Thursday, June 15, 1978
Thomas Fleming’s Weekly Report
[Reprinted from the San Francisco newspaper, the Sun-Reporter, published by Carlton B. Goodlett, Ph.D., M.D., President of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Mr. Thomas Fleming is co-founder and managing editor of the Sun-Reporter.}
Despite the fact that Jim Jones has temporarily departed the California scene to begin another career in Guyana. There are former members of Peoples Temple who still would do him physical harm or use the courts to destroy him.
Jones, the sociologist who has used Christianity to aid him in helping those of the human race who need help, was under constant attack by those who have followed a program of hypocrisy in their everyday relations with their fellow men.
The writer was first attracted to Jones when Peoples Temple had its headquarters in Mendocino County, and when hundreds of persons who had been classified as pariahs by the rich and powerful made pilgrimages to Mendocino County every week, particularly for the Sunday services.
The services conducted by Jones resembled the sermons preached by Jesus Christ during his short stay on Earth. The sermons offered to the masses by Christ so angered the rich and powerful that they conspired to have him put to death.
This writer did not know Jones during his sojourn in the northern part of the state, and he was attracted to him by a series of articles appearing in the San Francisco Examiner, by the onetime religion editor, one Robert [Lester] Kinsolving, who later turned out to be just another Bible thumper from that curious section of the country where the Bible thumpers uphold all of the vicious practices of white supremacy.
Jones brought people of all colors and speech into the fold to worship in peace.
There are many persons who find it difficult to find their particular niche in life, and such people are in dire need of assistance to find the niche that best suits their needs.
The majority of niche seekers are looking for what can best be described as a utopia, and those who went to Jones were not free of thoughts or searching for a land of milk and honey.
Some of those who did not find their utopia fell away and began to launch bitter attacks upon Jones, which fact was not ignored by a number of publications in the state of California.
These publications immediately began to print lurid stories picturing Jones as a charlatan of the first degree – an individual who claimed super healing powers, an individual who through devious means acquired property and money from some of those who went to him in search of utopia. Jones was also charged with possessing powers of persuasion so great that many of the persons within the organization had abandoned their families to follow Jones.
Of course, law enforcement officials joined the battle against Jones alter lurid stories began appearing in public print. Investigations were conducted by law enforcement agencies into Jones’s operation, but not a shred of evidence was ever produced that Jones was the four-headed devil he was pictured to be – a devil who violated all laws with consummate aplomb.
Jones is now in Guyana, heading a remarkable project, which reminds one of the pioneers of other days, particularly in the United States, who braved the unknown to carve out homes in uninhabited areas.
Guyana is in South America. and was once a British dependency; it then was called British Guiana. Later on it became a sovereign nation.
The population Is largely Black, with a considerable number of former British subjects who emigrated from India in search of a better world during the British reign over that great Asian country.
A Black man is president of the country. It is interesting that all of the Blacks found in the New World were brought to the New World from Africa as chatter slaves. Many of the Blacks brought to Guiana escaped and fled to the interior jungle areas. where they lived with the indigenous Indians as free people. at course, the people found in the New World by Columbus were called Indians.
Where Jones led his great trek in Guyana is an area that is a virtual jungle, there before the American pioneers led by Jones disembarked from a boat and hacked out a road through the heavily forested terrain to a designated spot.
More trees and other shrubbery had to be cut and burned before the settlers could erect their first buildings.
Now the cleared area is known as Jonestown, and there are perhaps more than 2,000 people. There are some people with medical skills and other skills mat mankind has felt so essential for survival.
Among the new pioneers were several hundred young persons, some of whom left home to go abroad with the permission of their legal guardians.
Some of the onetime legal guardians, some of whom are parents of the young persons in the new settlement in Guyana, have been making rumbles that Jones is a person who should be charged with kidnapping. Furthermore, the allegations are made that, even if Jones did not kidnap any of these persons, he is holding them in Guyana against their wills and that in fact the persons held would be only too happy to rejoin their onetime legal guardians or relatives if they could.
The latest allegations against Jones sound just like so much humbug. just as past allegations sounded before Jones started what seems will be the greatest experiment in his career.
Jonestown is self-supporting. A great variety of crops are produced, which feed this tiny colony of transported North Americans: sufficient crops are raised so that some produce goes to the markets in Georgetown, the capital of Guyana. There is a large hog and poultry development within the commune. Several milk cows were taken from the United States, including one seed bull. which will be the nucleus of large-scale cattle raising in the near future.
The education of the young people did not cease when they went to Guyana, for a number of teachers are among the new pioneers, and a school has been built. The young people are also taught such skills as carpentry, plumbing. repairing motors. And just think of the marvelous recreation facilities in the lush land where they have settled. It is not utopia when one considers Homo sapiens, but it seems that it is the closest thing to it.