ummary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
FBI Catalogue: Jones Speaking
FBI preliminary tape identification note: Q 1057 – all parts – labeled in part “7-8-73 #14”
Date cues on tape: Fall 1973 (after defection of Eight Revolutionaries)
Nathan Hale, Revolutionary War figure
Benedict Arnold, traitor in American Revolution
John Brown, abolitionist
Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (by reference)
Dr. Young, physician at hospital in Redwood Valley
Dr. Schwartzman, veterinarian from Willits
Dr. Shugart (phonetic), veterinarian
James Thurman Jones (father of Jim Jones)
John Biddulph’s mother (by reference)
Terri Cobb, aka Terri Pietila
Deborah Daughtery (phonetic)
David Gannis (phonetic)
Lynetta Jones (by reference)
Marceline Jones (speaks)
Don Sly (speaks)
Wanda Swinney (speaks)
Lee Ethel Young
Dave [probably David Wise]
Sister Newman (could be Darlene Newman)
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.)
- “And Jesus said, in there he could do no mighty works, save that he had his hands upon few sick folk, and he marveled because their unbelief.… Jesus said he marveled because of their unbelief. I’m not going to marvel. Jesus marveled because of their unbelief, and he left town, it said. He went around about the other villages. I’m going to stay in town, child… I’m staying in town until I take all of you out of town, at least I can guarantee you that.” (Matthew 13:58 , “And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” Also, Mark 6:6, “And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.”)
“And Peters that are vacillating become rocks.” (Peter denies Jesus three times – Matthew 26:75, Mark 14:72, Luke 22:34, 61 – yet in Matthew 16:18, Jesus says, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.”)
“Why did Jesus have a Judas?… Only Jesuses have Judases.” (Gospel accounts of Judas’ betrayal in Matthew 26-27, Mark 14, Luke 22 and John 13)
“It was like the foot of the cross. It was like Golgotha’s brow.” (References to Golgotha as site of crucifixion at Matthew 27:33, Mark 15:22 and John 19:17-18)
“Prophets not without honor, it says here, but in his own country, among his own kin, and in his own house.” (Mark 6:4, “But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” See also Matthew 13:57, Luke 4:24, John 4:44)
“And he commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only, no scripture, no bread, no money in their purse. But be shod with sandals and not put on two coats. And he said unto them in what place so ever you enter the house thereby, till you depart from that place.” (Mark 6:8-10, “And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats. And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place.”)
“If you suffer persecutions, prosecutions, and they’ll even kill you thinking, they do God a service.” (John 16:2, “…[Y]ea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.”)
“Let’s remember that Sauls become Pauls.” (Book of Acts)
“Let the world beat each other to death. I’d rather be beaten like Stephen. I still look with admiration on Stephen who was stoned to death. I’d rather be the one stoned to death than get involved with this mess. I’m not going to live this way. I would prefer to be stoned to death. I don’t know about you, but I prefer to be stoned to death, than to get up into this stone sli- slinging and this murder-threatening and this violence-threatening.” (Acts 7:59-60, “And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”)
“They that live godly or whatever you want to call it, they that are good, going to suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”)
“Jesus Christ, the captain of our salvation, it was said, was made perfect through suffering.” (Hebrews 2:10, “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”)
“Jesus Christ… learned obedience through the death of the cross and became the author of eternal salvation.” (Hebrews 5:8-9, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”)
Editor’s note: This tape was transcribed by the late Michael Bellefountaine.
This tape from a 1973 meeting of the Peoples Temple congregation in Redwood Valley seems to be at the end of a service. The tape begins with Jim Jones preaching from the Bible, but in the second half, the conversation moves to administrative matters, discussion of new church policies and rules, and matters affecting Temple residents. The meeting includes a few testimonials about Jones’ influence and power, and as the tape ends, Jones is meditating on the illness of a congregant, but there is more conversation about ways to conduct the testimonials, with instructions on style and format – and appropriate venues – to praise the Temple leader.
The meeting is also less political than most – in part because of the subject matter, in part because many people other than Jones speak – but when Jones does speak, it is more inspirational and hopeful than many of his addresses from the period. There is much laughter and gentle banter in this meeting as well, and many of the criticisms are softened by a touch of humor.
There is also a call for forgiveness and redemption, in large measure because Jones is trying to entice eight recent apostates – the Eight Revolutionaries, who criticized the church in a letter (here) – back to the church. The break has likely been a recent one, as evidenced by the fact that Jim instructs his followers how to field phone calls from any of the defectors, and the anger that he reserves for his enemies (and whom these defectors will eventually be classed as) is not yet present.
