Original Kleptonian Neo-American Church

Senate Testimony of Art Kleps, Chief Boo Hoo of the Neo-American Church

Senator Javits: Mr. Kleps, will you come forward.

I wish to state again that I am presiding at the request of Senator Dodd. I am a member of both committees which are hearing this question today, the Government Operations Subcommittee, presided over by Senator Kennedy, my colleague from New York, and this one. I will do my utmost to correlate and coordinate the results of both.

The chairman wishes me to announce that Mr. Kleps was called as the director of the Neo-American Church located at Morning Glory Lodge, Cranberry Lake, N.Y.

Mr. Kleps is essentially a psychologist with a bachelor’s degree from Utica College in New York, and a master’s degree from Syracuse University in school psychology.

The purpose in calling Mr. Kleps is that he represents another discipline which has experimented with or used LSD without medical supervision, apposite to the testimony we heard from Dr. Leary, representing the largest group of users in the country on a scientific basis, and as some allege, a pseudoscientific basis.

Mr. Kleps represents a religious approach to the use of these drugs, and hence the possibility that his testimony may be of use to us in determining what legislation shall be passed.

Mr. Kleps, again may I ask you to confine your statement if you can to ten minutes, and it will be received without objection and printed in full.

Mr. Kleps: Yes, sir, my statement is fairly brief. It’s an honor to be here. I want to thank you very much for the opportunity to present my views.

Senator Burdick: Mr. Kleps, would you mind telling me if you are really called Chief Boo Hoo?

Mr. Kleps: I am afraid so. It is difficult to explain this. That is always the first question that comes up. The reason we do it is to distinguish between the church and the religion. We think it is very important not to take ourselves too seriously in terms of social structure, in terms of organizational life. We tend to view organizational life as sort of a game that people play.

Senator Burdick: So is the appellation a spoof?

Mr. Kleps: It is sort of a spoof.

Senator Burdick: Sort of a spoof.

Mr. Kleps: It is so people will not get beyond themselves too much.

Senator Burdick: Please proceed.

Mr. Kleps: It is a help to me to have a title like that because I do have to explain it as I am doing now.

Listening to the testimony before your subcommittee on Monday, I was, of course, struck by Dr. Goddard’s characterization of what we call consciousness expansion as ‘bunk,’ and I would like to reply to the reasons he gave for making such a judgment when Senator Dodd questioned him further.

Dr. Goddard said that consciousness expansion did not occur with LSD because the results of objective tests of intelligence and so on given during the session showed negative results; a drop in performance. His argument contains the unspoken assumption that consciousness expansion is necessarily associated with a rise of measured IQ during the psychedelic session. I do not know of any psychedelic person who would agree that that is the case.

If I were to give you an IQ test and during the administration one of the walls of the room opened up giving you a vision of the blazing glories of the central galactic suns, and at the same time your childhood began to unreel before your inner eye like a three-dimensional color movie, you would not do well on the intelligence test.

LSD puts you in the mind of God, and God has little interest in our IQ tests. We might say that God has no IQ. God is not a verbal being as we are to such a large extent.

Now this assumption that consciousness is somehow equated to, or is an aggregate of, those mental faculties which are measurable by objective tests is representative of an entire approach to the subject of psychedelics which is superficially plausible and yet is fundamentally erroneous. It is the only approach which finds favor in the eyes of those administering research grants. It is based on the assumption that if you cannot measure something, it does not exist. In psychology it is rooted in a kind of professional, if not personal, atheism. It produces the horror stories we read about in the field of animal vivisection experimentation resulting from a narrow-minded fixation on trivia, an almost trancelike inability to see the forest for the trees. It results in thousands of people each year earning advanced degrees because they have proved, in effect, that when you put 13 rats in one end of a box, lo and behold, 13 rats come out of the other end of the box in some combination or other.

Senator, I spent ten years working with young people in the public schools and in my career as a psychedelic activist, since then I have come to know the younger generation very well. They do not buy the kind of pseudoscience I have described. They are looking for the truth, they are trying to find out ‘what life is all about.’ Their cynicism about the conventional answers, the conventional routines, the conventional games is so profound as to pass beyond cynicism into a kind of entirely praiseworthy honesty and bravery of the highest type. Their eyes are open in the midst of all the death and heartlessness around them.

