Tape Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
FBI Catalogue: Jones Speaking
FBI preliminary identification note: Labeled in part “7-1-72”
Date cues on tape: Tape contents consistent with identification note
People in attendance at Peoples Temple service
- Willie Bryant
- Jim Cobb (by reference)
- Louise Henry
- James Jones Jr.
- Marceline Jones
- Stephan Jones (by reference)
- Eva Pugh<
- James Pugh (by reference)
- Kerry Ross
- Dr. Earl Thomas
- Gertrude (Last name unknown); could be Gertrude Nailor
- Janie (Last name unknown) (speaks)
Public figures/National and international names:
- Hubert Horatio Humphrey, Democratic presidential candidate
- Former President John F. Kennedy
- Former Senator Robert Kennedy
- Democratic presidential candidate, Senator George McGovern
- President Richard Nixon (by reference)
- Former Alabama governor and presidential candidate George Wallace
- A.A. Allen, faith healer
- Billy Graham, evangelist
- Reverend Ike, black religious leader
- Martin Luther King
- Sirhan B. Sirhan, convicted assassin of Robert Kennedy
- CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, 19th century minister and philosopher
- Henry David Thoreau, 19th century writer
- George Washington
- San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto (by reference)
- Carlton Goodlett, physician and publisher of Sun-Reporter<
- Reverend Green, minister with Baptist Alliance
- Reverend Hickey, minister of Crouch Temple Church of God in Christ in Seattle
- Doctor George L. Bedford, Pastor, Macedonia Baptist Church
- Virginia Graham, host of national televised woman’s program
- Doctor Curtis
- Reverend Krause
- Ethel Taylor, head of usher board of Missionary Baptist Church
- Doctor Whitaker of Santa Rosa
Bible verses cited:
(Editor’s note: The verses below appear in order of biblical reference, not as they appear in Jim Jones’ address. For a complete scriptural index to the sermons of Jim Jones, click here.)
- Extended discussion of creation stories in Genesis, Chapters 1 and 2
“Judges 1:19 … says God could drive, drave out— it’s not even spelled right. Said he could drave out the inhabitants of the mountains, but he couldn’t do nothing with those inhabitants of the valley, ëcause they had chariots.” (Judges 1:19: “And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but cou,d not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.”)
“I’m like Elisha of old, that Jews talk about in the old history books. He said, let the God that’s God answer by fire. Until you can get something that’s doing work for you, work that I’m doing for the people, then why don’t you try me?” (2 Kings 6:17: “And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”)
“You have to come, let us reason together.” (Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”)
“That’s why it said in the last days, there’ll be a famine for the hearing of the word.” (Amos 8:11: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.”)
“I’ve shown you that they don’t know who Jesus’ grandparents are. I’ve shown you that the Gospels disagree as to how many grandparents he had.” (Matthew 1:1-16 compared with Luke 3:23-34)
“[The Bible] Said when he was baptized, one writer said that he immediately went for forty days into the wilderness. And forty nights. And he saw no one but the devil. Said he was tempted by the devil. Raised up to a high pinnacle on the temple. There’s no pinnacles in temples. I don’t know whether you know that or not, but they don’t happen to be any pinnacles in temples. Well anyway, the other writer says … three days after he was baptized and the doves settled on him, he was over having a good time in Galilee, turn the water into wine.” (Matthew 4:1-10, compared with John 1:29-2:10)
“How you know there’s a heaven? Jesus didn’t talk about going anywhere. He said, Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, in earth.” (Matthew 6:10: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”)
“It’s not straight about where he ascended from. One place says … all the thieves railed on him. Another place, it says, only one railed on him. And the other ones rebuked the other thief and said— Jesus said, this day, you will be with me in Paradise. One place it says that Jesus was crucified the third hour, and the other [the] sixth hour, one place it says that he was three days in the belly of the earth, the other place he said he died Friday and rose Sunday, that’s a day and a half.” (Crucifixion accounts in Mark, esp. 15:24-28, compared with Luke, esp. 23:39-44)
“[Jesus] said, the kingdom of heaven is nigh to you. It’s within you.” (Luke 10:9-11, esp. 9:11: “notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” Also, Luke 17:21: “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”)
“I feel like Jesus felt when he looked over Jerusalem. Every row I go back, I see several folks sleeping. He said, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how oft I would have gathered you, like a brood, doth are chickens under the wings, and you would not.” (Luke 13:34: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!”)
