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Peoples Temple (Jonestown)
On 18 November 1978, more than 900 people died in the largest mass murder/suicide in American history. Most of the deaths occurred in a jungle encampment in Guyana, South America, where members of a group called Peoples Temple lived in a utopian community and agricultural project known as Jonestown. Most died after drinking a fruit punch laced with cyanide and tranquilizers, although some may have been injected; two residents died of gunshot wounds. Earlier that day a few other residents of the group had assassinated a U.S. congressman along with three members of the media and a departing Jonestown resident. And in Guyana’s capital city of Georgetown, yet another member of the group killed her three children and then herself after receiving word of the deaths in Jonestown. In all, 918 Americans lost their lives that day.
Since that time, Jonestown and its leader Jim Jones have entered American discourse as code for the dangers of cults and cult leaders. The expression “drinking the Kool-Aid”—which means both blindly jumping on the bandwagon, and being a team player—is one manifestation of this. The story of Jonestown, and of its parent organization Peoples Temple, however, is more complicated than sound-bites comparing strict parents to Jim Jones, or pundits relating religious violence (such as the suicide air strikes of 11 September 2001) to Jonestown. Instead, Jonestown serves as a lesson in how a combination of media, government, and citizens can create a climate of persecution and fear. It also provides an example of how uncritical acceptance of the status quo and social and geographic isolation can lead to violence and even death.
|Name:||Peoples Temple Christian Church|
James (Jim) Warren Jones
|Jim Jones was born 13 May 1931, in Crete, Indiana (Hall 1987: 3), and died 18 November 1978 with over 900 of his followers in Jonestown, Guyana.|
The Wings of Deliverance (the precursor to Peoples Temple) was founded 4 April 1955.
or Revered Texts:
Jim Jones initially relied upon the prophetic texts of the Holy Bible to exhort his congregation to work for social justice. The letterhead of Peoples Temple Christian Church bore the words of the Parable of the Last Judgment (Matthew 25:35-36). Jones eventually rejected the Holy Bible, however, believing it full of lies and contradictions (see "The Letter Killeth"). He turned to Pravda, the news organ of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union, and to radical sources as his "sacred" texts once the group moved to Guyana.
|Size of Group:||
At the time of the group's demise, the membership was more than 1000.
I. Jim Jones
James Warren Jones was born to a working class family at the height of the Great Depression. His father, James Thurman Jones, was a disabled veteran, and there is some speculation that he belonged to the Ku Klux Klan. Jim's mother, Lynetta, effectively raised her son alone. She greatly influenced his interests in social justice and equality. She was skeptical of organized religion, but did believe in spirits—a belief she communicated to her son (Hall 1987: 6). A neighbor took him to Pentecostal church services as a child, and this undoubtedly shaped his understanding of worship as an intensely emotional experience. What emerged from these influences was a self-styled theology that combined aspects of Pentecostalism with social idealism.
In September of 1954, Jones was invited to preach at the Laurel Street Tabernacle in Indianapolis, Indiana, an Assemblies of God church within the Pentecostal tradition (Hall 1987: 42). Although Jones’ charismatic style drew new members to the church, the administrative board felt threatened 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. On 4 April 1955, the small group incorporated the Wings of Deliverance; a year later, they re-incorporated and renamed their organization Peoples Temple (Hall 1987: 43).
In 1960, Peoples Temple officially became a member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination in Indianapolis, and Jones was ordained as a minister, despite lacking formal theological training (Hall 1987: 52). As a result of this recognition, Jones acquired mainstream denominational support for the Temple while still retaining congregational autonomy. The church adopted the name Peoples Temple Christian Church. At this time, while the congregation of Peoples Temple was only about 20% African American, that figure was significant enough to draw attention in the largely segregated city of Indianapolis. Peoples Temple was one of the few, if not the only interracial congregations in the state, and Jones’ commitment to racial equality led him briefly to chair the Indianapolis Human Right Commission in 1961.
