The Temple Response to Carolyn Pickering

Jim Jones is known throughout the land as a spiritual healer. Many have testified to having pass[ed] and having regained consciousness after the vital signs have disappeared. He explains this saying that he gives them love and God, Jesus Christ does the healings. However, the healing ministry, miraculous as it is, serves as a small part of Jim Jones’ social ministry. He teaches that one should strive to make a heaven on earth and love and care for his fellow man as one would care for himself. This calls for selfless giving in every aspect of one’s life. [Illegible handwritten note, with additional notation “Amos testimony”]

The true apostolic humanism that Jim Jones preaches and lives is a hard life to follow. He stands up for social equality when all others seem to have given up and drifted into other work. He remains loving when everyone else has rejected you. He rarely gets a chance to sit down to a meal since someone is always asking for his help. Charles S. Preston, associate editor of George Shumway Publisher, York, Pa. stated after reading several articles attacking Rev. Jones, “the great thing about Jim Jones is that this former small-town Indiana boy has brought the message of integration, peace and love for one’s fellow men precisely to the lower class. Many of us radlibs have spent our lifetimes in drawing rooms preaching to our fellow middle-class progressives. I hardly know any who have done what Jimmy and Marceline have.” [Illegible handwritten addition]

It is easy to picture Peoples Temple Christian Church Disciples of Christ Denomination as a ministry with the Bible in one hand and the Constitution in the other. Peoples Temple views religion as a vital part of the social experience that should not be left in Sunday services or Wednesday night prayer meetings without constant application in our everyday lives. [deleted sentence reads:] Although Peoples Temple is held together in the striving for brotherhood and economic equality by no means are they alike in all other beliefs.

One expression that Pastor Jones uses is that men should put “legs on our prayers”. That is, each man should put his love and faith in God, yet he should work as if the whole world were resting on his shoulders. We are indeed our brothers’ keepers. Two out of three babies need not go to bed hungry every night if we watched out and cared for every man. If every man were to live the Christ-like life of Jim Jones, there would be war no more. Jim Jones encourages his members to read current magazines, papers, and to keep up with the world events. He urges everyone to integrate their religion and social actions. His stand is for justice and human rights no matter what his personal sacrifice may be; and indeed the sacrifices of Jim Jones have been great. The Constitution of the U.S. is the cornerstone of American freedom and is cherished so much by Jim Jones that he will stand up for anyone who is denied his civil liberties unjustly. Pastor Jones leaves a selfless life that is totally dedicated to principle and justice.

Although Peoples Temple members hold strongly to the Judeo-Christian ethic, the group comes from so many different backgrounds that one can view the Temple as a group of individuals working in harmony for the good of their fellow man. Pastor Jones preaches creative individualism and urges each member to serve mankind in such a way that best meets his ability and background. Where else other than Peoples Temple can one find Jews [handwritten notation: “? (New word)”], Christians, and every race imaginable working together for the peace of mankind. [Handwritten addition: “Add a [illegible word] quote on us being the only integrated group. Elaborate on it.”]

Many young people have come to Peoples Temple Christian Church on drugs and totally disillusioned with life. Peoples Temple has over 65 youths who have given up drugs to follow the example set by Rev. Jones. They have found the true joy that comes with giving that could never be found on lonely acid trips or in cold heroin shooting galleries. Each youth has found a friend in Jim that has no end. One youth, Christopher Lewis, had a two hundred [dollar] a day heroin addiction when he came into the group. Now he has completely kicked the habit and does not smoke, drink or use drugs of any kind. [Illegible handwritten notation] He is now a good worker both at work and in the social services he does through the church. Where he once found despair and hopelessness, he now finds love, friendship and a hope for the future that he never could have dreamed of until he came to Jim. Peoples Temple is a help center for youths: it is the answer to their search for meaning.

