Jonestown and Jim Jones Essay Example
Jonestown and Jim Jones Essay Example

Jonestown and Jim Jones Essay Example

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  • Pages: 18 (4735 words)
  • Published: July 30, 2017
  • Type: Autobiography
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James “Jim” Warren Jones, the founder of the "People’s Temple" (later known as "Jonestown"), was a charismatic leader who played a pivotal role in various spiritual and societal movements. Despite starting with hopeful beginnings, his life had both positive and negative aspects. Sadly, it ended tragically due to acts of faith and manipulation.

The story of Jim Jones, the man who initiated it all and embarked on a radically different path, is fascinating. He was born in a rural area of Randolph County, Indiana on May 13, 1931. His mother, Lynetta Putnam Jones, firmly believed that she had given birth to a Messiah.

The future of Jones as the Reverend of the People's Temple is predicted by his mother's dream. In this dream, her deceased mother informs her that she will have a son who will rectify things in the world. To preserve her dream


of her son becoming the messiah, she raises him with Methodist teachings. Unfortunately, because of the economic challenges posed by the Great Depression, the Jones family is compelled to relocate to Lynn, Indiana. Consequently, Jim grows up in a deprived environment without access to indoor plumbing.

With limited options for improving his circumstances, Jim immersed himself in reading and explored the lives and beliefs of figures such as Joseph Stalin, Karl Marx, Mahatma Gandhi, and Adolf Hitler. After completing high school and marrying Marceline Baldwin Jones, he became a member of the Communist Party of the USA in 1951. In 1960,

Indianapolis Democratic Mayor Charles Boswell has appointed Jones as the manager of the Human Rights Commission. Despite this, Jones has shown no hesitation in expressing his views on integrating with the public. A

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few instances of his radical integrationist beliefs involve Jones actively working towards integrating churches and restaurants.

In his country, he was involved with various institutions including the telephone company, the constabulary section, a theatre, an amusement park, and the Methodist Hospital. Furthermore,

In his efforts, there was an occurrence that occurred after swastikas were painted on the premises of two African American residences in the surrounding area. Jones personally traversed the region, comforting African Americans and advising white households not to leave. Likewise, he established several operations to catch restaurants that refused to serve African American patrons.

Additionally, he corresponded with leaders of the American Nazi movement and subsequently divulged their replies to the press. Finally, when Jones was coincidentally assigned to the African American ward of a hospital after experiencing a collapse, he declined relocation and commenced tidying the beds.

Despite Boswell's advice to maintain a low profile, Jones disregarded the warnings and persisted in his actions. These actions included emptying bedpans for black patients in the ward and creating new mercantile establishments to promote his views on local radio and television programs. Despite being asked to cease these activities, he refused to comply.

During a meeting organized by the NAACP and Urban League, Jim Jones encountered both resistance and support. His beliefs faced significant criticism from various sources, including white-owned businesses and members of the local community.

The incidents involving hooliganism and panic targeting Jim Jones include a swastika being placed on the Temple, a stick of dynamite found in a coal heap at the Temple, and a dead cat thrown at Jones' house following a threatening phone call. There are speculations that Jones may have had involvement

in some of these acts.

Despite the source of these actions, it is evident that Jones encountered considerable resistance during his early years when attempting to convey his viewpoints. He confronted the difficulty of expressing his Marxist ideologies and ultimately chose to penetrate a church after witnessing numerous faith healing rituals at a Baptist church.

In 1952, Jones started working as the pupil curate at Sommerset Southside Methodist Church. Contrary to his expectations, he not only gained entry into the church but also received a prominent role, despite his political beliefs.

Jones observed the church's ability to attract large numbers of people regardless of their social situation or background. He also recognized the need these individuals had for reassurance, whatever subjugation they may have experienced. In establishing his Temple, Jones took advantage of this vulnerability he noticed in people. He aimed to embody qualities that would appeal to those seeking solace. In doing so, he incorporated his socialist beliefs.

