entheogens. In 2003, he said,

"Some teaching is heard among the theologically trained and ordained in our Diocese that certain drugs taken in appropriate quantities can be beneficial to spiritual growth. In former days Timothy Leary would tout the use of LSD. Today people are touting 'Ecstasy' or 'entheogens' as the threshold that opens human beings to supernatural realms. The Hopi Indians and their use of peyote are cited as beneficial models. What are not mentioned in these endorsements are the ravages of countless lives that trusted in drugs as a path to paradise.

There are probably some very sincere pilgrims of the Spirit who have gone on a quest for the Transcendent, and certain drugs may have seemed to advance them. Their individual quests, as vivid as they may have been, will not be given an official platform in the Diocese of California.

Rumor has it that the Diocese of California is liberal about matters. Not always so. On the use of drugs in our buildings, at our functions, this is absolutely forbidden. No wink, wink. Drug use in our churches will be absolutely forbidden.

There is a higher path to God, i.e., the path of Jesus Christ. The cross is not a needle. The bread and wine are ordinary, not a hallucinogen. Ecstasy is a path, not a pill. Our drug policy will reflect this." (36)

In other words, some liberal globalists can sometimes say and do the right thing.

The Implications - Religious and Sociopolitical

We are left with several conclusions, all of which demonstrate the workings of the "mystery of iniquity:"

--- Some liberal religious and New Age enthusiasts, who appear to have learned nothing from the devastation that followed the drug explosion of the 1960s, still say that people can have authentic religious experiences by ingesting mind-bending chemicals. (Other liberals, including Bishop Swing, reject this idea with horror.)

--- It remains for atheists and non-believers to draw a logical conclusion from the supporters of entheogens: if people can have a life-altering religious experience by tweaking their brain chemistry with a hallucinogen, then any experience of God is likewise an artifact of brain chemistry - and God is just an illusion.

--- "Entheogens" can be a useful tool for inquisitors, torturers, brainwashers, and cult leaders - for anyone who is willing to override human reason and destroy liberty to obtain power. The aforementioned drug activities of the CIA - purportedly done to defend free nations against the Communists - are an instance of this.

--- Governments are ordained to restrain evildoers (37) and to protect human rights. When governments promote a form of drug use that destroys human reason, they violate their own reason for existence, and destroy their own legitimacy. (38)