“That’s how you have to have a preacher that’s sent from God. How can you hear without a preacher? How can he preach, lest he be sent? How do you know he’s sent? He’ll have these supernatural gifts, but more than that, he’ll have a supernatural love. He’ll have the fruits of the spirit and the gifts of the spirit. Said, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. The word of God’s not written, it didn’t say faith cometh by reading, it says faith cometh by hearing. Listening.” (Romans 10:14-17: “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? … So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”)
“’Cause the Bible says, let the women keep silent in all the churches. ‘Cause Paul, according to King James, he interpreted Paul, and he didn’t like women, so he said, let the women keep silent in all the churches. Said, suffer not a woman to teach. If she wants to learn anything, let her go home and ask her husband.” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35, “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” Also, 1 Timothy 2:12, “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”)
“[The Bible] tells the awful things, it says, slaves, obey your masters. You don’t believe that. Thank goodness, you didn’t. Or you’d still be in chains. That’s why they wrote it, though, to keep you like that— That’s why they made you a Baptist and chained you to the chair, so that you’d be good. They wanted you to be a good field— good field Negroes. You know in the old days, there were the house niggers, and there were the field niggers. They wanted to get you to be a good house nigger, to say, “Yes, Master,” “No, Master.” “Thank you, Master.” “Thank you, Lord.” You want to know why I didn’t believe (unintelligible word) want to say Lord? Lord means the owner of slaves. I’m not a slave for anybody. I don’t want to serve anybody that is a slave owner.” (Colossians 3:22: “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God.” See also, Ephesians 6:5, Titus 2:9)
“The Bible says, obey your husband.” (1 Peter 3:1: “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives.” See also Ephesians 5:24.)
“Let’s get together, because we don’t know that there’s going to be anything but what Jesus said, what’s in your hand, what Moses said, what’s in your hand, use it with all your might.” (Reference unclear)
This Jim Jones sermon before the members of the Peoples Temple congregation in Los Angeles contains many elements of Jones’ oratory from the period of the early 1970s. There is much political commentary, there are references to his healing powers, and there are reminders of the benefits that people have within the Temple. Most of the sermon is devoted to the Bible, though, and Jones uses it both to demonstrate his mandate to speak for God and to mock it as a source of hypocrisy, inaccuracy and oppression. Indeed, he combines these two concepts by denouncing the “Skygod” of the Bible — a reference he makes over and over here, as well as in other addresses of the period — and by proclaiming himself as God.
In his political moments, he criticizes President Nixon for opposing an increase in Social Security benefits, which, he says, will bring hardship to the people in his church. Later, Jones speaks of the administration’s plan to “take over by dictatorship, and … yield electoral process … yield the Constitution.” While he was not the only person in 1972 who circulated the allegation that Nixon planned to cancel the 1972 elections due to national emergency, Jones does add the warning that “it’s our CIA, our American Central Intelligence Agency that’s doing it.”
Jones says that concentration camps have already been constructed in a half dozen locations around the country, “already ready for fools like us.” He returns to this theme later in the tape, describing the national plan for “racial genocide.” Uniting his criticisms of politics and religion, he warns his followers not to count on God saving them from this genocide. That’s what the Jews — “God’s chosen people” — believed before World War II, but their faith didn’t save them.
Following one of his warnings of the approaching holocaust in America — for which he says he knows the date and time — he says he plans to lead the escape for his people to Canada.
Jones also sprinkles in criticisms of the Supreme Court several times during his address, blasting it for a decision which forces reporters to reveal their news sources, and telling his congregation that the court’s recent decision on capital punishment didn’t ban executions, but instead turned the issue over to the states.
Although Jones defends the press on several occasions as the instrument that keeps the system in check, he rails against it as well, accusing it of being part of a system that glorifies violence and murder. “And that’s what they [the system] want you to do, to like the rich rulers, the bankers, the international capitalists, the Mafia, they want to brainwash you, so you’ll like your enemies, and let them kill you even further.”
The root of the violence, he continues, is that people love money, and think that accumulation of personal wealth will make them free. But that’s not the answer, he says. “We’re gonna get free when we put our money together and build hospitals, and build factories, and build mills, and build farms, and build homes, and build schools, and get together.” He also cautions people about worshipping preachers, whom he says are “pimps” and “whoremongers” who will use up their parishioners for what they can contribute to their churches, and then discard them.
Jones says he lives his life one day at a time, and life is prettier for it. The reason he does it, he says is “[b]ecause I know the price of truth may be one day, that I’ll have to lay down my life, but I’m not afraid to lay down my life for my brethren… I lost that fear someplace. Someplace I lost it. And I’m a freer person because of it… And that’s the price of truth.”
But, he adds, the cost of preaching the truth is high, and he has been persecuted for it. Speaking rhetorically, he asks: “What are they afraid of? They got so much God, what are they afraid of? If you’ve got so much God, why are you afraid of this little ol’ nigger Indian? If you’ve got so much truth in you, why are you afraid to hear me?”
The subject of his truth spills into his discussion of his healings. He says he could keep the place packed, if all he did was healings, but — even as he points out those whom he has healed — he says he views the healings as a way to get people in the church so they can hear the truth. The problem is — and he points out these people throughout his address as well — people would rather leave than hear the truth.
