By Rev. Lester Kinsolving
Examiner Religion Writer
[Last of four parts which were never published]
UKIAH, CALIFORNIA, September, 1972 — When the Rev. Jim Jones, charismatic pastor-prophet of the nearby People’s Temple Christian (Disciples) Church in Redwood Valley, was teaching classes in the local school district’s night school program, he illustrated his instruction with extensive and numerical accounts of his personal sex habits.
One of his former students, Mrs. Betty Bailey, distinctly recalls that in his advocating that young boys be taught to masturbate, the Rev. Mr. Jones provided graphic, detailed accounts of his own masturbating. (“I masturbated five times a day until I got married,” Jones reportedly told his pupils.)
Mrs. Bailey, a stocky, feisty and good-humored lady, recalled that this unusual pedagogy was offered by The Prophet in his teaching of this class – in U.S. History.
“I wasn’t impressed either by those two bodyguards who always preceded him into the classroom,” commented Mrs. Bailey, “nor did I believe this stuff about his own extrasensory perception. So I said that I’d be impressed if he could tell me my grandmother’s maiden name. Instead of doing so, he shot back: ‘You’re fighting me!’“
Mrs. Bailey also recalls the The Prophet became so furious that he screamed at her, and on a separate occasion referred to another student as a “son of a bitch,” while angrily chasing this student to the classroom door.
“Jones comes on TV as something like St. Francis and the angel Gabriel,” commented Mrs. Bailey, “But as a Catholic, I didn’t really appreciate his telling the class that the Catholic Church opposes birth control in order to try to rule the world.”
Why is such conduct tolerated by the local school district?
“I’ve written complaints to the school board and even to Dr. Rafferty,” recalled Mrs. Bailey, “but Max Rafferty simply referred it back to the local board–and they ignored it. After all, so many board members are either members of the People’s Temple or are afraid of it.”
Another of The Prophet’s former night school students was Pat Rhea, now 21. She recalls that teacher Jim Jones included lengthy discussions of both extrasensory perception and syphilis – in a Civics class.
The course (for credit) had neither assigned texts nor examinations – for teacher Jones informed his pupils that they would be graded entirely on their performances when he engaged them in discussion. Rhea recalls that somehow Jones overlooked her entirely in this regard – but she received a grade of “B”.
The Prophet’s recurrent references to sex are vividly recalled by many witnesses.
Denise Kindopp, who has attended People’s Temple, recalls:
“Almost every Sunday, there was some reference to sex. More than once I have heard Jones tell the congregation that ‘I have been propositioned by many women.’”
In addition to this recurrent emphasis upon his personal sex life, The Prophet is remembered by some witnesses as having almost invariably been critical of the U.S. Government – in striking contrast to what they recall as no such criticism of such nations as Soviet Russia, Maoist China, or Castro’s Cuba.
Jones, they recall, has expressed his admiration for Fidel Castro, having told his congregation that he once ministered in Cuba.
And while no one has contended that the Rev. Mr. Jones is a Communist, there are reports that The People’s temple has distributed a paperback volume entitled “Introduction to Socialism,” – which members are ordered to burn when they finish reading.
While this rumor may be apocryphal, a copy of one other paperback book has been given to The Examiner, with a written affidavit that it was distributed to members of The People’s Temple. (Note: The paperback was turned over to the FBI by the reporter.)
It is a songbook, entitled: “A Little Boy of Sunshine, Little Grain of Truth.”
The affidavit notes that The Prophet Jones has “led the congregation in singing each and every one of these songs.”
“We are glad for emancipation from the profit motive lie…
We’ll have to work together to survive, to overcome the systems and their lies…
It’ll be a great day when the system’s overcome…
We will shout Hallelujah living in communal beauty… There’s a highway to Utopia walking in a revolutionary way…”
As for the Rev. Mr. Jones’ alleged extrasensory perception (or divine omniscience, if you will), there are witnesses who are skeptical on the basis of experience.
One lady traveled to Redwood Valley from the Bay Area, with relatives in the Temple knowing of her impending visit. While she was en route, her 18-year old daughter received a phone call from a purported survey firm.
The line of questioning soon became so personal that a visiting neighbor asked to be included and proceeded to provide a series of answers which reflected a serious if entirely mythical set of personal problems.
Within the hour, during the Redwood Valley church service, the lady was asked to come forward by Prophet Jones – who proceeded to reveal the names of both her daughter and the neighbor. He then solemnly outlined the neighbor’s reported problem.
Such ethics extend to children of The People’s Temple, especially those in custody of members who have been ordered to divorce or separate from a spouse who is unwilling to follow The Prophet’s orders.
There are witnesses who have had the bitter experience of listening to their children give prepared speeches (as one 7-year old inadvertently admitted) of resistance to their non-Temple-member parent.
These have taken the form of youngsters threatening to accuse a father of indecent exposure, or a mother of countenancing rape.
One divorced father discovered that his visiting daughter, accompanied by the daughter of one of People’s Temple’s assistant ministers, had made copies of his most confidential papers.
If such methods as practiced by People’s Temple children seem horrifying, it may be due in part to the hardening provided by such rugged experiences as “Survival Training” – led by the Prophet Jones himself.
A 17-year old, who spent a month in People’s Temple residences, recalls that while he was on what is called “Survival Training,” all teenagers were ordered to walk into a cold river, at midnight.
The next morning, they were allowed to plunge in their bathing suits, but forbidden to change into dry clothing for the rest of the cold, overcast day.
For the youngest among them, who were non-swimmers, the experience was even more drastic.
These small children were strapped into life jackets and dropped into the middle of the river, in depth far above their heads – no matter how loudly they screamed.
This horrendous scene hardly fazed The Ukiah Messiah, however.
He subsequently informed the group that this was mild in comparison to the discipline he had imposed upon one young child of The People’s Temple.
The little boy threw up at the table, which prompted Jones to force him to eat his own vomit.
When the child gagged and again threw up, the Prophet again forced him to eat his vomit.
The Rev. Mr. Jones is an ordained clergyman of the Disciples of Christ (Christian) Church, while attorney Timothy O. Stoen is a member of the Board of Directors of that 1.9 million-member denomination’s Northern California-Nevada Conference.
President of this conference, headquartered in Oakland, is the Rev. Dr. Karl Irvin.
When asked about the People’s Temple and the Rev. Mr. Jones, Dr. Irvin mentioned an emphasis upon faith healing, social services, large congregations and “a high feeling for Jim Jones.”
“They give a sizable financial report, although there isn’t much of a breakdown provided and I don’t know how they keep their records.” explained Dr. Irvin. “There is a great deal of local autonomy in our denomination.”
But The Examiner has received a photostatic copy of a 4-page letter of deep concern, sent to this headquarters on Sept. 4, 1970, asking among other things that an M.D. be asked to analyze the exhibited “cancers” which Jones claims to have taken out of people’s bodies.
The letter was acknowledged in a letter written by the conference’s acting president, Elizabeth Kratz.
While the Disciples of Christ have thus far announced no investigation of the Rev. Jim Jones, who proclaims himself Jesus Reincarnate, the Indianapolis Star has investigated this new version of Father Divine.
The Star reported “numerous property transactions involving real-estate transfers which wound up in his name, or that of a profit-making corporation controlled by the Rev. Mr. Jones, his wife, and his mother.”
This corporation, titled “Jim-Lu-Mar”, reported The Star, “lost its corporate charter on June 1, 1970, because, according to the (Indiana) Secretary of State: ‘No annual reports were filed.’“