Jim Jones was a cult
leader responsible for the murder-suicide now known as the Jonestown
Massacre, where 918 people lost their lives. In order to understand how this tragedy happened, it’s important to know how Jonestown began. Who was Jim Jones and how was he able to gain the love, respect and trust from so many that they were willing to die for him?
Jim Jones was born May 13, 1931 in Crete, Indiana. He grew up in a very poor family, residing in a shack with no electricity. From a very young age Jones had an obsessive interest in religion. As a child, he would hold sermons in his backyard and have neighborhood children attend his church services. Sometimes
when the children wanted to leave, Jones would lock all the doors and
refuse to let them leave, forcing them to stay and listen to his
sermons. He was very harsh on children who were not as interested in
church as he was and would take personal offense. By the age of 16,
Jones was preaching to both black and white churches, which was highly
unusual, as the city was still segregated. But Jones had a very upbeat
and friendly personality and he was very passionate about the poor and
the underrepresented, and empathized with the non-whites.
After graduating high
school, Jim went to college to study medicine and began working as a
hospital orderly. During that time in 1949, Jim met Marceline Baldwin, a
nurse who worked in the same hospital. After dating for a short time,
Jim and Marceline would get married. A
few years later in 1952, Jim was working as a student pastor in a
Methodist church and the congregation did not take kindly to Jim’s
beliefs in desegregation. It is important to note that the Ku Klux Klan
was very well known in Indiana during the time Jones resided there. At one time, there were more members in the KKK there than in any other state. Around
250,000 men were members of the Indiana KKK at its peak, which included
many prominent government officials, police and the like. Racial
tension was at an all time high and Jones preaching about loving your
neighbor of all colors and interracial congregations was neither
accepted, nor tolerated. Jones had no choice but to resign as pastor. It was then that he formed his own congregation. Originally
the church was known as Community Unity and it focused on Christian
beliefs. It was during his time of running the Community Unity that
Jones decided that there was no God because if there was, there wouldn’t
be so much poverty, hatred and inequality in the world. He
then decided he would no longer be preaching of God and religion, but
rather shifting his focus to what he was passionate about: poverty and
people of all colors being treated fairly and equal. In 1956, Jones
created the People’s Temple.
From the beginning, the
People’s Temple was prominent in the civil rights movement. Jones was
responsible for desegregating the police department, movie theaters,
restaurants, hospitals and other businesses in Indianapolis.
Additionally, the Temple opened up a soup kitchen for the homeless and
poor, had free housing available for senior citizens and the mentally
ill and Jim and Marceline even opened up their own home for homeless and
unwed mothers. It was the first time in history that people were
publicly offering assistance to people regardless of their race. It
was also at this time that Jim and Marceline adopted a Native American
child, three Korean children and became the first white family in
Indiana to adopt a black child. This adoption took place in 1961, the
same year the freedom fighters tried to desegregate buses in Alabama and
were brutally attacked. Because of the integration and desegregation
Jim Jones was responsible for, the residents of the city felt threatened
and would send the family death threats and spit on them in public. Many
of the people in Indianapolis of all races saw what Jones was trying to
accomplish and they wanted to be a part of it. They saw that he was
really for the people and trying to make a good, positive change in the
world. Needless to say for all the good they were trying to do, they were met with hatred, threats of violence and even assaults. Jones
decided that it was no longer safe for his family in Indianapolis and
they moved to Brazil. They were only there for a short time before
returning to the United States, but this time making California their
home. Many of the original Temple members, around 150 from Indiana, made
the move to California with the Jones family.