He also warns that those who leave the service will face serious consequences. “Three out of four who’ve walked out of here, either had some impending disaster or some sickness. The worst ones that I said that needed me, have walked out. But they think they don’t need me, so that’s their problem, I guess. I can’t do anything about it.”
He calls out to others later in the service, that he finds it incomprehensible that they would leave while he is pouring out his soul. A moment later, he tells of a woman who left despite his warnings of coming trouble, and who felt down the back steps of the church and broke both hips. Even though she had quit the Temple and hadn’t even given a dime during the time she was associated with it, Jones was the one — and the only one — who visited her in the hospital and helped with her rehabilitation after her release.
He says the first person he healed was himself. Seventeen years earlier, he said, he had terminal cancer. “What healed me? I looked at my babies that I’d adopted. I didn’t asked to be healed. I said, who’s going to raise them? And a glow came within me. I said, I’m well.”
But most of his address is a commentary on the Bible. He begins by describing everything he does for his people — including the healings, but other things as well — and then asks, whom the people would follow if they don’t follow him. Certainly, he adds, they haven’t found a living person who does what he does, and who, by those actions, demonstrates who he is. Certainly, he continues, they aren’t going to follow what the Bible says, because — and here’s what he calls a “last bombshell” — the Bible is full of errors. It contradicts itself on Jesus’ lineage and on accounts of the crucifixion. It provides the foundation for enslavement of other peoples and oppression of women. Is this what they want to put their faith in, rather than in Jim Jones?
People criticize him because he doesn’t give glory to the Lord for the work that he does, Jones says. But “where is the Lord?” he asks. “Has he come along lately?” No, he answers himself, it’s Jim Jones that has come along. “You wouldn’t know there was a God, if I wasn’t walking… [And] when you see God in me, that’s when it’s going to be reproduced in you. When you see the works in me, it’ll be reproduced in you. When you can see the hope of the world here, it’s in the body now.”
Jones differentiates between a creator God and a savior God. After picking apart the various stories of the creation in Genesis, he says he wouldn’t have created the world with all its messes and problems and cruelties, as their Skygod was said to have done. He makes the message personal, and tells the congregation about the death of his grandfather while the town doctor was treating a rich man’s minor ailment. “I quit looking up then [and] started looking within. And ever since then, nobody’s died in my presence.” He reiterates the point later on, when he speaks of the failed assassination attempts against him. “I’m still going, because I don’t believe in a Skygod, I believe in me, God in me. That’s what I believe in.”
One of the problems with believing in a Skygod, Jones says, is that people who do often “stop thinking.” What he wants to do, he says, is to wake them up, to view the Bible as he does, and to see himself as he sees himself.
After all of his criticisms of the Bible, he returns to its words as the proof of his own message. Churches need to work to help the people instead of preaching at them about the glory of heaven after death, he says. “Jesus said the kingdom that is within. Thy kingdom, in earth. It’s gonna have to be built in earth.”
Jones says he doesn’t ask his followers for money, but does want them to put their money into organizing communities and finding ways to protect themselves. At the same time, he laments that there is only $433 in the collection plate that night, when phony healers and other preachers get thousands. He then asks his congregation to compare the work of other churches with that of Peoples Temple. Even when he notes the similarities of Temple facilities with other churches — such as heated swimming pools — he reminds his followers that other churches provide the pools for their leaders, and the Temple has them for the general membership. “I don’t have a heated pool. The people have a heated pool… we can do physical therapy in the heated pool, for our children.”
The last point Jones makes before the tape ends — and as the sermon winds down — is a reprise of the notion of an all-knowing, all-caring Skygod that would allow “two out of three babies are going to bed hungry every day. People of all races, just because of the color of their skin, they get the worst shaft. Just because of the color of their skin, they get the worst treatment… I may not make you believe there’s not a Skygod, but I’m gonna tell you, you can’t prove, with all your life, you can’t prove that he’s friendly.”
If it sounds like he means to tear down what they held before, he concludes, they’re right. He does. “Maybe if I do away with something, you might start building something proper… I’m not going to give you any positive things today, I’m gonna give the negative, so that you’ll get the old torn down.” People won’t find their justice in the sky, he says as the tape ends. “You’ll get no more justice than what you work for right here.”
Date of transcription: 6/21/79
In connection with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigation into the assassination of U.S. Congressman LEO J. RYAN at Port Kaituma, Guyana, South America, on November 18, 1978, a tape recording was obtained. This tape recording was located in Jonestown, Guyana, South America, and was turned over to U.S. Officials in Guyana and subsequently transported to the United States.
On June 15, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B108-4. This tape was found to contain the following:
JIM JONES preaching.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate — as minimal as it is — and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted February 2003