Throughout the early 1970s, members of Peoples Temple took their summer vacations by joining cross-country bus trips with Jim Jones and other church leaders. Over the years, the trips featured overnight stays in such cities as Houston, Detroit, Philadelphia, and the church’s original hometown of Indianapolis. At all of these stops, Jim Jones would preach in a local church and invite people to return to California with them. Numerous people heeded the call.
The church also brought attention to itself in other ways besides through Jones’ sermons. In August 1973, during a stopover in Washington, D.C., Temple members toured the halls of Congress, where they met many of their representatives. They also spent some time picking up litter from the capitol grounds.
This final act came to the attention of The Washington Post, which published an editorial about Peoples Temple on August 18, 1973. As it did with its inclusion in the Congressional Record two months earlier, the Temple reproduced the editorial and used it in its large press packet, along with complimentary letters from political and religious leaders, for public relations purposes.
The text of the editorial follows:
The Welcome Tourists
The hands-down winners of anybody’s tourist-of-the-year award have got to be the 660 wonderful members of the People’s Temple Christian Church of Redwood Valley, Calif – who bend over backwards to leave every place they visit more attractive than when they arrived. Like thousands of other tourists, they went calling on the U.S. capitol the other day, but unlike others who tramp through our town spreading litter helter-skelter, this spirited group of travelers fanned out from their 13 buses and spent about an hour cleaning up the grounds.
One 82-year-old woman who was policing the area at the foot of the Capitol explained to reporter Frank Jones that the members take pleasure in sweeping across the country this way. The church, which has black, white, and American Indian members, has already won friends in dozens of cities since its tour left Redwood Valley Aug. 8, and still more areas will benefit by the members’ stopoffs on their return trip.
Washington Post editorial, August 18, 1973, RYMUR 89-4286-I-1-a-6g