Not everything was love
and peace in the family. Jim’s wife Marceline was very unhappy
about Jim renouncing his faith in God. Marceline still considered
herself a Christian and would still pray to the Lord, which angered Jim
greatly. At times, he would threaten Marceline that he’d commit suicide
if she continued praying to God. He was also extremely jealous and did
not want anyone giving his wife any kind of attention, even though he
was known to carry on affairs quite often. Jim also developed a drug
addiction to prescription pills that would cause erratic mood swings and
bouts of paranoia. In
fact, the move to California was due to Jim’s paranoia and a vision he
had of nuclear holocaust. He felt they would be safe from the disaster
By the early 70’s in
California, Temple membership had grown considerably. Word had spread
all over the country about Jones and his refreshing approach to race
relations. During this time, People’s Temple had approximately 2,500
members. Jones began preaching to his people quotes from the Bible, even
though he denounced his faith. He would find things that were fitting
for him to go with his own selfish desires and wants and use the Bible
as a backup source. An example of this would be Jones quoting Matthew
19:21, which reads, “Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go,
sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure
in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Temple members wound up
doing just that. They sold their homes and cars and gave all of the
money to the Temple. The ones who had jobs and continued to work would
turn over their entire paycheck to the Temple. The elderly who drew
retirement and social security would turn over their entire checks to
the Temple. In their minds, they were contributing to the “Good Cause”. He
made his members feel loved, safe and hopeful. While he was kind to
everyone, he was especially compassionate to the poor and the
uneducated. The majority of his followers were classified as such and to
them, he was a savior. They wanted somewhere to belong and fit in and
something to be proud of. He gave them all of that and more. All of them
referred to him as “father” and had nothing but respect for him. His
speeches were so uplifting to his members, even when he said ridiculous
things such as he was the reincarnation of Jesus or Buddha, they just
went with it. As new people would come to check out the organization and
their charismatic leader, Jim’s ego demanded more and more followers
and praise. Additionally, he was always looking to make more money. He
again began his practices of faking miracles and healings, something that garnered a little bit of attention in his earlier years, but this was on a much bigger level. He would use his members to pretend
to cure cancer and other ailments, making blind people see again,
making people in wheelchairs walk again. These events were well-planned
and thought out and with his large organization acting like they had
witnessed an actual miracle (most were not privy to the behind the
scenes operation and planning and truly believed that he was
legitimately Jesus incarnate and performing miracles) many visitors
would believe too. Even
though Jones would lie and manipulate, during his speeches he would
come across as honest, vibrant, caring and positive. He was liked and
well respected by not only the Temple, but the entire community.
As Jim Jones became more
dependent on drugs and his paranoia grew, he began using scare tactics
on his followers. He would tell them that people were plotting against
them, including the CIA. To his followers, this was terrifying. They
felt all they had was each other and their “father”. He also made sure
to increase the dedication people had for him as well as making them
more disciplined followers. He began making ridiculous claims to his
members, informing all the males in his organization that they were all
homosexual, all of them but him. He
would have sex with the male members to prove to them that they liked
it. Additionally, he would have sex with the women members and then
during their daily meetings, they were expected to speak on what
horrible lovers their husbands were and what a great lover Jones was. He
eventually informed his members that they were not allowed to have sex,
not even the married couples. Essentially, the only time anyone was
“allowed” to have sex was when it was with Jim Jones.
In the early 70’s Jones
and his “church” was accused by the media of financial fraud, physical
abuse of its members and mistreatment of children. It was while this was
going on that Jones purchased some land in Guyana in an effort to move
himself and the entire People’s Temple so as to avoid the people who
were supposedly plotting against him and trying to ruin him. It
was his goal to create a utopian society here, free of racism and
worry, but also to seemingly gain much more control over his followers.
Initially there was a small group of members sent to Guyana to begin
building houses, plant crops and prepare the area for all the members. In
the mean time, Jim Jones got to work holding meetings, letting all the
members know what was to be expected of their move and the tropical
paradise that awaited them, getting passports made of all of his members
and continuing to try to make as much money as possible. Eventually Jim Jones and 1,000 of his members all made the move to Guyana and arrived at the compound known as Jonestown. What
they arrived to was anything but the heaven they were told it would be.
