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: Labeled in part “Quintet”
Date cues on tape: 1974-early 1976
Peoples Temple members
Caroline Coleman (phonetic)
Don Jackson (speaks)
Melvin Johnson (speaks)
Georgia Lee Lacy
Jessie Lynchner (phonetic)
Judy Merriam (speaks)
Wayne Pikes (speaks)
Chris Rozynko (speaks)
Johnny Valentine Shular
Mary Wotherspoon (speaks)
Anthony (could be different Anthony from Buckley)
Christine (could be different Christine from Bates)
Sister Buckley (could be Minnie Buckley)
Brother Carter (likely Tim Carter, could be Mike Carter)
Sister Conray (phonetic)
Sister Tucker (could be Alleane)
Public figures/National and international names:
George Jackson, imprisoned Black Panther
Bible verses cited: None
(Note: This tape was transcribed by Vicki Perry. The editors gratefully acknowledge her invaluable assistance.)
In this tape, Jim Jones alternately leads and referees a lengthy session that both offers praises and admonishes misdeeds – sometimes including the punishments themselves to the miscreants – of his Temple followers. While recorded in the Redwood Valley Temple, this tape is much more of an administrative meeting than a religious service. Nevertheless, the sanctuary is apparently packed with people.
The tape’s date is unknown, and few specific clues are available: Jones speaks of the Promised Land and of Guyanese dollars, which suggests that it was 1974 or later; and Grace Stoen is still a member of the church, which dates it before July 4, 1976.
The tape opens with Jones mediating a disagreement between Judy Merriam and Mary Wotherspoon, who worked in the same rest home in Ukiah and who lived communally in this same home. But the dispute is less important than Jones’ probe into Judy’s stated wish to have children (which, upon further consideration, she argues herself out of wanting), her continuing problems with her weight, and her paranoia.
A more serious discipline problem surfaces midway through the tape, when a young man is brought onto the floor for having practiced karate – which was already forbidden – and kicking a young woman, who suffered a back injury as a result and has to go to the hospital several times a week for treatment. The result is corporeal punishment for the young man, and the only question is how many whacks he’ll get with the belt. The decision is up to the church, but when the assemblage apparently calls for fewer than Jones thinks is appropriate, the Temple leader turns his derision onto the crowd. “Now you people don’t want to give ten [whacks]. You know what? You people that don’t want to give anything, and some of you that want to do it mild, you are the worst enemies they’ve got.”
Eventually, the congregation settles on 20 – but with the belt, not with a switch, as advocated by one woman (“this belt … just toughen their bottom”) – and someone from the crowd administers the punishment.
Jones explains the philosophy for this method of discipline at several junctures during the session. “Part of it’s the humiliation more than the physical pain,” he says as the punishment is carried out. More than that, though, the internal policing within the church reflect the rules of the Temple’s efforts to create a new society.
“I’m sure it could have been much worse,” Jones reminds the young man immediately afterwards. But you see, if that had not been a sister, you’d already be in jail. She’da filed a complaint. Do you know what you’ve been charged with? Assault and battery, with intent to kill.… Son, please, know we’re trying to help you. We’re not trying to be mean. We’re trying to help you, because the man won’t beat on your ass. He’ll beat your head, he’ll beat your eyes.”
Finally, he commends the young man for taking the punishment with “patience.”
The session includes several praises as well, although a few of them include barbs as well. Jones’ request that people stand to be recognized when they are single out for praise, turns into an insistence that they stand and remain standing. “I demand cooperation, even for praise. Your humility is admired, but I’ve got to have cooperation.” In addition, when Jones learns that one woman was singled out for commendation because she was the only one on a bus of 50 who was quiet, he chastises the other 49. “What’s the meaning of letting fifty people get carrying on and there’s only one person quiet? Hostesses are supposed to do something about that. … We don’t go all the way back with fifty people carrying on. That’s anarchy. That’s revolution. Without a cause.”
There are a few elements to this tape which are similar to other church services. There is, for example, a call for donations and pledges, and – as is the case with other tapes that launch into discussions of finances – it cuts off for the duration of the collection.
Jones does speak of himself in fairly humble terms near the beginning of the tape – “You all give the impression somehow that I’m God,” he complains about people who don’t tell him what’s going on – but as the session draws to a conclusion, he speaks of his strengths as a leader. He mixes compassion with strength, and there is little that he fears, and that makes them dangerous to the outside world. “I don’t mind losing my life. What about you?” he says at the end, “I don’t mind losing my reputation. What about you? I don’t mind being tortured. What about you?”
The address ends with his defiance of death: “I’ve lost interest in this old world of capitalist sin and racism,” he cries, “and [if] they want to cause anarchy in our midst, I would just as soon bring it all to a gallant, a glorious, screaming end. Just bring it to a screeching stop in one glorious moment of triumph.”
Comprehension of this tape is complicated due to a second track of a jazz album – likely the Quintet referred to on the Temple’s tape notation – which lasts for all but the final ten minutes of the recording.
Date of transcription: 6/20/79
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 7, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B100-54. This tape was found to contain the following:
JIM JONES resolving personal conflicts among People’s Temple members and announcements by JIM JONES.
It is noted that two members were administered corporal punishment in front of the assembly because of their behavior. In addition, JONES makes the statements “I don’t mind losing my life, what about you?” and “I would just as soon bring it all to a gallant, a glorious screaming end – just bring it to a screeching stop in one glorious moment of triumph”. The aforementioned statements were made when JONES was discussing anarchy and people trying to make him stay in a capitalistic world.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted July 2011