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: Labeled in part “12-2-72”
Date cues on tape: There are two parts to this tape. The identification note of December 1972 seems accurate for Part I; the second part likely comes from earlier in the fall.
People in attendance at Peoples Temple service:
Public figures/National and international names:
Adolf Hitler, German FuhrerRalph Abernathy, civil rights leader
Jesse Jackson, civil rights leader
Martin Luther King, Jr., slain civil rights leader
Fred Shuttlesworth, civil rights leader
Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, radio comedians
Virginia Graham, talk show host
James Thurman Jones, Jim Jones’ father (by reference)
Sen. George McGovern (D-SD)
Thomas Paine, American revolution pamphleteer
Karl Marx, German economist, father of communism
Fulgenio Batista, Cuban dictator
Che Guevara, Latin American revolutionary
Martin Luther King, Jr., slain civil rights leader
Malcolm X, civil rights leader
Douglas MacArthur, U.S. military general
Randolph Hearst, newspaper publisher
Father Divine, leader of Peace Mission
James Thurman Jones, Jim Jones’ father (by reference)
Bible verses cited:
(Editor’s note: The verses below appear in order of biblical reference, not as they appear in Jim Jones’ address. For a complete scriptural index to the sermons of Jim Jones, click here.)
“There’s milk and honey aplenty.” (numerous references to the land of milk and honey, principally in the Pentateuch)
“I have a mind of a place that’s the other side of Jordan.” (numerous references to the other side of Jordan as sanctuary, principally in Joshua)
“Said, except you forsake all!… except you sell all” (Luke 14:33, So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” See also Matthew 19: 26-28)
“‘Cause one day, you may come and say, Well, where is Sister so-and-so? The Temple’s empty. Where’s the one that’s garning the grain, where’s the one that’s at the wheel, where’s the one that’s at the utensils, or at the counter distributing the food? Where are the workers? One shall be taken, and the other left. One shall be in the field working, and suddenly they’ll say, where are my comrades?” (Luke 17:35-36, “Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” See also, Matthew 24:40-41.)
“And if you don’t believe ass is biblical, you just look through the Gospel of John and find uh– you’ll find asses there.” (John 12:14-15, “And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written. Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.”)
“You shall not inherit that which I am.” (Galatians 5:21, “… which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”)
“Then we become a Gideon’s army.” (Judges 6-7)
“They give us that as our Judas price. Our Judas price. Here’s the Judas price we pay.” (reference to payment of thirty pieces of silver to Judas for betrayal of Jesus, Matthew 26:14-16).
“That’s what I used to couldn’t take about that Jesus story. Said he knew he was born to die. Why, hell, if I knew I was born to die and gonna raise in three days, I’d just say, Come on, get it over with! Easy. That always bugged me about that story. He knew he was God, and he knew he was gonna die and be resurrected.” Beginning of lengthy discussion. (Mark 8:31-32, 9:31, 10:33-34.)
“And finally, they’ll come, and they’ll kill us thinking they do God a service.” (John 16:2, “They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.”)
(This tape was transcribed by Connor Ashley Clayton, who also contributed to this summary. The editors gratefully acknowledge his invaluable assistance.)
Jim Jones speaks to the Los Angeles congregation in two addresses from late 1972. As with many of these sermons, they each pick up in mid-thought, although – in contrast – Part I ends with his thanks to the congregation for their attention; similarly, the end of the tape does seem to be close to the end of the second address.
Part I begins with Jones admonishing those members of his congregation who waste food and allow their children to waste food. He questions how people can do this in contradiction of the values they are working to build, contrasting Peoples Temple against the evils of capitalist America. The sermon dated only a few months after purchasing two churches for the Temple – one in LA, the other in San Francisco – Jones explains that they won’t spend any money on constructing buildings themselves, until they are bursting at the seams, because they don’t need new buildings. He offers a few tip on money management, such as staying out of debt and away from credit cards, and tell them they need to be frugal with their expenditures and to save for the eventuality of their move, when they need to get to safety.
And that day will come, he warns. The military has already admitted, it is developing weapons of genocide. “This is the way to solve all the minority races,” he says, then adds a few moments later, “I’d like to be someplace away from crazy people that create genetic weapons to destroy whole races of people!” It can happen, he says, raising the specter of the Holocaust taking care of the Jews (“God’s chosen people”), and towards the end of the address, drops in his familiar reference to concentration camps being set up in the US.