(1) For supporters of "better religion through chemistry," an entheogen is a drug that gives its users contact with the Divine.
(2) Lee Penn, "The One World Religion:The Details - Learn to Recognize Them" ,as of 9/16/03.
(3) Council on Spiritual Practices,"Huston Smith", printed 09/16/03.
(4) Carolina Wolohan, "Group uses U.N. as its model," San Jose Mercury News, June 22, 1998.
(5) United Religions Initiative, "Honoring Our Donors," Annual Report 2000, p. 9.
(6) Worldwide Faith News, "Inter faith Dialog Deepens Beliefs, Say World Parliament Presenters" November 9, 1999, printed 09/16/03.
(7) Huston Smith, Cleansing the Doors of Perception: The Religious Significance of Entheogenic Plants and Chemicals, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 2000, p. 9. Smith lists mescaline, psilocybin, and LSD as entheogens, and describes them as "virtually non addictive mind-altering chemicals."
(8) URI on-line archive, e-mail from Sally Ackerly to URI leadership, February 27, 1998, [].Printed in 1998; no longer on the Internet; hard copy available from the author. Barbara Marx Hubbard confirmed her involvement in a message to Lee Penn on 11/11/02.
(9) Barbara Marx Hubbard, message to Lee Penn, recorded and transcribed November 11, 2002.
(10) State of the World Forum, The 5th Annual State of the World Forum, October 1-6, 1999, p. 7.
(11) State of the World Forum, "Global Broadcasts,", printed 09/16/03.
(12) State of the World Forum, "Co-Chairs", printed 09/16/03. Baker, US Secretary of State from 1989 to 1992, is one of the current co-chairs, and the document lists Schultz as one of the original co-chairs in 1995.
(13) George Soros, speech to the State of the World Forum 2000, September 5, 2000, ,printed 09/16/03.
(14) State of the World Forum, "Toward a New Civilization," May 1997 report on the 1995 and 1996 forums, p. 25. Smith was on the list of those attending the 1995 conference.
(15) 1997 participation: State of the World Forum, "Forum Program Schedule 1997," Quarterly, July-September 1997, Vol. 2, no. 3, p. 5; 1997 State of the World Forum, "Participants,"[], printed in 1997; no longer on the Net. 1995-1996 participation: State of the World Forum, Toward a New Civilization, May 1997, "1996 Participant List," p. 31, and "1995 Participant List," p. 23.
(16) Richard Davenport-Hines, The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics, W. W. Norton and Co., 2002, pp. 329-330.
(17) Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain, Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, The Sixties, and Beyond, Grove Press, 1992, p. 45
(18) Richard Davenport-Hines, The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics, W. W. Norton and Co., 2002, pp. 328-332; the just-mentioned Acid Dreams is a book-length discussion of this point.
(19) Richard Davenport-Hines, The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics, W. W. Norton and Co., 2002, p. 333.
(20) Huston Smith, "Do Drugs Have Religious Import? A Thirty-Five-Year Retrospect," in Thomas B. Roberts, ed., Psychoactive Sacramentals: Essays on Entheogens and Religion, Council on Spiritual Practices, 2001, p. 14.
(21) Huston Smith, Cleansing the Doors of Perception: The Religious Significance of Entheogenic Plants and Chemicals, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 2000, p. 130.
(22) Huston Smith, Cleansing the Doors of Perception: The Religious Significance of Entheogenic Plants and Chemicals, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 2000, p. 63
(23) Huston Smith, "Do Drugs Have Religious Import? A Thirty-Five-Year Retrospect," in Thomas B. Roberts,ed., Psychoactive Sacramentals: Essays on Entheogens and Religion, Council on Spiritual Practices, 2001, p. 16
(24) Council on Spiritual Practices, "About CSP" , printed 09/16/03. The same document promotes a collector's edition of Smith's Cleansing the Doors of Perception.
(25) Barbara Marx Hubbard, Conscious Evolution: Awakening the Power of Our Social Potential, New World Library, Novato, California, 1998, pp. 10-11
(26) Drug Policy Alliance, "The Nation Exclusive Profiles Soros/Nadelmann Role in Drug Policy; Magazine Article Extols Soros Funded Lindesmith Center and Its Director Ethan Nadelmann As Center Of Drug Policy Reform Movement" ,printed 09/17/03. Soros remains on the board of directors of the Drug Policy Alliance (,printed 09/17/03).
(27) State of the World Forum, "1996 State of the World Forum: Creative Approaches to the Drug Crisis - Final Report by Ethan Nadelman [sic]," [];printed in 1997; no longer on the Internet.
(28) State of the World Forum, "1998 Schedule of Events: Friday Round tables, October 30;" David Pasztor, "Stop the Spread of Nukes - Legalize Dope," SF Weekly, November 4, 1998, vol.17, no. 39, p. 14
(29) Richard Davenport-Hines, The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics, W. W. Norton and Co., 2002, p. 350.
(30) Richard Davenport-Hines, The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics, W. W. Norton and Co., 2002, p. 424, about Indochina, and p. 436, about Nicaragua.
(31) Richard Davenport-Hines, The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics, W. W. Norton and Co., 2002, pp. 428-429.
(32) Richard Davenport-Hines, The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics, W. W. Norton and Co., 2002, pp. 441-444.
(33) Richard Davenport-Hines, The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics, W. W. Norton and Co., 2002, p. 445.
(34) Robert Jesse, of the Council on Spiritual Practices, is a co-founder of the Rhythm Society. (Excerpts from Rhythm Society Friends e-mail list; item 4. Included as Exhibit N of a dossier prepared by a member of the Episcopal Parish of St. John the Evangelist, seeking Bishop Swing's intervention.)
(35) Lisa Leff, "Progressive Church Finds New Age Ties Unsettling" - Washington Post, February 22, 2003, page B09; downloaded on 09/17/03. See also Don Lattin, "From rhythm and blues: Fight over dances and drugs tearing S. F. church apart" San Francisco Chronicle, February 4,2002, page A-15;printed on 09/17/03.
(36) Bishop William Swing, "A Swing Through The Diocese: Drugs and the Diocese of California," Pacific Church News, Spring 2003, Vol. 141, No. 2, p. 5.
(37) "For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. ... But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God, to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer." (Rom. 13:3-4)
(38) "If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience. In such a case, 'authority breaks down completely and results in shameful abuse.'" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, article 1904)

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