Listening to the skeptical side

I had made the trip from Santa Barbara to the Peoples Temple church outside Redwood Valley sometime in the early 70’s. I had been asked to go to the church services up north to help drive a motor home. There were probably eight of us in our party. Upon our arrival, I actually got to meet Jim Jones and shake his hand.

The first impressions were good, but as I was given a tour of the Temple, I saw things that started to change my perspective. In the church foyer were pictures of the My Lai massacre that had happened in Viet Nam. I thought this was kind of odd, not the norm for anything a church would post. Peoples Temple was supposed to be a place of spiritual enhancement and enlightenment, and this was a political position. My skeptical side was starting to show.

The group I was with stayed there for three days. I made friends who later died in Jonestown. They lady that had put together our party just happened to be in Georgetown when the massacre occurred. She lost her young daughter and her new grandson.

I will never forget that period of my life.

(Doug Lashley may be reached at