Articles by Rebecca Moore

beckyRebecca Moore is Professor Emerita of Religious Studies at San Diego State University. She has written and published extensively on Peoples Temple and Jonestown (listed here), including her book Understanding Jonestown and Peoples Temple (Praeger, 2009), and an extensive description of the Temple appears at the World Religions & Spirituality Project at Virginia Commonwealth University. She also kept a blog throughout 2018, the 40th anniversary of the tragedy – and was briefly revived in 2021 – called The Jonestown Journal (2018).

Rebecca was interviewed by Kelly Lavoie in July 2019 for her Lines and Strings blog. The interview appears here.

Rebecca is the co-manager of this website. She may be reached at

Introducing Our Volunteers (2023) NEW
“An assessment as to what happened”: Bonnie Yates
Exploring Jonestown’s Family Roots: Emily Yaden Schneider

The Controversies About Peoples Temple and Jonestown (2014; posted 2023) NEW

Lowell Streiker: A Voice of Responsibility (2023) NEW

Dr. Hardat Sukhdeo: The Man Who Knew Too Little (2022)

Godwin’s Law and Jones’ Corollary: The Problem of Using Extremes to Make Predictions (2022)

The Cult of Jim Jones (2022)

Striking to the Marrow of Jonestown, a review of Marrow by darlene anita scott (2022)

Mary R. Sawyer (1944–2015): A Tribute (2022)

Chris Hatcher (1946–1999): A Long Overdue Appreciation (2022)

Spreadsheet Offers Downloadable Demographic Tool for Researchers (2021)

Bringing Release, Finding Peace: Memories of Vernon Gosney (2021)

George Donald Beck (2021)

A Monumental Problem: Memorializing the Jonestown Dead (2021)

InTOXICating Followership: A Review (2021)

Women’s Roles in Peoples Temple and Jonestown (with Catherine B. Abbott) (2020)

The Erasure (and Re-inscription) of African Americans from the Jonestown Narrative (PDF here) (2018; posted 2020)

Jonestown in American Religious Life (2018; posted 2020)

Carmen Gillespie: A Remembrance (2019)

Before the tragedy at Jonestown, the people of Peoples Temple had a dream (2019)

Jonestown at 40: The Real Conspiracy Is More Disturbing Than the Theories (2019)

Revisiting Jonestown: An Interdisciplinary Study of Cults – A Review (2019)

The Forensic Investigation of Jonestown Conducted by Dr. Leslie Mootoo: A Critical Analysis (2018)

The Brainwashing Myth (2018)

Cult, New Religious Movement, or Minority Religion? (2018)

Nesci Book Offers Psychoanalytic Portrait of Jim Jones (2018)

Cue the Kool-Aid: Watching Jonestown Docs in the ‘Fake News’ Era (2018)

An Update on the Demographics of Jonestown (2017)

Demographics at a Glance (2017)

The FBI and Religion: The Case of Peoples Temple (2017)

Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Information, and the National Security State (2007; revised and expanded, 2017)

Joanstown: A Different Look at Guyana (2017)

Rhetoric, Revolution, and Resistance in Jonestown, Guyana (2016)

The Stigmatized Deaths In Jonestown: Finding A Locus For Grief (2015)

African-American Women Find Voice in New Jonestown Novel (2015)

Jane Smiley Character Dips into Peoples Temple (2015)

Jonestown and the Study of NRMs: How Survivors and Artists Are Reshaping the Narrative of Jonestown (2014)

The Transformation of Peoples Temple in California: From Pentecostal Church to Political Movement (2014)

A Dream Deferred: The Promise and Pathos of Peoples Temple (2013)

Contested Knowledge: What Conspiracy Theories Tell Us (2013)

Annie: An Enigma (2012)

Address at May 29, 2011 Jonestown Memorial Dedication Service (2011)

History Comes Alive: Jonestown in the Classroom (2010)

Carolyn’s Other Letters (2009)

The Sacred and the Profane in Wilson Harris’ Jonestown (2008)

Survivors Speak Thirty Years Later (2008)

Representations of Jonestown in the Arts (2006)

The Sacrament of Suicide (2006)

Garrett Scott – An Appreciation (2006)

Katrina and Jonestown (2005)

FOIA Lawsuit Results in Release of Thousands of Documents (2005)

The Strange Case of Garry Scarff (2005)

Drinking the Kool-Aid: The Cultural Transformation of a Tragedy (2002)

Reconstructing Reality: Conspiracy Theories About Jonestown (2002)

Comments on Reconstructing Reality: Conspiracy Theories About Jonestown by Ken McCarthy

A Response to Ken McCarthy’s Comments by Rebecca Moore

Jim Jones and the Conspiracists by Jim Hougan

Response to Jim Hougan by Rebecca Moore

The Demographics of Jonestown (2002)

American as Cherry Pie (2000)

Is the Canon on Jonestown Closed? (2000)

Last Rights (1988)

A Sympathetic History of Jonestown: The Moore Family Involvement in the Peoples Temple (1985) (selected chapters)

Chapter 9: Tim Stoen, 1977 (this chapter appears as a pdf)
Chapter 11: The Vise
Chapter 12: The Last To Die
Chapter 13: Closing the Books
Chapter 14: Residual Suspicion
Excerpts from Chapter 16: McGehee v. CIA. The complete chapter appears here as a pdf.

Rebecca Moore also edited two collections of letters from her two sisters who died in Jonestown. Letters from Annie Moore and Letters from Carolyn Moore Layton appear in the Primary Sources section of the site.

In addition to writing the articles above, Rebecca Moore appeared as a speaker during the Griot Institute of African Studies lecture series entitled Jonestown: 35 Years Later at Bucknell University; her presentation appears here.

Rebecca is the author of several books on Jonestown and Peoples Temple, including:

A Sympathetic History of Jonestown: The Moore Family Involvement in the Peoples Temple. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1985.

The Jonestown Letters: Correspondence of the Moore Family 1970–1985. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1986.

In Defense of Peoples Temple. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1988.

The Need for a Second Look at Jonestown, co-edited with Fielding McGehee III. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1989.
(Editor’s Note: This book includes an article by Gary Scarff, who had presented himself falsely as a former member of Peoples Temple. An article about the subterfuge – and Mr. Scarff’s apology for misleading the editors – appears here.)

New Religious Movements, Mass Suicide, and Peoples Temple: Scholarly Perspectives on a Tragedy, co-edited with McGehee. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1989.

Peoples Temple and Black Religion in America, co-edited with Anthony B. Pinn and Mary R. Sawyer. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 2004.

Understanding Jonestown and Peoples Temple. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2009; paperback revision 2018.

Peoples Temple and Jonestown in the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge University Press (2022).