The Concerned Relatives was a group of former members of Peoples Temple, family members, and other critics which became the main oppositional force to Jim Jones. Organized by Temple defectors Jeannie and Al Mills – who had been known as Deanna and Elmer Mertle during their years in the Temple leadership – the group became more active after the mass migration of Temple members to Guyana in the summer of 1977 and more effective when former Jones loyalist Tim Stoen joined in its efforts.
The Concerned Relatives believed members of Peoples Temple were being held against their will in Jonestown. They described the settlement as a “concentration camp,” and claimed that anyone who tried to leave “will be killed and their bodies left in the jungle.” They also warned about the possibility of mass suicide in Jonestown.
Using techniques which its leaders had learned during their years in the Temple, the Concerned Relatives organization pressured the press to publicize its allegations, influenced federal and state government agencies to launch official investigations, and lobbied members of Congress to travel to Guyana on fact-finding missions. It was due to this pressure from the Concerned Relatives that Rep. Leo Ryan decided to go to Jonestown in November 1978.