Q645 Transcript

Transcript prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.

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Cecil Williams: –who are not only doing things, but people who are really bringing about change in our society. One cannot talk about it at all, unless one mentions the name, the Reverend Jim Jones. Jim Jones, who is the pastor of the Peoples Temple Christian Church, is charismatic, is uh, unique, is serious about what he’s doing, is an excellent spokesman, a, a great articulator– What– What– What else can I say about you, Jim Jones, except the fact that I’m delighted that you’re on our show today.

Jones: Thank you very much.

Williams: And we’re going to be talking to this– this man, and what he’s about, as soon as we come back.

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Williams: –uh, you know, I really don’t uh, I don’t sit and talk with uh, personalities uh, on a one-to-one basis that often, but when I do, I try to bring to you, the viewers, the very– the very most important uh, people, uh, in– in regards to this kind of thing. And I’ve brought to you a minister, you know. That’s something that’s very difficult for me to do, unless he’s a unique minister, and here he is. (Laughs) Here’s the man today. Jim, uh, I’m amazed by you. I’m– I’m– I’m uh, uh– you know, I really many times can’t find words, ‘cause you are sometimes indescribable. You’re a very important person, a very powerful person. You are a prophet in– in– in– in his time, and ahead of his time too. Jim, uh, how did you come about doing what you’re doing, starting what you’re starting, moving in the direction that you’re moving in?

Jones: I saw the need, I guess, and responded to it the best I could. It always seems insignificant, Cecil, compared to the vast needs around you. But that’s how I got started, just looking at the need.

Williams: And when he talks about looking at the needs, uh, uh, you’ve, of course, uh, related to a lot of needs, not only in– in northern California, and in the state of California, but needs throughout the country, as well as needs uh, throughout uh, the world. We’re going to be talking about some of those needs, but let’s– let’s focus in on why– why do you, uh, go in the direction you’re going? Why– I mean, why did you say, look, we gotta meet some needs and go about getting at those needs.

Jones: Which direction? I’m– I feel like I’m the jack of all trades sometimes, and master of none. Which direction (unintelligible under Williams)–

Williams: All right– All right– Let’s– Yeah– Let’s, let’s just talk about one in particular, uh, Jim. One has to do with the fact that uh– First of all, one of the– the things that you do, is when it comes to issues, and especially when it comes to defending people who– who have to face injustices, you are always there, one way or the other. I think about uh, for instance uh, the situation in regards to the communications industry, the press.

Jones: Well, I thought– I thought [President Richard] Nixon was coming down severely upon the press, and of course, without the Fourth and Fifth Estate, where are we? It has exposed certainly as uh, clarified very clearly in the Watergate situation. We were concerned about the repression that this represented, so we felt that we had to get out there and represent different newsmen who were under attack because of their sources. And I guess our support, funding spread all over the United States, [reporter Bill] Farr first and then the Fresno Bee, and then we gave monies to various news associations. We’re very concerned about a free press.

Williams: Some even here in the Bay Area.

Jones: Oh yes. Yes.

Williams: Uh, in regards to the free press, what were you really trying to say? That it should take place, that in fact, uh, any information that press uh, feels that it must keep confidential, it should be given that right and that privilege to do so.

Jones: It has to, because of the intimidations that we’ve seen in such instances as Watergate. The press has to be able to keep their sources, and I thought that our whole democratic fabric was being threatened. Not only myself, but our congregation here of 8000. It wasn’t something unique to me. We’re very much concerned that the press has the right to moner– monitor society and be able to uh, regulate excesses or help to bring conscience to the community. We just felt there was nothing less– left for us to do. We had to respond. Because it seemed that Mr. Nixon was uh, on a tirade against the press.

Williams: And yet there’re times, Jim, that uh, you and I and others uh, are approached by the press and uh, and they do disservice to us. Some– Some. Every once in a while, we are not– we get into uh– We are misquoted (laughs), we are taken out of context and that kind of thing. How do we deal with that kind of thing, you know, when it happens to you, ‘cause you– you’re often in the press. You’re often quoted. You’re often talked about.

