Meticulous, gift of gab could influence large group of people to move mountains and commit suicide this is the best way to describe Jim Jones. He was not like most children knew his purpose at a young age and that was to tell people about religion and speak about social injustice of African Americans and help people. This curious kid will grow up to create a mass following worshiping him like he was God or Jesus. He would convince a community that he created of over 900 men, women, and children up rote their lives to South Africa and in the end to commit suicide. Jones died of a gunshot wound.
Who is Jim Jones?
Jim Jones was born on May 13, 1931 in Crete, Indiana to the parents of Lynetta Putnam, and his father James Thurman Jones. His father was World War I disabled Veteran and his mother worked many jobs. Jones’s mother was not around therefore his father took care of Jones mostly his mother didn’t have much interest in him. Jones neighbor would take him to her church. When Jones was just 10 years old, he began to start on a religious quest that would shape his life and in the end be his demise. He was a very observant child he started to take what he learned from different places of worship, and he started to preach to the children in his community. He didn’t have many friends but was a strong student and was strong at public speaking. Kids didn’t like him much because of his push on religion. Jim was not a typical kid he didn’t like sports, nor didn’t do any ‘sinful behavior’ like drinking or dancing. Jones parents split up and his mother moved away to Richmond, Indiana. This point in his like he decides to reinvent himself. He had a job in a hospital where he met his wife Marceline Baldwin on June 12, 1949. They adopted several children that were not white he called his family the ‘rainbow family’. He was a regular churchgoer when he graduated from Butler University, he entered the ministry. 1955 Jones created the Wings of Deliverance, that was a Pentecostal church that turned into Peoples Temple. He was known for him helping the homeless. The early 1960s he served as director of Indianapolis’s Human Rights Commission. Many thought the Peoples Temple could do a wonderful thing. Many compare the church to that of an African American church full of music loud for all the hear with people dancing and worshiping. Jim Jones was what the needed they wanted integration and to mix as one people wanted to feel welcome. Within 5 years the temple grew from 81 to thousands of people across the U.S. Jim was considered to be black was someone African Americans could trust, and he was someone could relate to their struggle, and wanted change. Jones convinced his team to sell their homes and give up all their money and savings to the People Temple. That if they did everything would be taken care of for them. They didn’t have to pay for medical care, clothes, nothing and they received 5 dollars a week as an allowance. Member who were fulltime worked all day and only got a few hours of sleep. They allowed Jones to think for them. Jones told his congregation that what you need to believe in is what you see he stated, “if you see me as your friend I’ll be your friend, if you see me as your father I’ll be your father, if you see me as your god I’ll be your god.”
Jones feared a nuclear war and he moved his church to northern California in 1965. This move gave him the name of “the Prophet,” he became obsessed with power. During this time allegations started to face that he was using his members income for his own personal use. Jones and hundreds of his followers relocated to Guyana, they set up an agricultural commune called Jonestown in 1977. Jones confiscated passports and millions of dollars from his followers. Jones manipulated his followers and threatened them with blackmail, beatings, and death. They also did rehearsal for ritual mass suicide including at night.
1974, Jim Jones purchased land in Guyana, and he created a new home for the people’s temple. About 1,000 of his followers followed him to his compound thinking it would be the same as it was in California, but it was not. Jones ran it like a prison camp. The members received small amounts of food, they were not allowed to leave, and he had armed guards at every inch of the compound. Jones began to grow crazy that someone was trying to kill him, so he did is sermons over a loudspeaker. He would force his members to drink red liquid stating that it contained poison and they had to drink it to test their loyalty. After a few mins he would tell them that they would not die and that it was just a loyalty test. The government got wind of what Jones was doing and they wanted to investigate so congressman Leo J. Ryan from California went to find out what was going on for himself. He came with a tv crew and toured Jamestown. He told those that wanted to leave to go with him, but it didn’t work at the airport jones sent a group of defectors to attack them. 5 people died including the congressman. In Jamestown Jones launched what he called his “revolutionary suicide”. He mixed Cyanide and Valium into grape punch and gave it to the members of the people’s temple. If you refused to drink it the armed guards forced, you to drink it. Children were the first to die. Over 900 people mostly African Americans died about 276 of them were children. Jones did not drink the Kool-Aid. He was surrounded by his close circle he was shot in the head or he shot himself we don’t know. But he was surrender by his wife, nurse and other members.
Jim Jones was not brought to justice. He took his own justice. But Larry John Layton was the only person to ever stand trial in the united states in connection to the Jonestown masseuse. He was convicted of 2 counts of federal crimes on conspiracy and murder and aiding and abetting the murder of a congressman.
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