Jones’ perception of Indiana’s intractable racism was strong enough to make him want to move the church. The new location was Northern California, where the social activism of the Temple could flourish, and—perhaps the deciding factor—where he had read that his followers would be safe in the event of a thermonuclear war (Levi 1982: 39). In 1965 about eighty people, half of them African Americans and half Caucasians, moved to Redwood Valley in the California wine country with Jones, his wife Marceline, and his rainbow family of adopted and biological children (Hall 1987: 62). There they erected a new church building and several administrative offices, and began operating a number of care homes for senior citizens and mentally challenged youth.
On the West Coast, Jones began to recruit young, college-educated whites to complement the large number of working class families who already belonged to Peoples Temple. This cadre of relatively affluent members—most of whom found their own sense of commitment to justice and peace during the 1960s—assisted poorer members in navigating the social welfare system. This political and social activism helped facilitate the Temple’s expansion into San Francisco in 1972. The Temple opened a church in the heart of the Fillmore District, a poor black ghetto, and attracted thousands of African Americans as well as city officials and political figures. There the group offered free blood pressure testing for senior citizens, free sickle-cell anemia testing for African Americans, and free child care for working parents. It provided a number of other services which enabled the poor to receive the benefits to which they were entitled, especially senior citizens who had trouble collecting the Social Security payments they had earned.
In 1974, Peoples Temple acquired a lease from the government of Guyana to develop nearly 4000 acres in the northwest territory of the country. Guyana, a multi-racial state and the only English-speaking country in South America, was a cooperative socialist republic. Its black minority government welcomed the prospect of serving as a refuge for Americans fleeing a racist and oppressive regime. The Peoples Temple Agricultural Project grew slowly at first, housing about fifty people by early 1977 (Hall 1987: 194).
That spring, the Internal Revenue Service launched an examination of the Temple’s business-related income. This threatened the church’s tax-exempt status, and raised the potential of shutting down the organization. At the same time, a group of disaffected ex-members (called "apostates" by some Religious Studies scholars) began organizing to call attention to Peoples Temple. Known as "Concerned Relatives," they urged various government agencies to investigate the Temple. They also contacted news media, attempting to persuade reporters to write critical articles about the group. These various pressures led Jones to encourage members of Peoples Temple to move to the agricultural project in Guyana. Some one thousand of them did so within the span of a few months, in the summer and fall of 1977.
Once Peoples Temple members moved to Guyana, the agricultural project became known as Jonestown. Conditions were difficult, but hope was high for life in the "Promised Land." Not only was the settlement in the middle of the South American jungle, but the work needed to maintain it was immense. Members worked in agriculture, construction, maintenance (such as cooking and laundry), education, child-care for the 250 minors living there, health care, or fund-raising (making items to sell in Georgetown, which was not easily accessible from Jonestown). Everyone contributed to the community, at times working as long as eleven hours a day, six days a week. Evenings were filled with meetings, educational programs, Russian language lessons, and other duties. People lived in dormitories, and frequently children were raised apart from their biological parents. Their diet was sparse, consisting mainly of beans and rice, with meat or green vegetables reserved for meals when outsiders visited the community. When people such as U.S. Embassy officials, Guyana government ministers, and supportive family members and friends did visit, residents of Jonestown received lengthy briefings to ensure that the image portrayed of Jonestown was positive and convincing.
It was clear that Jones’ health and leadership deteriorated with the move to Jonestown. According to Mary Maaga, a leadership corps comprised of women ran day-to-day operations in the community (Maaga 1998). At times, Jones became incapacitated through using prescription drugs such as Phenobarbital. He would fly into rages, only to calm down moments later. He also had trouble speaking at times (Moore, 1986: 251). Occasionally, he appeared delusional and rambled on for hours well into the night on the community’s public address system (see, for example, his "Instructions for 16 October 1978"). These harangues prevented the residents of Jonestown from getting any appreciable amount of sleep. Jones read news reports from Soviet and Eastern Bloc sources, which presented anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist perspectives highly critical of America. He frequently "portrayed the United States as beset by racial and economic problems" that his followers had escaped by coming to Jonestown (Hall 1987: 237).