Jones: I don’t know what one can do. I guess we have to take our chances for the negative aspects in order to allow the press to be free, we have to take the chance that there’ll be a few that will practice yellow journalism, and I think there are a few. You and I know of one (unintelligible under Williams’ laughter), so uh, I don’t– I don’t get too much worried about it, as long as they print my– as the old saying, if they can print my name right in the paper. But we have to take the chance to the excess. I think (stumbles over words), it hurts when press is not responsible, and I have seen that in your case, and in one case, I’ve seen it with– uh, with myself. But still, the press is the bulwark of democracy.

Williams: Jim, you’ve taken a chance. You’ve taken a chance, ‘cause you’ve got all kinds of people uh, in the Peoples Temple Christian Church. How far does your– does your constituency uh, extend? Uh, in how many places?

Jones: Well, we have 8000 in San Francisco. Then we have uh, a church that I’ve founded– We’re all related with the Disciples of Christ, which is a two-million denomination. And then I have 10,000 members in our Los Angeles parish. I don’t know the breakdown, in Fresno, and Bakersfield, and Sacramento, but it’s pretty sizeable. And then Redwood Valley, California, we have a pretty sizeable congregation up north in– in uh, around the Ukiah area.

Williams: Why did you begin to work with various racial and ethnic groups, trying to bring them together?

Jones: It seems to me that– of course, it’s just right that we be together. And I thought uh, of all places, if Jesus Christ did not teach inclusiveness, he said, we were our brother’s keeper, and God is no respecter of persons. And certainly I believe in the voluntary type of approach to social problems. (unintelligible word) somewhat Jeffersonian, that the government that governs least governs best. And if the church doesn’t take its responsibility, where are we?

Williams: Umm.

Woman in recording room: Who is it?

Jones: Seems to me that the church had to uh, to initiate responsibility here.

Williams: Well, you’ve taken a great deal of responsibility. For instance, uh, let’s talk uh, just a little bit about uh, some of the things that you’re engaged in, in regards to the treatment of people. One in particular, drug addicts, uh, people that are strung out on, on dope, uh, uh, things like that. Wha– What do you do, Jim? What– What have you come up on in regards to that kind of issue? How– How do you get at that kind of issue with people?

Jones: In our situation, we bring them into our homes, I’ve had many– my wife [Marceline] and I have had many in our home, even though we have uh, seven adopted children [Stephanie Jones (died in 1959); Suzanne Jones; Agnes Paulette Jones; Stephan Gandhi Jones; James Warren Jones, Jr.; Lew Eric Jones; Timothy Glenn Tupper Jones], we’ve never had an issue with one person that we’ve taken in to attempt to rehabilitate. Love is lacking so often. Alienation. And just a little bit of love. You don’t have to have a great deal of professional skill. Our recidivism rate is very low on heroin, for instance. But the– the savvy uh, professional know-how,  I don’t– I don’t think we have so much in that area. We have some psychologists working with us, but I’d say the great achievement’s been uh, made– uh, be– been made by the– the nuclear family, where someone will just take someone into their home. Of course, those few days of withdrawal, we have facilities, and we go through that, and that’s a hell indescribable.

Williams: Yeah. Yeah. Withdrawal, I guess, is a very difficult thing, isn’t it? Yeah.

Jones: Terrible. Terrible.

Williams: Takes you a lot of your time too, doesn’t it?

Jones: Great deal. Great deal.

Williams: Uh, Jim, you got involved in one particular case of uh, of a black young woman.

Jones: Marie Decker.

Williams: Marie– That’s right. Uh, tell us a little bit about, uh, about her and about what happened.

Jones: She was an amazing person. She came hooked on a habit of about four hundred dollars a day, and of course she was involved in every type of crime that she could possibly get into to maintain that habit. And as she went along– course, she– it was no– no time, ‘cause she completely rehabilitated herself. And I think a lot of it– I have to keep the emphasis on the individual. Uh, we gave her support, acceptance, and she had a very prestigious job. But we found out later that she had actually uh, left probation, she uh– she had been a fugitive uh, from two different uh, senten– sentences, and uh– when– when she brought this to our attention, the church decided, well, we’re going to get in there and fight to straighten up her record, and we were able to achieve that by solidarity and appealing to the probation department, and the judge was most sympathetic, he uh, uh, allowed her probation to continue, and I think it’s going to be finished about April seventh– about uh, May seventh, I believe.

