Conversation between Jean Brown and Laurence Mann

[Editor’s note: This transcript appears at RYMUR 89-4286-I-1-a-7 and at RYMUR 89-4286-FF-1-6.]

LM [Laurence Mann]: Look, I got a call yesterday from a man called Murray Ruff, or something [handwritten addition: “Chronicle”], I don’t have the name in front of me. He said, he was talking to people and individuals, and he wanted to find out what our attitudes are towards the church, etc. etc. I spoke to him for a very long time. I don’t know if he’s going to carry a story.

JB [Jean Brown]: Probably.

LM: Probably not. I think he wanted to do a story based on the fact that I would give him some information or something. He asked a lot of questions about the bishop [Jim Jones], whether didn’t we find it rather kookie, the way he galls people down through the middle of the night to Miami, etc. I said I don’t know that anybody arrived fraudulently, because before they arrive they have to have visas, or receive residence status. We must have known when those people arrived. None of them arrived at non-disclosed airfields or anything. He asked if I didn’t find the Bishop to be a bit of a con man. I said look, we live about 4,000 miles away, our embassy is about 3,000 miles away. I said please look at it from my point of view. Please know that the bishop had a public office in San Francisco. I said, if you are the chairman of a housing authority, if you are a public office holder in your own country and own city, would you expect us to believe you are a con man? I said, moreover, not a single allegation has been proved, not a single charge has been brought in San Francisco or anywhere else. I said furthermore, the consulate has been monitoring the facilities on a regular basis. They go there every month, and they put out a statement to reply to a number of questions like yours, and they assert they find no evidence of detention, mal-treatment, or anything else. I said, the church claims that most of these people who claim to be Concerned Relatives are in fact people who have distant relatives, or people who are well above the legal age. People in many cases in their forties and fifties. And if they feel introverted and besieged and harassed, and don’t tell you very much, it is because they feel you are not very favorable to their affinities. They had broken no laws in Guyana. They have no weapons. We have a law, you are not allowed to carry weapons, except small arms. So there is no [illegible handwritten insertion] probability that the church’s members have weapons in any serious sense. And he was a very hostile reporter. I said, you represent a paper that is very respected and wealthy. Why don’t you go and do a story for Guyana, interview them and so forth. He said, they won’t allow me in there. I said how do you know?

JB: Who wouldn’t allow him to go? We wouldn’t, or his paper wouldn’t?

LM: He said he wouldn’t be allowed to visit just like that, without telling your people. I said, you contact them, get a visa, buy a ticket, go around the campsight [campsite] – see what they do. They have a modern community, they have excellent community relations with their surrounding community, and they are engaged in agricultural pursuits, which is part of the thrust of the government. We have no quarrel with them. And then he asked again about the girl, the journalist–

JB: Kathy Hunter?

LM: –and he said she was known to be difficult – she had trouble in several places. He said the church had a very inordinate worship. So I said, I know of many groups in this country which are very introverted, which have a tremendous sense of devotion to their ideas. And I’m not qualified to give you any opinion. I have heard their ideas, and first of all their ideas (unintelligible) And I have met a lot of the groups who have noble ideals, and are equally introverted. I was giving him the experience I had with the Born Again Christians, who say if you don’t receive the word of God by your first or second visit

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