Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
FBI Catalogue Jones Speaking
FBI preliminary tape identification note: None
Date cues on tape: Late winter 1978
Jimmy Carter, President of US
Valery d’Estaing, President of France (by reference)
Fred Wills, Guyana Minister of Foreign Affairs (by reference)
Amy Semple McPherson
Dwight L. Moody
William Randolph Hearst
John and Barbara Moore, parents of Carolyn Layton and Annie Moore (by reference)
Walter “Smitty” Jones (by reference)
Grace Stoen (by reference)
Carolyn Layton (by reference)
Tish Leroy (by reference)
Annie Moore (by reference)
John Victor Stoen (by reference)
Bible verses cited: None
Likely recorded in the early months of 1978, this tape of a Jonestown community meeting in Jonestown consists of two distinct segments. The first part of the tape features four songs – including at least one original composition – performed by Jim Jones and members of the Jonestown Express. The bulk of the tape, however, is of Jones speaking of numerous grievances he has, and of his ability – in fact, his sole ability – to lead them out of some of their troubles.
Speaking on a pragmatic level at the beginning – but still incorporating his overall goal for self-sufficiency and to “transition from capitalism to socialism” – he demands that the construction crews develop a lumber industry for Jonestown. It’s not enough to build more cabins – which they also need to do – but they need to learn how to harvest raw materials.
Jones soon turns to other issues of concern, and one that arises several times during the meeting is the place of religion in Jonestown, for which there is none. He has learned that there are several books on religion, metaphysics, meditation, and astrology in Jonestown, and he wants to be rid of them. Religion is counter-revolutionary, and “the biggest proponents of it through history have been the capitalist exploiter class.” More than one business tycoon has used, and even funded, old-line evangelicals to help crush labor strikes.
In addition, the very foundation of the various religions is flawed, because it asks adherents to wait until the “sweet bye-and-bye” for their heavenly reward. But “there is no world but this world, as far as we’re concerned,” Jones says. “We should live because it’s principle to live.”
He has always believed this, he says, he has always been an atheist. He became a minister for the sole reason of bringing communism to the people. “I went in the church and I invaded it, and I prayed when I didn’t believe in nothing, … but don’t ever believe I believed one goddamn bit of the bullshit, I never have believed it and I never will.”
It is not enough to merely speak against religion, he adds at another point. “Religion is a menace to the people. We have come to attack it and destroy it. … We are opposed to religion, because religion is against us.”
There is an alternative, the exception to his disbelief in anything he can’t see, and that is himself, and “I wouldn’t believe in my faculty other than I see the results of it.” Instead of offering prayers or meditations, then, the people of Jonestown need to say their “gratitudes” – for being there, for his guidance and leadership, for his protection.
The other subject to which Jones turns on numerous occasions is Tim Stoen and the threat he is attempting to make to endanger Jonestown’s survival. At one point, Jones says he knows that Stoen is part of the new rightwing movement in the US, that he has connections both to Nazis and to the CIA, but at another, he muses aloud as to what would make his former aide turn against them. But whatever the reason, and whatever he and his estranged wife Grace want – i.e., John Victor Stoen – Jones says he would die before he would yield or surrender anyone to the outside. “I’m responsible for anything I take on. … I’m with you all the way. And it’s never been my understanding how you can sacrifice people without sacrificing principle.”
But Stoen himself represents only part of a larger problem in the U.S. The Temple left danger behind when they came to Guyana. The press was coming down on top of them – they beat that only by a few days – and the people on Jonestown don’t know how many government agents showed up at various members’ doors after they had escaped to the Promised Land. “Then you talk about going back. You better remember where in the hell you are. You better remember what the hell’s going on back there, because you wouldn’t like to face what you’re gonna run into when you get back there.”
Date of transcription: 6/27/79
In connection with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigation into the assassination of U.S. Congressman LEO J. RYAN at Port Kaituma, Guyana, South America, on November 18, 1978, a tape recording was obtained. This tape recording was located in Jonestown, Guyana, South America, and was turned over to U.S. Officials in Guyana and subsequently transported to the United States.
On June 25, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B110-53. This tape was found to contain the following:
Music, followed by JIM JONES, discussing Jonestown, socialism, religion and criticisms of the membership.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted June 2021.