The tape opens as Jones compares his role in American society with that of Jesus Christ in his time. He talks about the challenges facing Peoples Temple and the enemies that are outside the church. He predicts that there will eventually be “treasons” against the Temple, and makes two references – spaced by some time – to the apostle Judas who betrayed Jesus. Jones promises to stand with his people in order to protect them, although if the time comes that the protection requires him to remove himself from their presence, he is willing to do that.
The Temple needs the challenges, though, it needs the enemies, it needs the sense of betrayal that will come. “Why is it?” he asks rhetorically. “Every one of these things makes us stronger, every one of these things makes us more perfect … every one of these knocks boosts us a little more, everything that happens to us makes us a little wiser, and I hope we’ll let it make us more loving. That’s the hardest part.” When he returns to the theme towards the end of his address, he compares their travails with those of Christ, and says they won’t grow if life becomes easy for them. Quoting the New Testament, he says, “Jesus Christ, the captain of our salvation, it was said, was made perfect through suffering, learned obedience through the death of the cross and became the author of eternal salvation… [T]hey that are good [are] going to suffer persecution.”
He acknowledges they are in a society that values youth and strength, then demonstrates that he has similar values. While promising to take care of people who are paralyzed or too weak to take care of themselves, he will not appear before them in such a state. “I won’t be around as a paralyzed person to be drug in here,” he says. “I will never sit here that way. Never. ‘Cause I’ve been a leader, and I have to be kept in that image.” Speaking again of his own removal, he says that he would be “eliminated” if paralysis ever struck, but that “[n]obody will eliminate me but me.”
He urges his congregation to keep the faith, no matter what happens, and predicts both victories and defeats ahead of them. He then tells them of a victory, that of his wife Marceline prevailing in her efforts to keep her job. Marceline follows with the praise for “the miraculous power that sits right here,” but adds they take that power for granted. And while it is important to acknowledge that power, she says it is also true that “the time’s come when we’ve got to become what he is… The only difference between him and us is, that we’re not willing to live the selfless life to become what he has become.”
Among their defeats, though, Jones acknowledges the departure of the eight young people who will eventually be known as the Eight Revolutionaries (also as the Gang of Eight). He laments their loss of protection from the church, the problems – both physical and emotional – they have had and will have, but he speaks in a conciliatory tone. He refers to them as, among other things, the “little children that have lost their way.” Elsewhere, he uses biblical references to describe the scenarios for their return, asking his followers to “remember that Sauls become Pauls. And Peters that are vacillating become rocks.”
Even though this incident has drained time and resources from the Temple, Jones tells the congregation that they would welcome the prodigal sons and daughters with open arms. What’s also important, he reminds his followers, is that as unhappy as they might be with these departures, the people who left are truly “miserable, miserable in hell tonight.”
The subject of the apostates arises over and over again, showing its effect especially upon the Temple leadership. Throughout, though, Jones pleads for understanding and reconciliation. It’s better to try to love and understand them than it is to hate them, he says. “I can’t give to hate… Seen too much hate lately.”
Still later, he tells the congregation to let the defectors come back under their own terms, to let them tell their own stories, even if the people in the congregation know they aren’t true. “We want to make it sure that we don’t put any stumbling block in their way to get home, if they want to.” If anyone hears from any of the apostates, he says, tell them Father loves them and cares for them.
Jones uses the departure of the eight to pass along a few lessons. Several of the defectors had stopped coming to church, finding other priorities in their lives, and this was the result. It’s important to come to church, he says. If people don’t attend meetings, if they think they don’t need the fellowship, if you miss “the aura and the anointing and the honesty and the healing balm that I represent, you get in trouble.”
Late in the tape, Jones uses a tearful testimony to reinforce his point. One woman thanks Jones for his help when she faced a medical crisis. Jones replies, “See the difference. Now she had the operation the same time that Terri [Cobb] who’s temporarily lost her way, and Terri’s having to take two times the normal dosage of a horribly strong painkiller.”
Jones talks several times about violence, both allegedly perpetrated by the Temple, and those acts directed against the Temple. He states emphatically that the Temple doesn’t engage in violence – “I’ve never lifted a gun … We’re not beating anybody” – and that he would rather be like Saint Stephen, and “be stoned to death, than to get up into … this murder-threatening and this violence-threatening.”
Jones also professes bewilderment at the threats against his own life. Although he has powers of healing and prophecy, he says he doesn’t know why people would want to do him harm. “I don’t know how to relate to it.” As opposed to Jesus, who “left town” when people failed to see his power, Jones says that “I am in a greater degree now,” and that he will not stand down to the threats, that he will stay in town “until I take all of you out of town.”
