Statement of John V Moore

On December 16, 1978, three weeks after delivering his sermon which took one of the first steps towards humanizing members of Peoples Temple, Rev. John V Moore wrote a longer statement about one family’s history through Peoples Temple, from the childhood of his two daughters who died in Jonestown, to the attraction the Peoples Temple had for them, to the decision of many Temple members to go to Jonestown. The statement also discusses the commitment which the Temple demanded of its followers, and the Jonestown community’s discipline and accountability of its residents, as well as his perception of the Temple being “hyper-sensitive to criticism.” In a concluding section on “The Significance of Jonestown for Us,” the statement ends with these words:

What happened in Jonestown was a human and historic phenomenon. The tragedy erupted from deep within the human psyche and also from out of a particular history. The event is being treated as a religious phenomenon unrelated to the same forces which are working in every society. The world is not threatened by religious movements, not even the Jonestown tragedy. The world is threatened by the forces of self destruction which are working in every city and in every capitol.

Jonestown is a sign, a warning of the powers of death which are present in every soul, every institution, and every government.

Statement of John V Moore, December 16, 1978, RYMUR 89-4286-1939, pp. 11-19