Williams: Mmm. You know, uh– (Clears throat) I’m just gonna move along with you here, because we got so much to cover, uh, Jim. Uh– let’s talk about other people that you’ve given support, other causes that you’ve given support. Uh, for instance, Angela Davis [University of California professor who was fired over her membership in the Communist Party].

Jones: Indeed.

Williams: Uh, you did support her.

Jones: Early.

Williams: Why did you feel that you had to support Angela Davis?

Jones: I believe that when one person’s rights are affected, everyone is. We supported a John Bircher on one occasion. It seemed to me that Angela, uh, was the victim of political oppression. I don’t care whether she’s a communist or if she’s a member of the Nazi party. I believe in the right– the First Amendment rights. I think that’s very essential. Wasn’t it Pastor [Martin] Niemoller that said when they came for the communist, I did nothing, because I wasn’t a communist. They came for the Jews, and I had typical Protestant prejudices, and I didn’t react. When they came for the Catholics and the trade unions, the same type of response. When they got around to coming after me, there was nobody left to– to defend my ci– to defend him. And I think uh, there’s enlightened self-interest. I– I– I doubt– I don’t believe we can restrict anyone’s right of freedom of speech.

Williams: Mmm. Mmm. Well, you know, now, that puts you in a category of being– you know, you could easily be called a communist, just by supporting the rights of a communist.

Jones: I know what they call me. I don’t really care.

Williams: (Laughs) Jim, uh, you’ve been involved in– in a more recent uh, defense and– and– and uh, standing up for, for a person, namely uh, [Native American activist] Dennis Banks. Now, before we get into that, I just got a sign from the man who says, Take a break. And so we’re gonna take a break. We’ll come back and talk to Jim Jones about Dennis Banks in just a minute.

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Williams: Uh, we’re talking to Jim Jones, the Reverend Jim Jones from the uh, Peoples Temple Christian Church. A vast number of people that he’s brought together, of all colors, all ethnic backgrounds, all socio-economic levels. Jim, uh, you have been working very hard to uh, to guarantee at least uh, Dennis uh some, some equity uh, in regards to uh, what he’s going through as it relates to his extradition. Uh, what are you doing in regards to Dennis Banks at this point? What have you done? I– I read a, a very fascinating, uh, uh, little story not too long ago about something that you did in bringing his family and to other things. Tell us about that.

Jones: His wife, Kamook, you know, was arrested in another state, and uh, and– and suffered a great deal of maltreatment. Her baby was born behind bars, they named her  (unintelligible name) and uh, she wasn’t even allowed the normal process of her breasts to be uh, uh, for the milk to be taken care of, so that she developed infections. And she’d been there for four months, and we felt as a congregation, we had to respond. Dennis Banks is a good man. We’ve helped a lot of people, Cecil. And when they get their health, they’re gone, but the moment we helped this man – I think we raised $20,000 as a bond for her – he came back time and time again, responding with such graciousness and– and warmth and compassion. He wept before a congregation of several thousand, and it was really spontaneous. This is a good man. I think Scrimerhorn [phonetic] said in the Examiner, that uh, all of his witnesses, and even his counsel, had been intimidated back in the state where he had come from, and– even the Iowa Methodist– Iowa Methodist conference put up his bond, and they said he had no other choice but to leave, because there was even threats put out on every one of those witnesses, and most people have the feeling– in one of the, I think, one of the district attorneys said that if he comes back, the best– He said the best resolution for the Indian movement is a bullet in Dennis Banks’ head. And we have to face the fact that the one that was arrested with him, Annie, I’ve forgotten her last name [American Indian Movement (AIM) activist Anna Mae Pictou Aquash], they said she died of exposure, but there was pressure brought to bear, and she was exhumed, and they found a bullet at close range. And it looks pretty ba– much like a conspiracy.

Williams: See, that’s why you’re so important, because uh, you get out there, uh, when the– when the– when the water is rough, uh, you see, you get out there when the wind is blowing, uh, very strong, uh, maybe uh, currents against people. And you uh, in many ways, and the people that you– you work with, help change that current and that tide, in regards to, to the lives of people. I– I want to deal with that in just a few minutes, but I want– let– I want to get at some– You did something in the Tenderloin area for the senior citizens. They were about to lose protection, uh, you know. Uh, what happened in that situation? That’s my area now, you know, that’s where I’m located. And yet you come down there, uh, get me in on the– on the– on the problems that we face down there.