The houses were not yet completed, nor was anything else complete
because Jones did not want to spend a lot of money on the project. It
was less like paradise and more like a concentration camp. Jones
informed the members that no one was allowed to leave and to reinforce
that, he stationed armed guards around the property. Additionally, he
confiscated their passports so they could not leave. He also confiscated
outgoing mail so members could not get a hold of any family or friends
outside of Jonestown. Some worried family members made phone calls to
Jonestown and Jim and his closest members would listen in on the calls
to make sure no one was out of line. Members were expected to work on the land day and night, with minimal breaks and very little food. With
Jones treating his members horribly, it’s no surprise that he was
always on edge, wondering if they were plotting against him. He
installed an intercom system in Jonestown with a loud speaker and would
get on the speaker at all hours, day and night, drunkenly preaching to
his members, many times speaking of upcoming doom and an apocalypse. He
began holding mock suicide drills in the middle of the night due to his
thoughts of the US government being out to destroy him. Members were
publicly beaten for disobeying as well as threatened with death.
Coupling the new environment making members extremely vulnerable with
the physical and psychological abuse and brainwash, there wasn’t much
members could do at this point in time other than being obedient and
subservient to Jones.
There were a few people who did successfully leave the People’s Temple, most notably Bob Houston. Houston’s mutilated body was found near some train tracks after leaving the Temple. US
representative Leo Ryan was good friends with Bob Houston’s father and
coupled with the abuse allegations he had heard were happening at
Jonestown and the mysterious death of his friend’s son that had recently
defected, Ryan decided he would fly to Guyana to investigate the
supposed utopian society and see if members were truly happy there or if
they were being held there against their will, as it had been told to
him. Ryan brought with him some concerned family members, people working for the media and photographers. Jones
got word of the visit and made sure to explain to his members how they
would behave and how they would represent Jonestown. They
were told to prepare the best food (including a lot of meat, which
Temple members were not allowed to eat otherwise due to its high cost)
and to be thankful for Jones at all times. On
November 17, 1978, Ryan and his crew (who had been in Guyana for three
days and were being refused to be let into Jonestown) were finally
allowed to enter the compound. For
the most part, the People’s Temple put on a very convincing show for
Ryan, praising Jones for all of his hard work and dedication. They
expressed how happy they were in Jonestown and stayed on their best
behavior for fear of what would be done to them if they didn’t. However,
one rather brave Temple member, (and a wonderful personal friend of
mine) Vernon Gosney, slipped a note to one of the reporters that arrived
with Ryan. In the note, Gosney pleaded for help getting out of
Jonestown. The letter was signed by both him and another Temple member,
Monica Bagby. Jones asked Ryan and his group to leave for the night and
the next day, they arrived to interview more members. During the
interview, another woman came forward stating that she wished to leave
Jonestown with her family, as well as another family. It was made known
to Jones that some people wanted to leave and he pretended he was okay
with that, that they were free to go at any time. After interviews
concluded on November 18, 15 people in total were to leave Jonestown
with representative Ryan. Hidden amongst the 15 was one man, Larry
Layton, who was only posing as a Temple defector and had no intention on
leaving. Once they
arrived at the airstrip, 2 planes were available to the group. Larry
Layton boarded the small, six passenger plane. Once on the airstrip, he
began shooting Temple members who were on the plane, wounding several.
Temple members who escorted the people to the planes began shooting at
the other plane, killing Leo Ryan, 1 Temple member and and 3
journalists. 9 others were wounded. All of the survivors ran and hid
into the nearby fields.
