Transcript prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
Julia Hare: What I’m about to introduce– You know there’s a church here in San Francisco, and the press has said this about it. It helped to keep open a medical clinic in San Francisco which otherwise would’ve closed. It benefited the search in the medical fields of cancer, heart disease and sickle cell anemia. It has also supported educational broadcasting such as KQED, and provided emergency cash to distressed families, particularly those of slain law enforcement officers. I could go on and on with the list of what it has done, but the name of this church is the Peoples Temple Christian Church. I don’t know why “Christian” is there, but the minister will tell us about it very soon, because I think it’s sort of inter-denominational. But the man behind this many-faceted church is the Reverend Jim Jones, and I’d like to welcome you to Reactions tonight.
Jones: Thank you very much.
Hare: And I’d also like to welcome um, Michael Prokes, who is an associate minister of the same church, who’s also as modest as Reverend Jones. But tonight we’re going to just throw that aside and let them actually tell us some of the things that they’re going to do. Now, Reverend Jones, I’d like to begin with this: You’re probably the only man in the world who could bring together in one room at the same time Eldridge Cleaver and Kathleen [Cleaver], Assemblyman Willie Brown, the John Birch Society, Lieutenant Governor Mervyn Dymally, Mayor [George] Moscone, the police chief Charles Gain, District Attorney Joseph Freitas. And most people would wonder, who did that? President [Jimmy] Carter? God? But I found it wasn’t them, it was you. How did you bring these entities together?
Jones: I really can’t say, other than I suppose that we have a common concern for justice with people, and of course, Cleaver at the time, there was some question– a great deal of alienation because of his views, and Peoples Temple felt that a person should not be judged because of their views, and we did come to his legal defense. That was not to say that I supported his ideology, but uh, that is probably some explanation. We supported John Bircher once who was being discriminated against, John Bircher who, contrary to all the opinions I’d been told about the Birch Society, he was not a racist, and uh, uh, that– I think that explains it. We– We don’t have uh– an arbitrary attitude of serving only people who agree with us. And that may explain some of it.
Hare: You happen to remind me of someone [Nathan Hare] with whom I have lived for a number of years, when he taught at a predominantly black school, some of the students asked, why would you bring a member of the John Birch Society in to address your class? But he said that the only way you will grow is to be exposed to all ideologies. So I’m glad to know that that’s existing here in San Francisco. Now uh, something else that you’ve done that I don’t really understand. Your church is located in somewhat of a transient area in predominantly a black district.
Jones: Indeed. Indeed.
Hare: Uh, many people have tried before you to bring the grass roots together, the so-called– the black bourgeoisie, the uh, national uh, state and local elected officials to begin to see that the struggle lies in really bringing together all these people instead of one predominantly ethnic group. Now how have you been able to do this?
Jones: Again, I– one doesn’t think about their successes, I gather, they’re more concerned about the failures. We preach inclusiveness very strongly. We preach that– or we speak, we uh, state that it’s very important that all people who have been to some degree left out of the uh, process of economic success, that we get together, that we unite in the common struggle. And that’s very important to us. We also are determined to see that there is a good attitude on the part of the majority members, the Caucasoids who are in our (unintelligible word), that they have proper attitude, understanding of the problems of the Third World. But we don’t compromise on our principles in any way in concern uh, for the struggle of the Third World people. But we have a number of good white people that we jokingly say are very well field niggerized.
Hare: How about that. I love that expression. (Laughs softly) Well, how did you uh– Where– what were you doing when the struggle was going on between just the Asians and just the blacks or just the Chicanos. Uh, you were here in this area, but somehow you were low profile. Why are you just now surfacing?
Jones: We– we were not here as a center. You see, it’s only been in the last um, two years that I have been located in San Francisco. I was serving in the northern part of California, in an agricultural community, which was the biggest mistake of my life.
Hare: Why was it a mistake?
Jones: (Laughs) Well, there’s not enough uh– there were not enough people representative of all groups and uh– an agricultural community is a little more sterile. I’m frankly a little bit afraid of what’s happening in agricultural communities these days. Having a multi-racial family, uh, I noted a great deal of prejudice. Not only anti-black feeling, but anti-Semitic feeling, and it’s on the increase across America. And we need to get alarmed about it. All people who have ever suffered any kind of oppression or discrimination need to reckon with this factor. After all, in the past few months, we’ve seen blacks run out of Taft. We’ve seen Indians um, mistreated terribly in different areas, and even our p– our own state, blacks burned out of Siskiyou County, we had buses surrounded, just because we had black drivers, in Sonoma County. And fortunately the court– a good judge for the first time come up against this racist element, but they are– they are there, very very much there in the outlying areas of the big uh– big cities, and certainly our metropolitan areas are not free of racism.
Hare: Well, unlike the white popular thought that the church has been a leader in the black community – it has led, but I have questions about the nature of the leadership – but in your church, somehow, you’ve brought together uh, the militants, the agnostics, the uh, atheists, the fundamentalists. How have you gotten all these people together?
Jones: In our worship style, we respect people based on what they produce, and that’s [of] course consistent with Moses’ teasing– teachings and Jesus’ teaching. Uh– Judge a tree by the fruit it bears. So uh, if an atheist does the works of all these great teachers through history of all the religions and uh, the fundamentalist does the work, lives a life of character and concern and shows compassion, we find that we can get along very well. Because Jesus said, he who’s not against me, is on my part. When one of his disciples came up to him early in the ministry, when all the followers that Jesus had were with him, so it had to be someone of another faith, Islam or Hebrew teaching, or some other, Zoroastrianism, who uh– who knows. But John said, what’re we going to do with this gang. They’re not with Jesus. He said, they’re not against me. They’re for me. And so I think we’re doing what uh, Jesus really– he was in a sense a great revolutionary. And I think we’ve neglected that aspect of Jesus’ teaching. When he judged people– in Matthew 25, the only judgment that ever came out of the mouth of the Nazarene was, I was hungry and you didn’t feed me, I was thirsty, you gave me no drink, I was a stranger, you didn’t take me in. I was in prison, oppressed, and you didn’t do something to get me out of that condition. They said what– when did we see you there? He said, in that you saw the least of suffering humanity there, you saw me. And so you didn’t help them. Now depart from me. I never knew you.