Jones: Well, you get into problems everywhere so (unintelligible phrase under Williams’ laughter), we can help you out a little bit.

Williams: Thank you. (Laughs)

Jones: Uh, this uh, situation touched us. Here was an inter-racial group of ex-Vietnam veterans who had a– a warm relationship, a– a deeply warm, family relationship with the predominantly white citizens, who had no love in their life, couldn’t even get – some of them – to give them some groceries, and out of their salary, their meager– meager salaries, they were helping support these senior citizens in that area. And so again, the church felt that they should respond. The program was about to go down the tubes, and we came up with the six thousand dollars to tide them over until they got funded. And now they’re funded, and I’m very happy that that was one of the successes.

Williams: There’s another thing I want to say to our viewers today also, is that uh, on November thirtieth last year, uh, when I uh, had uh, it was sort of like a culmination of my ten years in San Francisco, and we called it uh, uh, the uh, uh, change agents coming together, celebration for change, at that particular time we – the Center for Self-Determination, a new program that we began at Glide – uh, had a, had a benefit, and it was Jim Jones who brought 1500 people to that benefit, who bought tickets, and, and uh, what, six– close to 6000 dollars worth of tickets to that, to that benefit. It was this man who– and his people that did that. Jim, let– let’s go on. Uh, you know, I want to publicly say that to the people about what you’ve done for me, too, my man. But not only there, just being a brother, and– and being a close friend, where we can talk with each other.

Jones: Well, I wasn’t doing it for you personally, Cecil, I think that the community has to realize that if they are concerned about tyranny, communistic or fascistic, they better support groups such as yourself and get involved in everything, and show the people that feel alienated that they have a chance to work within society. So, it wasn’t just a personal friendship. We approve of the things you’re doing.

Williams: Thank you, my man. Thank you. Uh, let’s talk about something that you’ve got going uh, in other countries. South America, for instance.

Jones: Yes.

Williams: Uh, you’ve got quite a– quite a resourceful uh, relationship, and uh, some very fascinating things taking place down there. What– What are you engaged in down there?

Jones: We have an agricultural mission there on several thousand acres that’ve been granted us, and uh, we’ve acquired from the uh, Republic of Guyana. And we’ve been– For instance, last week, we brought in 60,000 pounds of yams. That goes a long way to help with the poverty. Plus it’s not a paternalistic-type of Christian mission. We give employment to about 200 people. And again, that– that helps to alter the ugly American image.

Williams: Yeah. Sure.

Jones: And– and– and uh, combat the forces of tyranny, right or left.

Williams: Um-hmm. Yeah. And that uh, that kind of uh, response, uh, certainly means a lot, I’m sure. Where you say, you know, it’s important to give jobs to people, it’s not a maternalistic kind of response of relationship, but you see, that’s the way you are. You do that constantly. Uh, you– you’ve made your stand. You keep making your stand. You will continue to make your stand. You know, the interesting thing about this man is the fact that uh, that you have a lot of uh, resources, uh, uh, in regards to taking care of uh, of uh, not only people, but animals. What do you do that, Jim? Why did you get interested in animals there?

Jones: Well, I’m subjective and very sensitive about animals, but I think sensitive to li– to life, there’s some sort of correlation, I wouldn’t want to generalize. I’ve notice people who are hardened to animals often– It carries over, and they’re hardened to humans. Of course, you have strange contradictions, where someone will give all sorts of regard, as Adolf Hitler did, for his animal, and have no regards for human beings. But we feel that you have to have sensitivity for the total life, uh, and– and– and we’re concerned that uh, we take in as many animals as we can and neuter them – there’s a terrible overpopulation and such cruel treatment. I am sure you’re familiar with the way they’re exterminated, some of them are crowded into a vat, or a gas chamber meant for one, they throw 16, 17 dogs in this kind of a situation. We just– We’re just opposed to cruelty. We– We like to help wherever there’s need, and there’s a great need with animals. And so, we find ourselves in every facet of life, we have geriatric homes, we have a children’s home for retarded chil– for retarded youngsters, uh, I can– and we have a free legal services, a medical examination facility under doctors’ auspices, physical therapist and nurse practitioners and R.N.s, particularly senior citizens in the lower socio-economic income level, they have a time with arthritis, and we have– we’re equipped with (unintelligible medical term) ultrasonic uh, treatment, that we–

Williams: Do you treat everybody?