As is common in many religious groups, Peoples Temple members came and went from its ranks. In the case of Peoples Temple, though, many of those who left had been members of the upper echelon of Temple leadership, the "Planning Commission," which was responsible for key decision-making, financial and legal planning, and oversight of the organization. Among these "defectors" was Tim Stoen, the Temple attorney and Jim Jones’ right-hand man. Stoen helped found the Concerned Relatives (noted above), which organized a public relations campaign designed both to "rescue" relatives living in Jonestown, and to bring down Jim Jones and Peoples Temple. The Concerned Relatives alleged that Jonestown operated as a concentration camp, claiming that Jones brainwashed individuals who went to Guyana and held them there against their will (Moore 1986: 246; see their "Accusation of Human Rights Violations" published 11 April 1978). The main battle centered on the custody of John Victor Stoen, the son of Grace Stoen, another apostate. Although Tim Stoen was the putative father, he had signed an affadavit which said that he had encouraged a sexual encounter between his wife and Jim Jones, and that John Victor had been the product of that liaison. (Moore 1986: 239).
Affidavits signed by former Temple members Deborah Blakley and Yolanda Crawford contributed to the effectiveness of the Concerned Relatives. Family members also lobbied the State Department, persuading U.S. Embassy officials in Guyana to visit Jonestown and check on various relatives. They instigated letter-writing campaigns to members of Congress, and eventually found an ally in California Congressman Leo J. Ryan.
Ryan planned a trip to Jonestown in November 1978. Although he represented the Concerned Relatives, the congressman claimed he was conducting a neutral fact-finding mission. The residents of Jonestown did not see it this way, since several members of the Concerned Relatives, along with news reporters who had written critical articles about the Temple, accompanied Ryan. The party left for Guyana on 14 November 1978 (Hall 1987: 262). After lengthy negotiations with Jonestown leadership, Ryan and his party were allowed to enter the community to interview residents, as well as to seek out people allegedly being held against their will. Jones told Ryan that anyone who wished to leave Jonestown was welcome to do so. The day ended with a rousing performance by the Jonestown Express, the community’s band, and with Ryan announcing that Jonestown looked like it was the best thing that had happened to many people. The crowd cheered.
The mood changed the next day, however. On 18 November, a disaffected resident slipped one of the reporters a note asking for help to get out of Jonestown. By the end of the morning, sixteen residents—including members of two long-time Temple families—assembled to leave with the Ryan party. The congressman assembled his group amidst considerable strife—children and parents were being separated by the defections. As Ryan attempted to leave, a Jonestown resident named Don Sly, the former husband of a Concerned Relative, attacked Ryan with a knife (Moore 1985: 325). The congressional party made its way in a truck to the airstrip, located six miles from Jonestown in Port Kaituma, the nearest settlement. Two planes awaited them to depart for the capital. As the group began to board the aircraft, a small group of Jonestown residents who had followed the congressman and his party opened fire. Killed in the ambush were Congressman Ryan, three journalists, and one Temple member who had wished to leave Jonestown. A dozen members of the media, defecting members, and staff from Ryan’s office were severely wounded.