It is difficult for us to imagine what it is like to have been born in 1948, but it is very much like being born into an insane asylum. I will not repeat what Dr. Leary told you; I am referring to his concern with the lack of communication between the generations; but I will draw your attention to this week’s issue of Life magazine which contains two articles very apropos of LSD and the gap in communication between the generations.

The first article is about Allen Ginsberg, the poet, who is also a member of our Church. In your generation or in mine, this man, who is the living antithesis of all that is officially pronounced admirable, would have made, at best, some small stir in Greenwich Village. Today, he is a folk hero. The article does a beautiful job of explaining why that is so.

It is because he is a man who has always disregarded the conventions when they have interfered with his personal quest for beauty and truth. Today’s young people insist on direct experience; they are suspicious of all secondhand reportage; what they admire above all else is honesty and personal commitment. I think we can see this in the civil rights movement.

The second article concerns the latest style in discotheque interiors, which may sound trivial, but is actually very revealing. The synchronization of light patterns and sounds, the cryptic flashing pictures, the constant random flow of colors; these are all well-developed techniques for approximating that inner world which is the common experience of all of us; a world both exquisitely private and yet wholly universal. To those of us who have had the experience, it is very obvious that all of this is the result of LSD, right down to the fact that little alcohol is consumed in these places. The people who go there do not need to get drunk, they have found something better. These are the style setters, not people in some cultural eddy or backwash.

Now before I get into the religious aspects of this, I would like to say that the incident Senator Murphy described as occurring near his home, Senator, in which some LSD was surreptitiously introduced into the punch at a party, is not the kind of thing I advocate, nor does anyone I know advocate it. It is a very silly and cruel, or at least thoughtless, kind of thing to do. If you pass laws against such sneak attacks with LSD, none of us will object. But we are surrounded by all kinds of potentially dangerous materials, machines, and chemicals. Book matches, for example, or automobiles. How many children are killed each year from drinking cleaning fluid? If safety were the only goal of life, we would have to prohibit everything, and not even that would work, because as far as I know, life itself is invariably fatal.

It is our belief that the sacred biochemicals such as peyote, mescaline, LSD, and cannabis are the true host of God and not drugs at all as that term is commonly understood. We do not feel that the Government has the right to interfere in our religious practice, and that the present persecution of our coreligionists is not only constitutionally illegal but a crude and savage repression of our basic and inalienable rights as human beings.

The leader of the psychedelic religious movement in the United States is Dr. Timothy Leary. 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 Gotama. I am merely the head of one of several psychedelic churches.

The psychedelic churches exist to promote and defend the psychedelic religion, a religion which sees in the transcendental experience produced by the sacred substances the key to understanding life and improving the condition of man on earth.

We have been in existence a year; I am speaking of the Church; and have 500 members. Perhaps if the growth of the peyote religion and the Native American Church is any guide, we will have 500,000 members in a few years. Perhaps the psychedelic people will find some other church more to their liking. It is not important. What is important is that the religion, as distinguished from the Church, is spreading at a fantastic rate, and the Government, in the case of Dr. Leary, and the repression in general, has put itself in the position of attempting to destroy by force a genuine indigenous religious movement. I see no moral difference whatever between putting our religious leader in prison for thirty years and the incarceration of a rabbi in a concentration camp by the Gestapo of Nazi Germany. Perhaps Hitler was less hypocritical. If he operated the way our religious enemies operate in this country, he would not have mentioned Judaism at all in the laws designed to oppress the Jews; instead, he would have (a) made ceremonial wine illegal on the grounds that it was a narcotic intoxicant given to minors; and (b) made the nonpayment of so-called wine tax result in enormous confiscatory fines and thirty years in Buchenwald or Treblinka.

The history of Treblinka, by the way, constitutes a perfect example of how the psychedelic people of the United States will not respond to persecution and imprisonment. The Jews, in that instance, cooperated completely in their own destruction. We have no intentions of cooperating.

