Cult or Religion
Jim Jones was not a Fundamentalist pastor as many reports in the media and the anti-cult movement claim. He belonged to a mainline Christian denomination, having been ordained in the Christian Church/Disciples of Christ.” He preached a common gospel of human freedom, equality, and love, which required helping the least and the lowliest of society's members” (religioustolerance.org/dc_jones.htm.) Jones’ captivating style drew new members to the church and the administrative board felt vulnerable by the popular preacher’s inclusion of African Americans in his message and in his service. Faced with the choice of changing his message or leaving the church, Jones decided to form a new church with several members from the Tabernacle who appreciated his commitment to social justice for poor and working class people of all races.
The Peoples Temple was initially structured as an inter-racial mission for the sick, homeless, and jobless. He assembled a large following, of over 900 members in Indianapolis IN during the 1950's. Jones developed a belief called Translation, “in which he and his followers would all die together, and would move to another planet for a life of bliss” (religioustolerance.org/dc_jones.htm). Jones appeared to be a great person, and he convinced so many people that he was doing great things in the community. He united the races, and combats the racist attitude which may have lingered within members. He supported the poor and elderly people in the community. The people in his congregation were very well looked after, and people began to see him as a sort of role model to them. The belief system of Peoples Temple blended a number of different religious and social ideas, including Pentecostalism, the Christian Social Gospel, socialism, Communism, and utopianism. The idealism of Temple members believed that “religion” and politics could mix in order to create a better world. Jones initially practiced Christianity...
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