Back at Jonestown, all of the residents assembled in the central pavilion. The mood was grim after the defections. Jones proclaimed that the end had come for the people of Jonestown. He said the outside world had forced them to this extreme situation, and that "revolutionary suicide" was their only option. One resident, Christine Miller, dissented, and asked about going to the Soviet Union, saying she thought the children should have a chance to live. Other residents shouted her down, however (Moore 1985: 330-331). (Click here to read a transcript of this exchange, or to order an audiotape.) A large vat of purple Flav-R-Aid, a British version of Kool-Aid, mixed with potassium cyanide and a variety of sedatives and tranquilizers (including Valium, Penegram, and chloral hydrate) was brought out. The people were organized into lines. Parents were the first to give the drink to infants and children; many mothers poured the poison down their children’s throats (Hall 1987: 285). Jones did not drink the poison, but died of a gunshot wound to the right temple; an autopsy could not determine whether his death had been murder or suicide. In the end, the final death toll in Jonestown was 909, a third of them minors. Five had died at the Port Kaituma airstrip, and four more died at the Temple’s house in Georgetown, Guyana.
III. Suicide or Murder?
Because the earliest reports of the death came from the Central Intelligence Agency, and because the group’s radical political stance contributed to its decision to emigrate from the United States, a number of conspiracy theories have arisen concerning the deaths in Jonestown. A large amount of information is available, both in print and electronic forms, regarding these conspiracy theories (see links in Section V below). Some claim that Jim Jones was a rogue CIA agent who was involved in a mind control experiment. Others assert that the United States government killed all of the inhabitants of Jonestown because it feared the propaganda victory from a move to the Soviet Union. Still others argue that Jonestown represents a right wing conspiracy to execute genocide on black Americans. None of these theories are considered here because to date, no evidence beyond conjecture and speculation has been shown. (For more information see Reconstructing Reality: Conspiracy Theories About Jonestown".)
At the same time, however, psychological analyses which rely on assumptions of brainwashing or coercive persuasion also fail to adequately address what happened and why. Theories of the all-powerful cult leader, able to turn sensible people into mindless zombies, fail when we listen to what former members of Peoples Temple say about their experiences within the movement. To understand what most likely happened on 18 November 1978, it is necessary to consider the group within its historical context in order.
Members of Peoples Temple had long been conditioned to accept the necessity of giving their lives for the cause of justice and freedom. African Americans living in the 1960s and 1970s saw the ranks of their political activists decimated in the violent deaths of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and the leaders of the Black Panther Party, and the Black Panthers' Huey Newton had observed that activism required a commitment to "revolutionary suicide. Because one’s service to a larger cause could lead to one’s death, radical politics were considered suicidal. Although Jim Jones appropriated Newton’s language, he altered the concept in a significant way. Newton argued that political action inexorably leads to conflict with the state, and that the state eventually kills in defense of itself and its institutions. Jones interpreted "revolutionary suicide" more literally, meaning that one must kill oneself in order to advance the revolution. Two very different interpretations of the same expression.
The rhetoric of suicide is evident in many Temple documents. Letters written in Jonestown to Jim Jones express the writers’ willingness to die for socialism. In March 1978, Pam Moton wrote that the group would rather die than be hounded from one continent to the next ("Exhibit A to Concerned Relatives Accusation of 11 April 1978, Letter to Members of Congress, 14 March 1978"). Other letters written by family members expressed a willingness to die for their beliefs. Programs at the Temple in San Francisco and issues of the group’s newspaper, Peoples Forum, focused on the ever-present reality of torture and death.
It is clear that the group prepared to die on several occasions. Sometime before 1976, members of the Planning Commission—the Temple’s leadership council—took part in a suicide drill in which participants drank some punch and were then told it was poison. They watched in horror as certain leaders fell down, apparently dead. They waited in dread for the poison to take effect before Jones told them the drill was a loyalty test, to see if they were willing to die for the cause. In October 1977, a "White Night" occurred in Jonestown, in which the community rallied to defend itself against unseen enemies lurking in the jungle. Residents fully believed they were about to die. Tapes made in Jonestown of community members—including one made within a month of the deaths—feature a series of statements by residents professing a willingness to die for the cause.