On the day the prison doors close behind Tim Leary; if these ill-considered laws of religious suppression are upheld by the courts, this country will face religious civil war. Any restraint we have shown heretofore in the dissemination of psychedelics will be ended. We can, without difficulty, render most of the prisons in the United States inoperative, if it comes to open conflict. Open conflict will most certainly result if the courts uphold these laws against us, if our men are imprisoned, our wives sterilized, our children consigned to unloving institutions and so-called reformatories; and I would most certainly advise my people to use LSD to fight back, to make life impossible for the prison administrators, rather than resort to actual violence. But I will never ask them to passively submit to such outrages. The police of the United States, ordered by their superiors to function as terrorists, as destroyers of happy and decent families who only ask to be left alone to practice their religion as they see fit, will have to make a moral choice, just as did the police of Germany when Hitler took over. Those who remain would do well to regard themselves as a military rather than a civil force. If I seem to exaggerate I direct your attention to a story in yesterday morning’s paper about a woman who was ordered sterilized because a quantity of marijuana was found in a room when she was present. This was in California I believe. I personally will never forget sitting in on the assignment board at Sing Sing and watching a parade of armed robbers and grand larcenists go by with three- or four-year sentences, only to be followed by a poor weak little Puerto Rican with an IQ of 85 or so who had been sentenced to seventeen years because three or four sticks of marijuana had been found in his possession. At the time I was under the common illusion that marijuana was a dangerous drug, but I was still shocked. Now I know marijuana is a mild psychedelic and I am no longer shocked, I am numb. I have seen so much cruel injustice it seems commonplace.

The Food and Drug Administration has seen fit to attempt to establish one psychedelic church as legal, the Native American Church of the Indians, on the grounds of historical longevity, leaving the rest of us open to the kind of punishment visited on Dr. Leary. This is a constitutional outrage, of course, and I would like to submit my full reply to the FDA letter announcing this attempt at the unique establishment of a religion in the United States for the committee’s study. However, I see in this exemption, unconstitutional though it may be, some grounds for hope that the people responsible may come to their senses. Apparently those in control of the instrumentalities of coercive power in the United States have no difficulty in recognizing that a psychedelic religion is a psychedelic religion when that religion is safely encapsulated in a racial minority group living outside the mainstream of American life. All that is required then is that we should follow the Indian example and make ourselves as peculiar as possible. Perhaps the Government would allow us to live unmolested on reservations. We would be willing to discuss this, if it would prevent open conflict. Possibly the Government would negotiate a treaty with some foreign power which would grant us religious sanctuary in return for receiving to its shores the large numbers of scientists, technicians, teachers, doctors, and intellectuals of all kinds who constitute a large proportion of our members. Most of us love this country dearly. It would break my heart to think of never seeing the Adirondack Mountains again. But we must think of our children, and we could always hope that some day the Government of our beloved country would return to that fierce defense of human rights, to that spirit of freedom and tolerance under which it was founded, and we could come back.

But there will either be some kind of accommodation or there will be conflict. We are not drug addicts. We are not criminals. We are free men and will react to persecution the way free men have always reacted to persecution.

There is no reason why anyone need be surprised by all this. To understand our emotions and our attitudes it is only necessary to imagine how you would react if we were in the majority and passed laws making the practice of your religion a criminal offense.

Senator Burdick: Thank you, Mr. Kleps. I have a few questions here that I would like to ask you.

Mr. Kleps: Yes, sir.

Senator Burdick: Would you care to tell us something more about your Church? How does one become a member?

Mr. Kleps: It requires agreement with three principles, the principle that the psychedelic substances are not drugs but actually sacred substances, that they are a sacrament.

It requires agreement to the principle that people are not to be given these substances unless they are prepared for them, and agreement to the principle that everyone has a right to free access to the sacred substances, since they are a gift of God. If one agrees to this, we make him a member of the Church. We do not make distinctions on the basis of intellect, education or anything of that sort. I feel, by the way, that this is the difference between a church and a cult. We are frequently called a cult, but cults do make these distinctions. They are small groups. They want to be small groups. We are a church. We will take anybody. We take people at face value.

Senator Burdick: Do you contend that the substances, whatever they are, do not have harmful effects?

Mr. Kleps: Not entirely. In very rare cases, particularly when they are improperly administered, if they are taken by people who are unsuspecting of the results, have not done any reading on the subject, have not discussed it with anyone who knows, they can have bad effects. I have seen some bad effects myself. But there are many, many, many other substances in this world that are much more harmful, much more dangerous.

