Jones interview with Julia Hare, KSFO

[Editor’s note: BB-17-kk-1 – kk-14 is a transcript of an interview which Jim Jones had on San Francisco radio station KSFO, conducted by the host of the REACTIONS program, Julia Hare. The first third of this interview – transcribed from the Temple’s tape of the conversation – appears here, with links to both a summary and the MP3 of the interview. There are minor differences between the two versions.]


KSFO – 3/5/77 (2/9/77)


Julia Hare: Welcome to REACTIONS. There’s a church in San Francisco, and the press has said this about it. It helped to keep open a medical clinic in San Francisco which otherwise would have closed. It benefited the search in the medical fields of cancer, heart disease and sickle cell anemia. It has also supported educational broadcasting such as KQED, and provided emergency cash to distressed families, particularly those of slain law enforcement officers. I could go on and on with the list of what it has done. The name of this church is the Peoples Temple Christian Church. I don’t know why “Christian” is there, but the minister will tell us about it very soon, because I think it’s sort of inter-denominational. But the man behind this many-faceted church is the Reverend Jim Jones, and I’d like to welcome you to REACTIONS tonight.

Jones: Thank you very much.

Hare: And I’d also like to welcome um, Michael Prokes, who is an associate minister of the same church, as modest as Reverend Jones. But tonight we’re going to just throw that aside and let them actually tell us some of the things that they’re going to do. And, Reverend Jones, I’d like to begin with this: You’re probably the only man in the world who could bring together in one room at the same time Eldridge Cleaver and Kathleen [Cleaver], Assemblyman Willie Brown, the John Birch Society, Lieutenant Governor Mervyn Dymally, Mayor [George] Moscone, the police chief Charles Gain, District Attorney Joseph Freitas. And most people would wonder, who did that? President [Jimmy] Carter? God? But I found it wasn’t them, it was you. How did you bring these entities together?

Jones: I really can’t say, other than I suppose that we have a common concern for justice with people, and of course, Cleaver at the time, there was some question– a great deal of alienation because of his views, and Peoples Temple felt that a person should not be judged because of their views, and we did come to his legal defense. That was not to say that I supported his ideology, but that is probably some explanation. We supported a John Bircher once who was being discriminated against, a John Bircher who, contrary to all the opinions I’d been told about the Birch Society, was not a racist, and I think that explains it. We don’t have an arbitrary attitude of serving only people who agree with us. And that may explain some of it.

Hare: You happen to remind me of someone [Nathan Hare] with whom I have lived for a number of years, when he taught at a predominantly black school, some of the students asked, why would you bring a member of the John Birch Society in to address your class? But he said that the only way you will grow is to be exposed to all ideologies. So I’m glad to know that that’s existing here in San Francisco. Now uh, something else that you’ve done that I don’t really understand. Your church is located in somewhat of a transient area in predominantly a black district. Many people have tried before you to bring the grass roots together, the so-called black bourgeoisie, the national, state and local elected officials to begin to see that the struggle lies in really bringing together all these people instead of one predominantly ethnic group. Now how have you been able to do this?



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Jones: Again, one doesn’t think about their successes, I gather. They are more concerned about the failures. We preach inclusiveness very strongly. We preach that, we speak, we state that it’s very important that all people who have been to some degree left out of the process of economic success, that we get together, that we unite in the common struggle. And that’s very important to us. We also are determined to see that there is a good attitude on the part of the majority members, the Caucasoids who are in our attendance, that they have proper attitude, understanding of the problems of the Third World. But we don’t compromise on our principles in any way in concern for the struggle of the Third World people. We have a number of good white people that we jokingly say are very well field niggerized.

Hare: How about that. I love that expression. (Laughs softly) What were you doing when the struggle was going on with say, just the Asians, just the blacks, or just the Chicanos. You were here in this area, but somehow you were low profile. Why are you just now surfacing?

Jones: We were not here as a center. You see, it’s only been in the last two years that I have been located in San Francisco. I was serving in the northern part of California, in an agricultural community, which was the biggest mistake of my life.

Hare: Why was it a mistake?

Jones: (Laughs) Well, there were not enough people representative of all groups, and an agricultural community is a little more sterile, and frankly a little bit afraid of what’s happening in agricultural communities these days. Having a multi-racial family, I noticed a great deal of prejudice. Not only anti-black feeling, but anti-Semitic feeling, and it’s on the increase across America. We need to get alarmed about it. All people who have ever suffered any kind of oppression or discrimination need to reckon with this factor. After all, in the past few months, we’ve seen blacks run out of Taft. We’ve seen Indians mistreated terribly in different areas, and even in our own state, blacks burned out of Siskiyou County. We had buses surrounded, just because we had black drivers, in Sonoma County. And fortunately the court– a very good judge for the first time come up against this racist element, but they are there, very, very much there in the outlying areas of the big cities, and certainly our metropolitan areas are not free of racism.

Hare: Well, unlike the white popular thought that the church has been a leader in the black community which had led to questions about the leadership, but in your church, somehow, you have brought together the militants, the agnostics, the atheists, the fundamentalists. How have you gotten all these people together?