Pastor Jim Jones’ non-violent ministry is a constant striving for social justice. He has been shot, assaulted with a knife, run down by a car, and poisoned, yet he has never done harm to a living thing. [Handwritten marginal note: “Check into this – be accurate or forget it”] Pastor Jones does not eat meat. He will not harm even the smallest of animals. On one occasion when he was talking about plants, he stated that plants need to be loved and cared for just as animals do, for they too respond to love. He said that if we were to pull weeds from our yards that we should show enough concern to replant them elsewhere or at least let them die in the shade. [Handwritten marginal note illegible] Jim Jones once saved a chimpanzee from having its heart cut out by people who were not interested in medical science but who were just doing it to satisfy their curiosity. The chimp is now living on the farm of one of the members. His Christ-like love and devotion and all things is [Typed words “a devotion” crossed out, handwritten substitute illegible] which I have never seen matched in another human being.

The church government is a fairly loose knit organization. A board is elected by the general assembly where many policies are decided upon. On matters of particular importance, the decision is made by vote of the entire body. Jim Jones’ vote is no more or less important than those of the congregation. Each vote counts as one. He practices the true equality of man. Members are encouraged to be honest in all situations and freely discuss problems with one another so as not to nurture any hostilities within the group. [Handwritten marginal note illegible] Jim Jones has set an example of a life that is totally dedicated to the service of others. He stands for right and justice no matter what the cost may be. Peoples Temple Christian Church has now become a glimmer of hope for all those who cherish the freedom of equality and justice. The road is hard and unending, yet Jim Jones and Peoples Temple Christian Church are faithful to all who stand for right, and who need a friend or help. It is a group dedicated to the service of man. The best way to love god is indeed to love your brother. In the spirit shown through Jesus Christ, Jim Jones has made the Christian message a reality.

[Handwritten notation to move paragraph to “conclusion”] So if you must judge us be loving and wise. For we will stand by you when all others have left. We will work so that all may eat, have shelter, and an equal opportunity in life. We are the living word; we are the Christ spirit made manifest in actions. Jim Jones has shown us the way.

Of the several articles that Carolyn Pickering wrote, many of her statements require proper clarification.

First, Jim Jones wears dark glasses not to look flashy but rather to avoid distraction in meditation. This is just one of the many ways that God works through Jim Jones to help people.

Carolyn Pickering describes the Peoples Temple congregation as being “mostly Negro”; however, she should have noted that the congregation at that time in Redwood Valley was mostly what one might call light-complected. Carolyn Pickering’s classification as “mostly Negro” is a clear sign of her racist attitudes.

Carolyn Pickering speaks of the people’s faith blindly. Perhaps it would be more in order for the journalist to come and ask those people who have been healed what the testimonies are. In fact, how can Ms. Pickering talk about healings when those people that she has talked to do not claim to have been healed? Furthermore, how can a reporter be objective when she only hears and writes opinions and observations of those who are against the church? What are Carolyn Pickering’s motives for trying to degrade a church of such good works?

Ms. Pickering states that Tim O. Stoen does not have a divinity degree and was thereby not justified in solemnizing the marriage between the Johnson girl and her boyfriend. Tim O. Stoen is and has been an ordained minister for some time and was also made assistant minister of Peoples Temple Christian Church by a representative vote of the members. He also has two years of studies in New Testament Greek. Again, where Ms. Pickering’s motives for writing such an obvious falsehood? Racism?

Ms. Pickering stated that Mrs. Johnson signed a notarized affidavit about the Temple and her two daughters who she said were “programmed and are too frightened to say anything much about Jones and his operation.” This is obviously not true. If Carolyn Pickering would have shown so much concern as to come to Redwood Valley and see for herself, she would find Peoples Temple Christian Church to have one of the freest of atmospheres. In fact, the congregation is encouraged to air any disagreements or negativity, since the Church respects every individual opinion. Again, what does Ms. Pickering ask the girls’ mother about their feelings; it is first-hand information that distinguishes a good newspaper from the street gossip column. Perhaps it would also be in Ms. Pickering’s favor to use only statements from reliable sources. One might question the reliability of a woman who threatened publicly the life of the minister who solemnized her daughter’s wedding.

Micky Johnson was never inveigled into an interracial marriage, but rather Jim Jones himself discouraged their marriage, stating that he didn’t feel that it would work out. Once again, this goes to show how open-minded Jim Jones and the people of the church are when they go so far as to carry out a marriage ceremony that is against the better judgment of Jim Jones and many of the congregation.

