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: None
Date cues on tape: June 1973 (mention of recent Peoples Temple inclusion in Congressional Record remarks)
Marceline Jones (by reference)
Mike Prokes (speaks)
Reverend Ike, radio evangelist
Rep. George Brown (D-California) (by reference)
Evelle Younger, California Attorney General (by reference)
Rev. Williams, Baptist minister in Redwood Valley
San Francisco Examiner columnist Lester Kinsolving
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.)
- “[E]very time someone touches the modern ark of the covenant– they touched us, and the very week they touched us, a fire broke out and burned up thousands, hundreds of thousands of their newspapers. That’s what you get when you mess with God” (God strikes Uzzah dead for touching the ark of the covenant in 2 Samuel 6:1-7 and 1 Chronicles 13:9-12.).
“[Our God] is anointing our head with the oil of salvation and freedom and liberation. And our cups are now running over. Surely goodness and mercy is following us all the days of our life. While we are dwelling in the house of good God almighty.” (Psalm 23:5-6, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”)
“We don’t hide our light under a bushel. We let our light so shine that men might see our good works.” (Matthew 5:15, “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.” See also Luke 11:33.)
“[W]hen you meet Jesus, you’re supposed to have nothing but love in your heart, you’re supposed to have sold all you had and given it to the poor. You’re supposed to share it and share it alike.” (Luke 18:22-26, esp. 22, “Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.”)
“Just goes to show you, that the truth will set people free.” (John 8:32, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”)
“I’m glad that we are first loyal to this house… We’re going to stand for ourselves and build a society of the just, we’re going to take care of our own, we’re going to maintain the household of the faith first… [W]e’ll look after ourselves first. First we’re going to look after ourselves, first take care of the household of the 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.”)
“[W]e’re going to minister to our children and our orphans and widows in their affliction.” (James 1:27, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction.”)
(Note: This tape was transcribed by Don Beck. The editors gratefully acknowledge his invaluable assistance.)
Jim Jones addresses the San Francisco congregation of Peoples Temple in the summer of 1973, and he is elated. Peoples Temple has been singled out for praise in the Congressional Record in remarks inserted by a California Congressman, and Jones’ pride swells throughout.
Jones speaks of his critics, and says they didn’t get this kind of attention: “There’s never a church in history that had that,” Jones says at the beginning of the tape. He suggests that this inclusion has made them less vulnerable to criticism. “When people attack us, you can always say, well… at least the Congress praised us… No matter what they say in the future, they’re gonna have a hard time getting around what’s already in the permanent record, which will always be.” He speaks of the church’s newfound friends, the ministers in San Francisco who are calling him and suggesting they have a cocktail together, and sarcastically wonders why they have chosen this moment to make this outreach. He suggests that Congress might have been foolish by giving Peoples Temple this forum – again, the praise will always be there, since this is now a permanent part of the nation’s record – because the church has revolutionary goals and may embark on a course that Congress didn’t anticipate.
At one point, Jones’ professes a nonchalance about the inclusion – “Not that we care that our name’s in Congress,” he says early in the address – but everything else in the address belies that remark, especially since he returns to the subject (sometimes using almost the same words) no fewer than a half dozen times.
There is reason for the inclusion in the Congressional Record. The extension of remarks headlines the church’s work on defending the First Amendment, but it goes on to mention the other causes and good works that the Temple is involved in. It shows the rewards for loyalty to the church, he says, it shows the strength they have when they work as one, it shows the accomplishments that commitment will bring them.
And they are committed. He claims that the members of Peoples Temple deserved to be mentioned in the record, because they are “the most patriotic people on earth,” and they are willing to see that through to the end. “We support the Bill of Rights… we are loyal to the Constitution, we are loyal to the Declaration of Independence,” he says. “We are going to have a government of the people, for the people, by the people. We don’t think we have one, but we will have or we will die in the process of bringing it.”
At other points, though, he remarks how the only revolution he cares about is the one within the Temple itself. They already know how disorganized and uncommitted most other organizations are – “all these so-called communists and socialists, I wouldn’t go across the street to make a revolution with them, because they haven’t got the spine of a jellyfish” – and their response to the Temple’s new fame shows how ephemeral their alliances would be. He doesn’t trust any of them, he says. He trusts only the revolution of, by and for Peoples Temple:
“We’re going to stand for ourselves and build a society of the just, we’re going to take care of our own, we’re going to maintain the household of the faith first, we’re going to minister to our children and our orphans and widows in their affliction… We’re going to integrate, unify, harmonize, and lift our people into the highest level of prosperity, and we’ll look after ourselves first. First we’re going to look after ourselves, first take care of the household of the faith.”
The joy is heightened by the fact that one of their enemies is in trouble. The San Francisco Examiner newspaper – which ran a series of critical articles some months earlier – has fallen on hard times, even though the paper responded to Temple protests by firing the reporter who wrote the articles. Circulation is down at the paper, Jones says, and it has had to lay off reporters and editors. “The very week they touched us,” Jones says in a rising voice, “a fire broke out and burned up thousands, hundreds of thousands of their newspapers. That’s what you get when you mess with God.”
Jones takes on the cloak of deity at numerous junctures in the address. Whereas in other addresses, he criticizes, mocks and even blasphemes against the Judeo-Christian God at great length, here he offers only one or two familiar jabs (“We don’t have a creator that claimed to make a world … divided between blacks and whites. This God does not claim to make the world where two out of three babies have gone to bed hungry.”). And much of the address is an impassioned recitation of the Temple’s human and physical assets – the programs and facilities that everyone can see – as well as of the singular protection that he can offer to the faithful.
In ministerial cadence, Jones reminds his followers what they have: “[I]f you want to eat when others are not going to be able to eat, if you want refuge when others will not have refuge, if you want sanctuary and a way through Egypt, Babylon, when others will not know the escape route to the river of Jordan, when you want safety and you want to be taken care of, you better come on over here.” A moment later, he reinforces the message: “[I]f you want safety, if you want strength, if you want refuge in the time of storm, if you want to be saved when nobody else can be saved, come on over to Father’s house, and Father will take you in.” He uses different words when he returns to the subject, but the message is the same, and the cadence of speech is the same.
Indeed, it is this positive message about the church – rather than dwelling at length upon the negative aspects of other churches – that characterize this address. He does note that there’s a “jackleg” preacher in the audience, so he offers the litany of criticisms of their Cadillacs and new suits (which he himself does not have), but there is little anger or rage in the words. The pride of the congressional recognition leads him to extol the positive influence they have in places they’ve been, as he points out how much more respect black people have in Redwood Valley, and how much influence they have in California’s power structure. Near the end of the tape, the congregation begins to sing the hymn, “Oh, What a Mighty God We Have,” but as Jones concludes, they have more reason to sing about their protector than other churches have to sing about “a spook.”
Date of transcription: 6/27/79
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 May 29, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B70-19. This tape was found to contain the following:
Various speeches of Reverend JIM JONES to his congregation.
Differences with FBI Summary:
Aside from the fact that the address seems to be a single speech instead of several, the summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted January 2006