Jones: In our worship style, we respect people based on what they produce, and that’s of course consistent with Moses’ teachings and Jesus’ teachings, judge a tree by the fruit it bears. So, if an atheist does the works of all these great teachers through history of all religions and the fundamentalist does the work, lives a life, character and concern and shows compassion, we find that we can get along very well, because Jesus said, he who is not against me, is on my part. When one of his disciples came up to him early in the ministry, when all the followers that Jesus had were with him, so it had to be someone of another faith, Islam or Hebrew teaching, or some other, [missing word in KSFO transcript: Zoroastrianism], who knows. But John said, what are we going to do with this gang. They’re not with Jesus. He said, they’re not against me. They’re for me. And so I think we’re doing what uh, Jesus was. In a sense he was a great revolutionary, and I think we have neglected that aspect of Jesus’ teaching. When he judged people, in Matthew 25, the only judgment that ever came out of the mouth



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of the Nazarene was: I was hungry, you did not feed me; I was thirsty, you gave me no drink; I was a stranger, you didn’t take me in; I was in prison, oppressed, and you did not do something to get me out of that condition. They said: When did we see you there? He said: In that you saw the least of suffering humanity there, you saw me, and so you didn’t help them, now depart from me. I never knew you.

Hare: Well, how is it that in your membership… Well, first, what do you think or why do you think the black ministers have not been able to organize people to do the kinds of things you did? Because I understand that it was your church, which you have a lot of grassroots people there who were responsible, or partially responsible, for freeing the four reporters in Fresno.

Jones: That’s true. I think particularly so there. We heard indirectly from a jurist that there was going to be adamancy on that issue, and then when we introduced, at the peak a couple of thousand, with Farr [newsman Bill Farr] in Los Angeles, we had over three thousand, but one of the jurists said, I guess we’re going to have to get our judge to do something about this to get all these niggers out of town, and of course that was a compliment to us. We felt that a very basic issue here creeping again, even after Watergate, they were going to tell the press– and I know the press has behaved grossly irresponsible in many, many areas, neglects the problems of the Third World, you see every day, but when a press cannot keep its sources confidential, we’re in trouble. We’ve never heard from Deep Throat at Watergate if there hadn’t been that protection. And we’ve seen a couple of cases, Datani, Roselli and what they knew evidently something about the conspiracy against [former President John F.] Kennedy. The moment it was revealed publicly that they were going to be witnesses, both of them ended up dead.  One shot in the neck in typically Mafia fashion, the other floating down the Bay of Biscayne near Florida in a barrel. So we found this to be an important issue. I thought particularly they should understand that it meant nothing to us, we had no following in Fresno. It was just an issue of concern. I think some people thought we were courting the press, but when you do that sort of thing, you only bring the press’ inquiring more into your activities. I’ve never seen so many reporters in my life since then, and going through you like a… scrutinizing you very closely. And we were aware when we took that stand that it might be suspect, but we waited for several days and no one seemed to take up the cudgels of this important issue. There was no one there marching.

Hare: Was this before the grant that you gave to three newspapers?

Jones: No, no, we had done that during the Nixonian [former President Richard Nixon] period, when it was really dangerous to support the press, across the nation. Any newsman that came in difficulty with the system we immediately assisted. I think we assisted Farr to the point of $4400. But we see religion as a practical thing. We feel the highest worship to a deity, however you see it, should be service to your fellow man. And in reference to other churches, I think they’re caught up in this futurism, and honestly, I don’t see how they get it out of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ said that petition or pray that heaven come on earth. Heaven is within you. Do something with the problems of the here and now. But you hear this pie-in-the-sky stuff, futurism about the furniture of heaven and the temperature of hell, and that’s where too many of our churches, as you know, are– their heads are still there, even in 1977.

Hare: With that, let me say amen, ‘cause we’re going to pause and come back in just a moment.

[Editor’s note: The off-air comments during the commercial break below are reproduced from Tape 627. The balance of the transcript itself is from pages BB-17-kk-4 through kk-14.]

(Off air) That pie in the sky bit just used to kill me. As long as someone has said, uh, you know, like it’s here, and you decide where it’s going to be– What did you say, that uh, you don’t tell them about the furnishings of heaven or the temperature of hell.

Jones: (Laughs)

Hare: I hope you heard that, (unintelligible name), so you’ll stop running at the (unintelligible word)

Jones: (Laughs)

Hare: I hope you heard that comment that he does not tell his followers about the uh, furnishings of heaven or the temperature of hell, so that your kids can grow up healthy. See, out at that suburban community where he is, they’re telling him that she must store your goods because when you leave here– I’m glad that you’re telling the people that it’s– it’s here.

Jones: (Too soft)

Prokes: (unintelligible)


Hare: (unintelligible phrase), they told me that they didn’t know at the time. And they’re absolutely right. The former (unintelligible word) director said he didn’t know at the time who you were. But do you know that a lot of– another station, that when this is over, I’m out. You know.