Although members may have taken the necessity of suicide seriously, it would be a mistake to conclude that, on the last day, residents of Jonestown assumed they were participating in simply another drill. The defections had sobered the community, and with the news of the deaths at the airstrip, they understood that the end of their communal experiment was in sight. The vehemence with which Christine Miller argued against suicide indicates that she took the plan seriously. And when the first persons taking the poison went into convulsions, or fell down quickly, it was immediately clear that this was the real thing.
It cannot be said, however, that everyone committed suicide that day. First, senior citizens were injected with poison as they slept, or in their dormitories. It is likely that the elderly, primarily black females from the rural American south, would have resisted or argued against suicide. Second, children had no choice in the matter, and therefore it seems appropriate to say that they were murdered. Since children and seniors made up about two-thirds of the community, that leaves one-third of able-bodied adults either deciding to kill themselves, or being murdered. Eyewitness accounts are conflicting. Some say that people put up a fight and were forcibly injected. Others say that family members held hands and took the poison together, lying down with arms wrapped around one another. Although there were guards armed with cross-bows, they too were found dead with their weapons.
If, as reports say, parents did indeed poison their own children, it seems likely that they voluntarily poisoned themselves as well. They believed that their children would be tortured by government forces in the wake of Ryan’s assassination; they saw the end of the Promised Land with the invasion of Ryan and their enemies—the Concerned Relatives and the news media; they had practiced dying; and they believed that loyalty to each other and to their cause required death. They could betray their beliefs and survive; or they could remain loyal and die. They chose death.
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 (Hall 1987: 41,43). This eclectic mix was held together by the charisma of Jim Jones, and by the idealism of Temple members who believed that religion and politics could mix in order to create a better world.
Jim Jones initially practiced a form of Christianity borrowed from the Pentecostal movement, but gave it his own flair. For example, Pentecostalism announces the imminent Second Coming of Christ. Modifying this teaching, Jones proclaimed himself to be that Second Coming. He practiced the ability to "discern spirits" or knowing the thoughts of others, and claimed the ability to see the future (Reston 1981: 38). Faith healing was an important part of the theology established within Peoples Temple. Although Jones later admitted that he used healing (and fabricated it in many instances) in order to instill faith among his followers, many members of Peoples Temple believed Jones had the power to heal them with just the touch of his hand (Reston 1981: 39).
An analysis of audiotaped worship services from Peoples Temple in Indiana and California indicates Jones’ debt to Black Church traditions (Harrison 2004). Services followed a free-form style in which music played a key role, the organ emphasizing Jones’ call-and-response style of preaching. His sermons bore themes important to the Black Church: liberation, freedom, justice, and judgment.
Although Jones continued to use elements from the Black Church throughout the Temple’s history in the U.S., the chuch’s theology changed with the move to California, first to Redwood Valley and later to San Francisco and Los Angeles. Members lived communally. All income, as well as real estate, insurance policies, and other items of value were given to the Temple to be liquidated and redistributed equally among the members. Temple members established and operated a number of care homes for the elderly, the mentally ill, and the mentally challenged. Traditional fund-raising appeals through mass mailings (Levi 1982: xii), as well as life-care contracts with senior citizens, contributed to support of the Temple’s many social programs. Senior citizens contributed Social Security checks in return for room and board, health care, and all he goods and services needed for their retirement. Once the majority of members moved to Guyana, this income served as the primary source of financial support.
Despite criticism of the group, membership grew steadily. As Jones felt more secure in his California base, he began to exchange religious rhetoric for political rhetoric. He denounced traditional Christianity, and claimed that the only God that his followers had ever known was himself. Once the group moved to Guyana, he dropped all religious references, except when visitors came. No worship services were conducted in Jonestown. Community planning meetings, news readings, and public events replaced worship. It seems likely, though, that older members retained traditional Christian beliefs (Sawyer 2004).