The integration and perceived subjugation led to a significant following. One way he emulated these positions, particularly integrating, was through the creation of his "rainbow family."

Jim and Marceline Jones chose to adopt multiple children with diverse racial backgrounds. Specifically, they adopted three children of Korean-American descent named Lew, Suzanne, and Stephanie. Jim Jones had been advocating for his followers to adopt orphans from Korea, which had been devastated by war, since 1954.

He and his wife also adopted Agnes Jones, who was 11 years old and partially of Native American descent. Suzanne Jones was adopted at the age of six, five years later, in June 1959.

Stephen Gandhi Jones is the lone biological child of the couple. In addition, they also adopted

another boy named Tim, who is white.

Tim Jones was born to a member of the Peoples Temple and was initially named Timothy Glen Tupper. Two years later, in 1961,

The Jones household accomplished a significant milestone in Indiana by becoming the first white couple to adopt a black child, whom they named James Warren Jones Jr. This decision solidified Jones' belief in integration and he expressed that it had become a deeply personal matter for him and his family. Jones emphasized that integration was crucial for their future in this world.

Even within the Temple, Jones referred to them as a "rainbow family" in his own unique way. The People's Temple originated in Indianapolis during the 1950s. Some members remember that the Temple aimed to practice what it called "apostolic socialism". However, Jones faced significant criticism in Indiana for his integrationist views.

Jones traveled to Brazil in search of a safe oasis to journey with his Temple, marking his first trip to Guyana. Upon his return, he made extravagant predictions that an atomic war would soon engulf the world, going as far as foreseeing a specific date.

This would all happen on July 15, 1967, resulting in the creation of a new socialist paradise on Earth. Consequently, the Temple must relocate in order to thrive and be a part of this amazing future utopia. Jones learned from reading Esquire magazine that the rural Redwood Valley in California was deemed a secure place from potential nuclear conflicts.

In 1965, due to Jones' case, the Temple moved from Indiana to Redwood Valley, California. The Temple expanded its influence and established branches in cities such as San Fernando and San Francisco during

the early 1970s.

The Temple relocated to San Francisco, CA during the 1970s and set up its main office there.

Over time, the People’s Temple became more politically involved, exemplified by their notable contribution to George Moscone's election as mayor in 1975. Their efforts led to Jones being appointed by Moscone as the Chairman of the San Francisco Housing Authority Commission.

Jones distinguished himself from other figures seen as cult leaders by having public support and connections with high-ranking politicians in the United States. Among these influential politicians were Vice President Walter Mondale, later Presidential candidate, and First Lady Rosalynn Carter. Governor Jerry Brown also became associated with Jones in September of 1976.

Lieutenant Governor Mervyn Dymally and Assemblyman Willie Brown, among others, attended a grand testimonial dinner with Willie Brown as the master of ceremonies.

Jones was awarded and Brown is quoted saying, "When you wake up in the morning, you should see a blend of Martin Luther, Angela Davis, and Albert Einstein reflected in the mirror."

Life in the Temple attracted a significant number of followers, including Chairman Mao. The Temple offered a lifestyle that aligned with the desires of most members. It fostered a sense of unity among individuals from different races, with both blacks and white persons freely worshipping together. Additionally, Jones' son was part of this community.

Stephan Jones claimed that "You proverb every walk of life". Each person had their own reasons for joining the Temple, and each individual heard their own message. Another former member.

Laura Johnston Kohl expressed her belief that individuals sought to make a significant change in their own lives and the world. Another former member, Terri Burford, shares a similar perspective.

Remembering her

first experience at the temple, she recounts, "I had a mere $20 to my name and was hitchhiking between Ukiah and Redwood Valley, where the Temple resided. Coincidentally, a Temple member offered me a ride and suggested, 'If you need somewhere to stay.'"

A place to sleep. We will get some food. I know the perfect place for you. I am a member of an amazing church and they provide meals for those in need.

They provide care for the sick. Moreover, the person in charge of this entity is considered to be God. It is probable that Jones himself claimed to be God, and his followers embraced this belief. In a recorded speech at the Temple, Jones states, "Some people perceive me as the embodiment of the I am... Some people see a significant aspect of God within my physical being."