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Hare: As you may recall, Proposition T now calls for the election of supervisors by districts. Now the Reverend Jim Jones, a powerful moving force as you can hear in the predominantly black Fillmore district, was a prime organizer in this District and is now facing probably exclusion from the Black Leadership Forum and the Black Summit, two powerful political entities because he isn’t “100% black.” Are you determined to make it into these organizations?

Jones: No, because I don’t think they have ever determined really what’s going to take place in the community. I regret that they would come out with such inane stupid positions at a time when we need coalitions so badly. What could very well happen when we only have black population of 42 percent, that’s the highest we have in any district. I’m terribly regretfuI, and I think some of them are doing it very sincerely, but this is the stupidest blunder that was ever made. I have already been interviewed. I’m trying to handle it very cautiously. I say this doesn’t reflect on the black community, and it doesn’t. I’ve had ministers, I have black leaders, business people who call very regretful over this whole thing. So it doesn’t in any way reflect on the black community, and I’m afraid that the great body of citizens who read this kind of thing, that we’re going to have reverse racism, as well as we can understand it. After all, 300 years, Ku Klux Klan, and so forth and so on. But two wrongs will not make a right. And were facing some pretty difficult situations in this decade, and were going to have to come together.

Hare: Do you feel that this is the majority of the black community, or the leaders, or just who are these people?

Jones: I know it’s not the majority. I’ve had people come out of the Black Forum and told me with disgust some of the things that were said, people who were there. So it isn’t in any way the majority. It certainly is not all of the Black Forum.

Hare: How did you happen to choose to locate in that particular area as opposed to the area where Grace Cathedral is located, or the Sunset or the Richmond, how did you happen to decide to bring this group together?

Jones: What could we do with all those hotels, you know, and fineries. We were needed in the Fillmore, and that’s what determined our locating there.

Prokes: That’s why Jim insists on living in the Fillmore. He believes a pastor should live in the area that he serves. And Jim also is … has the greatest character of anyone I’ve ever met at the risk of embarrassing him here. When I came 4 years ago, I could not believe all that I was seeing that was done for people who were poor, who were in destitute circumstances, and I came into the church and saw people from every kind of background imaginable – a whole cross-section of the human race, not just in terms of race but in terms of religion, socio-economic, educational background. I began to look into the program and saw that here was a place for people who come from poor backgrounds who had no place else to go because Peoples Temple has become a last resort for a lot of people with backgrounds of crime, militancy and drugs. But we found that if you offer these people, and many of them are young, programs that give them a chance to get involved, that occupy their time with productive things, things where their talents and abilities are best applied. This fills the vacuum that causes them to go on drugs and commit crimes in the first place.

Hare: Now we know that most of your members are on welfare and yet you have Greyhound buses that take children to Los Angeles for summer vacation, they go all the way to Washington, DC. Where do you get the funds?



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Jones: This is a thing that happens with people. I don’t care how poor they are, they become very industrious when they see things happening which serve their needs. We got a free medical clinic, for example, around the clock there, under the auspices of doctors giving free medical examinations, free physical therapy, Jacuzzi baths, ultrasonic treatments for arthritic conditions that the poor cannot afford, free legal services and nutritional food service of 1800 meals a day, people then … and you’d be amazed at what little old ladies, 70 years of age, seniors, then get out and have a little project of pillow making or a bake sale, and people just get more industrious and it’s really tremendous to see that. We get no outside help, I can’t recall one donation – maybe there was one donation, someplace lurking in my mind there might have been one donation from a single individual, but then there would be no more than a few hundred dollars. So, I think it’s the fact that when a church, or any service minded organization really begins to produce, people get enthusiastic.

Hare: Well, are they tithers, or what do they do? Do they give 10 percent?

Jones: No. I don’t believe in that because that can’t be fair. Some people on a limited income just can’t afford tithing, but that’s left up to them, but I imagine a good many do and some do more than that.

Prokes: But they do it voluntarily, and they can see where their money is going.

Hare: Is it only with money, or is it property, or with material possessions, or what?

Jones: We have some people who have turned over some property, but the majority of the people take on projects, that’s where it’s at. In their own home, in their own neighborhood, as I say bake sale, garage sales, that kind of thing. They will have their own little activity. Whatever neighborhoods they reside in. I think that is the backbone. I think this arbitrary tithing is unfair because there is a certain aspect in the gospel that says we should give as we are blessed, and it is the duty of those that are strong to take care of those that are weak, sort of from each according to his ability to each according to his need. They say that Marxism originated that, but I find it very intrinsic in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and I don’t like an arbitrary statement that says you have to give so much money. Some people give their time, and that’s more valuable to us than money in many instances, in particular when we are trying to serve 1800 people a day in the kitchen. Some of those people are giving their time. We don’t salary and if we had to salary we just could not manage at all.

Prokes: When I see a pastor who wears only used clothing, owns no car–

Hare: Wait, just one minute. It is this suit I see Reverend Jim Jones in, you say this is used clothing?

Prokes: It’s borrowed.