(Jones returns to the threats against him near the end of the tape. Replying to an administrative announcement of a security meeting following the service, Jones echoes the need for greater security. Five people recently “got up nearly to my house,” he says, and they had a rifle. Repeating his earlier statement that he does not have a gun, he leaves them with the cryptic comment that “[i]t wasn’t a gun that stopped them.” But whatever the force is that blocked the attempt on his house, Jones says they shouldn’t depend on it stopping their enemies, and hence the need for security.)
People cry for Jones, because he says he is so loving to others and they don’t respond in kind, but he can’t – and won’t – cry for himself. He cries for other people, and asks them to feel enough for one another that they’ll cry too, but he doesn’t want people to cry for themselves. When they start to recount some of their hard luck stories, he says, he remembers how much harder his luck has been than theirs. But he tells them in a way that makes fun both of himself and the belly-achers: “I can give you a harder story than you got,” he says to the congregation’s laughter. “I can trump you every time. So if we’re going to get into these moaning stories, you let me have my time, and I’ll moan so much, … you’ll be tired of hearing your own moaning.”
In fact, much of the evening is filled with laughter, even as they conduct serious business. During a collection, Jones asks one woman not to write a check until she has balanced her checkbook, because her donations – which bounce – lead the Temple to think it has more money than it does. With good humor, he tells stories of people whom he’s healed, and how their dancing and singing and habits fill the church with joy and happiness. “We got a beautiful family,” he tells them.
Jones says that it’s important for the church family to grow, and predicts they’ll make history one day, although, he adds, “you may not like the kind of history we make.” He aligns the church with Nathan Hale, who died for his country, but more especially with John Brown, who died for the cause of ending racism. “We can shake people’s faith in the love of money and racism … dramatically and tremendously,” he says to rising applause, “if we will be willing to go to the gallows for what we believe.”
The announcements and church discussion that follow include the mundane – ranging from the size of the seat at the pulpit, to cleaning up a pear orchard, to taking care of a small child while the mother works, to setting up administrative committee meetings after the service breaks up – but some are infused with reminders of where they are and who their leader is. The Temple leadership has arranged for low cost rabies vaccinations and spaying services from a local vet, but during the conversation about it, one unknown male tells the gather, “Remember that every dog is to have rabies shot. Prophecy has been given that someone will die unless we heed this warning.” (He doesn’t know if cats are included in this prophecy.) When a woman seeks help for working at a rummage sale at her house – and the number of volunteers is falling short – Jones urges people to participate, since it’s “a great help to the cause.”
The business portion of the meeting shows how sensitive the Temple was to its public image, and what it needed to do. Penny, the woman in charge of arranging the testimonials during the services, lists some instructions, which Jones says she is presenting with his approval. The people who testify are told not to refer to their leader as “God” or as “Father.” “And don’t say socialism,” she commands. With editorial commentary from Jones, she tells them to be brief in their testimonies, to limit their praise statements to one or two points for maximum effect, and to leave out superfluous details, like “how the table was set and the kitchen chair, and what you said to your sister and what your brother said to you.” They need testimonials for the radio, she says, and violations of these rules means they can’t use them.
With Jim’s approving echo, Penny also advises the people on the frequency of their testimony. People who go up to the microphone over and over again should limit their appearances. Others, though, don’t appear at all. “I’m going to make a list of people that refuse to testify,” she says, “because if you’ve been in this work… and you can’t testify, it’s just too bad. And I am turning it in.”
As with other parts of this meeting, the instructions end on a light note. After Penny says she’ll instruct the microphone crew to “discreetly” walk away from people who are too long-winded in their testimony, Jones says they may have a problem with a few of their members. “I can think of one, Grace Loveberry. If she gets up, better let her alone, ‘cause you’ll have such a fight.” To scattered laughter, Jones concludes, “The only one way to change Grace, and that’s to kill her, and we don’t believe in that.”
The tape ends with Jones meditating on the people’s names written on slips of paper, revealing the diseases the people have, and suggesting they use the prayer cloths which the Temple provides to help. The voices and tone of the tape sounds as though it is at the end of this meeting, but it does follow a tape edit and may be from an earlier session.
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 16, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B108-29. This tape was found to contain the following:
Reverend JIM JONES at Redwood Valley People’s Temple celebration and also talks about some of the people who have left the church. Discussion concerns the day–to–day workings of the church.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted April 2004