They perceive Christ manifested within me, a manifestation of divine excellence. Jones also requested his followers to address him as "Dad" or "Father." Members attested to Jones possessing a unique ability that distinguished him from everyone else, resulting in their fascination with him.

Foreigners who visited the Temple also found their own kind of sanctuary. Harvey Milk, who spoke at political mass meetings at the Temple and wrote to Jones after his visit: "Rev Jim, it may take me many hours to come back down from the high I reached today. I discovered something precious today, a sense of being that compensates for all the time and energy invested in a struggle."

I discovered the desired outcome you requested. I will return, for I can never leave. Harvey Milk's writings conveyed a perspective that was not unique to

him, but rather shared among the temple members. Life within the temple did not match the idealized image that was portrayed. The faith healings, which were essential to Jones' ministry, were actually deceitful. The individuals who supposedly experienced these healings and claimed to have never met Jones were actually collaborators in the performance.

Jones manipulated the emotions of new members to strengthen his claims. Hue Fortson. JR. describes the process of arranging these healings for new members.

Upon entering the service, saluters at the front door would ask for individuals' names and supposedly add them to a mailing list. However, staff workers would take those names from the cards and engage in activities such as visiting people's houses, searching through rubbish bins, or knocking on doors. In cases where the person was not home, they would even resort to breaking windows and entering.

When that individual returned to church, they had the option to utilize their healing services. However, this was primarily a strategy to attract people to the room, as it was believed that this individual possessed a unique gift that no one else had.

"Except for a few members involved in Jones' schemes, everyone genuinely believed in these healings," said Tim Carter. "I didn't know the healings were fake. I had faith in religious healing, and I wasn't the only one in the room who believed in it. Many people believed in religious healing." Upon learning about the People's Temple, Chronicle journalist Marshall Kilduff dedicated himself to writing an expose on the group.

Kilduff discovered a completely different reality than the idealistic image presented by Jones and his Temple. Former members shared stories of widespread mistreatment. Terri Buford

expressed her own experiences with abuse.

"In the Temple, a number of whippings took place for individuals who deviated from the accepted norms. This could include talking to or having a relationship with foreigners, engaging in capitalist activities, or committing any other acts deemed unacceptable. The punishment involved receiving beatings in front of the church."

You couldn't just leave; others would hold you back. There wasn't the option of leaving and saying, "this is not acceptable." You did not have that choice.

Jones can be heard in recordings from Temple services defending the whippings received by certain individuals, claiming they deserved it. He also declares himself as the sole heterosexual among them. However, there is proof that he sexually assaulted a male member of his congregation in front of witnesses, in an effort to demonstrate the man's alleged homosexual tendencies.

Jones, along with the Temple members, reportedly believed that laughing during the abuse was essential for maintaining control over the group.

The motivation behind the actions was the belief that achieving a perfect Utopian society justified any means. Kilduff was amazed by the numerous accounts he had collected, although initially it was difficult to discern truth from falsehood. However, as more individuals came forward with similar stories of mistreatment via the terminal, he no longer doubted their credibility. With his findings compiled into a ten-year expose, Kilduff attempted to share it with the public.

However, Jones' magazine and other publications refused to cover the story due to his longstanding image as a champion of humanity and his political backing. The narrative only garnered attention when Nine West magazine decided to take it on, prompting Jones to ultimately uproot his entire Temple

to Guyana in the autumn of 1973.

Jones and Temple member Timothy Stoen developed a plan for swift response to any negative attention from law enforcement or the media regarding the actions of the Temple. The plan included various options for escape, including setting up a mission post in the Caribbean. After carefully examining the Guyanese economy and its extradition agreements with the United States, the Temple quickly decided on Guyana due to its socialist politics.

In October 1973, the managers of the Peoples Temple made the decision to establish an agricultural mission in Guyana. Tim Carter, a former member of the Temple who also went to Guyana with the group, explained that they chose Guyana because of the Temple's belief in growing fascism and the perceived influence of multinational corporations on the government.