Carolyn Pickering continually refers to Jim Jones as the prophet of God. Although in the true biblical sense, he is a prophet sent by God, Jim Jones does not make an issue of this and would rather be called Jim, as he feels himself with one of the people.

A point [Typed words “that is totally” crossed out, words “another absolutely” substituted] ludicrous is the statement quoting Jim Jones for having prophesied the end of the world on July 15, 1967. Jim Jones has never prophesied the end of the world nor did he ever have any revelation about 15 July, 1967. This is also very shallow reason for the loyalty shown by those who traveled to California with him. There are many who are members of the church who can testify that they absolutely did not come to California to escape the end of the world but rather they came because for the first time in their lives they found a man totally dedicated to the Christ life.

Carolyn Pickering states that Jim Jones started his ministry selling monkeys. Surely the giving away of one monkey to Edith Cordell does not constitute a monkey-selling business. This is as absurd as saying that a man who sells a penknife is an ironmonger. [Marginal note illegible]

Ms. Pickering mentions that Reverend Taylor asked the State Attorney General to conduct an investigation of Peoples Temple Christian Church Disciples of Christ Denomination. The Attorney General has looked into the Church and has stated that he finds no grounds to conduct an investigation of the church and has no intention of investigating Jim Jones or the Church. [Marginal note illegible]

Tithes are not required of any member of the church. It would be good for Carolyn Pickering to keep in mind that we are a church for the needy and the oppressed and certainly would not demand money. The Church tries to make money through projects (bake sales, etc.) so that it can better serve the poor. The average tithes given at Peoples Temple is 2 – 4%, which is far below the enormous figure that Carolyn cited. When any member wants a receipt given for the tithes, the receipt is given in full. At no time has the church ever given a receipt for less than the given amount. What would be the purpose in doing that? Anyone who can prove this to be otherwise is invited to come forward with evidence rather than sitting around talking in such outrageous hyperboles.

Carolyn Pickering seems to be very concerned about the Jim Lu Mar Co., which was the legitimate operation of a Nursing Home which Jim Jones established so as to pay for his home needs. Thus we were able to use all the church funds to aid the church’s social programs. It seems that Ms. Pickering would attack Jim Jones if he had not worked and had made all of his money from the church. Rather she attacks him for private work so as not to be a drain on the church. This whole attack is unjustified: after all, doesn’t Carolyn Pickering believed in free enterprise? Also in regards to the Jim Lu Mar Co., prominent attorney John Preston (Ind. Ind. [Indianapolis, Indiana]) and Attorney Black (now living in Georgia) advised Jim Jones to set up and carry out the work at the Nursing Home. The Jim Lu Mar Co. was closed down by failure to file the annual returns. Again, Carolyn Pickering has taken issue with a legitimate practice. The common way to close business status is in this manner. Jim Jones closed down the company since he was moving to California and it was impractical to keep up the business. What is it with Carolyn Pickering wants? More Governmental controls?

Carolyn Pickering talks of Peoples Temple Christian Church Disciples of Christ Denomination as if it were a walking militia. Once again if Ms. Pickering sees fit to call the church the “best armed Temple in the world,” perhaps she should come and see the Temple firsthand. Pastor Jim Jones, a complete pacifist, does not advocate any type of violence at all. Having arms at church is not a continuing practice and as a general rule there are no arms at the services. That particular day the congregation asked for the protection. The congregation was concerned about numerous threats on the Pastor’s life and did not want to become a burden on the local police department, and thus the church took care of its own protection. Are we now to understand that Carolyn Pickering is for Gun control?

Carolyn Pickering stated that Lester Kinsolving “was stripped of his notebook and pencil and his photographer relieved of his camera when they attended services recently.” Again this is an untrue statement. Lester Kinsolving was allowed to write notes during the meeting. The only restriction placed on Lester Kinsolving was that he show reverence in a house of worship. This, Carolyn Pickering, is asked of everyone. His photographer would have been allowed to take pictures if he had cleared it prior to the meeting. After all, Carolyn Pickering, is it not our religious freedom to ask for peace and solitude during our religious services?

