Jim Jones Jonestown Massacre Term Paper

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Jim Jones and the Jonestown Massacre

Book: Suicide Cult by Marshall Kilduff

In 1978 the suicide-massacre of 900 people in South America shocked the world as Reverend Jim Jones' cult, named the Peoples Temple. In his book "Suicide Cult," Marshall Kilduff steps into Jim Jones' past and reflects on the man who brainwashed hundreds of people into donating their Social Security checks to his church, and eventually committing suicide in the Guyana jungle.

Jim Jones was born to a Ku Klux Klansman and as a young boy was practicing mind-control. He was a student minister in 1952, but left his Methodist church because they refused African-Americans into their congregation. Jones created his own mixed congregation church in Indiana in the 1960s. This was something unheard of for the time, and within his church Jones preached love and understanding. It's hard to believe this social harmony preacher would become the leader of a suicide cult.

There is something to be said about a man who considers himself the reincarnation of both Jesus and Lenin. Jones's 'social harmony' slowly became a sermon in communistic ideals and a ridicule of 'white Christianity'. By the late 1960s, Jones' Peoples Temple practiced what he called "Apostolic Socialism." He was practicing healing, similar to that of Jesus, and was convincing many of his congregation that he was a special reincarnation of Jesus Christ.

Primarily, Jones appeared as a well-intentioned man, opening his church to the poorer members of society, and involving African-Americans who were otherwise fighting segregation in their communities. In the book, we learn of Jones' belief that he was a highly evolved black soul involved in a white body, therefore able to identify with the problems African-Americans faced at the time.

Kilduff tells of Jim Jones' belief in a nuclear holocaust and that the only two places that would be saved from destruction were Ukiah in California and Belo Horizonte in Brazil.
Jones first relocated his Temple, to Ukiah, but soon moved to San Francisco. Jones' charisma shone in San Francisco and he received many Humanitarian Awards and became chairman of the Housing Authority. This was surely to contribute to Jones' appeal, especially with the poorer communities and the senior citizens who were not receiving much attention.

In San Francisco, Jones performed a ritual he called "White Nights" where participants were being prepared for revolutionary suicide to protest fascism and racism. These were highly volatile times, and Jones was able to convince many of his followers that the troubling times they were in could be changed through their actions.

Jim Jones eventually had to move his church to the jungles of Guyana where he was able to preach without raising suspicion and doubt within his congregation. It was here that he created his utopian community, called Jonestown. It was also here, in 1976, that he performed a 'suicide drill' to test the loyalty of those in his inner circle.

At this stage, whatever Jones said, his followers obediently did. For a year prior the tragic day in 1978, revolutionary suicide was openly discussed within Jonestown. Jones was drunk on his own power, and Kilduff says he lost his mind.

Congressman Leo Ryan went to Guyana and visited Jonestown on November 18, 1978. He had been sent to investigate Human Rights abuses. When Congressman Ryan tried to leave with 18 Temple members, disaster struck. Leo Ryan, along with the 18 members was ambushed on the airstrip as they tried to leave for the States. Congressman Ryan, a Temple member and 3 newsmen were killed, while 11 were….....

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