The text discusses the perception of racism within U.S. authorities and the Temple's conclusion about Guyana being a predominantly Indian, English-speaking socialist country.

The provision of a peaceful place for black members of the Temple to live was a crucial aspect of Jones' appeal. Guyanese Prime Minister Forbes Burnham believed that Jones may have been attracted to the idea of using co-ops as the foundation for socialism, which aligned with his concept of establishing a commune. Additionally, Jones emphasized the importance of having multiple black leaders in Guyana's government and saw the country's small and impoverished status as advantageous for gaining influence and official protection, as he had done in the United States.

An initial group of approximately 500 members started constructing Jonestown in their newly acquired location in Guyana. The Peoples Temple urged some of its members to relocate to Jonestown, also known as the

"Peoples Temple Agricultural Project". Jim Jones and his followers perceived Jonestown as their own "socialist paradise" and a safe haven from the growing scrutiny by the media. Jones firmly believed that they were the epitome of pure Communism.

His wife referred to Jonestown as a place committed to promoting social, economic, racial, and social equality through communal living. The significant influx of immigrants to Guyana surpassed its small immigration system. Jones made a deal to ensure that Guyana would permit the mass migration of Temple members.

To accomplish this, he informed officials that the members of the Temple were capable and forward-thinking. He also allegedly displayed an envelope containing $500,000. He assured the officials that he intended to transfer most of the church's assets to Guyana. Additionally, the immigration procedures in Guyana were manipulated to prevent the escape of Temple defectors.

The Temple aimed to mimic the emigration policies of communist democracies like the Soviet Union, Cuba, and North Korea. Similar to those regimes, Jones prevented members from leaving Jonestown and used bribery to hinder the visa processing of Temple opponents who wanted to visit. These actions took place in the summer of 1977.

Jones and a large group of Temple members relocated to Jonestown in order to escape the scrutiny from San Francisco media investigations, such as the expose written by Kilduff. It is said that Jones left the same night the editor of New West magazine showed him the article by Kilduff that detailed the accusations made by former Temple members. However, Jonestown was not prepared for such an influx of people and quickly became overcrowded.

After Jones and his Temple members arrived, the buildings deteriorated and fields

became overgrown with weeds in Jonestown. This had a significant impact on the lives of the people. Like in other socialist states, propaganda trunks were provided by the Soviet embassy, which contained information about life in the Soviet Union. Instead of watching entertaining films like the first group of Jonestown members used to enjoy, they now watched documentaries about the problems with United States policies. School studies and evening lectures for adults turned into discussions about revolution and enemies under Jones' influence.

During the initial months, members of the Temple worked almost every day of the week, except for one day when they would have a break. Their workdays would start at 6:00 in the morning and end at 6:00 in the evening, with only one hour for lunch in the middle of this 12-hour day. Fortunately, in 1978.

After Jones' health declined, his wife, Marciline, started taking on more responsibilities in managing the operations of Jonestown.

For a period of five days each week, the work hebdomad was shortened to only eight hours per day. After completing their daily tasks, members of the Temple would participate in various activities held in a central marquee. These activities included socialism classes, led by Hugh Fortson.

Jr. has distinct memories of hours spent purely analyzing. According to him, the constant message was always "America is going to fall" and "Armageddon is coming." Jones believed that this system mirrored North Korea's approach, where 8 hours of work were immediately followed by 8 hours of intensive study. Furthermore, the Temple employed gradual methods to subject its followers to mind control and behavior-modification techniques.

Jones regularly read intelligence and commentary, which were recorded and broadcasted

through Jonestown's speaker system for all members to hear at any time. His readings depicted the United States as a villainous "capitalist" and "imperialist" while portraying "socialist" leaders in a positive light, according to Terri Buford's recollection.