Senator Burdick: Does your order appeal more to the young people than to old people, or of all ages?

Mr. Kleps: Mostly to young people. I would say at least 50 percent are college students, perhaps more.

Senator Burdick: How many churches are there like this in the country?

Mr. Kleps: We have twenty boo hoos, approximately twenty. We are getting new people all the time. We have a fairly large group in Miami, fairly large groups in New York State, California. There are about 500-plus members at the present time, but we have only been in existence a year. I hope for better things to come.

Senator Burdick: You have 500 members in your Church?

Mr. Kleps: There are 500 members in all of the organization.

Senator Burdick: All of the churches?

Mr. Kleps: In the whole country.

Senator Burdick: Well now, you have told me something about membership. What about the tenets, the precepts of the Church?

Mr. Kleps: We mainly we feel that these psychedelic substances give you a vision, an entry, a ticket, a trip ticket in a sense, to a higher level of awareness, of an expanded consciousness. It is almost impossible to describe in words if not in fact impossible to describe in words what this is. Words fail. As I said, God is not like us. He does not have an IQ. He is not a talker. When you are in the mind of God you are beyond everything that you ordinarily experience. Everything that you ordinarily consider to be real. There are higher levels of reality than this one, and I believe it is very important for people to see this. It gives them an entirely new outlook on everything, a better outlook, a much better outlook.

Senator Burdick: Is it correct to say that your Church does not have any creed?

Mr. Kleps: No, we do not.

Senator Burdick: Or any tenets or anything like that.

Mr. Kleps: Tim Leary is generally accepted by most of us as the equivalent of Christ for the Christians and so on, not in any foolish way. I think Tim makes mistakes and so on, but we look upon him as a great religious teacher, the books he has written, the papers and so on constitute the creed of our Church, if there is any creed. But we do not have a dogma in the usual sense. You might say that it is more like the Society of Friends in that regard. We do not insist on any specific definition of these things.

Senator Burdick: Do I understand you correctly to say that in view of your establishment of twenty churches, in view of your membership, that you believe this organization will grow?

Mr. Kleps: I believe it will, sir. I believe it will.

Senator Burdick: In what proportion in your opinion?

Mr. Kleps: I honestly believe that we will have a million members in ten years.

Senator Burdick: Are these churches located near college campuses for the most part?

Mr. Kleps: Many of them are. The older members of the Church and the many, many people who are associated with our Church but who do not join are the older and the more respectable people, the people with something to lose. We are being persecuted, and the people who fight persecution most effectively are those who can take some chances, who do not have families to worry about, who do not have to worry about their jobs and so on. The older people are very hesitant to join up because they are afraid to stick their heads above the ramparts. They are afraid to be known in public, but they are there. They are there in very large numbers.

Senator Burdick: How frequently do you have church services, if that is the correct word.

Mr. Kleps: Usually there are meetings once a week. There are some of the local groups that just function as information centers. Lisa Bieberman of Boston runs information centers, a newsletter. People come and discuss problems. She does not hold any regular meetings. I understand she is planning on setting up a seminar this summer. It all depends on the individual. Now as we grow, I am sure that we will develop more structure. There will be an accumulation of hallowed patterns, traditions, and so forth. This is the way these things always grow. But at the present time it is all pretty loose and free and we like it that way.

Senator Burdick: You mentioned the American Church of the Indians.

Mr. Kleps: The Native American Church.

Senator Burdick: The Native American Church, that is right. Is this patterned much after that church?

Mr. Kleps: I cannot say that it is except that we also use a psychedelic as they do. From what I understand, they do have a very definite ritual that they follow, and they do not deviate from it very much. We do not have any rituals. I am not saying that we do not develop them. There are some things that are already in the process of development. The use of the techniques I described in the case of the discotheques, the light machines, certain kinds of music, this kind of thing can be used to heighten your experience, and even to produce it in some cases without the use of psychedelic substances.

Senator Burdick: You said not infrequently but it does have a harmful effect. Being on the Indian Committee;

Mr. Kleps: Yes, sir.

Senator Burdick (continuing): I have learned that this peyote does have an ill-producing effect. It causes vomiting.

