Jonestown is a word with several meanings. First, it refers to an agricultural project established by the Peoples Temple, a religious group based in California which moved to Guyana in the late 1970s to establish a communalist utopia. Second, it refers to the events of November 18, 1978 in which a U.S. Congressman was assassinated, along with four other individuals, at a jungle airstrip; these tragic killings were followed by the mass suicides/murders of 900 men, women, and children by ingesting potassium cyanide mixed into a vat of punch and tranquilizers. Third, the word “Jonestown” has been used to describe any New Religious Movement which may or may not have the potential for violence, as in “Heaven’s Gate was another Jonestown.”
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