During an interview regarding a detention conflict with a deserter, Jim Jones expressed his awareness of his actions towards his followers, stating that from 6 in the morning until 10 at night, they heard him. He acknowledged this by mentioning that if the child was taken away, they would need to be deprogrammed.

that his head be taken and used by their immoral agencies and whatever chemicals to seek to remove his head. " Among some of the commanding things that Jones subjected his followers to were the "White Nights". Mass suicide had been previously discussed in simulated events regularly. During at least one previous White Night, members drank liquid that Jones falsely told them was poisonous.

Grace Stoen remembers a specific incident during a planning committee meeting, where Jim expressed his affection for cats and his intention to let them mock and consume wine.

Despite doubts about my love for you, we were all given a wine from the spread. Jim asked if everyone had consumed their wine, to which some people responded affirmatively.

'I don't want any,' Jim said. 'No one is going to drink this.' Despite his statement, we all ended up drinking it, and Jim inquired.

'Has everyone drunk that vino?' we all replied affirmatively. He said, 'Alright, you all have 10 minutes to leave.' Laura Johnston Kohl, who was present at that meeting, recalls.

Finishing the history, Jim said, "That was toxicant because we need to perpetrate radical

self-destruction. We needed to be wholly committed to this cause. Period."

Another example of Jones' authoritative nature is demonstrated in his "special privileges" and his hypocritical behavior pertaining to sex. Although Jones prohibited sexual relationships outside of marriage among Temple members, he hypocritically engaged in sexual relations with both male and female Temple members. He justified his involvement in homosexual activity by claiming that he did it for the male temple members' benefit, symbolically connecting them to himself.

The majority of Jones' political allies in the States ended their connections after Jones' departure. However, some did not. Willie Brown voiced his support at a mass meeting held at the Peoples Temple in San Francisco. What was even more significant for Jones and the Temple.

Moscone’s office issued a press release stating that Jones had not violated any laws during his time in the US. In the fall of 1977, relatives of Temple members in Jonestown formed a group called “Concerned Relatives.” The group traveled to Washington D.C.

In the winter of '78, concerns for their household in Jonestown led the members of the group to turn to C. The attempts by the group caught the attention of Congressman Leo Ryan, causing pressure in the States to investigate the Temple.

On April 11, 1978, the Concerned Relatives distributed various documents, such as letters and affidavits.

They titled an "Accusation of Human Rights Violations by Rev. James Warren Jones" to the Peoples Temple, members of the press, and members of Congress. In June 1978, Temple member Deborah Layton, who had escaped, provided the group with additional information via an affidavit. The affidavit detailed alleged offenses by the Peoples Temple and the poor living

conditions in Jonestown.

In November 1978, U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan conducted an investigation into allegations of human rights abuses in Jonestown, based on documents provided by the Concerned Relatives. Accompanying Ryan were relatives of Temple members, including Don Harris.

An NBC web intelligence newsman, an NBC camera operator, and newsmen for assorted newspapers arrived in Georgetown on November 15. Then, on November 17, Ryan's deputation traveled by airplane to Jonestown. The deputation left hastily with a figure of temple deserters on the afternoon of November 18 after Temple member Don Sly attacked Ryan with a knife.

Congressman Ryan successfully facilitated the departure of 15 members of the People's Temple from Jonestown to the airstrip where their planes were ready. Jones did not try to stop them at that time. While Ryan's delegation boarded two planes at the airstrip, Jones' "Red Brigade" remained.

His armed guards arrived in a dawdler and opened fire on the group of escaping individuals. Simultaneously, one of the alleged deserters.

Larry Layton drew an arm and commenced shooting at party members who had already boarded a small Cessna. Among those killed by the guards were Congressman Ryan, Don Harris (an NBC newsman), Bob Brown (an NBC camera operator), San Francisco Examiner photographer Greg Robinson, and Temple member Patricia Parks. Survivors of the attack included future Congresswoman Jackie Speier.

So, a staff member for Ryan, Richard Dwyer, the Deputy Chief of Mission from the U.S. Embassy at Georgetown, Bob Flick.

a manufacturer for NBC News; Steve Sung. an NBC sound engineer; Tim Reiterman. a San Francisco Examiner journalist; Ron Javers. a San Francisco Chronicle journalist; Charles Krause.

