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 tape identification note: Q 1057 – all parts – labeled in part “7-8-73 #14”
Date cues on tape: Summer of 1972 (Reference to funeral of Betty Grable, who died July 2)
Mr. Cardinel (phonetic)
California Governor Jerry Brown
Elijah Muhammad, leader of Nation of Islam
President Richard Nixon
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.)
- Reference to Methuselah and 900-year lifespan (Genesis 5:21-27)
Reference to Moses leading his “children” out of Egypt (Exodus)
Story of Job (Book of Job)
“God … said, see thou my servant Job? He’s a man, perfect in all of his ways.” (Job 1:8, “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?”)
“Matthew the first chapter, Luke the third chapter, disagree with even who Jesus’ grandfather is. One said that it was Heli, the other one says it’s Jacob. One says his great-grandfather was Matthan, the other misspells it and says it’s Matthat.” (Matthew 1:15-16, “Matthan begat Jacob; And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ”; Luke 3:23-24, “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, Which was the son of Matthat…”)
Commentary on Lord’s Prayer, emphasis on “in earth” (Luke 11:2-4)
“Well, you better set and get the truth, because it’s the truth that sets you free… I’m telling you the truth now. This is what’ll set you free…. That’s the greatest resurrection of all. Their mind has been liberated. Their mind has been set free. They now think. They now know the truth, and the truth has set them free.” (John 8:32, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”)
“Jesus said, I am God. And they crucified him for it… He said, why are you going to kill me? Because I’m teaching that ye all are gods. Because your ancient law says, it is written, ye all are gods and sons of the most high. So we are sons of the most high, and that most high is a socialist non-violent revolution.” (John 10:34, “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?” Psalms 82:6, “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.”)
“Jesus Christ said, that these things shall you do, and greater.” (John 14:12, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”)
“Paul said, I perceive that you’re entirely too superstitious. He said, you make an engraving, a superstition to the unknown God.” (Acts 17:22-23: “Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.”)
“Paul said, you must become all things to all men, by any means, to save the more.” (1 Corinthians 9:22, “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”)
“You said, Jesus didn’t preach this. Oh, yes he did. Jesus said, I was a slave. Phillipians said, Jesus, though I was a servant — that means slave in the original — yet I considered it not robbery to be equal with your Buzzard God.” (Philippians 2:6-8, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.”)
“I’m using Paul’s language to try to get a truth across to you. Paul said, I count it all dung.” (Philippians 3:8, “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.”)
In a free-form address to the members of the Peoples Temple congregation in Los Angeles in 1972 , Jim Jones mixes several of the elements of his speeches of the period: descriptions of his healings and miracles, discussions of religion — including his practice of using the Bible to discredit the Bible — political and social commentary, and harsh criticism of those who disagree with him.
The tape begins in mid-sentence, as Jones tells his followers how to get new members through word of mouth and phone calls. The key to immortality, he says, is to talk to 20 people a day about Peoples Temple.
He speaks to them of his coming to give them Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. When people say that Jesus is acting through Jim Jones, he replies, “Nobody does a thing through me, honey. It’s me that does it.” And, he adds, before people get too upset with those words, just remember the healings he has performed.
Jones talks about the “niggers” in the congregation, and says the term isn’t just for black people. The Mexicans and Indians there are niggers, too. Later, he adds Catholics to the list of niggers. He eventually defines a nigger as anyone the Ku Klux Klan hates: “[T]heir hate is against Catholics, Jews, blacks, Indians, Mexicans, anybody from lower Europe, Greeks, Latin, Spanish, so honey, you didn’t know it, but the Ku Klux Klan calls you a nigger.” But, he adds, he’s proud to be a nigger, and tells people, it’s okay for them to use the word as a joke inside the church, since it takes the sting out of people being hurt by the term outside.
