The History of the People’s Temple

Published: 2021-07-07 00:19:25
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The “People’s Temple” was a great religious movement started by a person who was a dedicated Christian communist and also a cult leader named Jim Jones. He was the main and major leader of this movement. This movement was started in 1955 from Indianapolis, Indiana, United States of America and widely spread into many other states after its success and achievement in one state.Jim Jones was born on May 13, 1931, in Crete, Indiana, United States of America. Crete was a rural area of Indiana State. His father was a veteran of World War I named James Thurman Jones, and his mother was a typical housewife named Lynetta Putnam. Jones mother believed that his son was a messiah (a leader of a particular group who fights for a cause). When the era of great depression started, it affected Jones family, and they had to move somewhere to survive. Their family moved to Lynn in the Indiana State in 1934. They lived a very miserable life there and had to survive under a shade of a shack. The shack was a small hut, but it was without plumbing (“Jim Jones”).In childhood, Jones was a weird child, who is an insatiable reader. He liked a different kind of people like Mahatma Gandhi, Joseph Stalin, and Adolf Hitler, and followed the strengths and weakness of all these people. His ideas about the religion were very strong, and he took a deep interest in his religion. It was tough for him to make friends because he had very extreme religious views and ideas. His surrounding people and peers found him weird and strange having strong and extreme religious beliefs as a child. His father was an alcoholic and never paid much attention to the Jones religious beliefs, firmness and ideas. Jones considered alcohol a bad drink which is prohibited in his religion, so never paid attention to drinking and dancing. These acts were bad for Jones, and he always considered and believed that these acts are not right and prohibited by God.Jones always felt sympathy for the African American community because he also had several experiences on that issue. His father was once told him about the issue of race in American culture, but he disagreed and fought with him. This fight was increased when his dad would not allow Jones black African American friends into their house, and this fight became long lasting, and Jones never talked to his dad for several years. His parents separated, and he chose to live with his mom in Richmond, Indiana. Jones completed his education from Butler University in 1951 (“Jim Jones”).In 1955, Jones was 24, and he wanted to serve the society and especially black African American people of United States. He wants to work for the welfare of the society, and he had to take some serious steps to accomplish his dreams. He borrowed a small building in Indianapolis sector which was considered as a racially mixed area where white and black people lived together. Some people joined him and started to follow him, later on, these people and Jones created a religious group named Wings of Deliverance. A year later Jones found this name weird, and he changed it with “People’s Temple.” The purpose of this temple was to provide multiple services to the disadvantaged group of society. This group famous quickly around the city and everyone started calling that this group was based on social activism. A soup kitchen and a small orphanage room were reserved for the persons with disabilities.Jones spread the message of societal equality everywhere through his movement of “People’s Temple.” Jones wanted to serve the people, for that purpose he changed himself and started to serve as a role model for his followers (Agee, Brooke). Later on, in 1960, Jones and his wife had taken a huge and brilliant step to adopt a black child, and they become famous and popular in Indiana State. This step was never taken by any couple before in the history of Indiana State (Wunrow, Rose).The beliefs of the people who were the followers of Jones were based on the circumstances of US after the 1950’s era. After the World War I, World War II and the era of great depression created the US conditions unstable and confused in multiple sectors. The offensive war fought by Joseph McCarthy against the idea and approaches of collectivism spread a state of terror among the Americans. They thought that communist people and society would take the takeover of US people. Another fear of the US people was the nuclear war with the Soviet Union which terrified them.People started to raise their voices and started many movements of civil rights. The young nation of US was disturbed and disappointed in their parent’s views and their methods of life. All these situations and disruptions created so many tensions among the US nation. Jones came up with revolutionary ideas and approaches which were enchanting and impressing for the people who were depressed and stressed out. Many people joined the temple to decrease their depressions and tensions of lives.Jones ideas and approaches attracted the disappointed people and young nation who want some change in their lives. Numerous people joined the temple services, they were drawn towards the ideas of separation given by Jones, and he attracted the people through his mesmerizing power. He gave the ideas of a utopian society in which all the people of America will be treated equally and evenly. This idea and approach encouraged many societal disadvantaged people towards the temple, and they started dreaming about the utopian society which will be base on the concept of equality (“People’S Temple Massacre: Welcome To Jonestown”).Jones had an extraordinary, magnificent power to mesmerize the people through his communication. Jones had such kind of impact on the followers that they undoubtedly believed whatever he said. Later on, when Jones gathered so many followers, he encouraged them to sell their all assets and belongings and serve it to the temple. Many people were poor, beggars and drug addicts who joined “People’s Temple” to better their lives and create a peaceful society. People who joined the people’s temple believed that it was the safest place for them. They all trusted Jones and considered him a real leader who was fighting against injustice and seeking peace for his followers.Jones was not only wanted to do better for the society but also he wanted to increase his power as a leader. He often used harsh tactics with his followers to reforms their lives, and he asked his followers to call him father and showed that he had