To promote the shift from the self-centered, elitist individualism promoted by capitalism, Jones encouraged re-training (or indoctrination) in the selfless, populist communalism promoted by socialism through a practice known as "catharsis." Although generally eliminated after the migration to Jonestown, "catharsis" was used while the Temple was active and growing in California—especially within the Planning Commission. Catharsis involved public confession and communal punishment for transgressions against the community and its members (U.S Committee on Foreign Affairs 1979: 17). For example, if a teenager was accused of being rude to a senior citizen, the congregation would hear the evidence and vote on the teenager’s innocence or guilt. The punishment could be a severe spanking administered by Jones. Adults who "transgressed" were punished by being placed in a ring and forced to box with bigger, stronger Temple members. Transgressions subject to catharsis ranged from selfishness, sexism, and discourtesy to drug or alcohol abuse, and petty crimes for which members could be arrested and convicted by public authorities. Temple members considered catharsis sessions as a way to improve individual behavior without resorting to authorities like the police or public welfare officials, and took place regularly without objection by participants. A diary kept by Temple member Edith Roller, for example, reported a boxing match between a young man accused of sexism, and a young woman. The woman knocked out the man, to the delight of the crowd in attendance.
Because loyalty to Jim Jones and Peoples Temple was considered the highest value, the group administered a variety of loyalty tests. Before potential members were admitted to the Planning Commission or other levels of leadership, for example, they were gradually introduced to more diverse, and less religious, views. This slow exposure to the ideals and theology of the Temple effectively created a loyal following. To demonstrate ultimate loyalty, however, Temple members frequently signed documents stating they had committed various acts, ranging from child molestation, to homosexual behavior, to the assassination of John F. Kennedy (U.S. Committee on Foreign Affairs 1979: 18).
Jim Jones also used sex to control members of the Planning Commission. He accused everyone of being gay, but forced men and women to have sex with him, and frequently proclaimed himself to be the only true heterosexual (Hall 1987: 112). A forthcoming book by Michael Bellefountaine titled A Lavendar Look at Peoples Temple examines how gays and lesbians were treated within the Temple, and comes to the conclusion that they were generally accepted. By encouraging infidelity to one’s partner, Jones demanded fidelity to himself alone. At the same time, however, in an effort to create a new, multi-racial society, Jones promoted bi-racial partnerships and the adoption or birth of bi-racial children. A Relationship Committee run by the Planning Commission oversaw partnerships between a variety of people.
In short, the ideology of Peoples Temple focused on commitment to the community, and to elevating the group above the individual. Members deemed self-sacrifice the highest form of nobility, and selfishness as the lowest fof human behavior. Loyalty tests ensured commitment to the cause. No one looked askance at various practices because they made sense within a worldview that anticipated an imminent apocalypse—either through thermonuclear war or genocide against people of color. By fleeing the United States and attempting to create an alternative society, Temple members believed they might survive this harsh inevitability, perhaps even serving as a new model for humanity. But forces arrayed against them, they assumed, conspired to defeat them, and so they were defeated.
This page was created by Rebecca Moore and her colleagues in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at the University of North Dakota, and is now housed at the Department of Religious Studies at San Diego State University. This is the single best site for gaining perspective and accessing information about Jonestown. In addition to providing primary source materials generated by Peoples Temple, it offers transcripts of more than 100 audiotapes, and summaries of hundreds more. It contains the most complete listing of those who died in Jonestown, along with photographs and personal data with the intent of humanizing those who gave their lives to the cause they believed in.
Available on this site is The Jonestown Report, an annual publication
edited by Fielding McGehee III taht summarizes current research on Jonestown.
It provides articles by those investigating various aspects of Peoples Temple
and Jonestown, as well as updates on Freedom of Information Act requests,
art and literary projects relating to Jonestown, and survivors’ stories.
This was the homepage of Laurie Efrein Kahalas, a Peoples Temple survivor and author of SNAKE DANCE: Unravelling the Mysteries of Jonestown. Jonestown.com describes itself as “a one-of-a-kind investigation into one of the most devastating events of the 20th century… It includes materials available nowhere else.” The site temporarily went off-line, but is now archived at “Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple.”
