Gordon Matthews was our leader for the last Zoom meeting for the foreseeable future!  Gordon announced that starting next Friday, May 14, RCSE will only be meeting in person at The Pirates House.  He also reminded the membership that 4th quarter dues were sent via email and to please pay promptly.  Once all Rotary items were discussed, Gordon introduced our speaker, Rev Hunt Priest, who talked about psychedelics and religion.  
In 2015, while Rev Hunt Priest was in Seattle working, he saw an article in Christian Century magazine inviting religious leaders to participate in a study that was being conducted at John Hopkins University using psilocybin to see if there was a correlation between mystical experiences and the drug.  He applied for the study and was accepted.  He was given two medium-high doses of the drug over a month and was then studied for the following year.  The drug was administered in a room where he was monitored for six hour while listening to various music.  The music was preselected for the trial.  During his first experience, Rev Priest saw colors, ribbons of light, and artwork from mosques. He felt he was being lifted into the ether, was in a glass box with hallways, tingling, shaking, and an electrical current moving up his spine.  He remembers speaking in tongues, having electric energy, and revisiting childhood memories.  His second experience had more of the same sensations.  In addition to the sensations, he also felt he was praying a lot and that he had a primary religious experience with the Holy Spirit in body and mind.  
Rev Hunt Priest believes there is room in Christianity for use of psychedelics in order to enhance a person's religious experience.  The researchers at Hopkins are very keen to have people have these experiences in order to deepen their spiritual beliefs. After participating in the study, Rev Priest wanted to share his experience with others.  Therefore, he decided to form a non-profit called Ligare which is latin for binding.  He is hoping to have Christian leaders help get Christians comfortable with the use of psychedelics and have the psychedelics community be more comfortable with Christians.  
After his presentation, a lot of questions were asked of Rev Hunt Priest as this was such an interesting topic.  During this time, he mentioned the benefits of psychedelics in the treatment of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and addiction.  He referenced an article that was recently published by the New York Times discussing the use of MDMA in patients with PTSD and the dramatic results.  He believes these medicines force individuals to deal with unresolved issues.  If you would like to read the article that Rev Priest saw in 2015, please follow this link:  https://religionnews.com/2015/10/22/calling-mystics-psychedelic-study-aims-induce-spiritual-experiences-clergy/