The Jonestown Massacre

Good Essays
What could cause over nine hundred people to commit suicide together? In the United States’ biggest non-natural loss of human lives before 9/11, almost every member of the Peoples Temple in Jonestown, Guyana died after consuming a poisonous drink. This was a fitting end to lives that were brutally controlled by the cult’s leader, Jim Jones. The Jonestown incident should be remembered as a mass murder at the hands of Jones.
At first, Jim Jones seemed anything but harmful. While living in Indianapolis in the 1950s, Jones opened the church that would later be called the Peoples Temple. The church was considered progressive due to its ethnically diverse congregation. In the 1960s, Jones and his wife moved to Ukiah, California, with over one hundred
…show more content…
Like the members of the Peoples Temple, which was originally part of the Disciples of Christ, the victims in California belonged to a religious group. Commonly called Heaven’s Gate, this group was founded in 1972 by Marshall H. Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles, who thought they were the divine figures mentioned in Revelation 11. Heaven’s Gate members believed in UFOs and supported self-renunciation. Like Peoples Temple members, who were often lied to by Jim Jones, members of Heaven’s Gate were misinformed. They believed that a spaceship was trailing the comet Hale-Bopp. If they committed suicide, they could enter a higher existence on the spaceship. In three separate waves, all 39 members died by drinking phenobarbital mixed with vodka, a method similar to that used in …show more content…
Police searching the site found illegal weapons. Only two people were charged for the events of November 18. Temple member Larry Layton was sentenced to life in prison in the United States for his connections to the murders of the visitors, but he was released in 2002. In Guyana, Charles Beikman spent five years in prison after pleading guilty to the attempted murder of a child. Over four hundred of the bodies retrieved from Jonestown were unidentified. They were buried at the Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland, California, where many temple members were from. In 2008, a stone memorial was put up for the victims. Pastor John V Moore, who lost two daughters and a grandson in Jonestown, gave a sermon about it on November 26. “The death of hundreds and the pain and suffering of hundreds of others is tragedy….To see Jonestown as an isolated event unrelated to our society portends greater

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Powerful Essays

    The Jonestown Massacre

    • 1227 Words
    • 5 Pages

    The Jonestown Massacre Jahiii Parks Civil Rights/Black Power Prof. Raquel M. Bennett December 19, 2012 The Peoples Temple which was founded by Jim Jones, was a racially integrated church that focused on helping people in need. Jones originally established the Peoples Temple in Indianapolis, Indiana, but then moved it to Redwood Valley, California in 1966. Jones had a vision of a communist community, one in which everyone lived together in harmony and worked for the common good. He was able…

    • 1227 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Jonestown Massacre Essay

    • 504 Words
    • 3 Pages

    he thought the world was out to get him, especially the government. Jonestown Massacre happened on November 18th in 1978. More than 900 people who were members of his cult known as the Peoples Temple died in a mass suicide/murder under their leader. This happened at a settlement in South American nation of Guyana known as Jonestown. On the same say before the mass murder Leo Ryan a United States representative had gone to Jonestown to check out a few causes of reported abuse but was murdered. Many…

    • 504 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    Essential Question #3: What was Jonestown Massacre’s impact on American History? Tragedy hit the United States all around, families were mourning their loved ones lost to this mass suicide and the government mourning the death of congressman Ryan and crew. This was one of the largest death counts to affect America in this time period. Over 900 American lives were lost to a cause that seemed out of reach. In addition to the many negative effects this unfortunate event had on America, positive effects…

    • 611 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    The Jim Jonestown Massacre

    • 1682 Words
    • 7 Pages

    Jim Jones Jonestown Massacre Jimmy Jones is the name that I’ve kept for the sake of my life and what does it truly say about my legacy? The question is who am I? I’ve kept many aliases for myself throughout my life. James, Jim, and frequently Jim Jones. My uncle told me as a child when he was in college that one day your going to have people start calling you Jim and start shorting your name to Jim – Jones. I laughed, and this was year 1997. That was thirteen years until this day. But it has…

    • 1682 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    On November eighteenth, 1978, over 900 people died in a settlement in Guyana call Jonestown. This group included 276 children(Biography.com Editors). These deaths are considered the largest modern mass suicide, and also considered a mass murder. This deadly event happened because of a single man named Jim Jones and his religious philosophy. The history of Jonestown, where the suicides occurred, begins with the life of Jim Jones. Growing up, he was always fascinated with religion, and made a name…

    • 849 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    The Jonestown Massacre When the world first heard about the events of "Jonestown," there were constant cries of many families pleading for their relatives. The media flooded with the over-publication of videos and images of the massacre. The whole event came as a surprise, and the willing suicide of the members came as even a larger shock. The Jonestown massacre is hard to accept in many people's mind. Jonestown was supposed to be a perfect place; everything about it portrayed a picture of…

    • 3082 Words
    • 13 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    1978, over 900 people drank flavor-aid laced with cyanide and sedatives in Jonestown, a settlement in Guyana. This phenomenon of so many people poisoning their children then themselves under the direction of just one man, Jim Jones, seems hard to believe. Although it is technically a suicide, the people were by no means emotionally stable enough to all make this decision willfully. Jim Jones carefully planned this massacre, which is shown through his treatment of the members of his temple, his mental…

    • 358 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Jonestown Massacre Leo Ryan was a Congressman that went to Guyana. He went to visit there because former temple members of Guyana were concerned for their relatives and friends that were moving there. Ryan went there with some other people including journalists and observers. His visit there was going good but, when he was going to leave some of his followers that lived there wanted him to show them how to get out or bring them with him. Ryan was attacked with a knife by one of Jones’(he led everyone…

    • 698 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    allocate their beliefs for the good of the world. One of the most famous examples of religious fanaticism (though if it was done in the name of a religion is continually debated) was the Jonestown Massacre (also known as Jonestown Mass Suicide, humorously dubbed as the “Kool-Aid Massacre”). The Jonestown Massacre…

    • 1089 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Jones town A tragic massacre took place on November 18, 1978, in Guyana. 909 members of Peoples Temple died in the middle of a jungle in Guyana and five people were killed on an airstrip. It has been called the largest mass murder suicide. The story of the massacre was told by survivors and relatives who happened to survive and know Jim Jones. According to Jim’s childhood friends, Jim was a weird kid, he was obsessed with religion and death, and he used to conduct funerals of small animals that…

    • 436 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays