Letter of Harvey Milk to Pres. Jimmy Carter


February 19, 1978

President Jimmy Carter
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Carter:

I am the Supervisor for District Five in the City of San Francisco. The Peoples Temple Christian Church is not located in my District, so I have no political ties or obligations to this church. I am writing to call an urgent concern of theirs to your attention. I am concerned at what I understand is the endorsement of some of our Congressmen the efforts of Timothy Stoen against Rev. Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple. There are some facts I feel you should be informed of:

Rev. Jones is widely known in the minority communities here and elsewhere as a man of the highest character, who has undertaken constructive remedies for social problems which have been amazing in their scope and effectiveness. He is also highly regarded amongst church, labor, and civic leaders of a wide range of political persuasions. Our own Board of Supervisors has presented Rev. Jones with a Certificate of Honor, unanimously passed by all members, praising the church for its many projects “which have been so beneficial to all the citizens of the Bay Area.” On the same occasion, he was also presented with a unanimously passed resolution by a Republican State Senator, Milton Marks representing that legislative body.

Timothy and Grace Stoen, the parties that are attempting to damage Rev. Jones’ reputation, and seriously disrupt the life of his son, John, have both already been discredited in the news media here. The most widely-read columnist in the area, Herb Caen, printed Mr. Stoen’s sworn testimony that John is not his child but rather Rev. Jones[‘]. Grace Stoen is reportedly involved in what could be considered a blackmail attempt against another leader in the minority community, Dennis Banks, reported in the two major dailies with her name also given in Mr. Banks’ sworn affidavit about the attempt.

It is outrageous that Timothy Stoen could even think of flaunting the situation in front of our Congressmen with apparently bold-faced lies. I have learned in addition, that he has pressured these Congressmen towards unwitting compliance with promoting State Department intervention in the custody case now pending in Guyana.

Not only is the life of a child at stake, who presently has loving protective parents in Rev. and Mrs. Jones, but our official relations with Guyana could stand to be jeopardized, to the potentially great embarrassment of our State Department.

Mr. President, the actions of Mr. Stoen need to be brought to a halt. It is offensive to most in the San Francisco community, and all those who know Rev. Jones to see this kind of an outrage taking place.

[signed] Harvey Milk
Harvey Milk

cc: Rep. John Burton; Rep. Phil Burton; Lt. Gov. Mervyn Dymally