Jonestown massacre +20: Questions Linger
CNN coverage of the twentieth anniversary of the Jonestown deaths, with articles on efforts to declassivy government documents, and other items. Unfortunately the links to related sites no longer work.
Doomsday, Destructive Religious Cults
A general description of Peoples Temple. A link to a brief history of Peoples Temple and the Jonestown deaths is appended. The site presents the suspicion that the suicides were the result of the community’s fear of retribution by the United States government.
Although this site is sponsored by anticult activist Rick Ross, and thus has an anticult perspective, it contains interesting and current news stories about the group, e.g., Guyana government officials in November 2004 calling for a new investigation into Jonestown.
For a complete listing of print resources, see http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/AboutJonestown/Resources/ resources.htm.
Chidester, David. (1988). Salvation and Suicide: An Interpretation of Jim Jones, the Peoples Temple, and Jonestown. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, reissued 2004.
Hall, John R. (1979). "Apocalypse at Jonestown." Society 16 (6): 52-61.
_____. (1987). Gone From the Promised Land: Jonestown in American Cultural History. New Brunswick: Transaction Books, reissued 2004.
Harrison, Milmon F. (2004). "Jim Jones and Black Worship Traditions." In Peoples Temple and Black Religion in America, eds. Rebecca Moore, Anthony B. Pinn, and Mary Sawyer. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Johnson, Doyle Paul. (1979). "Dilemma of Charismatic Leadership: The Case of The Peoples Temple." Sociological Analysis 40: 315-323.
Kahalas, Laurie Efrein. (1998). Snake Dance: Unravelling the Mysteries of Jonestown. New York: Red Robin Press.
Klineman, George, Sherman Butler, and David Conn. (1980). The Cult That Died: The Tragedy of Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple. New York: Putnam.
Levi, Ken. (1982). Violence and Religious Commitment: Implications of Jim Jones's Peoples Temple Movement. University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press.
Maaga, Mary McCormick. (1998). Hearing the Voices of Jonestown. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.
Mills, Jeannie. (1979). Six Years With God: Life Inside Reverend Jim Jones's Peoples Temple. New York: A & W Publishers.
Moore, Rebecca. (1985). A Sympathetic History of Jonestown: The Moore Family Involvement in Peoples Temple. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press.
_____. (1986). The Jonestown Letters: Correspondence of the Moore Family 1970-1985. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press.
Moore, Rebecca, Anthony B. Pinn and Mary R. Sawyer, eds. (2004). Peoples Temple and Black Religion in America. Bloomington: University of Indiana.
Nugent, John Peer. (1979). White Night. New York: Rawson, Wade Publishers.
Reiterman, Tim, with John Jacobs. (1982). Raven: The Untold Story of The Rev. Jim Jones and His People. New York: E.P. Dutton.
Reston, James, Jr. (1981). Our Father Who Art in Hell. New York: Times Books.
Robbins, Thomas. (1986). "Religious Mass Suicide Before Jonestown: The Russian Old Believers." Sociological Analysis 47: 1-20.
Sawyer, Mary R. (2004). "The Church in Peoples Temple." In Peoples Temple and Black Religion in America, eds. Rebecca Moore, Anthony B. Pinn, and Mary Sawyer. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
U.S. Committee on Foreign Affairs. (1979). The Assassination of Representative Leo J. Ryan and the Jonestown, Guyana Tragedy. U.S. House of Representatives, 96th Congress, First Session. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.
U.S. Committee on Foreign Affairs Hearing. (1979). The Death of Representative Leo J. Ryan, Peoples Temple, and Jonestown: Understanding a Tragedy. U.S. House of Representatives, 96th Congress, First Session. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.
Wessinger, Catherine. (1998). How the Millennium Comes Violently. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.
by Tobin Dickerson
Last modified by Rebecca Moore, San Diego State University, 02/05/05