Ms. Pickering appears to be more and more confused about the Temple. She stated that Archie Ijames was negotiating for the acquisition of a new Temple at 749 North Park Avenue in Ind. Ind. Peoples Temple has no intention of coming back to Ind. or buying any churches out there. However, with all the interest the Ind. people are showing in the works of Jim Jones, maybe the church should move back.

Carolyn Pickering also makes an issue of the St. Jude Deliverance Center. This has been a simple transfer of property. What is the problem here? Surely scare Olympic ring is not against the free transfer of property. It is also true that there is a mortgage on the Wings of Deliverance Inc. Again what is the issue here? Mortgages are a very common American Practice. The Jim Lu Mar Co. was never told to stop business but disclosed by Jim Jones before he moved. Also the charter of the Wings of Deliverance was never taken away. Why does Ms. Pickering write such misleading statements? Why is she afraid to call the shots straight? Wings of Deliverance was reincorporated May 15, 1972 simply so that it could be sold. Surely there is nothing wrong with this.

Carolyn Pickering stated “believers are filled with superstition and the supernatural, of faith wrapped up in filling an empty stomach.” First, what exactly did Carolyn Pickering mean which she spoke of faith wrapped up in filling an empty stomach? Secondly, the people here are not superstitious. Many of the closest people have degrees from Stanford, MIT, Berkeley, UCLA, etc. There are attorneys, teachers, nurses, and psychologists in the church. This group is, to the contrary, very unsuperstitious. Peoples Temple is held together by people with no education to people with doctorates. All are bound together by a common belief in the brotherhood of all men. Also, [handwritten addition, first word illegible, second word “does”] Ms. Pickering find fault with the supernatural? Belief in the supernatural has been the basis of the Judeo-Christian doctrine for thousands of years. Although Peoples Temple is a more social-service oriented church, the supernatural still persists in being a part of the teachings. [Handwritten question mark as marginal note]

Carolyn Pickering questions the integrity of Jim Jones. Jim Jones has the intelligence of a genius yet speaks in a language that all can easily understand. He is the humblest of men and lives the Christ life in every deed. Yet, it is this man of such good works, that Carolyn Pickering has chosen to persecute.

As for the Ind. Ind. man who stated that his mother was “lured” into the church, he should be happy to hear that Edith Cordell is very happy and active in Redwood Valley. She is exceptionally bright individual who would not be “lured” into anything against her better judgment. She is also very thankful to Jim Jones for having been cured of a fatal disease. Perhaps [typed words “Ms. Pickering,” deleted] she came here of her own accord because she saw such goodness in the life of Pastor Jones and hope for man in the church that he serves. The father then goes on to talk about Jim Jones and Father Divine. Father Divine has nothing to do with the Church. Jim Jones is totally dedicated to the principle of racial equality and social justice.

Carolyn Pickering has another article stating “Prophet and Aide Harass Her and Mate.” Jim Jones is such a kind loving individual that he has never harassed anyone nor would he approve of any church members acting in such a manner. His nonviolent ministry not only includes doing no physical harm, but also doing no emotional or mental harm. His love not only includes his friends but also encompasses his enemies. This universal love is what distinguishes Jim Jones as a man sent from God.

Marian and Opal Freemont [Freestone] claim that Jim Jones stated that the world would end July 15, 1967. Again this is false. Perhaps Carolyn Pickering should check into the reliability of resources. It seems a good journalist would talk to others who are members of the church to find out if statement had any merit, or even ask Jim Jones himself for that matter. Jim Jones is by far the most honest man alive. Why is it that Carolyn only chooses to use negative sources when writing about the church? This is by no means an example of objective reporting. It also seems very suspicious that the Freestones should just now come up with all the misstatements, some five years after they left the church. What or who brought them into making these statements? Could it be that Carolyn Pickering could not support her attitudes about the church with testimonies of current members and thus turned to the five-year-old memories of the Freestones . Perhaps the article might have [been] written and is five years behind the times in addition to having a great many misconceptions about the church.