Hare: Well, how is it that uh, in your membership uh– Well, first, what do you think is the failure of the black ministers, why they haven’t been able to organize people to do the kinds of things you did? Because I understand that it was your church, which you have a lot of grassroots people there who were responsible, uh partially responsible, for freeing the four uh, reporters in Fresno.
Jones: That’s true. I think particularly so there. We uh, we heard indirectly from a jurist that there was going to be adimosy [animosity? advocacy?] on that issue, and then when we uh, introduced the pe– couple of thousand, with Parr, we had over three thousand– uh, ju– uh, Farr [newsman Bill Farr] rather, in Los Angeles. But one of the jurists said, I guess I’m going to have to– we’re going to have to get a– get a– a judge to do something about this to get all these niggers out of town. And that was of course a compliment to us. Uh– the press is the people, and we felt uh, that uh, very basic issue here creeping again, even after Watergate, (unintelligible word) the press– and I know the press has behaved grossly irresponsible in many many areas, neglects the problems of the Third World, we see it every day. But when a press cannot keep its sources confidential, we’re in trouble. We’d’ve never heard from Deep Throat at Watergate if there hadn’t been that protection. And we’ve seen a couple of cases with (unintelligible names, sounds like “Gary Kearney and uh, Rossetti”) and what they knew evidently something about uh, conspiracy against [former President John F.] Kennedy. Boom, the moment it was revealed publicly that they were going to be witnesses, both of them ended up dead, one was shot in the neck in typically Mafia fashion, the other floating out on the Bay of Biscayne near Florida in a barrel. So we thought that this was an important issue for some people– I– I– I thought particularly they should understand that it meant nothing to us, we had no uh, following in– in uh, Fresno, it was just an issue of concern. I think some people thought we were courting the press, but on the– when you do that sort of thing, you only bring the press’ uh, inquiry more into your activities. I’ve never seen so many reporters in my life since then, and going through you– like uh, uh, you know, scrutinizing you very very closely. And we were aware when we took that stand that it might be suspect, but we felt– we waited for several days and no one seemed to take up the cudgels of this, this important issue. There were no one– There was no one there marching.
Hare: Well, was this before the grant that you uh, gave to these church– to the– the three newspapers, the Chronicle and–
Jones: No, no, we had done that– we had done that uh, (Stumbles over words) the Nixonian [former President Richard Nixon] period, when it was really dangerous to support the press. Across the nation, any newsman that came in difficulty with the system – (small sneeze) excuse me – we– we immediately assisted. I think we assisted Farr to the point of four thousand four hundred dollars. But we see uh, religion should be a practical thing. We– we feel the highest worship to a deity, however you uh, you see it, should be service to your fellow man. And in reference to other churches, I think they’re caught up in this futurism, and uh, honestly, I don’t see how they get it out of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ said uh, petition or pray that heaven come on earth. Heaven is within you. Uh, do something with the problems of the here and now. But you hear this pie in the sky uh, stuff and futurism about the furniture of heaven and the temperature of hell, and that’s where too many of our churches you know uh, are– their heads are still there, even in 1977.
Hare: With that, let me say amen, ‘cause we’re going to pause and come back in just a moment. (Off air) That pie in the sky bit just used to kill me. As long as someone has said, uh, you know, like it’s here, and you decide where it’s going to be– What did you say, that uh, you don’t tell them about the furnishings of heaven or the temperature of hell.
Hare: I hope you heard that, (unintelligible name), so you’ll stop running at the (unintelligible word)
Hare: I hope you heard that comment that he does not tell his followers about the uh, furnishings of heaven or the temperature of hell, so that your kids can grow up healthy. See, out at that suburban community where he is, they’re telling him that she must store your goods because when you leave here– I’m glad that you’re telling the people that it’s– it’s here.
Jones: (Too soft)
Hare: (unintelligible phrase), they told me that they didn’t know at the time. And they’re absolutely right. The former (unintelligible word) director said he diudn’t know at the time who you were. But do you know that a lot of– another station, that when this is over, I’m out. You know.
Ida Ray: Hello.
Prokes: Is Ida Ray there?
Ida Ray: Speaking.
Prokes: Hi, this is Mike Prokes.
Ida Ray: Hi, Mike, how are you.
Prokes: Fine. I think I’ve (exhale) uh, traced down what was said, and uh, I talked to a couple of people. It was agreed that he was responding to a question, and he was interviewed by uh, uh, Julia Hare.
Ida Ray: Oh, really?
Prokes: Yeah. And her question was that, you know, you– you, Jim, were not considered for membership in the Black Leadership Forum, because uh, you’re not totally one hundred percent black. Are you determined to make it into this organization? And Jim uh, evidently responded by saying, I don’t want to go where I’m not wanted. He felt that it was a blunder on the part of the Black Leadership Forum to exclude him because, he said, it plays right into the hands of the system, which is trying to keep, you know, blacks and minorities divided in order to keep them oppressed. And he didn’t feel there was a– a majority opposed to him, however, based on reports of discussions about him by– by forum members. And so I asked Jim uh, today, if he had said, you know, it uh, that, and he admitted that he did uh, you know, call it a blunder on part of the– the forum. But uh, you know, uh, I gave him the background on this, and he was upset with me, because uh– see this– I– I called Doris uh, in response to uh, uh, a meeting where he spoke at the uh, Officers for Justice, and you know, they– he was received very well. In fact, they gave him a long ovation, and he was approached afterward, uh, and so uh, I called Doris and I– I thought that uh, she had mentioned having a get-together where, you know, Jim could possibly uh, speak uh, to some, you know, black leaders. And at first, you know, this is at a previous conversation, I thought she had meant like an informal gathering, I didn’t uh, know that she had meant the Black Leadership Forum, but I had– I had kind of left it up to her, you know, which would uh, be best, and uh, I did this on my own, ‘cause I thought it would be good for, you know, them just to hear Jim and see where he’s at and uh, alleviate any rumors or just get things straight. But he was uh, kind of upset, he said, you know, don’t push these people. If they don’t, you know, want me to come, he said, that’s fine. He said, uh, I just want uh, to mainly alleviate the rumor that I’m politically-motivated. I’m not going to run for any office, and have no intentions to, and he says he– he feels that uh, you know, people– or there’s cer– certain people are needed to stay on the outside and point to the errors within. And so uh, I told him I wouldn’t uh, push it any further. But uh, uh, that was in essence what the situation is.