The theme of truth recurs often in the address, as it does in many speeches of the period (“You better set and get the truth, because it’s the truth that sets you free”). He exhorts his followers not to be dead in the “old religion,” but to follow his sayings and example. His miracles are wonderful, he says, and people can live a long time with his protection, but if they don’t combine them with his teachings, “if you live a long life and be stupid, you might as well be dead.”
He makes this point more as a contingency as the address continues. “If you want to get healed with cancer, you take my black and Jewish and freedom-liberation message… Because I’m not going to give you my healing, unless you take my truth. If you won’t stand on your feet for what I’ve got to say, then you can sit on your ass and die.” Later, he rewards a young man who stood up for Jones, and was honorable enough to be obedient, by saying, “I wouldn’t heal you [before], but now I will heal you.”
He eventually becomes more passionate and adamant about the issue, when, after tearing down the Bible and the Buzzard God it worships, he says, “I don’t care you like it… I’m still the one that raised the two up from the dead yesterday… These people can tell you, it’s the same one that said, OAss,’ honey. Same God. Same God… I didn’t come here to give you miracles just so you could go back to those old gospel churches, those old lying-dog, jackleg churches, I didn’t come to give you the truth, that you could go back into that old lie.”
And who is the God that Jones criticizes? It’s the God that lets little babies starve, the God that made Satan — who left God lonely when he rebelled and took a third of the angels with him — the Skygod who acted in his loneliness to create Man. “If I found myself in this hellhole, and I was alone, I’d stay alone, because I love you too much.” With his voice climbing to a ministerial fervor, Jones then tells his followers they can call him a Redeemer or a Savior or a Deliverer or a liberationist or a revolutionist, “but don’t you call me no Skygod.”
As for the Bible, he alternately refers to them as fairy tales or as histories that can’t even get the simplest facts straight. “How can you worship a Bible that I can prove to you is full of errors?” And — in another familiar theme — he says the man who wrote the King James Version of the Bible was a slavemaster.
Jones says that he does not claim to be “omniscient, omnipotent, omniluscent, omnipresent,” like their Skygod, but if they follow him, “I say, I would do ten thousand times more for you than any religious opinion’s ever done… You’ve got God up there in the sky, you’ve got God in the imagination, [but] the only thing that’s going to help you is something that’s got flesh.”
His discussion of heaven focuses on the literal, as he scoffs at people’s ideas about it. Where is their heaven, he asks rhetorically, when they can’t see it in the sky, scientists can’t find it, and all that’s out there, even for people travelling at the speed of light, is cold, dark space.
Eventually, he says he is there to defeat the Buzzard God. He speaks of how Jesus focuses on what’s in our hearts and on earth, not in heaven. “I’m saying nothing more than what Jesus said. Jesus said, OI am God… I’m teaching that ye all are gods. Because your ancient law says, it is written, ye all are gods and sons of the most high.’ So we are sons of the most high, and that most high is a socialist non-violent revolution.”
He adds that the praise people hear is not for him as a person, because he couldn’t stand that. “I’m not an egotist. I’m not narcissistic. They’re not praising me, those that really know… They’re praising me in that I’m the Father of Socialist Freedom, but they are praising an idea. Their God is an Idea.”
Even so, he admits that he would follow himself. Speaking in the voice of a potential convert, he lists the works that Peoples Temple has done, and concludes that he would be glad to follow that example. In order to do that work, he says, he has to become all things to all people, beyond what he really is, which is a militant revolutionary. “But I have to be a Pentecostal preacher to some, and I have to be a holiness preacher to others, and I have to be a healer to some, and I gotta be a miracle worker to others.” As the tape ends, though, he says: “I don’t have to be those that I mention. I’ve done enough in the name of Jim Jones to write the best Bible you’ve ever seen.”
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 1B108-31. This tape was found to contain the following:
JIM JONES speaking before the People’s Temple stating that he is giving the people Christ and then goes on to talk about miscellaneous topics such as his healing powers, that the greatest resurrection is of the mind, the Ku Klux Klan, and socialism.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted April 2001