Section I: The Event
One of the more disturbing incidents in American History is the Jonestown Massacre that occurred on November 18th, 1978 in Georgetown, Guyana. It was the largest loss of civilian life in a non-natural tragedy until the attacks of September 11th, 2001. 909 lives were lost under the hand of Jim Jones who had cultivated a following of people over twenty-plus years. Jim Jones started his first church, named The Peoples Temple, in the mid-1950’s in Indianapolis, Indiana (I). From the beginning, he preached a message of socialism and communism. Upon scrutiny of his tactics and teachings, he moved The Peoples Temple to Redwood Valley, California in 1965 and shortly after headquarters were set up in San Francisco. The Peoples Templecame into the public eye when eight defectors and negative media spoke out against the church. Jim Jones decided at this point to move his church to Georgetown, Guyana where the chilling events of November 18th would eventually unfold.
To better understand how such a tragedy could occur it is important to understand the background of Jim Jones. Jones was born in Indianaand from an early age expressed interest in socialism and communism, studying the works and lives of Stalin, Marx, Gandhi, and Hitler among others. As he grew older, he became more and more politically involved in the communism movement, joining the Communist Party USA in 1951 (II). Jones was surprised with the reaction he received from Americans when he shared his beliefs and at that time decided that the best way to spread his Marxism was through the church. He became involved as a student pastor at Sommerset Southside Methodist Churchin 1952 and grew his career in the church from that point. Interestingly enough, by the time the Jonestown colony was thriving Jones was an admitted atheist (III). Jones and his wife, Marceline, adopted many children during this time, most being of a mixed race. He and his wife were the first couple in Indianato
References: MikeJ6193 Mar 18, 2014, 09:11am #1 Lecturer: Daniel Silliman On November 18th, 1978 in the area of the small town of Port Kaituma in Guyana a horrid scene was taking place that would shock the world, and forever change the view of religion feversome Mar 26, 2014, 11:33pm #2