Ida Ray: Oh, well, I didn’t– you know how I– like I told you, I didn’t hear.
Ida Ray: I didn’t hear, but I got uh– Well, everybody got phone calls, you know. And no one– They– All they would say that the– he was on uh, Julia Hare, on the same station Julia Hare, you know. But you know, they– no one ever said it was the interview which is– it’s– it’s– I don’t care.
Ida Ray: You know. I’m just sorry that the thing got bl– blowed totally out of perspective.
Prokes: Yeah, well, uh–
Ida Ray: That’s too bad. (balance unintelligible under Prokes)
Prokes: The reports I got were that– that it wasn’t uh, you know– they didn’t dwell on it. It was an hour interview or so– and they didn’t dwell on this aspect of it. It was just handled within like a– you know, like uh, a minute or so, and uh – just look at my notes here – he said, stupid blunder. That’s what uh– what I have. He did admit that he– he thinks he– that’s probably what he said, something like that. So. But uh, it’s uh, uh, something that– that– you know, that’s the rumor we kept getting, that– that people felt that he was trying to gain power to run for office or something, and in fact, we have been approached, you know, to run somebody for supervisor, and uh, you know, we’re not even going to do that. I mean, some people wanted like Johnny Brown or somebody, you know, black to run, but uh, he– he’s trying to– and we’re trying to alleviate this idea that–
Ida Ray: The political stuff.
Prokes: Right. ‘Cause we’re going to stay out of all partisan politics whatsoever.
Ida Ray: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It’ll kill ya. Really.
Prokes: But uh– yeah–
Ida Ray: I think uh– Yvonne called me today. Yvonne Golden. And uh, she’s been working very diligently within the Black Leadership Forum. You know. And I– I– I really think, when I talk to (unintelligible word) I’ll be very honest with you, that uh, after the Roots, you know, people saw Roots, and really felt that tie, you know.
Ida Ray: They really did, you know.
Ida Ray: And I think it was a lot of emotion that was involved, particularly when– (unintelligible word) you had one black on one side uh, pushing– I shouldn’t say pushing, I mean supporting Jim, and then another on the other side who resented their support of him. You get what I’m saying?
Ida Ray: I think a lot of those feelings will be eliminated, and uh, people will see his good work, and that will be that, you know.
Prokes: Yeah. Well, I mean, let me assure you, that, you know, we’re here taking stands on issues. And we’ll always do that. We’ll look at the issue not uh, who’s backing it necessarily. And uh, I mean, I think we could see the effectiveness like, uh, at that Board of Education meeting, where you and Yvonne were blasting them, and– and all they saw was uh, two black women, you know, coming at them, and then uh, you know, when those white hands went up, though, to show support, I think, you know, we can work together that way.
Ida Ray: That’s right. And that’s what I’d hoped we could really do over this city, because it really makes a hell of a big difference.
Prokes: Sure. And, you know–
Ida Ray: And that exactly– when you get uh, one side fighting the other side, you can forget it. It’s called divide and conquer. You know.
Prokes: Yeah. (Stumbles over words) Our trouble has been to convince people of our motives– all– ever– ever since, you know, the Moscone election and so forth, it (unintelligible word)– they’re trying to put us in this political bag, make us kingmakers in the community, and uh–
Ida Ray: Yeah. And fear. They’re afraid. A lot of it has to do–
Prokes: Yeah. And threatened.
Ida Ray: Right. That’s right. A lot of it is fear and– and they feel threatened. And uh– and– and of course, uh, nothing we can do about that. You know, but, like I said, I think there’s a way though that I’ve learned that you can get around it, is just moving on, and doing the good things that you’ve been doing and keep doing it. You know. And helping people, and that’s, you know–
Prokes: And– and Jim truly wants to unite and not divide. That’s why, you know, he said– you know him that– that you thought, you know, he– he’d be able to speak in May, there– I mean, there is that possibility, and he said, well, if there’s opposition, no, he said, uh, you know, I, uh, you know– he said, I don’t want to cause more division than already exists. But uh, now, I said, well I’d talk with you further and see what you thought, because uh–
Ida Ray: Well, let me work it out and uh, and see we’ll be uh, as soon as we work it out and see what’s happening, you know, uh, I will be happy to have him.
Ida Ray: And we’ll send you an invitation. But I too do not want to see division. So I think I would be (unintelligible phrase) on the group, you know, so that I can do it, okay?
Ida Ray: And that’s a– that’s a promise. (Laughs)
Ida Ray: Okay, (unintelligible word).
Prokes: Thank you.
Ida Ray: All right, now.
Prokes: Take care.
Ida Ray: Bye– All right. Bye-bye.
End of call.
Part 1 (continuation):
Jones: –both here and abroad, as you may or– may be familiar, we have uh, 27,000 acres undertaking abroad in a mixed society, black president, but a beautifully racially-inclusive society, and uh, it’s an agricultural project. Uh– Several of our members there, couple of hundred of our members. It serves many purposes. Not only does it help feed and clothe and house the people in an emerging Third World nation, and give jobs to– I think now we’re employing 91 people, but we have run into individuals who are almost lost in the asphalt jungle. And so social service agencies or judges will say, you either take them, and uh, if you– you’ve got a place abroad, fine, otherwise they’re going to jail. And we’ve got 22 people now, young people, who were at the l– very lowest extremity, some who were kleptomaniacs, uh, they weren’t members of the parish, but uh, kleptomaniacs. I think of a child molester. All sorts of social deviation.
Jones: Incorrigible. That’s right. Thank you. And when we put them in this new environment– I’m an environmental determinist, it’s made me an environmental determinist, more than anything–
Hare: Repeat that, again, what is it, an environmental determinist?
Jones: Determinist. Yes, I believe that uh, if you– if we don’t do something about the environments– they’re talking about crime in the streets, you know, uh, and– I think if a lot of the youngsters saw something done more about the crime in the– in the suites, we would see uh, a change in attitude. Opportunities are not there. Uh, recreational opportunities. Jobs opportunities. Fifty percent of our black youth are unemployed. And the work ethic’s very strong emphasis in America, and that’s (unintelligible word) it should be, but what does this do to the morale of a person– I think behind every situation you see, there’s always– there’s much talk about crimes of violence today, and yet only six percent of the crimes in the United States are violent, and of that six percent, ninety percent of those crimes are happening to us, the poor white, the poor black, the Indian.
