It’s the purpose of this letter to explain why the following eight of us quit People’s Temple.
1. John Biddulph
2. Walter Wayne Pietila
3. Vera Biddulph
4. Mickey Touchette
5. Hulena [Lena] M. Flowers
6. Tom Podgorski
7. Terri [Cobb] Pietela
8. Jim Cobb (James Cobb Jr.)
To put it in one word—staff. The fact is, the eight of us have seen a grotesque amount of sickness displayed by staff. The ridiculous double standard and dishonesty that’s practiced does not agree with us.
Before we explain ourselves further, let us say that our departure has nothing to do with you. To us, you are the finest socialist and leader this earth has ever seen. We plan to contact you and, if you see fit, work with you, not staff. We have nothing to say to or with staff.
Proceeding, a revolutionary as you and staff would say, does not engage in sex. Anyone with any awareness concerning socialism would give up sex. The reasons for giving up sex are agreeable with us. However, who takes the privileged liberty to abuse such a decision? STAFF. Carolyn Layton, Sandy Inghram, Karen Layton, Grace Stoen, Janet Phillips etc., have to be fucked in order to be loyal. Jack Beam Sr., Tim Stoen, [name withheld by request], Mike Prokes etc., have to be fucked in the butt for the same reason. Who has to do it to them but Jim Jones. The thought of demanding your sensitivity and dedication in such a manner is grossly sick. There are other staff that’s taken advantage likewise. However, the above is sufficient.
One black potentially solid revolutionary young man by the name of Ted Ballard was seduced by one older white schizophrenic staff—Faith Kice. Ted’s image is ruined in the church, and no doubt in his mind, he’s worthless. Now he walks the fascist streets an outcast.
Related to this situation, Dan Pietela tries to follow guidelines set by staff—leave Robin Wages alone, especially sexually. Robin’s mother is told lies about Danny in order to make sure Danny doesn’t see Robin. To Dan’s surprise, he catches Faith Kice screwing Ted. But as always, staff remains out of public range, while Ted is condemned—is made to look like a fag and a sexual deviant. What’s Dan to think when he witnesses such unfairness? How would anyone feel, put in the same situation?
Grace Stoen as everyone knows doesn’t know her posterior from a hole in the ground. In order to keep her in People’s Temple, she’s allowed a fuck, or should we say, she had to be fucked. Accidentally (?) she becomes pregnant, and contrary to People’s Temple law, she doesn’t get an abortion. As can be expected, she’s staff.
Why wasn’t [name withheld by request] and Harriet Randolph’s [aka Harriet Sarah Tropp] sexual deviation talked about in public?
The eight of us feel if loyalty has to be achieved through such double standard measures, then loyalty will never be achieved. At most a temporary secrecy will be kept, not loyalty nor the spirit of socialism.
Jim, many times in the past you’ve said that money didn’t talk in the socialist family. Presently, it seems that everyone with money has been put on special projects and staff.
It is known in People’s Temple that Helen Swinney isn’t to be messed with. She brings in a lot of money for the church, so she’s left alone, in spite of the fact she’s a racist through and through. When Helen meets People’s Temple’s black members downtown or in public eye, she ignores them. We’re not speaking of outside the ranks black people, we’re speaking of Peoples Temple’s black members. We have many testimonies to this fact. These people are both black and white (mainly black). It was staff that said “don’t talk about Helen Swinney unless you can bring in as much money.” This is a cruel and sick thing to say to poor white and black people that will never have the opportunity Helen had. Too, it has a stinking capitalist overtone with no socialist concern. It’s true Helen has a lot of money, does what she wants and enjoys a condescending capitalist position.
Several people have come to different ones of us with doubts about you, staff, People’s Temple goal and money used. Those that have expressed doubts about you felt guilty, worthless and scared. We’ve told them all to write you and explain these feelings, because we didn’t agree and didn’t know how to help them. Most of them said, and we quote, “staff will only use it against us.” To put it mildly, there are many people that hate staff with a passion. You know as well as we, if leadership is dishonest, if leadership is aloof and sacred from the common people, if leadership has a white attitude, a movement will be crippled if not destroyed. From our observation and dealings with People’s Temple members, they have faith in you—only you.