Jones: Well, you may know more about it than I do. But I find you buy a lot of good things in the Salvation Army and thrift stores around here. My wife’s awfully careful about that, and people often say why do you only have one pair of shoes, I say I only wear one at a time. And I’m not knocking people who live in a different lifestyle than I, but my ego is fulfilled by seeing people fed and when we can help groups get liberation both here and abroad. As you may be familiar we have 27,000 acres undertaken abroad in a mixed society, black president, but a beautifully racially inclusive society. It is an agricultural project. Several of our members are there, a couple hundred of our



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members. It serves many purposes. Not only does it help feed, clothe and house the people in an emerging servo nation, it gives jobs – I think we are now employing 91 people – but we have run into individuals who are almost lost in the asphalt jungle and so social service agencies or judges will say: You can take them. If you’ve got a place abroad, fine; otherwise they’re going to jail. And we’ve got 22 people now, young people, who were at the very lowest extremity. Some were kleptomaniacs, they weren’t members of the parish, but kleptomaniacs. I think of a child molester, all sorts of social deviates.

Prokes: Incorrigibles.

Jones: Incorrigibles, that’s right. Thank y Thank you.ou. And when we put them in this new environment – I’m an environmental determinist. It’s made me an environmental determinist, more than anything.

Hare: Repeat that again.

Jones: Environmental determinist. I believe that if we don’t do something about the environment… They’re talking about crime in the streets, you know. I think as a youngster saw something more being done about the crime in the suites we would see a change in attitudes. Opportunities are not there. Recreational opportunities, job opportunities are not there. 50% of our black youths are unemployed and work ethics is very strong in America, that’s why – but what does this do to the morale of a person. I think behind every situation you see there is much talk about crime and violence today, yet only 6% of the crimes in the United States are violent and of that 6%, 90% of those crimes are happening to us, the poor white, the poor black and Indian. One case I was called into… I didn’t know them, they called me the other day… The husband had stabbed the wife and said he had never been violent in his life, and when I got into the situation she said why don’t you get a job. That was the worst thing she could have said to him, but an understandable thing. And this drinking, typical kind of thing. We got a type of welfare system I think could stand much improvement. We give money to people instead of creating opportunities, jobs and programs, but naturally that fellow who has not been able to meet the standard of success in American society which is to work and produce. Before he gets home to buy food for the family, he’s going to be at the tavern quite frequently. I think behind every bit of the crimes of violence I’ve run into there is a social condition, and I’m very much concerned about this talk we’re going to bring back capital punishment because I notice capital punishment doesn’t work for the rich.

Hare: You’re right, and it’s never a deterrent to crime either.

Jones: Neither. Thank you for that. We find, and I think it has been pretty well supported, anyone with $50,000 of assets has never gone to a gas chamber or been hung or shot or electrocuted in this country. And we also find that there is a tendency today in the world towards dictatorships, be they right or left and often execution later becomes a political tool to do away with dissenters, and yet you hear so many people rapping about let’s bring back capital punishment and as you say, it is not a deterrent– In fact there are a whole lot of people so miserable out there may want to commit suicide like [Gary] Gilmore and yet they are a little fearful of doing it themselves, I think we will see more of this type of thing, will kill somebody or do something of a capital nature so the state will take care of them.

Prokes:  Why are there more blacks and minorities in jails and prisons in comparison to their percentage in the population? To say that it is not the environment, that it is not social conditions, it is to say that they are inferior. I’m not ready to buy that.



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Hare: Oh, I refuse to buy it. I’m happy to hear you say it.

Prokes: And the fact that there is no job, as Reverend Jones said there are over 50% of unemployment for blacks, what are they going to do? They watch television. They see families with material goods, living comfortably. Material things that they can’t have, so they try and get them the only way they can, turn to the streets, and they are already in the streets as a means of survival.

Hare: Well, this is what we are going to do. We are going to come back in just a moment, because anytime there is a groundswell and people who are concerned with the social movement as you are at Peoples Temple, there must be some kind of surveillance, and I noticed tonight didn’t come in here with the battery of bodyguards so I want to know how you move freely with the FBI, the CIA or whoever may be infiltrating your church.

[Editor’s note: Commercial break]

Hare: I know when this is over you’ll want to know where this is. It is at the corner of Fillmore and Geary and I’ll give you that exact address in case you really want to see Reverend Jones in action. You are hearing him tonight. Reverend Jones, before I get back to that question about surveillance, despite that oath the doctors take, they are popularly thought to place profit above philanthropy, and yet you have doctors and lawyers volunteering. How did you accomplish that?

Jones: Well, again we can’t generalize. I found some extremely sensitive people who are in the upper middle class in our church. You mentioned that we have crossed that class barrier, we’ve overcome the racial barrier, age barrier. I see the most beautiful thing – the youth and seniors doing things together, and we respect our elders, that’s one of the old Proverbs that we hold dearly, and as a consequence, I think the normal age of our seniors is in the 80s. We have one segenarian, she’s 106 and still going and fixes lemon pies in her little humble home, best pie I’ve ever eaten, and then sells them. If we could just eliminate these barriers that have developed in our society between race and class, and I think Peoples Temple has gone a long way towards that, and as I say you can’t make generalizations, there are people in every class who are concerned about the deprivation, the poor distribution of our wealth we see so obviously before us in the country.