Hare: Yes, we’re the victims of it.
Jones: Be– uh, uh, one case I was called in to, I didn’t know them, but called me the other day. The husband has stabbed the wife. And said, he’d never been violent in his life. And when I got into the situation, she said, why don’t you get a job? And that was the worst thing she could’ve said to him. But an understandable thing. And there’s uh, drinking– typical kind of thing, we’ve got a type of welfare system, I think, could stand much improvement. We give money to people instead of creating opportunities, jobs and programs, but naturally, I’d be– that fellow who has not been able to uh, meet the standards of success in American society, which is to work and produce. He gets his money, and before he gets home, he– to buy food for the family, he gonna be at the tavern quite frequently, and I think behind every bit of the crimes of violence that I’ve run into, there is a social condition, and I’m very much concerned–
Jones: –Uh, uh, very much concerned about this talk, we’re going to bring back capital punishment, because I notice capital punishment doesn’t work for the rich.
Hare: There’s never uh– You’re right. There’s never been a deterrent– deterrent to crime either.
Jones: Neither. Neither. Thank you for that. Uh, we find that– I think it’s been pretty well supported, one with fifty thousand dollars of assets has never gone to a gas chamber or been hung or shot or electrocuted in this country. And we also find that there is a tendency today in the world towards dictatorships. Be they right or left. And often the execution later becomes a political tool to do away with dissenters. And yet you hear so many people rapping about, let’s bring back, uh, capital punishment. And as you say, it is not a deterrent. In fa– In fact, there’re a whole lot of folk who are so miserable out there, they want to commit suicide like [Gary] Gilmore, and yet they– they, uh, little fearful of doing it themselves and I– I think we’ll see more of peo– more of this type of thing. They’ll kill somebody or do something of a capital nature so that the state will take care of ‘em.
Prokes: And why are there– Why are there more blacks and minorities in jails and– and prisons uh, in comparison to their uh, percentages in the population? To say that uh, you know, they’re uh, that it’s not the environment, that it’s not social conditions, is to say that they’re inferior. I’m not ready to buy that. I think it’s because–
Hare: I refuse to buy it. I’m happy to hear you say it.
Prokes: And– and the fact that there’s no jobs that, as Reverend Jones said, there’s uh, over fifty percent unemployment for black, what are they going to do? They watch television, they see families with material goods uh, living comfortably, uh, material things that they can’t have, so they try and get it. How– the– the only way they can is to turn to the streets, and they– they’re already in the streets as a means of survival.
Jones: Um-hmm [Yes].
Hare: Well, this is what we’re going to do. We’re going to come back in just a moment, because I know that any time there’s a groundswell and people who are concerned with the social movement as you are at Peoples Temple, there must be some kind of surveillance, and I noticed tonight, you didn’t come in here with a battery of bodyguards, so I don’t– I want to know how you move freely with the FBI, the CIA, and whoever may be infiltrating your church.
Hare: I’m sure they’re sitting out there (unintelligible)
Jones: He’s my security.
Hare: You’re wha– You’re his security. How about that? This is the security.
Jones: Twenty-one assassination threats.
Hare: Wait, I’m serious. Does secur–
Jones: He’s security.
Prokes: That’s right.
Jones: That’s where we are anyway.
Hare: Usually huge storm trooper-types.
(Three talk over each other)
Jones: Don’t– don’t es– don’t let us estimate–
Hare: And you know karate.
Jones: Martial arts.
Hare: Could throw me right out of this room in a second.
Hare: It could happen. I just wondered, ‘cause (unintelligible word) you must have–
Jones: Oh my God, it’s terrible.
Jones: You– if you get threat from the violence of the right and the left, when we help Cleaver, we get threat from the left, when we help– uh, we helped Angela Davis, we got threat from the right. (Stumbles over words) You know, it’s a– it’s a– it– it– but human rights are out of vogue, and the thought of these– it is, they don’t seem to realize that uh, we’ve got uh, the power of a military-industrial complex overshadowing us, and– and we’re going to have to forget some the little differences of labels or whether we’re Marxist-Leninist or– or Darwinian Socialist or whatever in the hell (unintelligible under Hare)–
Hare: About three or four years ago, we broke, you know, when the movement split over that very thing. And they don’t know when [Karl] Marx and [Vladimir] Lenin wrote, they wrote for another period, another time, a sort of another class struggle, but they just read it and it became fashionable to say that we’re this, or to give labels.
Jones: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Hare: Instead of just coming– I–
Jones: You can’t do it.
Hare: I hope our machine– (Pause)
Jones: Did it break? (Laughs)
Hare: No, it didn’t. Not this new thing. (unintelligible) machine.
Jones: I meant the kinds of– the kinds of things you put over the air break it. This– this was built for a different type of thing.
Hare: It was. (On air) Welcome back to uh, Reactions, and our discussion. Incidentally, the Peoples Temple – because I know, when this is over, you’re going to want to know where it is – is at the corner of Geary and Fillmore, and I’ll give you that exact address, in case you really want to see uh, Reverend Jones in action. You’re hearing him tonight. Reverend Jones, before I get back to that question about surveillance, despite the oath that doctors are popular– that doctors take, they are popularly thought to be uh, to place profit above philanthropy. And yet you have doctors and lawyers who are volunteering. How did you accomplish that?
Jones: Well again, we can– we can’t generalize. I found some extremely sensitive people who are in the upper middle class in our church. As you mentioned, we have crossed that class barrier. We’ve overcome the racial barrier.
Prokes: Age barrier.
Jones: Age barrier. I– Thank you for that. I uh– I see that uh, the most beautiful thing, the youth and the seniors doing things together. And uh, we– we respect our elders. That’s one of the old proverbs that we hold dearly. And as a consequence, our seniors– I think we have a– the age– (Laughs) the normal age of our seniors is in the eighties, uh, we have one centenarian, she’s 106, still going. And she pr– she fixes lemon pies in her little humble home.
Prokes: Best pies I’ve ever eaten.