divine powers. He got so much praise, respect, and admiration from his followers who make him so much egoistic and self-centered. He declared that he was a rebirth of Lenin and Jesus Christ and people should follow him as they follow to Lenin and Jesus Christ. He started believing that he was a supernatural human and people should follow him.Jones used the techniques of unquestioning the powers, and this increased the dependency of his followers on him. He asked his followers to cut off all their relationships from the outer world and strictly remained inside the temple. He asked his followers that they should attain and improve the habit of celibacy (a condition of abstention from marriage and sex relationships). He did not himself follow this condition, and he had several sexual relationships with men and women inside the temple. He emphasized on the fact that all women were lesbian and men were gay, but only Jones himself was heterosexual.The “people’s temple” played a major role in the politics of San Francisco. Jones asked his followers to vote for the person he wanted to vote. If anyone did not vote for the absolute choice of Jones then he/she suffered from the physical abuse. Jones helped the politicians and guaranteed them for a certain amount of votes. Jones wanted to increase his power and influence in the world.With the passage of time, many people inside the temple realized that Jones was not a right person and humiliates them. Some people seek the outside help, and many newspapers started to write the rules and regulations of the people’s temple. When Jones came to know that, he punished the people who seek outside help and asked them to ask forgiveness from him. Some people had to stay up all night and had to perform several duties. There were humiliating sessions in which the people were tortured and humiliated physically and mentally. Jones himself had taken part in it and beat the people with a wooden paddle. The church leaders forced some people to write a letter in which they had to accept that they had done illegal and immoral acts, even they haven’t done that. Small incidents which are not even worth to consider, Jones considered that and gave severe punishments to the people who had done small mistakes. Physical punishments were a major pattern of the people’s temple.He moved his temple in a small town, at the Northern side of California. The purpose behind it was he wanted more people or in other words more worshippers. He attracts the people of the town by his speeches and support for the black people. He always talked about racial diversity to attract the people towards him. He wanted a church which is racially diverse, and he found one in the small town of California. His talk on racial diversity and civil right movement attracted and influenced the people. Many people believed that he moved to California because he wanted political power and stability (Sliva, Logan).Jones shifted his temple to Jonestown and started new weird practices with his followers to take his control over his supporters. He began to take drugs to decrease his dissatisfaction and tensions. He also began to incorporate the suicide attempt into his speeches and gave his speeches a thoughtful look. He emphasized on the fact the life is a disease and death is the cure for that disease. Jones becomes a paranoid for his followers, and he wanted that his follower should follow him unhesitatingly. He asked many members to drink something just to know that they are loyal to him or not. He punished the people who disagree or question his powers; even he punished the children. Jones wanted that their followers will never receive any new from the outside world and should always listen and obeys him. People who wanted to leave the temple and said that out loud, other people report this to Jones and he firmly takes actions against them and never allowed anyone to exit the temple.In 1978 an affidavit was issued by Deborah Blakey asking US government to save the miserable lives of people who are living inside the people’s temple. The police department believed that brainwashing and other techniques to control the minds of the people do not appear as the allegations of kidnapping. A man named Leo Ryan was allocated to investigate the situation inside the temple in Guyana. He took many people with him on his journey to the people’s temple on 17 November 1978. But when they reached to the people’s temple guards shoot them and killed them.Next day on 18 November 1978 Jones asked the followers to drink the Kool-Aid and die because he wanted them to die. Mostly people obeyed his order and drank the poison. A massive loss of lives occurred at one place, and total 918 people died. A hilarious part was that it includes the 276 children who also died by drinking the poison. This event became the biggest attempt of suicide by numerous people who lost their precious lives just because they followed a corrupt leader. Jones also shot himself in his head and died in his chair. Such a waste of lives occurred just to follow a wrong, egoistic and misleading person (Kilduff, Marshall, and Phil Tracy).Blind trust or illogical trust on anyone could lead to anyone to any disastrous situation. Like the followers of Jim Jones who took their lives with their hands and attempt suicide because their leader wanted them to die. Obedience and conformity are important to follow someone, but people should think deeply before trusting someone. Leaders are the role models and real people for the individuals, so the role models should be perfect, or they are people with strong positive characters.People who followed Jim Jones were not bad people, but they suffered because they chose a wrong and evil leader to follow. Jones was a patient of several mental disorders and society should aware of this fact the persons who are extremist or illogical, they never are good leaders. Choice of leader or to follow a good person is crucial, and the wrong decision could lead us to a disastrous situation.Works CitedAgee, Brooke. “Jim Jones And His Peoples Temple”. Jonestown.Sdsu.Edu, 2014,“Jim Jones”. Biography, 2014,, Marshall, and Phil Tracy. Inside People’s Temple. 1st ed., New West, 1977,“People’S Temple Massacre: Welcome To Jonestown”. Theunredacted.Com, 2016,, Logan. “The Civil Rights Movement In Mendocino County, California”. Jonestown.Sdsu.Edu, 2014,, Rose. “The Psychological Massacre: Jim Jones And Peoples Temple: An Investigation – Alternative Considerations Of Jonestown & Peoples Temple”. Jonestown.Sdsu.Edu, 2014,

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