Magazine article History Today

Nov 29 1978: The Jonestown Mass Suicide

Magazine article History Today

Nov 29 1978: The Jonestown Mass Suicide

Article excerpt

In 1976 New West Magazine exposed the Reverend Jim Jones of the People's Temple (with churches established in San Francisco and Los Angeles) as a sadistic sexual predator and drug addict who conducted fake healing ceremonies and cheated the cult's members of their savings. As a boy, James Warren Jones had been recognized by his mother as a religious Messiah. He cherished the identification and founded his own church in Illinois in 1955, moving to California ten years afterwards. After the magazine expose he took hundreds of members to Guyana and established a communist-style collective farm on land near Port Kaituma, leased from the government. He greatly admired Joseph Stalin and preached what he called 'apostolic socialism'. The settlement, unsurprisingly, was called Jonestown.

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Back in California, a group of relatives of Temple members accused 'Father' or 'Dad' Jones of acting like a dictator and said that members who wanted to leave were being kept at the settlement against their will. …

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