Hare: Good. (Laughs)
Jones: And sells them. At a hundred and six, you know. If we can just eliminate these barriers that’ve uh, developed in our society between race and class, and I think Peoples Temple has gone a long way towards that, and– and as I say, you can’t make generalizations. There are people in every class who are concerned about the uh, deprivation and (Stumbles over words) poor distribution of our wealth that we see so obviously before us in the country–
Hare: And I– I know you must pose a threat to ministers here with established so-called churches that begin at what I have often defined, the most segregated hour in this country is 11 o’clock Sunday morning, that’s where you find (unintelligible under Jones)
Jones: Very true.
Hare: – churches. So I know– what’s the feeling of them? Have you made enemies, or are you coming together with them? Do they view you as a threat, as sort of siphoning off membership–
Jones: Amazingly, amazingly enough, we are finding a number of ministers – white ministers, particularly – one ordained Baptist Church in San Leandro that’s done a good– a– a minister there, has done very uh, good things uh, for his people and works closely with us. We have uh, on Martin Luther King Day, the– the Council of Churches just voted that it be conducted in Peoples Temple. We had 91 ministers there. I’m not saying that they were all together, you know, in terms of perspective, but there is emerging in this community that kind of concern. Black ministers of the caliber of Reverend Hall. Theologically, I don’t know where he and I stand, but uh, Reverend Hall has a great empathy for people at Bethel AME.
Hare: Amos, yeah.
Jones: And uh, uh, so (Stumbles over words) It’s happening. More than I’ve seen it. And I think, as we see economic conditions change – and they’re going to change unless there’re some miracles – we’ll see more unemployment, necessity’s going to be the mother of invention. Folk are going to quit talking about heaven, when they’re hungry, and uh, that’s why I hope the church and all agency begin to do voluntary things. We don’t want to see a violent revolution in this society. And so society’s going to have to revolutionize itself from within, or it’s going to be torn apart.
Hare: You’ve often said that uh– in your ideology, you’re not uh, violent by nature, but you’re pacifist, and yet you think– you tend to get things done. And usually any movement that really has gotten off the ground, whether in this country or in other countries, there has been a bit of bloodshed. But you feel that that isn’t necessary.
Jones: I would hope it’s not necessary. Now when we took uh, took up the defense of the Jewish community, uh, not long ago, when the Nazis were emerging, not only against the Jews, it’s al– they’re– they’re against everybody, I guess, these– these bums. But (Stumbles over words) they– they began to threaten and they– I think they thought, well, we’re pacifists. They’ve forgotten certain things that Gandhi said. Gandhi said if a mad dog’s running loose, uh– meaning a mad human within a society, endangering it, you don’t allow that to happen. Now pacifism doesn’t mean that you roll over and play dead. Now indeed, if uh, uh, a bunch of bums come into our Temple, uh, we’re not going to turn the other cheek.
Hare: –turn the other cheek. (laughs)
Jones: We’ve turned all the cheeks we’ve got anyway. And so we’re– we’re not– we’re going to be uh– we will resist evil. But what I’m saying, we don’t believe in offensive violence, like we’ve seen happening–
End of side 1
Jones: (unintelligible beginning) victim of mugging. That isn’t going to take the social economic conditions away that caused them, but I don’t believe in prejudice against anybody. So we let him speak, and the man came off very– with a great deal of understanding – shockingly enough – an empathy and ashamed of what the FBI had done, and I really believe sincerely he did not know of the dirty tricks. Someway he– he was a younger man, of course, and I don’t know what caused me to mention that. Now, what was the point?
Hare: Maybe it was (unintelligible word under Jones) the issue of the FBI, the CIA and people like that, just being involved in your church.
Jones: We were talking about violence. Uh– uh– But we– we tend to turn– we tend to turn people away by acts of terror, and as I started to say, the FBI – this is what I was getting at – the FBI, uh, I think, you know, it was oh, several years ago, set up, as I recall reading, a– an organization known as US, uh, it now come out, and as to when the Panthers began to talk about more internationalism and uh, racial inclusiveness, and working within the system, uh, all this uh, hell-raising begun. And US was talking in the same terms that some people are talking right today in San Francisco, we can’t cooperate with any others, we– we have to be black only, and we’re going to have to define what black is, and now we find out that behind all those black-only was white establishment plans to divide–
Hare: Yes, that was in Los Angeles, too.
Jones: –and it caused– yes, and it caused the death of several Panthers. So I’m suspicious of these people who want to divide when the community could really come together in San Francisco. Now we hear all this talk s– behind some of this, I wonder if we don’t have a nice agent provocateur.
Hare: Well, I’m wondering what are the reasons also that when blacks really cried out for uh, black films, you know, some value in black studies and black literature, we didn’t get it. And suddenly, ABC – that certainly is not a paragon of liberalism – gave us Roots, and bombarded our homes with it for eight nights straight. Do you begin to wonder about those kinds of things? You don’t have to answer if you don’t wish.
Jones: I’m never one to shun a response. I think that uh, uh, anytime we see the establishment producing such uh– a s– historical document, it– it– it’s shock. Uh, perhaps their motivation was good. I imagine the major motivation was, they knew they made money, and they did. Um– Overall, I can see some good that has emerged. I’ve talked to white people who have gotten the consciousness that they never had. Un– Unfortunately, I think that there are some who thought well, I watched it, and now I– I understand and I care, and it’ll be forgotten. Also, there’s a dangerous aspect, they called it– I believed [Alex] Haley wrote– it was a saga of an American family, but I notice ABC called it the triumph of America–
Hare: Triumph of– of an American family. That’s what disturbs me. Not only was the saga, but also probably of one black American family. Now they’re calling a tragedy an American triumph. Now look at the people who will not read the subtleties as you’ve read that. And see, we will– are going to now go back ten or fifteen more years, just because of this, because of Roots. I’m not that concerned of where I came from, but where are we now and where are we going?
Jones: Oh, that was exactly what I said Sunday. And who are (unintelligible under Hare)
Hare: Were you thrown out of your church for saying that?
Jones: No. But who in the– who of us have gotten money to go back to Africa to find out where we came from? And again, it’s not so important where we’ve come from, but where we’re going. I’m an American mongrel. Hell, if I began to look w– where my roots were, I’d– I’d have to spend a million dollars to find my roots. I’m not going to start on that course. And then just because one person found his roots, that’s not going to help the millions of people who do not have roots. A person–
Hare: Not only black people, because we– we live in a rootless society.
Jones: Yes, yes. That’s true. That’s what I tried to say.