You said that the revolutionary focal point at present is in the black people. There is no potential in the white population, according to you. Yet, where is the black leadership, where is the black staff and black attitude? Alice Inghram and Joyci Clark? What kind of awareness do they have about socialism? No, we didn’t forget Archie Ijames. He’s like the above two, out of date. (We’ll talk about Lee Inghram later.) There are no black people with any discontent for today’s evilness that will listen or follow any one of them. Black people are being tapped for money, practically nothing else. John Brown doesn’t known what Socialism is, all he’s used for is to take offerings.
On what grounds is staff chosen? Does it mean anything or warrant respect and camaraderie if a black person proves loyal to People’s Temple as long as 7, 8, 9, 10 years? There are black People’s Temple members who have proven themselves through the years. Still, they participate in People’s Temple from the same capacity as when they joined. On the other hand, there are those who become members of staff after 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 meetings. Mike Prokes, Annie Moore, Terry Buford, Gene Chaikin etc. are examples. How much do they know about Socialism? It’s impossible to know what’s necessary concerning Socialism the way they were introduced to it. How is it justified that new white people achieve such staff positions? New white upper middle class put in charge of a Socialist movement. New white upper middle class folk seem to be trusted and treated better than black folk who have proven their loyalties through the years. There’s never been one black person who’s come into People’s Temple and put on staff right away. Lee Inghram has been the almost exception, however, it took him about a year or so. That’s not saying much anyway, because his ideals were and still are pseudo hippie intellectually oriented. To top it off even he’s being considered to be sent to L.A. Why not Gene Chaikin or Sandy Inghram? Do they make mistakes? We know they do—as a matter of fact, we know some of the mistakes they’ve made. Why not send Patty Cartmell to L.A.? Patty’s brave, however, she’s hyper as hell. When she was put in jail, she exposed People’s Temple and Jim Jones instead of taking a pill or keeping quiet. Yet she’s held in the supreme capacity—STAFF. Carolyn Layton, when she shows up to church, is negative as hell. She doesn’t praise nor participate. She wanders around during service, even though she’s not taking care of church work. This is not just a testimony of ours—a lot of people who are still in People’s Temple have expressed this. Why isn’t she sent to L.A.? Karen Layton walks and acts like super pussy. Why isn’t she sent to L.A.? Susan Cartmell [aka Suzanne Jones] talks about people left and right. Yet her wardrobe is enough to make a rich capitalist jealous. Susan and [name withheld by request] didn’t give any money to the college fund last year, however [name withheld by request] took from the college fund while he and Susan did their thing in Oakland (with their own apartment). Why aren’t they sent to L.A.?
How can there be sound trust from black people if there’s only white nitpicking staff, hungrily taking advantage of a chance to castrate black men. The staff jumps at such an opportunity because they’re perverted and threatened. Staff creates so much guilt in males that it breaks their spirit of revolution (if they have any). The blacks who take it, do so because they think you approve, they think you care. They also think you will zap them dead if they don’t give in. For the sake of information some are beginning to wonder.
Why are there no black men or women with a revolutionary attitude coming into People’s Temple? For the past 6 years all staff have concerned themselves with have been the castrating of people, calling them homosexual, sex, sex, sex. What about Socialism? Why isn’t it top priority? If you say it is, how does 99 1/2% of People’s Temple manage to know zero about Socialism?
There’s no revolutionary teachings being taught the way it use to. At one time you told us to read. Yet, staff came in the night to steal books from those who had them. Why haven’t [name withheld by request]’s books been taken? Tim Stoen and other people are told not to read about Socialism. Most of us were told this also. Why?
Take a look at what the youth group used to be and what it is now. Before, they planned, they were united and they were aware of capitalism as opposed to Socialism. Today, they’re dumb when it comes to capitalism and Socialism, they hate going to all church meetings, they don’t go to choir rehearsal, there’s no youth group. Why?
