Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
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FBI Catalogue: Jones Speaking
Date cues on tape: Summer 1973 (Watergate hearings on television, Jones refers to future date of August 28)
People in attendance at Peoples Temple service
- John Brown
- Marceline Jones
- Chris Lewis
- Sister Lewis (numerous of Lewis family, probably Lue Ester)
- Mary Murphy
- Edith Parks
- Joe Phillips]
- Bishop Crane, Texas religious supporter of Peoples Temple
Public figures/National and international names:
- Then-Vice President Spiro Agnew
- Then-President Richard Nixon
- Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA)
- Former President John F. Kennedy (by reference)
- Former Senator Robert F. Kennedy (D-NY) (by reference)
- Rev. Ralph Abernathy, black civil rights leader
- Rev. Martin Luther King
- Coretta Scott King, Martin’s widow
- Black Muslim leader Malcolm X
- Black Muslim leader Elijah Muhammad
- Rev. Kathryn Kuhlman
- Evangelist Billy Graham
- Evangelist Oral Roberts
- Dr. Sabitnov (phonetic), Soviet dissident
- Civil Rights Commission member, Father Theodore Hesburgh
- Consumer advocate Ralph Nader
- Author and futurist Paul Ehrlich
- Folksinger Joan Baez
- CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite
- San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto
- San Francisco Deputy Mayor Joe Johnson
Temple adversaries; members of Concerned Relatives:
- Lester Kinsolving, newspaper columnist, longtime Temple antagonist
- John Bacharach
- Russell Winburg
- Mrs. Reynolds of San Diego
- Mrs. Russell of San Diego
Unknown person mentioned in Temple service
- Walter Heady
- “Richardson clan”
- “Burgess clan”
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.)
- “Now the church has always said that man is shaped in sin by heredity.… Christians … say, Man is prenatally born in sin. They say, man is conceived in sin, and shapen in iniquity. Man, they say, comes into the world a sinner… Your Bible religion and all churches say, that man is born a sinner.” (Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”)
“He that winneth souls is wise.” (Proverbs 11:30, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.”)
“A soft answer turned away his wrath.” (Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”)
“That means you’ve got to minister to them when they’re hungry, you’ve got to feed them. When they’re naked, you’ve got to clothe them.” (Matthew 25:34-46)
“I want to put a hedge around you, with as many people as I can, so that perhaps when they come to get us, I’ll have some unrighteous Mammon. That’s an old parable that you would realize. I don’t like the use of that term. It’s a biblical term. Unrighteous Mammon.” (Luke 16:11, “If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?”)
“We say … as Jesus said, the Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (John 1:9, “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” See also, Matthew 5:14, John 3:19, John 8:12, John 9:5, John 11:9, and John 12:46)
“[B]ecause the Bible says, take care of the household of the faith. They say that the church can’t take care of its own. You know, that’s another little thing they’re trying to push. The church can’t do that. Well, now, who’s gonna decide this? Us or them. The Bible that they say that they believe in says that the church must take care first of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”)
“Jesus called it the love of money which is the root of all evil, and that’s capitalism. It’s the anti-Christ system.” (1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all evil.”)
This address by Jim Jones to his congregation in San Francisco during the summer of 1973 has many elements of his quasi-religious, quasi-political, quasi-social message. He speaks of the racism in the U.S. that will not die. He speaks of the capitalist society that will never let the black man or Peoples Temple, for that matter succeed. He alternates between suggesting that the members prepare to move to a socialist utopia (Guyana is not mentioned by name) or to stand and fight to the death. He chastises people, both collectively and individually, for falling asleep during the service, or moving around, or not paying attention. He speaks of his own powers, the miracles he performs, and the deaths he can cause through the power of his mind. The tone is conversational for much of the address, and he never raises his voice in anger or deep passion.
The address begins in mid-sentence, as Jones warns that medical laboratories are conducting experiments with chemicals and surgeries in order to lobotomize blacks and turn them into automatons, to do the white man’s dirty work and fight the white man’s wars.
He returns to the issue of race numerous times. He speaks later of the division among the races on the streets of San Francisco, and says “there’s only one person gonna stand to gain. That’s the rich honkies that control the system.” Martin Luther King died in vain, he asserts still later, and King’s movement lies in ashes.
Peoples Temple provides an alternative to a racist America, Jones says, a redemption from crime, a structure of security. Members of the church are different from those of other religions, because here, there are no sinners. “You would’ve called some of these people that are in our midst murderers… No, all they needed was a new nation, a new family, a place where they could be accepted, and when they were accepted, they were not murderers anymore.”