As the shootings were
happening at the airstrip, Temple associates were given orders by Jones
to prepare a drink, enough for all of Jonestown, consisting of grape
Flavor-Aid, cyanide, Valium, chloral hydrate and Phenergan. Jones called
all of his members to the pavilion for a meeting. 44 minutes of said meeting was recorded and is known as “The Death Tape”. Jones informed his followers that he knows someone who boarded those planes
were going to shoot the pilot, which would cause the death of all of the
people on the planes and hinting that this would lead to the government
coming to Jonestown and taking everyone’s children away. He then
encouraged his members to drink the Flavor-Aid concoction and commit
revolutionary suicide. That they would be heroes and forever remembered
as revolutionaries. Many of the first to take the poison were parents
who used syringes to squirt into the children’s mouths, then doing the
same to themselves. Others simply drank it. Some members thought this was another fake suicide drill until they witnessed people dying and then fear and panic set in. Jones
can be heard on the Death Tape telling members to die with dignity, and
that death is preferable to life at that point. It has been said that
many were forced to take the drink at gun point. A few members managed
to hide under beds and avoided death. A couple others managed an escape
and ran through the fields. Jim Jones did not drink the poison, instead,
his death was caused by a single gunshot wound to the head. No one
knows whether it was self-inflicted or if another member did it. One
other woman was found dead with a gunshot wound. Additionally, a woman
named Sharon Amos was working at the Jonestown headquarters in
Georgetown. She received a radio communication from Jonestown informing
her to commit revolutionary suicide. She took her three children into
the bathroom and stabbed two of them to death, then had one assist her
in stabbing herself to death, followed by the last of her children
Many of the Temple
members who fled into the jungle were lost for days and nearly died, but
a Guyanese government plane flew in and located them. Others made their
way to Georgetown, staying at cafes, and some staying with local
Larry Layton was found
guilty of conspiracy and of aiding and abetting the murder of
Congressman Leo Ryan and of the attempted murder of Richard Dwyer. While
the only person ever found guilty of any happenings at Jonestown, he
was paroled in 2002.
In total, 918 individuals
lost their lives at Jonestown. It was the largest death toll of
civilians by human acts up until the 9/11 tragedy. Jim Jones was
cremated and his ashes scattered at sea. His wife and three of their children who died at Jonestown are buried in Richmond, Indiana (The oldest daughter left the People’s Temple before the move to Guyana and two of their sons survived Jonestown by being out of the area for a basketball game).
The bodies of over 400 of those who died in Guyana are buried in a mass-grave at Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland, California. A memorial listing all 900+ casualties, including Jim Jones, was completed at the grave site in 2011.
Homeboy your gonna wish one day you were sittin’ on the gate of a truck by the lake with your high school flame on one side, ice cold beer on the other. Ain’t no shame in a blue collar forty, little house; little kids; little small town story. If you don’t ever do anything else for me, just do this for me brother, come on home, boy.
Religious Topics in Mystic Messenger - Korean vs. English Comparison
Hey there lovelier anon♡
Interesting question! I was personally really surprised to hear about this subject pop up in Mystic Messenger myself! I will be glad to talk to you about it ^^
I can actually relate to Jumin a little. Going to church when I was a kid. Typical Sunday school kind of thing. Played the piano for services for 8 years. It was pretty hectic.
In this context, I feel really similar in terms of how situations go because like Jumin, I used to go to church as a child, but not so much anymore now that I am 22/23. Idk if I should go by Korean age or not.
Anyways, please join me under the cut to discuss the religious topics that the anon requested above! Religion could be a sensitive topic so for those who don’t feel comfortable with said topic, read with caution ^^
Please note that although this is an analysis, there may be opinions that may differ or be consistent with mine! While I can give some sort of Korean background, for debatable topics, I do not represent all of the Korean minds for respective topics. Also, please excuse any errors or let me know if clarifications are needed, for English is not my first language! Thank you and enjoy!
Let’s talk about Catholicism. It’s one of the biggest religions in the world, with something like 1.2 billion members around the world. It’s also a deeply, inherently misogynistic religion in almost every aspect of its existence which, I, as an ex-Catholic, have been unfortunate enough to witness.
The foundation of Catholicism is the Holy Trinity: the Father (God), the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. These three things are all separate things that are also the same. What’s important to note is that God and Jesus are both men. (The Holy Spirit doesn’t really have a gender, since it’s not really a person, as far as I know.) The very foundation of this belief system is that the Father, his Son, and some mystical spirit are the rulers of the universe. Of course, we can all notice that the Holy Trinity lacks a single woman whatsoever.
