The members of Peoples Temple signed numerous documents to demonstrate their commitment to the church. Most of these documents – such as membership application forms and records of contribution – were kept in the Temple’s office files.
One form which each member signed was a card stipulating that all financial and other gifts to the church were made “freely and willingly,” and that any previous rights of ownership were terminated and could not be reclaimed. When disaffected members left the church and then attempted to reclaim their donations – sometimes including real property – Temple lawyers were armed with the members’ signatures on these forms. Nevertheless, some former members did make the attempt in court, and at the time the Temple filed for dissolution six weeks after the deaths, the case of Medlock v. Peoples Temple was pending in a California state court.
This card bears the name of the Temple’s leader, James W. Jones. The signature appears genuine.
The text of the card reads:
I, _____, am a member of Peoples Temple Christian Church, also known as Peoples Temple Disciples of Christ. I am fully aware of, and I fully believe in the ideals and standards of this church, and of its pastor, Jim Jones. Because of this belief, and my faith in its humanitarian works, I have donated and given, and will in the future donate and give, certain items and monies to this church to be used as said church or said pastor sees fit. I have given these items and monies freely and willingly, without any pressure of any kind. I have no intention of ever asking for or receiving them back again.
In the event I should resign my membership in this church, or that my membership should be terminated in any way whatever, I hereby promise and affirm that I will never ask for nor expect to receive any of these items or monies back again. They have been given as a gift, and they are no longer my property of the property of my heirs.
Free Will Donation Card, RYMUR 89-4286-X-3-f-38