The reason is, Peoples Temple accepts neither religion itself nor its presumptions nor its place in the society at large. “If you’re born in this church, this socialist revolution, you’re not born in sin. If you’re born in capitalist America, racist America, fascist America, then you’re born in sin. But if you’re born in socialism, you’re not born in sin.”
The economic theme recurs several times as well. At another point, Jones defines capitalism as a system that creates racism, despair and inequality. “That’s what the society of capitalism says, the anti-Christ system says. Jesus called it the love of money which is the root of all evil, and that’s capitalism. It’s the anti-Christ system.”
He attacks other churches as being hypocritical and false, and says the other so-called faith-healers are phony. But even if they weren’t phony, the healings cannot form the basis for a religion. “Even if they did [heal], when the money doesn’t go to the right things, when the right teachings are not there, who wants healings? We want a new society, we want a new family of man.”
The most prevalent undercurrent, though, is the anticipated confrontation with America, and what they will do about it. There are two alternatives, as he sees it: survive by migrating to another country, or stay to fight and die. “Personally, I would be very happy if they came for me, and I would be glad to be the first to go to the execution line. That’s what I feel about it. I’m very, very wearied with this society. I’m very tired and tried with its sickness everywhere you go.”
The choice between migration and war fills the last portion of the tape. At one point, he extols the wonders of Cuba, and says that, rather than harass them, America ought to let them go “to someplace like Cuba where we can have some peace… But if you want to have a fight, then we’ll fight to the last one of us.” A few minutes later, he issues the ultimatum again: “we want to build America, but if they try to destroy us, we bargain right there. Let us go, let us get our busses lined up, and if you don’t, then you better prepare for a war dance.”
The threat extends to others outside of government as well. In complaining about lack of respect from the Black Muslim movement, Jones says, “They think they can push you around. You gotta learn that they can’t push us around.” He says he called Muslim leader Elijah Muhammad on the phone to issue the warning: “I said we’re going to have some understanding. I said, you want a bloodbath out here, or you want peace?”
The issue arises again during an analysis of nonviolence, when Jones says the path of nonviolence has its limits. We’re non-violent, he says, but we will fight to defend ourselves. “If they ever come after us… if they shed our blood, I got a feeling there’ll be some other blood mixed with ours.” Moments later, he confronts those who would preach nonviolence during a confrontation. “The fact of the matter, I think that some of you that are talking nonviolence, I don’t even trust what you’d do when they come after your ass.”
Later, however, he describes society’s threat, not as one against the church but as against himself. He still predicts the same result “You kill me, these people will make sure that you’ll have to kill every damn one of them” but then goes to the heart of the problem that the church faces: “Jim wants to die. Jim does not like this sinful society. Jim does not like this evil. The Father doesn’t recognize this world. This world is evil… I’d like to die. But you see, I must not die until … the last bit of me is used.”
He does offer other avenues for getting back at their enemies, though. Their activism might result in a tax audit but if it does, he hopes they’ll insist that other churches get audited as well but in any event, they can always threaten tax resistance. They can live outside the banking system, he warns. They have cash money in different places, they have silver, they have the ability to go without money and live off the land. “And if they say … they’re still gonna mess with [us], we’ll all quit our jobs and we go on welfare, that’s what we’ll do.”
Jones notices several times that people aren’t paying attention. They clap when others clap, but when the enemy comes to get all of them, those people won’t know why. “So you’ll miss the glory,” he says. “To us, when it comes, we’ll march up forward and say, can I help you with the noose?”
He also warns against people speaking against the movement, and warns people to be wary of dissent within themselves and rumor-mongering or gossip in others. “If you let one word of criticism come in, if you let one little thought get in, if you let anything divide you, you’ve been finished,” he says. “I cannot beat on that enough. They will not bother us if we are determined enough.”
Later, in the course of talking about a possible migration, he says if people don’t want to go with them, they can leave the movement at any time. A moment later, he shifts his position and says, he doesn’t see how people can leave their brothers and sisters, and concludes, “I think, in fact, we ought not to let them walk out.” The congregation’s reaction is subdued and tentative, and he presses the issue: he won’t let them walk out, but he will not use “a gun or a knife or my hands” to stop them. Instead, he says to rising cheers, he will use his mind. He talks about several people who gave them trouble in the past, or who threatened violence, or who said they were going to the police or the press, and reminds the congregation, no one has heard from them since, except for the ones who have died.
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 1B108-11. This tape was found to contain the following:
Reverend JIM JONES holding a People’s Temple celebration in San Francisco. He covers a wide spectrum of examples of the good of socialism and castigates peoples’ belief in religions and the evils of United States society. JONES lectures about violence and non-violence.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted January 2002