The most important woman in Catholicism is the Virgin Mary, Jesus’ mother. Mary’s defining characteristics are that she was a virgin and she gave birth to Jesus. She wasn’t given much choice in the matter either, which sends a pretty terrible message to young girls, IMO. So if Mary is the ideal woman, as Catholics say she is, what are the characteristics of the ideal woman? She has a child when a man (God) tells her to, she’s a virgin, and she’s self sacrificing, going as far as giving birth in a damn barn.
So, the Scriptures themselves are pretty terrible concerning women. But how does this play out in practice?
Only men are allowed to be priests. If this was true of any other occupation, people would be pretty damn upset. If only men were allowed to be engineers or lawyers, that wouldn’t be okay. Sure, women can become nuns, but can separate be considered equal?
Priests are given certain powers that nuns are not. Priests have the power of transubstantiation, turning the Eucharist and wine into the body and blood of Christ. Priests officiate weddings and baptize children, which nuns do not have the power to do under Catholic doctrine. And maybe most importantly, priests serve as community leaders. The movie Spotlight describes this perfectly in a scene where a man who was molested by a priest as a child describes the excitement in his family when the priest of their neighborhood church came to their house. Priests are held in unbelievably high esteem in Catholic communities. And probably most importantly, they have the opportunity to rise up and become bishops or even Pope.
Finally, Catholic communities and nations are often really harmful for women. Ireland, a nation with a lot of Catholics, has complete prohibition on abortion, leading to women being forced to travel to the United Kingdom for the procedure. There’s also a cultural stigma around birth control and abortion. (Both of which are banned by the Catholic Church.) The stereotype of the Irish Catholic family with a million kids isn’t just a stereotype. My mom was one of five, her mother one of twelve. I know more than one family with over eight kids.
Catholicism is dangerous for women. It teaches us negative messages about ourselves, offers few opportunities, and restricts our potentially lifesaving healthcare. This isn’t even covering the homophobia and sexual abuse of children committed by the church.
In our emphasis on being individuals we forget that we live in a whole world thoroughly damaged by sin. And this sin is not just the sum total of individual choices for evil across the generations. It has a life of its own that is self-perpetuating in human society, often seemingly quite independent of the good intentions of individual members of that society. This collective human sin encourages, supports, and perpetuates our separation from each other into groups of “them and us.” It operates in nations, classes, professions, races, sexes, neighborhoods, friendships, families, churches, and groups within churches, who reinforce our feeling of belonging to them by encouraging our estrangement from outsiders about whose well-being we could not possibly be concerned. It is at work, too, in our estrangement from our earth when we regard it as simply there to be exploited.
I feel like I’ve lost a lot of my running roots over the past few years. A move from a city I loved (Conway) to a city I tolerated (Hot Springs) was the first know. I had a great group I ran with most mornings, and they really pushed me to be better. A job change in January 2012 coupled with some life difficulties firmly knocked me off the wagon.
In Hot Springs, we took to the trails and found solace. Rachel in particular found her home in the woods. I’ve always liked it, but missed the pure running. In Hot Springs, there wasn’t a morning group to run with, we couldn’t run near our house, and the city didn’t have great running roots. I tried to make lemonade out of it… I did. But I struggled with my running and it wasn’t the same. Mother’s Day 2012, I ran a great half marathon in 1:30, but that was the beginning of the drop off. Since then, I’ve slowed more and more. Some pain in my right knee hasn’t helped either.
It wasn’t all bad. We started the LOViT 100 in 2013, and have really enjoyed highlighting the trails we loved. I ran the Thunder Rock 100 in May 2015, and had my most positive 100 mile experience to date. Rachel broke 24 hours for 100 in there sometime too. Also, we started backpacking with the kids, throwing in some adventures in some really cool places in the Ouachita Mountains.
