The Temple edit of John & Barbara Moore

Following the publication of Notes and Reflections by John and Barbara Moore of their trip to Jonestown in May 1978, a second document appeared with a condensed account of the trip. It was printed on the letterhead of the First United Methodist Church in Reno, Nevada, where John was the pastor, and includes a note of introduction about the Moores.

It is likely, however, that the document is not what it purports to be. Instead, it seems that the report was written by a member of Peoples Temple, using the original account as a point of departure, with the complicity – if not the outright participation – of one or both of John and Barbara’s daughters, Carolyn Layton and Annie Moore.

There are several reasons for this belief. First, the note of introduction is written in the third person (and, not incidentally, includes a period after the “V” of John’s middle name, which is an error: his middle name is “V”.) Secondly, its style is different from that of either John or Barbara. Finally, it is unabashedly glowing and positive of what the Moores experienced in Jonestown, with language and descriptions which contrasts sharply with the care and balance that the visitors used in crafting their original statement.

The use of the stationary would seem to give authenticity to the statement – and that was certainly its purpose – but the Temple had used the church’s letterhead without John’s permission beforehand. Moreover, Temple papers which the FBI recovered in Jonestown after the deaths in November 1978 included several blank sheets of First United Methodist Church letterhead.

A Visit to Peoples Temple Cooperative Project, Jonestown, Guyana, RYMUR 89-4286-x-4-j, pp. 13-14.
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Last modified on October 22nd, 2013.
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