Hare: I’m sure that if you poll the average white person, they wouldn’t know, you know, from whence they came. But somehow this was fed to us that we had to move on with it. When you took the people to Washington, D.C., uh, what were the– really the motives for it. Did you want them to see how their representatives worked there in Congress for them, and were the representatives intimidated at your presence?
Jones: Uh, no– uh, certainly uh, the Burtons [John Burton and Philip Burton] were very responsive, and so– strangely enough, a very conservative man by the name of [Don] Clauson, I thought, was most responsive. Uh, I was shocked. You never can– You never know what uh, to make of people– when you start to generalize. Here, uh, recently, we– we’ve seen– When I met with Mrs. [Rosalynn] Carter, I uh– she asked to meet with me just before the election. I’m not partisan in politics, but I suppose because of our size, we got 9000 members, and I said, uh– she said, well, what would you like to see come out of the administration? I began to talk about uh, interventionist policies in Chile, this horrible thing uh, that we’ve no– admitted that we’ve played a role in, the murder of an el– a duly-elected man [Salvador Allende], they talk, uh, about fear of totalitarian communism, and yet here was a– a socialist that was elected by the people and was trying to maintain a democratic course and included non-socialist, liberal, progressive elements, and he ends up murdered with our assistance. I said uh, the interventionism in the Third World’s got to– interventionist policies got to stop. And we see Carter– he kept his word on that. Uh, the name that was thrown around, [Theodore] Sorensen, was put in as the CIA director, and woe be unto us, we see a liberal coalition block Sorensen’s appointment. I said, we ought to stop giving aid to Chile, and uh, again, the shocker. All the liberal cats, uh, the dudes went along with it, and three Republicans voted against the uh, fifty-five million dollar assistance that was given a couple of weeks ago. It blows my mind. You don’t know where– you– you can’t possibly say that uh, this group of uh, coalition’s going to consistently– consistently stand for the right things. All of a sudden, up comes a conservative and stands uh, more resolutely for uh, decency than the– the so-called liberals. Tha– That’s why I refused to get involved in the partisan two-party system.
Hare: Well, one reason I refuse to get involved in it – I’ve often made the same statement that you have made, and people have wondered about it – uh, I am really afraid too much– of too much liberal thinking. I prefer people almost to the extremes. You know, you either a– stand for something or you are (unintelligible word) opposed to it, because at least I know how to fight you or how to address you or how to talk with you. But the liberals tend to be on the fence. When the going gets rough, they tend to fall to the side of the fence that seems to have– well, that seems to be the strongest. In– You mentioned uh, Mrs. Carter, and I wondered about that when she came out. There’re a lot of ministers here, there’re a lot of people here who would love to’ve had her ear, but yet she requested yours for dinner. What was the reason for that?
Jones: I should imagine it’s votes. To be very pragmatic–
Hare: Well, there are many people she could’ve asked, but – don’t be modest – she asked you.
Jones: Well, again, there’re not so many people that have that many members. I think we’re the largest church in town. Uh– I think she had mentioned s– hearing something of, of uh, our human service program. I can’t recall what it was–
Prokes: About drugs?
Jones: Yes. Having to do with drug rehabilitation. Thank you. And of course you know, Mr. Carter come couple of s– years before to Delancey Street, so there must be a pu– uh, a certain sensitivity there. Uh, his uh, his arch-fundamentalism – or what appeared to be arch-foundamentalism– uh, fundamentalism – gave me some concerns when he was elected president. But some of the nominations he’s made, at least in terms of foreign relations, the SALT, the gentleman for the director of SALT, uh, who’s having a tough time because he said that he would make every effort to bring détente in this thermo-nuclear age, when we can wipe out all of civilization, and it looks like he might not get– make it. Uh, the man see– And Andy Young. I’ve known Andy Young to be extremely sensitive, at least in the early seventies in the struggle, of course people change, I don’t uh, know, I see he’s has now made three statements in the recent days that show that Andy’s still in the– coming from the same stock when he said that in Angola, in spite of what we may feel about Cuba, that they stabilize situations, and of course he got slapped down by Mr. [Cyrus] Vance over it, but I notice even Mr. Vance uh, the Secretary of State, saying, was it yesterday, that uh, we’re going to have better relations with Cuba, which is long, long overdue. I’ve been to Cuba. I have seen in Cuba a different form of communism than what has been depicted uh, to me in Eastern Europe. And uh, I disagree with uh, Mr. Cleaver, I did not recognize racism there. Um– Sure, there are certain facets of Cuban life that wouldn’t work for America, that’s why we gotta get out of this thing. One solution that will work for Cuba will not work for America. But I saw a tremendous amount of individual liberty. I was shocked at the amount of individual liberty. And a great deal of criticism – of course, within a socialist perspective – but criticism of the government. Uh, no fear of the government. That was pleasant to me, to see no fear. And the standard of living, compared to un– being under [Fulgencio] Batista is like comparing night to day. Uh, health care guaranteed, and uh, the standard of dress. I thought I was in the best neighborhood, you know, the best neighborhood of an American city. I noticed uh, Senator [George] McGovern’s children have been there for some weeks, and they’ve been saying the same things. Cuba is American in its orientation, it’s American in its culture, its appreciation of the arts. I don’t know what this stupid boycott uh, is– is going to do at all for us. I think that uh, with a bit of effort, we could be allies, and they could be of tremendous help to us. Their standard of moral sensitivity, uh, their cultural progress, their progress in health, high schools there just amazed me, uh, they’ll have– they limit 500 students to a high school, the high school’s put on an acreage of 500, they have 500 acres allotted to a high school, kids not only uh, work with their mind in the intellectual processes, but they– they spend three hours a day working in the fields. And they develop their own food, which gives them a real sense of– of fulfillment, plus – so there won’t be division, and Cuba is very much opposed to dividing on the basis of race or religion – they produce for the national economy. And uh, being a clergyman, I was concerned about freedom of religion. And I didn’t take any guided tour, because I– when I go into a situation, I want to be uninhibited. And uh, I haven’t found anything perfect in society, and certainly not Cuba either– either. But I talked to 400 different people from every strata of life, uh, professional people, people who’ve been poor as Job’s turkey, and I found no dissatisfaction. But we’re going to have to learn to relate in this world, we’re going to blow ourselves up. We’ve got to overcome these ideological barriers. At home, certainly– we’ve got to begin with home. I– I don’t– I didn’t mean to get on the uh, subject of Cuba. We’ve got to come together in this United States first.
