Instructions for Talking to Outsiders, July 31, 1978

[Editor’s note: The citation for this document is RYMUR 89-4286-C-8-a-34e – 34g.]

THE FOLLOWING, plus any others, ARE TO BE DISCUSSED IN “EACH” APARTMENT OR HOUSE and the family DRILLED so that every person knows the answers he or she should in response to questions from the media or outsiders:

  1. If asked if you like it here… Tell how much you like it here; be very positive about Jonestown.
  2. If asked about violence or spankings or beatings: Tell them that is ridiculous… There is no violence here. No one hits. Even our children are not spanked – we use reward measures.
  3. If asked if we bury people or put them in boxes… Tell them of course not – no one is put in boxes. We counsel people who need help.
  4. We do not bury people. The needs of every individual are considered.
  5. If ask about making seniors strip or go naked… Tell them nobody here would do such a ridiculous thing… Why? We do not humiliate and embarrass or harass people like the papers said… That was a mass of lies!
  6. They have said that we do not feed our people enough and that our diet is just rice… Tell them if they ask about this, that we get plenty to eat – that we always have seconds; that our diet varies constantly and that we have chicken, fish and other meats, as well as beans, cheese and other protein foods – and plenty of vegetables from our fields.
  7. The newspapers said we have no free time – it is all dictated. If they ask about this… Tell them no one dictates our recreation and free time: we do as we like.
  8. The newspapers said we sit in all night meetings all the time with 12 hour sermons. If asked about this, tell them we do not have 12 hour sermons: Jim rarely gives sermons. We have Forum twice a week where our people discuss community business and make decisions.
  9. The newspaper article said we must marry certain people whom we are assigned. If asked about this… Tell them we can marry whom we want. Some do and some do not choose to marry. The choice is our own.
  10. IF ASKED ABOUT WORK… Tell them our work hours and jobs are a community decision. We work an 8 hour day and assignments are based on what is needed by the community. Where possible people are given a choice, and can transfer as soon as openings come up in areas of their choice.
  11. The seniors are forced to work all day in the fields… Our seniors only work if they choose, and then take preference of what they want to do… They have education classes, which many were denied in their youth; they have exercise classes and constant care – if they choose, they can be given small plots which they like to beautify, but there is certainly no requirement for this. They have the best of everything and certainly the love and care of our entire community.
  12. If asked about training – Tell them we have an apprentice program in all of our skill areas so the crafts are passed on to our youth who want to learn in those particular areas.



  1. One of the newspaper articles said that some here were sorry they brought their children here… If asked about this, tell them how grateful and happy we are that our children are here in safety from the violent and dangerous ghettos of the states.
  2. The newspapers said we were not permitted to write to our relatives… If asked about this, tell them we write and receive letters from our relatives constantly… No one reads our mail or limits us as was said in the newspapers…
  3. If asked about guests here… Tell them yes we have had guests here and plan for many more to come to visit us; however, right now we do not have a lot of extra room. However, we have guest houses including in our city plan.
  4. The articles said we were crammed into our quarters… If asked about this, say that at times we have been a little crowded but we are working this out. Our plan is for no more than 6 persons per house. We are building the additional housing we need now and will soon have this done.
  5. If asked what we do for recreation… Tell them we have video, movies, our own band and lots of entertainment – some play baseball and sports games or go on group walks together… We have treats and candies and cookies, popcorn balls, etc., special treats every Sunday night in addition to the cakes and puddings and fruits we have all the time during the week. We even have donuts every couple of weeks for Sunday breakfasts…
  6. It was said we have no protein in our meals… Tell them that our people show that their blood is much healthier here. Some were anemic in the states but our health improves immediately here. We have fried chicken dinners, barbecued pork sometimes fried, baked and smoked fish and many other proteins… We have a complete variety in our diet… More than we had in the states where we cooked our own meals.
  7. If asked about medical care… Tell them we have the best that can be provided anywhere. Every need is met. If the person needs special care, they are sent out for it even to other countries where specialists are located for their particular problem. No expense is spared. Dad mentioned $46,000 for Bobby Stroud, do not know if he wants this mentioned.
  8. The newspapers said we have to listen to sermons all day in the fields… Tell them they can see there are no PA systems in the fields… In the central area, we listen to the news which the congregation voted to hear, and we have find music much of the time.
  9. If asked about literacy… Tell them that education is for all here. Some in the states, even some of our younger folk, never learned to read and write. Here, EVERYONE who wants to can learn. Literacy is the privilege from our youngest to the very oldest.
  10. If asked how we handle problems… Tell them we counsel people, we do not hit.
  11. The newspapers said we are suicidal… If asked, tell them we DO NOT BELIEVE IN SUICIDE!



  1. If asked about healings… Tell them we believe in healings but do not overemphasize them. We believe in doing everything possible through medical science.
  2. If asked if we believe in miracles… Tell them we have had miracles – everyone should know at least one miracle healing they can tell about.