March 14, 1978 letter to Congress from Pam Moton, written on Peoples Temple letterhead (pdf of original letter)
March 14, 1978
TO ALL U. S. SENATORS AND MEMBERS OF CONGRESS:
We at Peoples Temple have been the subject of harassment by several agencies of the U.S. Government, and are rapidly reaching the point at which patience is exhausted. Radical Trotskyite elements which defected from our organization when we refused to follow their violent course have been orchestrating a campaign against us. Two of these, Michael Cartmell and Jim Cobb, were actually discovered making ammunition several years ago. These same two persons have boasted about knowing persons in the IRS and FCC and using them to get back at Peoples Temple. They also vowed recently to several witnesses that they would see to it that our group of over 1,000 U.S. citizens (currently conducting a highly successful agricultural project in Guyana) were starved out by having funds cut off from the U.S. To date, several agencies have been attempting various forms of harrassment. First was the Social Security, which tried to deny legitimate beneficiaries of their rights by cutting off all checks that were coming to Guyana. Through the intervention of various government officials, we were able to have this reinstated as it should have been.
Now, however, we see that the IRS and Treasury Dept. and even the Federal Communications Commission, are trying to initiate ways to cut off our lifelines. The FCC has suddenly decided to pursue a very minor complaint that was registered a year ago. It is clear that the intention is to disrupt our essential medium of communication, amateur radio. Each week we contact thousands of amateur radio operators; contacts and consultation with doctors in the U.S. have literally saved lives and have engendered tremendous goodwill in this part of the world. We consistently praise the U.S. over the airways and remain entirely supportive of U.S. policy in the Caribbean and around the world, especially with non-aligned nations. It seems utterly cruel to deprive such a large group of Americans of their only means of quick communication with the U.S. We cannot believe that you would want to see this, nor would you in any way condone such an organized effort to “starve out” hundreds of U.S. citizens, who are seeking to live in peace and be a credit to the U.S. elsewhere. These same agencies and elements in the press would seek to destroy any progressive thinking official.
Our cooperative project in Guyana has been cited by people the world over as an example of a new image for the U.S. This project and the efforts of Peoples Temple were recently praised in the magazine One World, a publication of the World Council of Churches. Even Russia’s New Times magazine has praised this work and done so in spite of our strong support of Russian people of Jewish descent, an obvious disagreement. We receive letters weekly from Russia, as well as from people in other parts of the world who have heard of the project, offering advice and assistance. In fact, several overtures have been made from Russia, which sees our current harassment as a form of political persecution. We do not want to take assistance from any people nor do we want to become an international issue. We also do not intend to be starved out by having our legitimately earned income cut off through the efforts of Trotskyite people and embittered malcontents. We have no political aspirations whatsoever. Jim Jones has spent the last 8 months working to develop the project in Guyana. We wish to continue to do so unmolested and unhampered. This project has done a great deal of practical good for the U.S., not only in promoting a positive image in a place where many of the populace have more of a left leaning, but also in a very tangible way financially. The amount of tax dollars we have saved the U.S. by taking people off welfare and off SSI and steering some from inevitable lives of crime would total conservatively in the hundreds of thousands. More importantly than that, lives have been saved that would have been meant for destruction. It seems cruel that anyone would want to escalate this type of bureaucratic harrassment into an international issue, but it is equally evident that people cannot forever be continually harrassed and beleaguered by such tactics without seeking alternatives that have been presented. I can say without hesitation that we are devoted to a decision that it is better even to die than to be constantly harrassed from one continent to the next. I hope you can look into this matter and protect the right of over 1,000 people from the U.S. to live in peace.
Pam G. Moton