Mr. Kleps: I know. I have tried it, and I have had the same experience.

Senator Burdick: Does this drug which your Church uses have the same effect?

Mr. Kleps: No. Very, very rarely people will suffer some discomfort during the early stages of an LSD experience, but that is a psychological conversion of anxiety in the physical form. Peyote does, however, routinely produce intestinal upset and this is a very negative way of going into the experience, throwing up. I do not know how the Indians manage to do it. Somehow they have overcome the nausea.

Senator Burdick: You think that the experiences that the members have makes them compatible with society, makes them eligible for pursuits that the nonmembers follow?

Mr. Kleps: Sometimes yes and sometimes no. We have members in almost every walk of life. We have people who are successfully pursuing almost any career you can name.

On the other hand, some people who are of religious temperament perhaps to begin with, there are degrees of true religiosity in our Church just as there are in other churches. I would say Tim is more religious than I am perhaps. These people, the people who are extremely religious, may want to withdraw from ordinary life for a period of time. I personally see nothing wrong with that. It is accepted in other traditions, the monasteries and so on. Why not in this?

Senator Burdick: If you will permit a personal question, do you participate yourself in these ceremonies, the use of this drug?

Mr. Kleps: Yes, sir.

Senator Burdick: And part of your answer is based upon your own personal experience.

Mr. Kleps: Yes, sir.

Senator Burdick: I have heard that these drugs produce a ‘color television effect.’

Mr. Kleps: It can do that. It depends on the individual. There are a lot of people who have had many psychedelic experiences and have never really had that kind of a vision. They come back with the same messages when they are all through. This is very strange. Other people will have extremely colorful and brilliant detailed three dimensional movie kind of things. I have had both. I have been in both situations.

Senator Burdick: I wonder if you would also tell us whether this practice is indulged in every time there is a Church meeting.

Mr. Kleps: No. The Church actually is more in the tradition of the mystery religions of ancient Greece. The key experience is not the weekly meeting as it is in the Christian tradition. The key experience is the big transcendental experience that comes to you maybe once or twice in a lifetime. But we center around this. The meetings are secondary. Now at the meetings perhaps a very tiny amount of LSD, 5 or 10 micrograms, will be distributed, just to increase the feeling of communion, to produce some of the effects. Or marijuana may be smoked for that matter. None of this is laid down in our regulations. It is up to the individuals.

Senator Burdick: When this substance is distributed you say to the members, who pays for it? How is it acquired?

Mr. Kleps: Well, it is easily available. That is all I can really say. To discuss the details of the economics of the matter probably would not be proper for me.

Senator Burdick: Does it operate like a farm cooperative, which I am acquainted with?

Mr. Kleps: Well, I would say this. That it is not at all like the heroin world. The people in the psychedelic world are kind and loving people. It is almost like automatic affection. Oh, of course there are exceptions, but it is not this sick, greedy, vicious world of the addicts. Nothing could be more dissimilar.

Senator Burdick: The committee knows that it is acquired. We do not know how it is acquired but it is paid for, is that right?

Mr. Kleps: That is right, sir.

Senator Burdick: And you cannot enlighten us any further.

Mr. Kleps: I really cannot.

Senator Burdick: But whether it is given to these members of the Church or whether they buy it for themselves, they do participate as a group in this.

Mr. Kleps: Yes, sir.

Senator Burdick: You mentioned marijuana. Is that brought into religious services, too?

Mr. Kleps: Occasionally. We regard marijuana as being a very mild psychedelic. It is very similar to a very tiny, tiny amount of LSD. The effects are almost identical. One of the best things about marijuana is that it is very easy to control the amount ingested because you are smoking it. If you take something orally, you are leaving it more to chance. When you are smoking, there is very good control. I consider marijuana to be a completely benign substance.

Senator Burdick: You see no harmful effects.

Mr. Kleps: None at all.

Senator Burdick: Have you read or heard the testimony given before this committee?

Mr. Kleps: I have.

Senator Burdick: And you dispute that?

Mr. Kleps: Completely.

Senator Burdick: The results and findings?

Mr. Kleps: Yes, sir.

Senator Burdick: Is it your intention to continue to personally experiment with and to advocate the use of LSD by the others?

Mr. Kleps: Yes, sir.