Hare: All right, we’re going to come back in just a minute and continue this profile of Reverend Jim Jones. (Off air) (soft aside) You should be the ambassador to something.
Prokes: He should. He should.
Hare: That’s right. I’m going to ask you about your political aspirations (unintelligible under Prokes)
Prokes: That’ll be a short subject.
Hare: But that– it should not be. There should be political aspirations, and I don’t mean something like the Board of Supervisors or Assemblyman something. I mean someone who has national–
(Three talk over each other)
Prokes: He wouldn’t last. He wouldn’t last.
Jones: –being this thing, that all– all these black people have come to me and told me, they’re scared to death I’m going to be the mayor or I’m going to be the next supervisor. Hell, I wouldn’t be the supervisor if they give me the job. You know, this– this is– uh, if they could only get that message across– Thank you for asking me that, so I can tell them, that I do not want to be the supervisor. And then I will be probably welcomed into the forum.
Prokes: That’s what it’s all about.
Hare: But even if they get one– (unintelligible aside). Eleven minutes. Okay. I didn’t think that I (unintelligible phrase).
Hare: Welcome back to Reactions and our discussion with the Reverend Jim Jones and Michael Prokes of the Peoples Temple. Such an appropriately named church.
Prokes: Julia, I just wanted to add that when Reverend Jones met with Mrs. Carter, he didn’t spend his time talking or complimenting her or praising her husband, he talked about issues and needs in the poor and black communities.
Jones: Free press, too. I was greatly concerned about what the stands were going to be on the free press. We came to the rally for one rea– we were all wearing uh, badges at the time, it was during that Fresno crisis, and it said free– Free the Fresno Four. So I acquainted her with that.
Hare: Well, since uh, your church has been entered into the Congressional Record recently, uh, a whole page is so devoted to it, uh, there are those who may feel that you have political aspirations, even with ramifications for the Black Leadership Forum. Are you interested in that, becoming a supervisor?
Jones: Not– unequivocally no. And you’re very sensitive to perceive, that’s the whole issue of those few that didn’t want me in the forum because I’m lighter-skin, even though I’ve a mixed background. Uh– uh, they’re afraid, uh, so I’ve been told reliably, that I’m going to be the next supervisor of the Western Addition or promote a supervisor. We’re not even promoting a candidate within our church, because we want unity so badly that, even though we have thousands of people and had black leaders, a bl– a newspaper publisher [Carlton Goodlett], uh, professional people who, outside of our parish who suggested that we do that, we feel for the sake of unity, we will stay out of the arena, and as for me being a supervisor, in all due respects to uh– to the supervisors, I’m not the type of personality for it. We have to have some people outside the system, pointing at its errors. And I feel that’s my role, presently at least. I– I wouldn’t be able to work within the two-party structure, so I have no political ambitions, and this foolishness of the rumor that I’m going to be a mayor, or– I mean, throw my hat in for the mayor, I have no intentions of running for any elected office. And that is absolutely so.
Hare: Is that just here in the city, or is it– do you mean to set a statewide level or nationally or–
Jones: Yes, I– I– I don’t think that there’s a place for as free a thinker as I am at this stage. I hope I’m wrong. I would serve, of course, if I could serve. But it seems to me that when a man speaks, as I just spoke, about Cuba, uh, mention that you’ll go to Cuba, because of détente – I must say, while I was at Cuba, I also mentioned to them, highly-idealistic people, their intervention in Angola was greatly appreciated – but I– as I warned them, I said Uncle Sam is in a kind of a bad state of mind these days, he’s sort of a little bit like the man who went through the menopause and uh, once was the most attractive guy around town, the most potent guy around town, but he’s lost his girlfriends in Vietnam, and he’s lost in Cambodia and Angola and a lot of places in the world, and I said, he’s a dangerous creature because we read a few weeks ago of a man who uh, gone through that very uh, period and uh, suspected then that his wife was having an extramarital affair, and he ended up killing her and killed the grandchildren – not at my church, but uh– (Struggles for words) not too far removed from our community – and he wiped out everyone, and I said uh, to the Cubans, I said, you’re going to have to be very careful with your idealism, because it is a realistic fact that America is sick. It’s disturbed, as anyone would be that has had great power, and misused it unfortunately, but then see that power removed suddenly, lose all that potential, that potency, that attraction, uh, America has had so many reverses. I was amazed that they got by with Angola, and I asked them what– well, what will you do if you’re asked into Zimbabwe, and they said, well, we’ve not been asked. But if it was a populist reaction, we’d have to go. I said, don’t you realize that that could bring about thermonuclear war, and they said– one little lady in the Central Committee said to me, we all have to die sometime. You can’t start compromising your principles. You have to live by your principles. And I hope that America wi– is aware of that, that Cubans are not the type of people you will change by bluffing, no more than you’re going to change America. And we do have some realistic difficulties out there. We need– We need a new change in foreign relations, we’re going to have to have dialogue, we’ve got to have disarmament, my God, uh, (Struggles for words) every minute it’s increasing, the dangers of war by accident, and no one wins in a thermonuclear war, and uh, I’m all for Carter’s efforts to uh, (Struggles for words) re-emphasis of moral values, rather than thinking pragmatically whether we have uh, two more missiles than the Soviet Union. In the first place, if we had just a limited number of missiles, it’s enough uh, of a deterrent.
Hare: You know, millions of people visit Washington, D.C. every year. But why did your church get the tourist of the year award?
Jones: Well, The Washington Post gave us that, because when we go in to any area, we– we’re ecology-minded, and so we cleaned up that uh, little uh, pool that they have, and uh, it was a terrible thing that many tourists come in to the city, they throw all their paper and their debris–
Hare: You mean, you literally got out and cleaned–
Jones: We got in it. We got inside that pool, some of us 70 and 80 years of age–
Prokes: Rolled up their pant legs.
Jones: –rolled up the pant legs and got in there and cleaned that city up like it’d not been cleaned up. We do it every year, but it just happened to be noticed uh, by The Washington Post that time.
Hare: Do you do this in most of the places you stop on the way to where you’re going?
Jones: Everywhere we go. And as a result, we have– it’s– I didn’t do it for that reason, but we have found that it has won some people. In Georgia, they closed off– Was it Georgia?