Hare: You must pose a threat to ministers here with established so-called churches that begin what I have often defined the most segregated hour in this country, as 11:00 o’clock Sunday morning where you find people in their own churches. What’s that feeling with them? Have you made enemies, or are you coming together with them, do they view as a threat?

Jones: Amazingly enough we’re finding a number of ministers, white ministers, particularly one ordained Baptist Church in San Leandro has done a good thing for his people and works closely with us. We have – On Martin Luther King Day, the Council of Churches voted that it must conducted in Peoples Temple. We had 91 ministers there. I’m not saying that they were altogether you know in terms of perspective, there is emerging in this community that kind of concern, black ministers of the caliber of Reverend Hall. Theologically I don’t know where he and I stand, but Reverend Hall has great empathy for people and so it’s happening, more than I’ve seen it, and I think as we see economic conditions change, and they are going to change unless there’s some miracles, will see more unemployment, necessity is going to be the mother of invention. Folk are going to quit talking about heaven when they are hungry. That’s why I



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hope the church and all agencies begin to do voluntary things. We don’t want to see a violent revolution in this society, and so society is going to have to revolutionize itself from within or it’s going to be torn apart.

Hare: You’ve often said in your ideology you’re not violent by nature but you are a pacifist, and yet you tend to get things done. And usually in a movement that has gotten off the ground whether in this country or in other countries there has been a bit of bloodshed, but you feel that that isn’t necessary.

Jones: I would hope it is not necessary. Now when we took up the defense of the Jewish community not long ago when the Nazis were emerging, not only against the Jews, they’re against everybody I guess, these bums, but they began to threaten, and I think they thought, well, we’re pacifists, they forgot certain things Gandhi said. Gandhi said if a mad dog’s running loose, meaning a mad human, and society endangering it, you don’t allow that to happen. Now pacifism doesn’t mean that you roll over and play dead. Indeed if a bunch of bums come into our Temple we’re not going to turn the other cheek. We’ve turned all the cheeks we’ve got anyway. We will resist evil. What I’m saying we don’t believe in offensive violence, like we’re seeing happening here by groups that call themselves left, palming people’s homes, supervisor’s home, endangering her children. I don’t happen to believe these people really have a political – Many of them are provocateurs who want to bring down the democratic structure. I can’t see anyone in their right mind who can think that they can convey any political message by blowing up the district attorney’s car.

Hare: You know I’m glad you mentioned that, and even if they are listening tonight which is probably a very dangerous thing for us to venture to say, I hope that they will know that that is not how you raise the revolutionary consciousness of people because when acts are done to people and you do not politicize them to tell them why it is being done, then what you tend to do is alienate the people and you try to bring on a revolution before the people are politically ready for it.

Prokes: Plus you could help to create a police state.

Hare: Exactly. Terrorism then comes as a result of it.

Jones: I’m very suspicious of it because we have seen it done before. We had an FBI man in our congregation last week, Ostell Hall have recommended him and I felt, well you can’t generalize about the FBI even, I’m speaking on giving certain pointers on how people can defend themselves from attack and I don’t want a lot of propaganda so I talked to him very frankly, I said I think it is deplorable what the FBI did according to the media to Dr. King, tried even what it seemed to be to arrange his suicide by giving a lot of information to his wife and threatening him, and all those dirty tricks. I went through it for 3 hours. He certainly had to endure a great deal. I had Joe Hall of the NAACP, he’s a fine chap, and different black leaders there. We really interrogated him and then I looked at his program and I thought, well we didn’t think of it, the little guy for instance was about how to avoid burglary, things you can do to avoid being the victim of muggings, and that isn’t going to take away the social economic conditions that caused them, but I don’t believe in prejudice against anyone. So we let him speak, and the man came off with a great deal of understanding, shockingly enough, an empathy and ashamed of what the FBI had done and I really believe sincerely that he did not know of the dirty tricks. He was a younger man, of course. I don’t know what caused me to mention that. We were talking about violence. We tend to turn people away by acts of terror and I started to say, this is what I was getting at, the FBI I think it was several years ago set up as I recall reading an organization known as US. And when the [Black] Panthers began to talk about more



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internationalism and racial inclusiveness and working within the system, all this hell raising began. Us was talking in the same terms some people are talking right today in San Francisco. We can’t cooperate with any others; we have to be black only, and we’re going to have to define what black is. And now we find out that behind all those black only was white establishment plans, and it caused the death of several Panthers. So I’m suspicious of these people who want to divide when the community could really come together in San Francisco and now we hear all these talks about– behind some of this I wonder if we don’t have a nice agent provocateur.

Hare: Well, I’m wondering what are the reasons also when blacks really cried out for black films of some value and black studies and black literature, we don’t get it, and suddenly ABC, that’s certainly not a paragon of liberalism, gave us Roots and bombarded our homes with it for 8 nights straight. Do you begin to wonder about those kinds of things? You don’t have to answer if you don’t wish to.