Senator Burdick: Would your answer be the same in regard to marijuana?

Mr. Kleps: Yes, sir.

Senator Burdick: Or similar drugs?

Mr. Kleps: Any drug; I do not even like to call them drugs.

Senator Burdick: Substance.

Mr. Kleps: Any of these substances that are psychedelic that are not narcotic I believe to be sacramental. I believe that they come under the protection of religious freedom, the right to practice one’s religion as one sees fit, and I do not believe that there is any evidence to the contrary, no real evidence to the contrary.

Senator Burdick: You think there is no evidence to indicate that marijuana is habit forming or a narcotic?

Mr. Kleps: There is no evidence to indicate that marijuana is a narcotic. In fact even our most severe critics admit that. To say that the substance is habit forming is really to say nothing, because Rice Krispies are habit forming in the sense that if you like something you do it again. This is true with a lot of things.

Senator Burdick: You should not equate marijuana with Rice Krispies.

Mr. Kleps: It is even better.

Senator Burdick: What was your answer?

Mr. Kleps: I would, sir: I would say that marijuana is a very good thing. I believe in it very strongly. It is certainly better than alcohol.

Senator Burdick: Just for the record, are you aware of the testimony before this committee which indicates that the uncontrolled, unsuspected use of LSD can result in panic reactions, psychotic episodes, suicidal tendencies, and other bizarre reactions requiring hospitalization?

Mr. Kleps: Yes, sir: and I do not dispute these things have happened, but it must be understood in the context of the broader picture. There are hundreds of thousands of people who are having these experiences and out of this tremendous number there are going to be a few misfortunes. It is inevitable. If these people were taking LSD under religious circumstances, if they were allowed to, if they were given accurate information, if they were warned of the dangers, if they were asked to read the literature on the subject, they probably would not go through these things.

Senator Burdick: Have any of these effects that I have related to you here visited upon any of your Church members?

Mr. Kleps: Not that I know of. I would like to say in this connection too that much is made of people being hospitalized after LSD, but this hospitalization in most cases is just a simple matter of someone having a panic reaction because they do not understand what is happening, and there is no one present who does, being taken to a hospital, given a shot of a tranquilizer, spending the night in the hospital and going home the next day. Sometimes they are kept for longer periods, but this is because the psychiatrist in charge says that the man is sick. And then if you ask him are these people sick, he will say, ‘Yes, they have been hospitalized so they must be sick.

Senator Burdick: In view of this conflict in testimony that has developed in this committee, would you agree that we should establish control over private and unsupervised use of LSD until we can make a scientific determination both of the potential harmful and useful properties of this drug or substance as you call it, either way?

Mr. Kleps: No, sir; I do not believe that you should.

Senator Burdick: Do you not think it would be safer for the community to find out scientifically what the effects are?

Mr. Kleps: I do not believe that there is any scientific relevance in this area. Science is not competent to deal with this. This is religion. It is philosophy. It is a philosophy that goes beyond the narrow confines of the kind of science that we accept in our society. Science will never accept the psychedelics. It may pretend to, but it will not.

One must understand how terribly threatening this kind of experience is to the average scientist, physician, psychiatrist, psychologist. Just to hear about it is an insult to his whole notion of the world and of what is real and what is not real and so on. So they go into it with a tremendous desire to destroy it, to bring about its downfall.

Senator Burdick: We referred to the fact that most of your members are young people, college students, and that most of your churches are located near college campuses.

Mr. Kleps: Yes, sir.

Senator Burdick: I wonder if you could generalize and tell me in what area of the country are your churches most prevalent?

Mr. Kleps: In the Northeast and Florida.

Senator Burdick: The Northeast only?

Mr. Kleps: Northeast; Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York State, and in the State of Florida. This may not be the eventual pattern. We have just started. It has only been in existence a year.

Senator Burdick: Do you think that this committee should recommend any legislation regarding the sale, distribution, or possession of LSD?

Mr. Kleps: I would have no objections at all, and perhaps it would be advisable to prohibit the giving of LSD to people unsuspectingly, a sneak attack of LSD.

Senator Burdick: The punchbowl type.

Mr. Kleps: Right, this is very cruel, very dangerous, I think.