Jones: In Georgia, they closed off uh, entire rest area to us. Wouldn’t let us in, and we were so hot and tired in the summer last, uh, year, last year–
Hare: Why did they close it off?
Jones: Oh, racism. Racism.
Hare: The home of our uh– The former home of our present president–
Jones: Yes, yes, yes.
Prokes: They saw our buses coming with all those people integrated, and they felt threatened by it, and so they closed the facilities, but we got off the buses and began picking up paper, and the man who operated the rest stop–
Jones: Three hours, though, we had to do it. It isn’t– isn’t the easiest thing to break through. But finally, the– the chap got a bit uh– (short laugh) he felt guilty, I guess, came out, opened it up and uh, disgruntled, but he watched us the rest of the day, because we had a breakdown as a result of it, we– we needed some water badly for one of the motors, and we had a breakdown in the bus, and uh, he watched us for ten hours, finally he come out, old white Southerner, typical, he looked like– just like one of the rebel of– rebels of the Confederate– Confederacy, and he come up and he said, there’s somethin’ I want to do for you folk. He pulled out a card, it was his Ku Klux Klan membership, and tore it up in front of our eyes. That made me believe that it’s possible to communicate. I could not believe it.
Hare: Well, how did you contain the people on the bus, you know, to work so many hours without anyone getting angry or really starting a hassle there?
Jones: That– that comes from that long tradition of pacifism, you know. We are a gentle people that will overcome– do any measure to overcome evil with gentle measures and enduring measures, because we’ve seen it work with people. We have people in our congregation who are former members of the Ku Klux Klan, a John Bircher in our congregation. It pays to try to persist with people. Love does overcome evil, if you can endure. And it isn’t my doing, it’s a consensus, uh, that we– we want to try so much to uh, break down the barriers. And it did break down a barrier there. It was fantastic.
Prokes: But you certainly provided the example. And I think people need to see an example, because that man that operated the rest stop, he was raised all his life, uh, he was taught racism, but he was touched. He saw uh, older black woman walking hand-in-hand with a small Caucasian child, and he was touched by it. He saw integration working, and it moved him to (unintelligible word under Jones) his membership in the Klan, which is unbelievable. But it happened.
Jones: We called him. We called him– call (unintelligible word under Prokes). They called to the newspaper of the little segregationist town, and they took a picture of (unintelligible word under Prokes).
Prokes: Even had his picture taken.
Jones: Our oldest black woman [Ever Rejoicing, aka Amanda Poindexter] and our oldest– uh, which was 106, black – and a hun– ninety, ninety-seven white, and uh, he took a picture right between them. (unintelligible word under Prokes)
Prokes: I don’t know that he still lives in that area.
Hare: I believe we should– Yes, well, they probably run him out following that kind of act. What do you ultimately plan to do with Peoples Temple? No, before that, I understand that at one time you were very ill. Um– Was it cancer or leukemia or something that you had, but somehow through your psychic healing powers, you sort of healed yourself. Is there any truth to that?
Jones: Well, that was what I was diagnosed. Yes, I was diagnosed, uh, many years ago.
Hare: Did you have cancer?
Jones: I believe that mi– Yes, I believe that mind is an untapped resource. We– when we see the Soviet Union who are uh, atheist and materialist, dialect– they believe in dialectic materialism, when they’re spending a million dollars, as some people say, a day studying uh, the uh, phenomenon of paranormal, we better consider it. Doctor Helen Flanders Dunbar said that uh– uh, she speaks of all these remissions, you know, one of our most eminent psychiatrists, just by attitude. So I– I think we under-estimate the power of mind, we have seen a number of people in our congregation healed through love therapy, as we call it, and I– I would consider that uh– (Pause) that we’d– haven’t even begun to touch this resource. It happened for me. Uh, I’m not saying there’s any panacea, I don’t think it has a thing to do with goodness, I don’t think that it should exclude medical science, it’s very important that we realize that spiritual healing or psychic healing uh, is not a panacea.
Hare: All right now, where do you see Peoples Temple going?
Jones: Right on, trying to plod wherever need calls us. The last few days, it called us to the International Hotel. It’s important that the system work for little people. And there’s been a terrible, terrible blight on uh, San Francisco, if there’d been a confrontation there, ‘cause those little people were going– uh, lay down and die. They were not violent, there were no weapons there, contrary to the statements of some, because I’d done a thorough investigation. They invited me in. We put 3000 people around there, and we’ve heard it said that uh, people uh, realized that– that there’d been a volatile situation, and they stayed the execution. I hope the community will allow little people at least the times to feel the system works, but if we don’t, we going to have a– it’s going to be a– there’s going to be a combustion.
Hare: You mean, uh, they refer to your church as the International Hotel because you were so actively involved in that?
Jones: Well, I think some people do. They think we’re the headquarters of the International Hotel. But we didn’t even know the International Hotel until we saw their need.
Hare: That’s better than being called Hotel Hanoi, which I can remember something very special in this country being referred to.
Hare: I’d like to thank Pastor Jones and Michael Prokes from the Peoples Temple. And as you know, this church, the Peoples Temple and the Reverend Jim Jones, have never failed to respond to public or private appeals for assistance in the pursuit and protection of individual liberty and freedom. Thank you so much for joining me tonight on Reactions, and I’m Julia Hare for KSFO.
Jones: It was a privilege, Julia.
Prokes: Thank you.
(Music) (Off air)
Hare: But you’re not quite finished. Now, do your little promo spots with you. First, there’s really been a lot of (unintelligible under music). I must come to a service. I almost come on Sunday, you know.
Jones: No, it’s the only– only time I ever– it’s the only time I’ve ever enjoyed a broadcast.
Jones: It’s the only time. (unintelligible under Hare)
Hare: I hope the engineer heard that so you’ll tell that to (unintelligible name).
Jones: That’s true. (unintelligible under music) Go on record. Go on record.
Hare: That’s right.
Jones: (unintelligible under music), but you have sensitivity, so it makes it easy.
Hare: You know, I was coming Sunday, remember?
Prokes: I was– He was caught in the east on a plane, and I left town and he got back in.
Hare: Dick (unintelligible last name), I hope you heard that. Pastor Jones said that it was a very informative interview. I know that it helped–
End of tape
Np>Tape originally posted April 2006