Jones: Oh yes. Anybody–

Williams: You wouldn’t hold back on anybody.

Jones: No, uh, there’s no membership requirement.

Williams: Umm-hmm.

Jones: No.

Williams: You don’t have– They don’t have to co– beco– become members, nor do they have to start uh, uh, you know, uh, following some kind of a discipline that you, you know–

Jones: No, no, no.

Williams: –put on their heads.

Jones: I don’t–­ I don’t believe in this business of having to say a prayer before you get (unintelligible word under Williams’ laugh)–

Williams: Yeah, right. (Laughs) That’s what I was getting at, but you caught– (Laughs) Exactly. Jim, uh, you do have a great ministry. Uh, one thing uh, that, that’s involved in it, has to do with uh, something that uh, that uh, you and I call a healing ministry. Both of us. And a lot of people talk about the healing ministry. I had a sister who had cancer 12 years ago, uh, she was operated on, the doctors gave her uh, said in three months she would die. My sister is still alive, teaching school, back to health. It was cancer of the pancreas, by the way, very serious.

Jones: Considered incurable.

Williams: Con– considered incurable. She’s– she’s– she’s fine today. Uh, she had a lot of faith. She said, I will not, I will not give up at this point. What– talk a little about that.

Jones: There’s a place indeed for a responsible and sane spiritual healing. It must be in conjunction with medical science, because we know there’s no panacea. We’ve had similar remissions. I was just thinking while you talked, of a lovely Russian lady who, uh, her– the metastasis of cancer was so thorough that each of her lymph glands was swollen like a ball. And uh, similarly, she had faith. Give purpose. There’s a tremendous dimension that we’re unfamiliar with, and of course, if even in the Soviet Union, a materialistic nation supposedly, is spending, what is it, $12 million a year, something like that, to study paranormal faculty, therapeutic healing, many medical science– uh, scientists now, in nursing schools, medical schools, are emphasizing therapeutic healing. The– the laying on of hands in– in direct correlation with uh, physical treatment, so undoubtedly there’s a dimension there that the responsible church must take over. And if we don’t, what are we going to leave it to? The uh, the type that says, “Trust God, and don’t go to the doctor.” So many of the people involved in healing want to knock medical science. And many then die. I think they do far more harm than good, because they’ll keep people from going to medical science. When we find someone who thinks they have a healing, we say, get to the doctor and verify it.

Williams: Good! We’ve gotta take a break, and we’ll come right back and conclude our program with the Reverend Jim Jones.

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Williams: Jim Jones. Uh, Jim, where do you get your money from? How– How do the people– You know, how do you– how do you maintain all these, you know, these great programs that you’re part of, that you give leadership to? How do you maintain them?

Jones: People are pretty generous when they see how their money is being used. They see– They see definite results. We got a community center, an indoor swimming pool, and all these rest (stumbles over words), I think we have a novel thing in geriatric facilities, where the senior citizens themselves manage and direct. The only input is manual labor. We don’t dictate to them how– what about their diet, the décor, everything. Uh– when they see results, people give generously. We don’t have a mandate about tithing. Some do. But of course, we have a large membership, and that explains uh, the support, and they’ll put on projects of various sorts. We get no outside help from the community to speak of, but uh, our people are very, very generous.

Williams: Jim, where are we going to go? Where are we going? When–

Jones: In terms–

Williams: In terms of uh, of society, of America, of the world, where are we going to go? Can you give it to me in 30 seconds? (Laughs)

Jones: I think we have to be very careful that we must do something about the alienation of the ethnic groups and rac– racism. As even [NAACP Executive Director] Roy Wilkins– Roy Wilkins, a conservative, and the Senator that just retired. We’ve got a problem, and we’ve got to overcome that, because a house divided against itself can’t stand. We must do something about racism quickly.

Williams: Here’s a man, I have to tell you, that I think is a– If I, you know, being honest, I think he’s a genius, I think he’s a prophet. He’s charismatic. He’s one of our great leaders. I’m glad to be associated with you. Brother, we gone stay together, ‘cause I know, if I stay with you, we gone make it. (Laughs) We’ll bring about justice. Walk that walk, and talk that talk. And be that be, and love that love, and struggle that struggle. Look for us. We’ll be there.

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Tape originally posted April 2006