On the first day of spring, it marks another anniversary of the “Summer of Love,” igniting the popular culture of the “Jesus People.”
The movement officially started in San Francisco’s Haight-Asbury district to celebrate the freedom to express the use of drugs, easy sex, bisexual homosexuality, and religion. Soon key leaders such as Lonnie Frisbee, initially before switching to Satanism - Charles Manson and Ted Wise asserted that the “Jesus” in the Bible is a better choice of religious beliefs. While on an acid trip, Frisbee was told by a spirit to begin baptizing hippies despite their depraved lifestyle addictions. With this, the ”Jesus People” subculture was born.
The hippie movement was birthed from the youth resisting conformity to America’s materialism focus, the organized church & state, and the anti-drug modalities of the day.
The two primary drugs of choice were marijuana & acid. During the hippie era, the use of acid shifted from the CIA’s experimental lab-created drug used for mind control during the Cold War – as a weapon, to psychiatric use. The psychiatric world believed the use of acid assisted their patients in being more willing to communicate. The professional world called this drug “Adam,” returning the patient to an innocent state. Soon this drug trickled into the private sector, making it the leading “party drug” of the hippie culture.
The history of cannabis, or marijuana, dates back to 500 BC when Asians supposedly discovered it. The American history of cultivating " pot " dates back to the colonists, who primarily used it for textiles and rope. However, with their exposure to the “peace pipes” of the natives, the domestic use of marijuana began to cement itself in American culture. President Nixon initiated the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 to list marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, along with heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. This Act was initiated because these drugs became the centerpiece of the active hippie movements sweeping America in the 60s and 70s. This governing mandate fueled the counterreaction of the hippies. The youth separated themselves from all organized governing entities.
Soon, the hippies found themselves with addictions, serious ones. Since marijuana, LSD, and ecstasy provoke sexual hormones, the Sexual Revolution ignited and dominated culture and society. With this, sexual diseases erupted into the culture, as in the case of the birth of HIV/AIDS and other transmittable diseases. Many hippies like Lonnie Frisbee died of HIV-related diseases.
Most cultural historians believe the Sexual Revolution started the decline of monogamy and instigated promiscuity as a cultural norm. Thus, the transmission of diseases through body fluids became out of control. Furthermore, the ideologies that came with the Revolution opened the door to legalizing homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, and now gender transitioning.
The youth during this cultural shift in America found themselves jobless and penniless, which “forced” them to “crash” in whatever space they could find, ultimately leading to forming communes to survive. This is where the problems surfaced. All of the new cultural norms, sex, drugs, and rock-in-roll became the religion of the hippies, which became the birthing place of the “Summer of Love.”
As with all movements, the hippies became disillusioned with life and the movement they were promoting. With drug addiction and sexual diseases out of control in their communes, they began begging for a new movement. This is when Ted Wise and Lonnie Frisbee step into the picture. Ted and Lonnie were known as “Jesus Freaks.” Both were drug-addicted and were trapped by homosexuality while maintaining traditional marriages with women – open marriages. Despite their chosen lifestyles, they advanced a misdoctrine of their “Jesus,” offering salvation through baptism without giving up drugs and sexual practices. Often known for using the rhetoric no sin is greater than the next. These unconventional leaders ways antagonized the traditional churches and the hardline Biblical doctrines that came against their lifestyle beliefs. In reality, church history notes that they were covering their addictions.
Through the assistance of several Bay Area pastors, while the Jesus People leaders were adamant regarding not attending traditional churches, they were funded to start “The Living Room,” a coffee/soup shop that emerged in the Bay Area. Now known as the epicenter of the hippie counterculture of the 60s and 70s. “The Living Room” also is known for being the first official church of the hippies.
Soon - other charismatic types, “church” related leaders of Calvary Chapels, Vineyard Fellowships, and other charismatic fellowships adopted the new hippie culture. By early 1969 this new style of Christianity, particularly the Pentecostal branch, was popping up around America. The hippies maintained their separation from the traditional church until the movement phased out. Which might be the reason they no longer exist. However, they committed to the traditional churches to focus on “following” Jesus. This well-known agreement soon set in motion the “following” verbiage versus indwelt Christianity. Today, most churches use the hippie term “following.” You rarely hear the emphasis of being indwelt by Jesus. Ironically, the overused ideation of “following” versus indwelt Christianity is the church’s cultural norm in “evangelism.”
One of the main aftereffects the Jesus People movement had on Christianity was in music. Many of the disciples of this movement wrote and sang songs focused on “following Jesus.” The aged songs, and hymns, became a lost art in the memories of church history. Rock music, initially birthed through the rebellions of the 60s and 70s, came to the forefront of the modern church. Bob Dylan was one of the primary leaders in converting Christian hymns to conversational folk music, which the hippies popularized.
By the late 70s, the Jesus People had run out of steam. As the original group ended up dying of AIDS, imprisonment, drug overdoses, and other diseases, the lion’s share grew older and moved on with their lives. Some went into politics, cultural reform, and church reform. Most claim they are the successful members that marked the primary change in evangelical Christian’s attitudes toward popular culture. I agree with their claim. However, I believe this “successful” adventure set off a decline in authentic Christianity worldwide. As a cultural historian, I believe it to be the top movement that destroyed Christian moral influence. It introduced the next generation to a sexually oriented ideology of music, fashions, lifestyles, media, and church leader sexual immorality that swept the “Christian world” to the point of igniting the era of “renouncing your faith in Jesus.”
Suppose you are an old hippie like me. In that case, it is not difficult to see the Jesus Revolution set off one of the leading cultural movements that destroyed the foundation of moral America, let alone the impact of the authentic Gospel in America.
Drugs, sex, and Rock-in-Roll do not mix with indwelt Christianity. Like myself, many outgrown hippies did encounter the real Jesus sooner or later. While I am quick to admit that I was one of the Jesus People's disciples, I didn’t become indwelt by Christ until I sat down with a traditional pastor, who explained authentic salvation. Sadly, I am one of the “few” who emerged from this horrid movement with an indwelling faith that has sustained me to this hour.
It grieves me that the “Christians” from the Jesus Revolution think they can inherit eternal salvation based on “following” Jesus. My entire ministry is focused on teaching the difference between “following Jesus” and being indwelt by Him. This motivation and clarity was birthed through my reactive journey through the coffee shops of the Jesus People, ultimately discovering sex, drugs, and Rock-in-Roll is likened to mixing oil and water. Give it time, and they always separate themselves from each other. Just saying!
Fifty+ years later, the Summer of Love is probably one of the more successful deceptions Satan has propagated upon humanity. Some say the Jesus People are a lingering irony. I say, not so much. Once Satan could deceive the children of the traditional baby boomer's conservative evangelical Biblical beliefs, as noted in many Biblical passages, sexual immorality takes over automatically. What was the original sin in this historical review, children rising to refute the authoritative guidelines of their parents and the lack of discipline the baby booming parents neglected.
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? (Hebrews 12:5-7)
Overall, The Summer of Love was nothing short of a sex fest, a global orgy that started a downward trend that ushered us into a gender-neutral culture. Hum, maybe, or emphatically, the Lord was right when He said, Those who endure to the end, those shall be saved.
Special Note: I listened to one of the last interviews with Ted conducted in 2010, and I must say it was refreshing to hear of his admission to much of the sadness that was noted in this article. Also, the level of growth from his early days was evident. However, I could not discern if he broke away from “following” Jesus versus being indwelt by Him.
Watch the “Interview with the "Jesus People.” Featuring David Wilkerson, Ted Wise, and the Jesus People leadership.
There is a difference between "Jesus People" and that of Indwelt People.