A journalist from the Washington Post, along with some members who deserted the

Temple, witnessed the events. On that same day, 909 inhabitants of Jonestown, 303 of whom were children, experienced the tragic incident.

Individuals died due to clear evidence of nitrile poisoning, mainly within and near the main marquee. This event marked the largest loss of American civilian lives in a non-natural disaster, aside from the September 11, 2001 attacks. No photographs were captured during the mass suicide.

Despite the FBI obtaining a 45 minute sound recording of the self-destruction in advance, the tape reveals Jones stating that the Soviet Union, with whom the Temple had been negotiating a possible mass exodus for months.

Jones believed in showing kindness to children and the elderly, and he saw the mass murder at the nearby flight strip by the Temple as a reason to take action. He rationalized his actions by referring to the use of a potion similar to what was taken in ancient Greece and emphasized the importance of taking a measured approach to avoid self-destruction. He considered it a radical act that couldn't be undone.

They will not leave us completely. Now they are returning to tell more lies, which means more congresswomen. And there is no way, no way we can survive. Jones and some members argued that the group should commit "revolutionary suicide" by drinking grape-flavored Flavor Aid laced with cyanide. Jones convinced his followers that there was no longer any hope for anything.

This was their only way out; they might as well do it on their own terms. He further emphasized the hopelessness of the situation by informing them that people were going to attack them. They were going to hurt the children and torment

the members. Jones consistently mentions how he has attempted to prevent this from happening for months, how he has always had the people's best interest in mind.

and how he has never lied to them. He informed them that this was the time to die, to die with some dignity. In the 45-minute recording, Christine Miller, a member, voiced opposition to Jones' extreme proposition at the beginning of the tape. According to other Temple members.

Children were given a drink called "Foremost" and families were instructed to lie down together. Jones was later found dead in a deck chair with a gunshot wound to his head, which was believed to be self-inflicted. An autopsy of Jones' body also revealed traces of Pentobarbital, which could have been fatal to individuals who had not built up a tolerance to it. His drug usage, including LSD and marijuana, was confirmed by his son, Stephan Jones, and their family doctor in San Francisco.

Jones can be likened to other extremist spiritual leaders, such as David Koresch, the leader of the Heaven’s Gate group based in Waco, Texas. Their fate as a community also resulted in tragedy.

Koresch and Jones held different worldviews. Koresch had a fixed universe position that he would not compromise, while Jones had a more eclectic approach. He adjusted his beliefs to align with his social motives, selecting aspects from different religions that would support the development of a socialist society.

He also saw himself and his followers as the most authentic representation of their kind. This society of purists held a mysterious quality. The establishment of their own perfect society would ultimately lead to the ideal society of the future.

Jones and Koresch were the only individuals authorized to access external information, as previously stated.

Jones, as the keeper of knowledge, read intelligence and engagingly discussed the societal issues of the day with his followers. Both leaders dedicated significant time to conversing with their followers, sharing their perspectives on the world.

Each leader had specific privileges, such as Koresch and Jones engaging in sexual relationships. These actions were restricted for the members of the community but unregulated for the leaders. The Jonestown community was known for its revelatory nature, with the constant pressure from outsiders being particularly notable.

In their world, they were suppressed for their beliefs and sought refuge with like-minded individuals. This led them to Jonestown and the subsequent demonstration of their visionary ideals. The members of the Temple simply desired the most utopian societies and they worked vigorously to achieve that ideal in Guyana. The decision to move to Guyana was not only influenced by the perceived persecution they experienced but also by Jones' play on social anxiety regarding the imminent end of the world due to nuclear warfare. All of these circumstances showcase the visionary nature of the People's Temples and Jonestown.

The aftermath of the Jonestown massacre transformed the spiritual group into a cult, as acknowledged by a member of the Concerned Relatives group. Once labeled a cult, further investigation into their beliefs became unnecessary.Untold Story

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