The mass suicide at Jonestown was the greatest loss of American life prior to September 11, 2001. This tragic event takes place on November 18th of 1978, in Guyana. 918 people dead, including 276 children.1 Jonestown was just the tragic end to the legacy of its founder Jim Jones. In 1956 Jones establishes the Peoples Temple in Indianapolis, Indiana. Declaring that he has “healing powers” and being clairvoyant, Jones attracts followers to his newly formed church.
How does religion and the power of persuasion get people to do just about anything? Jim Jones was a native of Indiana. A child with limited supervision, he became captivated by church work. Jones being an avid reader was heavily influenced by communism.He studied the works of Karl Marx and Joseph Stalin. Jones was an educated man. He graduated high school with honors and attended Indiana University in Bloomington Indiana. Jones also attended Butler University where he earned a degree in secondary education.2 Jones like to associate himself with the African-American race.
Due to the fact he was ostracized as a child. He felt he had something in common with African Americans. Jones was a Marxist, he would try to think of ways to demonstrate these views. One way to do that? Infiltrate the church. 3In 1952 Jones became a student pastor. Around this time he observed a faith healing service.
He noticed that this faith healer attracted groups of people and brought in money. After organizing a religious convention Jones had finally made enough money to open his own church.4 The church Jones founded changed their names several times before deciding on The Peoples Temple Christian Church Full Gospel or The Peoples Temple.
The Peoples Temple was an Inter-racial church. Jones helped integrate several business, and churches. After a fainting spell Jones was accidentally hospitalized in a black ward of a local hospital. He refused to be moved to a white only ward.
Jones would help ou…