Rev. Branham, a healing evangelist from the 1940’s through 1960’s, was credited by some for starting the “Latter Rain” and “Word Faith” movements as well as other fringe groups. In March 1956, when Branham announced a new campaign to be held for four days in June that year, Jones promoted the event through the Herald of Faith newsletter, the Open Door newsletter, local newspapers and mailing lists. The strategy was successful: Branham’s name attracted some eleven thousand people to the Cadle Tabernacle, and the evangelist performed numerous miracles through his alleged gift of discernment which facilitated healing the sick. In the months to follow, Jones too, became a familiar name within the Healing Revival Movement for possessing the same supernatural gifts.
Jones, like Branham, claimed to be “The Word. The Spoken Word. The Living Word.” But while Jones and Branham practiced similar gifts during their meetings, they did not necessarily see eye to eye on things. In Jones’ taped sermons recovered by the FBI following the deaths in Jonestown, the Temple leader alleged that Branham admitted to not believing the Bible, and that he advised Jones not to preach from it. In describing Branham’s 1965 fatal car accident, Jones scoffed at the evangelist’s prediction that he would “be around, while you [Jones] will be in trouble.” Evangelists like Branham were not truthful, Jones added, because the Bible was “the greatest money train they’ve ever been on.”
From 1960 until his death in 1965, Branham proclaimed that 1977 would be the year that the world would end, basing his prophecy upon a disputed 1933 vision at the Branham Tabernacle in Jeffersonville, Indiana. The truth of the prophecy might have been limited to Jones himself.
On Memorial Day of 1977, when Jones and 600 of his followers attended a large demonstration on the Golden Gate Bridge to advocate for improved suicide-prevention measures, the Temple leader confessed that he was in a depressive state, which included suicidal tendencies. “Suicide is a symptom of an uncaring society,” Jones said. “I have been in a suicidal mood myself today for perhaps the first time in my life, so I have personal empathy for what we are doing here today.” It was one of Jones’ final appearances in the US before the mass emigration of 1000 Temple members to Jonestown.
Branham, William, An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages (Dallas, TX: Voice of Healing, 1975, 382 pages).
Duyzer, Peter M. Legend of the Fall (British Columbia, Canada: Canbooks, March 3, 2014, 338 pages).
Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs, Raven: The Untold Story of Jim Jones and His People, (USA: Dutton Adult, 1982, 622 pages).
(More information about Rev. Branham prepared by John Collins and Peter M. Duyzer may be found at the informational website, www.seekyethetruth.com.)