Jones: I’m never one to shun a response. I think that anytime we see the establishment producing such historical document is shock. Perhaps their motivation was good. I imagine the major motivation was they knew they would make money and they did. Overall I can see some good that has emerged. I’ve talked to white people who’ve gotten a consciousness that they never had. Unfortunately that there are some who thought, well, I watched it and now I understand, I care and it will be forgotten. Also there’s a dangerous aspect– they call, I believe [Alex] Haley wrote it was a saga of an American family, but I noticed ABC called it a triumph.

Hare: The Triumph. That’s what disturbed me. Not only was it the saga, but also of one black American family, now they’re calling it the tragedy, an American triumph. Now look at the people who will not read the subtleties as you read that. We are now going to go back 10 or 15 years just because of this, just because of Roots. I’m not that concerned about where we came from, but where are we now and where are we going.

Jones: That was exactly what I said Sunday.

Hare: Were you thrown out of your church for saying that?

Jones: No. But who of us has got money to go back to Africa to find out where we came from. And again it is not so important where we came from but where we are going. Hello, I’m an American mongrel. I would have to spend a million dollars to find my roots. I’m not going to start on that course. And then just because one person found his roots, that’s not going to help the millions of people who do not have roots.

Hare:  Not only my people because we live in a rootless society, I’m sure the average white person would know from whence they came, but somehow this was fed to us and we had to move on with it. When you took the people to Washington, DC, what really was the motive for it? Did you want them to see how their representatives worked there in Congress for them and were the representatives intimidated by your presence?

Jones: Certainly the Burtons [Phil and John] were very responsive, and strangely enough a very conservative man by the name of [Don] Clawson I thought was most responsive. I was shocked, you never know what to make of people when you start to generalize. He recently when I next with Mrs. Carter (she asked to meet with me just before the election, I’m not partisan in politics.) I spoke because of our size, we got 9000 members and she said what would [I] like to see come out of the administration and I began to talk about interventionist policy in Chile. This horrible thing that we have admitted that we played a role in the murder of a duly elected



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man. They talked about fear of totalitarian communism and yet here was a socialist that was elected by the people who was trying to maintain a democratic course and included non-socialists, liberal progressive elements and he ends up murdered with our assistance. I said interventionist policies in the Third World have got to stop, and we see [Jimmy] Carter kept his word on that. Even a name that was thrown around – [Ted] Sorensen – was put up as the CIA Director and will be unto us we see a liberal coalition block Sorensen’s appointment. I said we ought to stop giving aid to Chile, and again the shocker. All the liberal dudes went along with it and three Republicans voted against the $55 million assistance that was given a couple of weeks ago. It blows my mind. You can’t possibly say this coalition is going to consistently stand for the right things. All of a sudden up comes of conservative and stands for resolutely for decency than the so-called liberals. That’s why I refuse to get involved in the bipartisan two-party system.

Hare: One reason I refuse to get involved in it. I’ve often made the same statement that you have made and people have wondered about it. I’m really afraid of too much liberal thinking. I prefer people almost to the extremes. You know you either stand for something, or you are violently opposed to it. At least I know how to fight you, how to address you or how to talk to you. The liberals tend to be on the fence when the going gets rough. They tend to fall on the side of the fence that seems to be the strongest. You mentioned Mrs. Carter and I wondered about that when she came out. There are a lot of ministers here, there are a lot of people here who would have loved to have had her ear, but yet she requested yours for dinner. What was the reason for that?

Jones: I imagine it’s votes, to be very pragmatic about it.

Hare: Well, there are many people she could have asked. Don’t be modest, she asked you.

Jones: Well, again there are not so many people who have that many members. I think we’re the largest church in town. I think she has mentioned hearing something of our human service program, I can’t recall what it was.

Prokes: Drugs.

Jones: Yes, our drug rehabilitation. Thank you. And of course you know Mrs. Carter came a couple of years before to Delancey Street, so there must be a certain sensitivity there, his arch fundamentalism or what appears to be arch fundamentalism gave me some concerns when he was elected President. But some of the nominations, at least in terms of foreign relations, the Director of SALT who is having a tough time because he said that he would make every effort to bring detente in the thermonuclear age when we can wipe out all of civilization, and it looks like he’s not going to make it; and Andy Young. I’ve known Andy Young to be extremely sensitive, at least in the early 70s in the struggle. Of course people change, I don’t know. I see he has now made 3 statements in recent days that show that Andy is still coming from the same stock when he said that in Angola in spite of what we may feel about Cuba that they stabilized situations and of course you got slapped down by Mr. [Cyrus] Vance over it, but I noticed even Mr. Vance, Secretary of State, saying we are going to have better relations with Cuba, which is long, long overdue. I’ve been to Cuba, I’ve seen in Cuba a different form of communism than what has been depicted to me in Eastern Europe and I disagree with Mr. [Eldridge] Cleaver, I did not recognize racism there. Sure there are certain facets of Cuban life that wouldn’t work for America, that’s why we got to get out of this thing. One solution that would work from Cuba would not work for America, but I saw a tremendous amount of individual liberty, I was shocked at the amount of individual liberty and a great deal of criticism was in a socialistic perspective, but criticism of the government. No fear of the government. That was pleasant to me to see no fear. And the standard of living compared to being under Batista