A job change and a move to Charleston in August 2015 was a big change for the family. While it is an overall improvement, it hasn’t been the easiest transition. However, I think we’re happier here than we were in Hot Springs. We love our house and neighborhood, our church, and our friends. In my work, I took a new job based here, and then have gone through two promotions. I get to lead a pretty big team now, and really enjoy the work we do. The kids are growing and changing, and it’s a new adventure every day. Rachel has come out of her shell here, and really likes it.
Running-wise, I haven’t quite caught up. Charleston has some great running routes. It’s pretty nice to run in my neighborhood too. But, I haven’t taken full advantage of it. My normal 50+ mile weeks are now 10 to 20 mile weeks. I’m a lot slower too.
I’m ready to change this. While Rachel is gone, I should use this opportunity to get into better shape. I need to push myself more. I’m still capable of running fast… I just need to find it again.
Photographer Gabriel Garcia Roman’s portraits feature friends and acquaintances, activists and poets, Americans and immigrants — some naturalized, some undocumented.
All of them are queer people of color.
“I wanted to specifically focus on this community because queer and trans people of color are so rarely represented in the art world,” says Roman, who is Mexican-American and also identifies as queer.
The photo series, called “Queer Icons,” evokes the colorful, religious artwork that Roman grew up with. “Because I grew up Catholic in a Mexican community in Chicago, my first introduction to art was religious art,” he says.
He was particularly inspired by the fresco paintings of haloed saints that decorated the walls of his neighborhood church. “I’ve always thought of the halo as something very powerful — it’s like a badge of nobility,” he says.
And because Roman’s subjects are activists and artists who do good for the community, “I wanted to represent them as saints,” he says.
He also wanted to capture their pride and their strength. “I wanted them to be warriors — that’s why a lot of them are looking straight at the camera, saying ‘Here I am, and I’m not going to hide.’”
My family is a family of three, middle class, and we grew up in a nice area. Nothing too fancy, nothing terrible. Just your typical suburbia with neighborhood parks, churches, & schools all within walking distance. We were nice to our neighbors and all knew each other. My parents had a outdoor fire pit that they like to sit outside on the back patio and drink, listen to music, grill, and relax outside. My family is very respectful of rules so the music was almost never loud, we don’t throw parties, and we kept mainly to ourselves but invited people over occasionally.
When I was in eighth grade we had some new next door neighbors move in. They were a family of four; Mom, Dad, Son, Daughter. The Son was a year older than me and the Daughter was a year younger than me. The Daughter and I hit it off immediately as friends but I noticed something was off when I would go over. For the purpose of secrecy I will change their names; let’s call them the Smith’s.
The Smith’s had a weird idea of how to interact with people. I get it, everyone is different. They were very blunt and open about everything, never would say thank you, didn’t think about others. They just turned out to be scum of the earth when it came to treating other people with dignity and respect. Just weird people, but I guess it takes all kinds.
For being a church church God Jesus church neighborhood, there sure is a lot of lawn mowing and power washing going on for a Sunday.
I actually laughed when I applied to work at the Sweet Frog with availability that overlapped church times and the manager got pissy with me, saying “You know this is a CHRISTIAN establishment, right? We do NOT open until AFTER church.”
And I said, “… But you are open on Sundays and are a company who’s entire business model is to profit off of gluttony?”
“I felt attracted to other boys when I was four years old, but by the time I hit puberty, it felt like a tractor beam was pulling me toward another person. I didn’t know any other gay people. There was no Internet back then. I had no information about life beyond my neighborhood, church, family, and friends. So I thought I was sick. I considered suicide when I was thirteen. I had the pills measured out and everything. But I picked up a psychology textbook from the library, and it said that all teenage boys go through a phase of sexual exploration. So I thought: ‘It’s just a phase. I can handle a phase.’ I thought as soon as I had a heterosexual encounter, it would all go away. It was a lie, of course. But it got me through my teenage years. And by the time I realized it wasn’t a phase, I’d developed so many other parts of my identity. I’d become good at swimming, running, and playing the cello. I was making good grades. I was even smoking pot. So by the time I finally accepted being gay, my identity was based upon a lot more than my sexuality.”