When the college students held socialist meetings, not one young person left the group. There was unity. The college meetings were discontinued—every since the college dorms have been going down hill. Cathy Stahl and Elizabeth Toth are now gone—why?
To regress a bit, it is our feeling that staff have wiped out progressive and revolutionary thought. People’s Temple members are expecting to enter a cave or go to some isolated part of another country—the bomb falls—they emerge and pow paradise. This would never be the state of mind if the realism of supporting and believing in Socialism were understood. With this we feel some of us were kept from staff (by staff) because our ideals were and are too progressive and black. Any body with a mind to be active concerning Socialism is put down, called a queer, and big revolutionary in a degrading manner. Why?
We know you have far too much on you and have to rely on staff for facts etc. This puts you in a vunerable position, because staff lies and their personal prejudices are given to you instead of fact. We’ve witnessed it as well as experienced it. How can one judge or be objective about something they fear. The Staff being uppity white folk fear blackness, they fear what some of us had to offer, they fear the consequences of a do it now philosophy, they fear action.
We’re told we’re not ready—we need more money—we have to be closer. Well, People’s Temple is a multi-million dollar church, and there’s nothing being done to bring people closer. Hugging each other in services will not do it.
Male Chauvinism is used every other word. When this world is in the condition it’s in, why be trivial? Of course, male chauvanism exists, however, it’s over emphasized. The male population at People’s Temple have been saturated with the word and with people that use it. Again staff is responsible, they set the example.
Planning Commission was created to handle emergencies, to plan directions before fascism came, to plan what to do in case you (Jim Jones) were put in prison. What a laugh. All Planning Commission does is call each other homosexual, asking if each other suck cock, planning to plant dope on people like Dan Pietila (what a contribution to Socialism). Why be so trivial? The fact is when Jim Jones is put in prison, staff will not do shit. You will rot and die in prison with no help, support or action from the staff. It was discussed in one of the staff meetings, that if you were killed, it should appear you went away on a mission. This would keep the people happy. What does this mean? It means that nothing will be done about your death. This is similar to what happened to Golden Rule—when their silly ass lady died they collapsed—look at them now. Jim, if you’re imprisoned or killed, we guarantee that a few people will not sit still. It was you that made life meaningful, it was you that introduced socialism to us, it’s you that’s carrying all the weight in this revolution. We’re grateful.
In closing, let us bring to light one more situation. Jan Wilsey and Christine Lucientes came to People’s Temple at the same time. Christine is put on staff, even though she shows more suicidal tendencies—runs away when confronted. Jan is at the doors every meeting doing her job. Christine flunks out of school, gives the church a bad name at SRJC [Santa Rosa Junior College] Nursing School. However, she’s white and makes staff.
The eight of us believe in historical materialism. We feel that you came to the people giving them the greatest reason to live, the greatest reason to die, the greatest reason to fight—socialism (we have another name for it). However, you can’t do it all, you can’t move unless your followers realize the necessity to shape history themselves. This is again where staff has failed. They are to the most part white egotistical people maintaining a hierarchy. Not allowing you to take the reins and go ahead full steam. Holding you back saying it’s not time, having to be fucked, degrading people—especially if they have a little knowledge about Socialism. All this leads us to the conclusion the staff is chicken shit. There’s a point where you have to be cautious and compromise, yet there’s a limit.
We will not talk against Peoples Temple to anyone, because of you and a few innocent people may be hurt.
You’re the one that showed us the way, you’re the one that boldly challenged capitalism and put a vision in our hearts, you’re the one that proved to us that nothing is impossible. This is exactly how we feel—nothing’s impossible.
A lot more could be said—we have a million things that could be said. But it’s not necessary.
Like we said earlier, we will contact you and wish to talk with you and if you see fit work with you.
We want it known by you and staff that we don’t believe in religion, we don’t believe in God, we don’t believe in reincarnation, we don’t believe in impossible. We are not concerned with the beginning, the end or the hereafter. We are only concerned about today.