The healing ministry of Jim Jones spread far beyond the walls of the Peoples Temple sanctuaries in Indiana and California. For a free will donation – or, in some cases, following a simple request, especially from someone claiming poverty – the church would send an anointed item which would protect the bearer from illness or accident. The three most common items were prayer cloths, a vial of oil which Jones had blessed, and an anointed picture of the Temple leader.
Jones claimed miraculous powers on numerous occasions which could be attributed to these items. In a tape recorded in 1973 in Philadelphia, Jones says people are saved by the oil and the “blue cloth” they receive from the Temple; at another point in the same service, he tells a woman that if she takes a picture of him, “I guarantee you, you’ll live. You’ll live.” During a Los Angeles service recorded that same year, numerous Temple members testify to the power of Jim’s picture, including a small child who tells of laying the picture on the body of a dead bird, “and it came back alive!” In an undated healing service, Jones tells a woman that the prayer cloth he is giving her “will save you a terrible fall that would have broken both of your hips.”
There were other benefits to the cloths and oils, though: the Temple built its national mailing list from the addresses provided in the requests for the items, and used them often in fund-raising efforts and publicity campaigns.
The image of the anointed photo card was supplied by Dialo Lomax of Nashville, Tennessee. As he described the find, “a guy had bought a lot of stuff from an estate sale in California, and this card was found in a book inside a box. Who knows how long it had sat there in that book. Its condition makes it seem that it had been handled quite a bit. The person who found the book told me that the items from the estate sale all belonged to a woman who had recently passed away, and her family was selling everything from her attic.”
Anointed photo card of Jim Jones, courtesy of Dialo Lomax.