Senator Burdick: Should any criminal charges be imposed on administering LSD to an unsuspecting person?

Mr. Kleps: No. Oh, well, perhaps so. I am not an expert in law enforcement. I do not know what would be the most effective thing. I am against this kind of practice. I think it is socially destructive. I would not recommend any penalty going further than that.

Senator Burdick: I do not think in your statement you gave me your personal educational background.

Mr. Kleps: I have a master’s degree from Syracuse University. I was a school psychologist in New York State for ten years. I also worked as a clinical psychologist in a prison, Sing Sing, Dannemora, on a summer per diem basis.

Senator Burdick: Did you have any particular major?

Mr. Kleps: Psychology. I was a psychologist for ten years.

Senator Burdick: And it is your purpose to dedicate your life to this church work rather than to follow the scientific areas.

Mr. Kleps: Yes, sir.

Senator Burdick: Why?

Mr. Kleps: I feel it is more important. I think the profession of psychology is going around in circles.

Senator Burdick: First of all I ask you if your statement contains this language: you threatened civil war by saying you would make the prison system inoperative. In a previous letter to this committee you stated you would contaminate the entire Nation’s water supply. Did you make a statement like that?

Mr. Kleps: No, sir. I did; what I said was that in the event that our religion is persecuted, if our wives are sterilized as in this hideous example in California, people are imprisoned for a term of thirty years as in the case of Dr. Leary, a sentence anyway, if these laws are upheld by the courts, if our basic human rights are violated, then there is going to be some kind of conflict, and I would much rather, if the conflict does occur, I would much rather do it nonviolently, turning on prisons, to use the vernacular, which would do less harm than shooting people.

Senator Burdick: But you at no time threatened any uprising.

Mr. Kleps: I have not threatened; no, sir.

Senator Burdick: Violence.

Mr. Kleps: No. Senator Burdick: Not having law and order.

Mr. Kleps: No, sir. I am speculating about a possible future which I would hate to see come about.

Senator Burdick: Apparently the basis of my question is as follows from your statement: ‘I would most certainly advise my people to use LSD to fight back to flood the prisons with LSD and make life impossible for the prison administrators rather than resort to actual violence.’

Mr. Kleps: Yes, sir. If that was the choice, I would rather see the prison system made inoperative, and it would be if enormous amounts of LSD, in terms of LSD; an enormous amount is an ounce, for example; could just be delivered into a prison and distributed among the inmates, it would be impossible to locate it. The entire place would fall apart as a functioning operation very quickly. I know how absurd this sounds.

Senator Burdick: What would your mechanics be? How would you intend to flood the prisons?

Mr. Kleps: I do not intend to flood the prisons, sir. I am talking about a possible future. It could be done in hundreds, in thousands of ways. Smuggling things into prisons has always been very easy. The places are designed to keep people inside, not to prevent things from coming in from the outside. You could shoot it over the wall in a slingshot, with a slingshot.

Senator Burdick: Do you not consider this a breach of law?

Mr. Kleps: We would have to regard these places as concentration camps; if our people are being imprisoned because they are practicing religion, then it is a concentration camp. It is not a prison anymore. It is outside the framework of decent law. We would have to think about it the same way the Jews in Hitler’s Germany thought about it.

Senator Burdick: But this is a product of one of our institutions, a product of our country, the laws of our country.

Mr. Kleps: Well, we would maintain that it would be unconstitutional. That to persecute us would be a violation of the first amendment.

Senator Burdick: And to that extent you would take the law into your own hands?

Mr. Kleps: Rather than submit to the violation of my basic human rights, I would if I had to, I would resort to violence. I think free men have always done this. This is the way this country started.

Senator Burdick: But a free country does not maintain itself without law and order.

Mr. Kleps: I believe in law and order, but I also believe in basic human rights. Basic human rights I believe come first. This is the most important thing.

Senator Burdick: Is there anything further?

(No response.)

Senator Burdick: Well, I must say that your testimony has been forthright and most unusual.

Mr. Kleps: Thank you, sir.

Senator Burdick: I cannot agree with your conclusions, but it will all be considered with the rest of the testimony.

Mr. Kleps: Thank you very much.

    Current text:

  • Testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency
    Art Kleps
    May 25, 1966