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is like comparing night to day. Health care guaranteed, and the standard of dress… I thought I was in the best neighborhood of an American city. I noticed Senator [George] McGovern’s children have been there for some weeks and they have been saying the same thing. Cuba is American in its orientation, it’s American in its culture and appreciation of the arts. I don’t know what this stupid boycott is going to do for us. I think that was a bit of effort we could be allies. They could  be of tremendous help to us. Their standard of moral sensitivity, their cultural progress, their progress in health, high schools there are just amaze me. They limit 500 students to a high school. They have 500 acres allotted to a high school. Kids not only work with their minds and the intellectual processes, but they spend three hours a day working in the fields and they develop their own food which gives them a real sense of fulfillment, plus so there won’t [be] division, and Cuba is very much opposed to dividing on the basis of race and religion, they produce for the national economy, and being a clergyman I was concerned about freedom of religion, and I didn’t take any guided tour because when I get into a situation I want to be uninhibited, and I haven’t found anything perfect in society and certainly not Cuba either. But I talked to 400 different people from every strata of life, professional people, people who have been as poor as Job’s turkey and I found no dissatisfaction. But we’re going to have to learn how to relate in this world or we’re going to blow ourselves up. We’ve got to overcome these ideological barriers, at home certainly. We’ve got to begin at home. I didn’t mean to get on the subject of Cuba. We’ve got to come together in these United States first.

Hare: We’re going to come back in just a few minutes can continue this profile of Reverend Jim Jones.

[Editor’s note: Commercial break]

Hare: Welcome back to REACTIONS and our discussion with the Reverend Jim Jones and Michael Prokes of the Peoples Temple, such an appropriately named church.

Prokes: Julia, I just want to add that when Reverend Jim Jones met with Mrs. Carter, he didn’t spend time complementing her or praising her husband. He talked about issues and needs in the poor and black communities.

Jones: And the free press too. I was terribly concerned about what the standard was going to be on the free press. We came to the rally for one reason – we were all wearing badges at the time, it was during that Fresno crisis, which said FREE THE FRESNO 4. So I acquainted her with that.

Hare: Well, since your church has been entered into the Congressional Record recently, a whole page devoted to it, there are those who may feel that you have political aspirations even with ramifications in the Black Leadership Forum. Are you interested in that?

Jones: Unequivocably no, and you’re very sensitive to perceive that. That’s the whole issue of those few who didn’t want me in the Forum because I’m lighter skinned even though I have mixed background. They are afraid, so I have been told reliably, that I’m going to be the next Supervisor of the Western Addition or promote the supervisor. We’re not even promoting a candidate within our church because we want unity so badly that even though we have thousands of people and have black leaders, newspaper publishers, professional people outside of our parish suggested we do that, we feel for the sake of unity we will stay out of the arena. And as for me being Supervisor, in all due respects to the Supervisor, I’m not the type of personality for it. We have to have some people outside the system pointing at its errors and I feel that that is my role, presently at least. I wouldn’t be able to work within the two-party structure so I have no political ambitions, and this foolishness of the rumor that I’m going to be the mayor, or that I may throw my hat in for the mayor, I have no intentions of running for any elected office, and that is absolutely so.



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Hare: Is that just here in the city, or do you mean this on a statewide level?

Jones: I don’t think there is a place for as free a thinker as I am at this stage. I hope I’m wrong. I would serve, of course, if I could serve, but it seems to me that when a man speaks as I just spoke about Cuba, mentioned that you would go to Cuba because of detente, I must say that while I was in Cuba, I also mentioned to these highly idealistic people that their intervention in Angola was greatly appreciated but I warned them that Uncle Sam is in a kinda bad state of mind these days. He’s sorta like a man that went through the menopause who once was the most attractive guy around town, the most potent guy around town, but he’s lost his girlfriend in Vietnam and he’s lost them in Cambodia and Angola and a lot of places in the world. They say that he is a dangerous creature because when you read a few weeks ago a man has gone through that very period who suspected his wife was having an extramarital affair and ends up killing her and killed the grandchildren, not in my church, but not too far removed from our community, and wiped out everyone. I say to the Cubans you’re going to have to be very careful with your idealism because it is a realistic fact that America is sick, is disturbed as anyone would be that has had great power and misused it unfortunately, and then see that power removed suddenly, lose all that potential, that potency, that attraction. America has had so many reverses, I was amazed that they got by with Angola. So I asked them what would you do if you are asked in Zimbabwe. They said well we have not been asked. But if it was a populist reaction, we would have to go. I said don’t you realize that could bring about thermonuclear war. One little lady in the Central Committee said to me: We all have to die sometime. You can’t start compromising your principles, you have to live by your principles. And I hope that America is aware of this, the Cubans are not the type of people he will change by bluffing, no more than you are going to change America and we do have some realistic difficulties out there. We need a new change in foreign relations, we’re going to have to have dialogue, we’ve got to have disarmament. My God, every minute is increasing the dangers of war by accident, and no one wins in a thermonuclear [war], and I’m all for Carter’s reemphasis on moral values, rather than thinking pragmatically whether we have two more missiles in the Soviet Union. In the first place if we just had a limited number of missiles, it’s not enough of a deterrent.