Jim Jones could never be guilty of mass hypnosis. Doesn’t Carolyn Pickering realize that his audience must be willing to be hypnotized [handwritten insertion illegible]. The Members of Peoples Temple are far too independent to put up with anything like that. The congregation stays together in total dedication to living the Christ like-life that Jim Jones is so much a part of. How can Ms. Pickering report such an outlandish statement as hypnosis without even bothering to check up on it? She also speaks of Jim Jones as a charlatan faith healer. Surely one should check the people in the ministry before making such a rash conclusion as that. How many people has Carolyn Pickering talk to who have testified to having been healed? How can she print such negative material when all she had to go on was the advice of two skeptics? That is as absurd as asking Judas if Christ was the sun [son] of God; how can one who lives in evil discern anything but evil? It is apparent that Carolyn Pickering should expand her sources of information or else resign herself to writing a weekly gossip column.

Carolyn Pickering quotes “former church members” as saying that Jim Jones creates “terror among those of his flock who dare leave the church.” Once again this looks like just another “Freestone Falsehood.” Many have left the church, stay in the community, and continued to be very supportive of the church. Among these are Virginia Richardson, Virginia Arrons, and Troy and Elaine Burgess. Those who are filled with terror are those people who are so paranoid and insecure that they cannot tolerate the constant goodness shown in Pastor Jones, not to mention his great success.

Neither the Freestones nor anyone else turned over their property to the Church. Many who made the journey from Indiana to California can testify to the validity of that statement. What are Carolyn Pickering’s motives were repeating such obvious falsehoods? If you must judge us, judge us with wisdom and concern. Read all that you wish about us, for we can stand up to the attacks of Lester Kinsolving and Carolyn Pickering. But then listen carefully to us, for we have the story of life and love. We will stand by you when you find yourself alone fighting for right. We will get you free legal counsel when you are black and poor and are denied your constitutional rights. We will work to get you food and shelter when you are hungry and homeless. We are the living word; we are the Christ spirit made manifest in actions.

[Illegible marginal note next to paragraph] Yet some choose to persecute Peoples Temple Christian Church and our pastor Jim Jones. The integrity of Jim Jones goes without question. His dedication to people through the Christ ministry is seen even in the least of his actions. Only a man of great principle would wear used clothes to save money to aid the poor. He takes in homeless animals and has an animal shelter where he cares for them. He preaches social justice no matter what others may say against him. He sees it as his duty to protect people’s rights. This man, Jim Jones, has adopted seven children of all major races. He is continually harassed for his belief in the equality of all people and races. He cares for the aged and has established several senior citizen homes where he sees that they are properly cared for. In Ind. Ind. he established a free feeding place for the poor called the Free Kitchen or Restaurant. Virtually hundreds of people were fed there every day. One worker stated that at times the people would line up three or four abreast. Babies were brought that did not have so much as a diaper. Pastor Jones made sure that every person was fed and clothed by the time they left. He established an orphanage in Brazil where children who would have died in the streets were given a caring home. Jim Jones understands the feelings of the oppressed, as he too spent 13 years living in a ghetto. Five out of the past six years he worked full time as a public school teacher and still managed to do all of his pastoral duties. He was also appointed chairman of the Indiana Human Rights Commission, and when he finally left he was greatly missed. The INDIANAPOLIS TIMES printed an article Sat. Dec 16, 1962 [marginal note: “check date with article at [illegible word]”] which stated, “The Rev. Jim Jones will be sorely missed as executive secretary of the Mayor’s Commission on Human Rights… He was superb. He went about his job diplomatically and forthrightly and produced results… The Community wishes him good health… Meanwhile, he has given the commission a tough job, filling his shoes.” Rev. Jim Jones has also served as Foreman of the Grand Jury of Mendocino County, Calif. Surely it is evident that these are the works of a man who lives the Christ principle every second of his life. Through the ministry of Jim Jones and Peoples Temple Christian Church, over 100 young people are now being sponsored through college, nine of whom plan to become doctors in service to their fellow man. Jim Jones has established a free poverty law program which intercedes for people throughout the United States who are in legal difficulties and cannot afford a lawyer. Still this Christ like man is under constant attack; how few must understand his Christ ministry.

Originally posted on May 25th, 2013.

Last modified on December 31st, 2019.
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