His call for frugality extends beyond the church itself. In his calls for modesty and moderation in all things, he demands that his followers resist the temptations of fashion and expensive clothes, of fancy cars – especially since money spent on those items takes away from money that could be donated to the Temple – and even to give up television.
Jones goes further to chastise those congregants who still have any kind of attachment to their life prior to the Temple, including family members and relations who have remained outside. The initial recording ends with Jones speaking against the “traitors” who remain attached to non-socialist family members external to the Temple. “If you’re socialist,call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver you, but if you’ve got houses back there, if you’ve got lands, or husbands, or a wife, in that false consciousness … then you stay back there. You don’t belong here.”
Several of these themes extend from the earlier sermon – the second part of the tape – such as his warning that they are doomed to concentration camps if they remain in America, a familiar reference for everyone in attendance. Similarly, his calls for modesty and self-denial reiterate the call to give up television, but also include an observation that he has expressed before, that “we’d be a healthier people if sex was banned.” He acknowledges it’s an impossible request, but does point out that “Every form of treason that’s happened here has happened over sex.”
The earlier sermon features a discussion with Temple congregants, as Jones asks for their input and participation. Several talk about a movie that they had seen on Cuba, and they offer their opinions on how the movie challenged their pre-existing notions about the socialist island nation. Jones refers the discussion back to the evils of America at various points, including positing a theory that Father Divine must have been poisoned, leading him to divert away from communism and socialism after the Great Depression. Jones discusses assassinations, the CIA, and medical malpractice in the United States.
Jones explains why he keeps his beverages and food items covered, so that they cannot be poisoned. He continues to muse that Father Divine must have been poisoned, or otherwise compromised by external forces, as a reason for Father Divine’s shift away from socialism and embrace of capitalism. Jones exhorts that he could not sell out his congregation, and it would be the worst kind of death he could offer them. He emphasises he couldn’t see his people be tortured. An unidentified male takes the opportunity to speak and chastises the black members of the congregation for their lack of enthusiasm for the political topics Jones sermonises; rather, he claims that the black congregants are still attached to religion. Jones speaks a little on Marx’s opinion of religion as a two-fold opiate of the masses – both as a tranquiliser of dissent, as well as a (false) cure for suffering. He proposes that it is perhaps because the black congregants understand less of what he is saying. He details an encounter with a fundamentalist at one of his meetings, whereupon he mocked her for speaking in tongues, but they ended the service amicably, with her purchasing a prayer cloth to take with her.
Jones suggests he could, if he wanted to, go back onto the traditional Christian preaching circuit, and generate a lot of money for the movement, but this would take him away from where he is needed. He regrets not developing the same “holy aura” as Father Divine and mocks the fact that all Father Divine would have to say would be: “Aren’t you glad?” and his congregation would light up. Jones reveals that, from his perception, Father Divine was a very different man in his office compared to when he was leading a service. Jones speaks directly to those members of the congregation who had left the Peace Mission and joined the Temple, mentioning by name a woman named “Purity”. Towards the end of the meeting, another unidentified male stands up and testifies that he had seen CIA plants operate when the Temple had visited Seattle and emphasises that the CIA employs blacks as well as whites. Following this discussion, Jones draws the meeting to an end to allow the elderly to go home to rest but maintains that the young and able will have to stay to write some “vital letters to our security”.
The tape ends with the singing of the socialist hymn, “Le Internationale.”
Date of transcription: 6/21/79
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 6/15/79, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B108-1. This tape was found to contain the following:
The first 12:25 minutes of side #1 is of JONES taped backwards. At 12:44 Reverend JONES begins speaking about betrayals and traitors leaving Jonestown and threatens them with burning down Jonestown. JONES lectures on socialism and deals with problems at Jonestown. Ends with a song.
Review of first 12:25 minutes of side #1 disclosed that it was Reverend JONES talking about problems at Jonestown such as wasting food. He also talks about the military weapons being developed to kill all minorities. JONES criticizes Reverend JESSE JACKSON for his rejection of SCLC and socialism.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The tape was recorded in 1972, years before Jonestown was established. Other than that, the summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted May 2022.