Hare: You know millions of people visit Washington, DC every year. Why did your church get the Tourists of the Year Award?

Jones: Well, the Washington Post gave us that because when we go into any area, we are ecology minded and so we cleaned up that little pool that they have there and it was a terrible thing. Many tourists come in, they throw all their paper and debris in the pool.

Hare: You mean you literally got out and cleaned–

Jones: We got inside that pool, some of us 70 and 80, rolled up the pants leg and got in there and cleaned that city up like it has not been cleaned ever. We do it every year, but it just happened to be noticed by the Washington Post.

Hare: Do you do this and most of the places you stop on the way to where you are going?

Jones: Everywhere we go, and as a result – I didn’t do it for that reason – we have found that it has won some people. In Georgia they closed off an entire rest area to us. We were so hot and tired in the heat of the summer.

Hare: Why did they close it off?

Jones: Racism.

Hare: The former home of our President.



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Jones: Yes, yes. They saw our buses coming with all those people integrated and they felt threatened by it and so they closed the facility, but we got off the buses and began picking up paper, and the man who operated the rest stop. Three hours we had to do it, it wasn’t any easy thing to break through. Finally the chap felt guilty, I guess, came out and opened up, disgruntled. He watched us the rest of the day because we had a breakdown as a result of it. We needed some water badly for one of the motors, we had a breakdown in the past and he watched us for 10 hours and finally he came out, an old white Southerner, typical, look just like one of those rebels of the Confederacy, he came out and said that there was something I want to do for you folks. And he pulled out a card, it was his Ku Klux Klan membership, and he tore it up in front of our eyes. That made me believe that it was possible to communicate.

Hare: Well, how did you contain the people on the bus to work so many hours without anyone getting angry, and starting a hassle there.

Jones: That comes from the long tradition of pacifism you know. We are a gentle people that will overcome, do any measure to overcome evil with gentle measures and enduring measures because we have seen and worked with people, we have people in our congregation who were former enemies of the Ku Klux Klan, a John Bircher in our congregation. It pays to try to persist with people. Love does overcome evil if you can endure. And it isn’t my doing, it’s a consensus. We want to try so much to break down the barriers – and we did break down a barrier there.

Prokes: Well, you certainly provided the example, and I think people need to see an example because that man that operated that rest stop, he was raised all of his life, he was taught racism. He was touched. He saw another black woman walking hand-in-hand with a small Caucasian child, and he was touched by it. He saw integration working and it moved him to call [likely, “cancel”]his membership in the Klan, which is undeliverable!

Jones: He called in the newspaper in that little segregationist town and they took a picture of our oldest black woman which is 106 and 97 white and he took a picture right between them.

Prokes: I don’t know if he still lives in that area.

Hare: Yes. They probably ran him out, following that kind of act. What do you ultimately plan to do with Peoples Temple? I understand that one time you were very ill. Was it cancer, or leukemia or something you had? Somehow through your psychic healing powers you sought [sort] of healed yourself.

Jones: That’s what I was diagnosed as. Many years ago. Cancer. I believe that mind is an untapped resource. When we see the Soviet Union who are atheists who believe in dialectic materialism, when they’re spending a million dollars as some people say a day studying the phenomenon of paranormal, we need better considerate. Dr. Frances Dunbar said that, she speaks of all these remissions, our most eminent psychiatrist just by attitude, so I think we underestimate the power of mind. We have seen a number of people in our congregation healed through love therapy as we call it, and I would consider that we haven’t even begun to touch this resource. It happened for me. I’m not saying that there is any panacea. I don’t think he has nothing to do with goodness, I don’t think it should exclude medical science, it’s very important that we realize that spiritual healing or psychic healing is not a panacea.



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Hare: Now where you see Peoples Temple going?

Jones: Right on trying to plod wherever a need calls us. The last few days we’ve been at the International Hotel. It’s important that the system work for little people. And it would have been a terrible, terrible blight on San Francisco if there had been a confrontation there because those little people were just going to lay down and die. There were not violent. There were no weapons there, contrary to statements of some, because I’ve done a thorough investigation, they invited us in. We put 3000 people around there and we heard it said that people realize that there could have been a volatile situation and a stay of execution. I hope the community will allow little people at least to feel at times the system works. If we don’t, it’s going to be a combustion.

Hare: Do you think the reason they call your church the International Hotel because you are so actively involved in it?

Jones: I think some people do. I think they think we are the headquarters for the hotel, but we didn’t even know the hotel until we saw their need.

Hare: That’s better than being called the Hotel Hanoi which you will have to remember as something very special in this country being referred to. I’d like to thank Pastor Jones and Michael Prokes from the Peoples Temple. As you know this Church and the Reverend Jim Jones has never failed to [respond to] public or private appeals for assistance in the pursuit and protection of individual liberty and freedom. Thank you so much for joining us today on REACTIONS.