Happy new year! Sorry, that's all I've got today.
In order to join the church a member must subscribe to the following principles:
‘(1) Everyone has the right to expand his consciousness and stimulate visionary experience by whatever means he considers desirable and proper without interference from anyone;
‘(2) The psychedelic substances, such as LSD, are the true Host of the Church, not drugs. They are sacramental foods, manifestations of the Grace of God, of the infinite imagination of the Self, and therefore belong to everyone;
‘(3) We do not encourage the ingestion of psychedelics by those who are unprepared.’
Building on the central thesis of the group that psychedelic substances, particularly marihuana and LSD, are the true Host, the Church specifies that ‘it is the Religious duty of all members to partake of the sacraments on regular occasions.’
A Boo Hoo is ‘ordained’ without any formal training. He guides members on psychedelic trips, acts as a counselor for individuals having a ‘spiritual crisis,’ administers drugs and interprets the Church to those interested. The Boo Hoo of the Georgetown area of Washington, D.C., testified that the Church was pantheistic and lacked a formal theology. Indeed, the church officially states in its so-called ‘Catechism and Handbook’ that ‘it has never been our objective to add one more institutional substitute for individual virtue to the already crowded lists.’ In the same vein, this literature asserts ‘we have the right to practice our religion, even if we are a bunch of filthy, drunken bums.’ The members are instructed that anyone should be taken as a member ‘no matter what you suspect his motives to be.’
While there may well be and probably are some members of the Neo-American Church who have had mystical and even religious experiences from the use of psychedelic drugs, there is little evidence in this record to support the view that the Church and its members as a body are motivated by or associated because of any common religious concern. The fact that the use of drugs is found in some ancient and some modern recognized religions is an obvious point that misses the mark. What is lacking in the proofs received as to the Neo-American Church is any solid evidence of a belief in a supreme being, a religious discipline, a ritual, or tenets to guide one's daily existence. It is clear that the desire to use drugs and to enjoy drugs for their own sake, regardless of religious experience, is the coagulant of this organization and the reason for its existence.That was probably true in 1968 and sadly, the Neo-American Church is now defunct. But all religions probably have odd origins. The ones that began in relatively recent times are simply at a disadvantage because people remember those origins. Think of the cargo cult of John Frum in Vanuatu or note that the official Scientology website does not hide--indeed proudly trumpets the fact--that its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, was a pulp fiction writer.