Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
FBI Catalogue: Jones speaking
Date cues on tape: May 1974; L.A. police had just burned down house with members of Symbionese Liberation Army inside
Public figures/National and international names:
King James of England
Harriet Tubman, black activist, organized underground railroad
Frederick Douglass, Anti-slavery activist and autobiographer
John Brown, American abolitionist
Adolf Hitler, German Fuhrer
Benito Mussolino, Fascist dictaor of Italy
Tojo, Hideki, Prime Minister of Japan during World War II
Wendell Wilkie, former presidential candidate
President Richard Nixon
President John F. Kennedy
Senator Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.)
Senator Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.)
Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.)
Senator George McGovern (D-S.D.)
Former New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller
Alabama Governor George Wallace
Gary, Indiana Mayor R. G. Hatcher
California Governor Ronald Reagan
Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley
San Francisco Assemblyman Willie Brown
Billy Graham, American evangelist
Malcolm X, black activist with Nation of Islam
Martin Luther King, slain Civil Rights leader
Angela Davis, University professor, member of Communist Party, black activist
Charles Evers, Civil Rights activist
Medgar Evers, Civil Rights activist
SLA leader Donald Defreeze, aka Cinque
Oakland School Superintendent Marcus Foster
Rev. George Hall, father of SLA member Camilla Hall
Randolph Hearst, president of San Francisco Examiner and father of Patricia Hearst
Hal Perry, father of SLA member Nancy Ling Perry
Sammy Davis, Jr., black entertainer
Duke Ellington, black jazz musician
Frank Sinatra, American singer
Flip Wilson, black comedian
Bert Bartel (sp.), L.A. radio personality
Dr. J. Bruce Massey, L.A. area doctor, Temple supporter
People in attendance at Peoples Temple service
Linda Davis (sings)
Richard & Claire Janaro
Marceline Jones (by reference)
People in attendance at Peoples Temple service, full name unknown:
Clara (probably Johnson)
Sister Green (probably Juanita Green)
Sister Mason (probably Irene Mason)
Wanda (probably Swinney)
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.)
- Genesis story of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, referred to numerous times (Genesis, chapters 2, 3 and 4)
“The day you eat that tree, you’re gonna be like God. He don’t want you to eat the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, because if you eat of it, you’ll be just like the gods… Remember, Genesis doesn’t call God, it refers to gods. Extraterrestrial beings. More than one god. So anyway, she said, oh, is that so? So she goes and eats the tree. Now God said– the Sky God said, the day you eat, you’ll surely die. Who told the truth? The serpent told truth, because they ate, and she got her eyes open, they went back and went to bed and they had two children. And they lived a long, long life.” (Genesis 3:5. “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”)
“They had him on false charges, but she went down with my prophecy and said let him go, like ol’ Pharaoh was told by Moses, let my son go, and they did.” (Exodus 5, esp. Exodus 5:1, “And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go…”)
“They shall revile you, they shall say all manner of things falsely against you, they shall do unto them everything that they wish to do.” (Matthew 5:11, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”)
“Jesus talked … and he said turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39, “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Also, Luke 6:29)
“As Jesus said, ‘Who is my father, my mother, but he that doeth the will of Him that sent Me? And he that loves father or mother, sister or brother, is not worthy of the Kingdom.'” (Matthew 10:37, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”)
“John the Baptist also came back again, because in the prison he doubted that Christ was the particular Messiah at that time. He said, ‘Art thou he, or shall we look for another?'” (Matthew 11:3, “…Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?”)
“[You] Say, what are you telling all this for? To keep some of these folks that are loaves-and-fishes crowd.” (Matthew 15:29-39, Mark 6:34-44, Mark 8:1-9, Luke 9:11-17)
“If you need healing, lose your life, and you’ll find it (Matthew 10:39, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” Also, Matthew 16:25, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” See also Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; Luke 17:33; and John 12:25)
“Jesus said, when John the Baptist was making his itinerant ministry, he said… Elias, which was and is to come. In other words, Elias had come back because something he had not worked out in the previous life, there were things for him to do.” (Relationship between John the Baptist and Elias throughout the Gospels, including Matthew 17, Mark 9, Luke 9, and John 1)
“[Jesus] walked in, the moneychangers had taken over the temple and he only had a few disciples, and there was hardly anybody left, and he got to the end of himself, and he quit talking. He got a whip in his hand, turned upside-down the tables, whipped the backsides of the moneychangers, drove them out of the temple. Even Jesus Christ used violence.” (Matthew 21:12, “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers.”)
“[Jesus] Said, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, take in the stranger, release the prisoners.” (Matthew 25:34-46)
“Anybody seen Gabriel?… “Don’t worry. The Looorrd is coming. Gabriel’s gonna blow his horn. He’s gonna swing low and take his children home.” (Luke 1:11-22, esp. Luke 1:19, “And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.”)
“Jesus said, that heaven is within you.” (Luke 17:21, “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” See also Luke 10:9-11.)
“When they came here one time to cause us trouble, I told you what would happen. He said, well for what good work do you take me away? He said– for no good work, they said. But because, you being a man, make yourself God, in the tenth chapter of John. And He said, it is written, all of you are gods. Shit, I’m no different than you. Everybody’s a god. So Jesus is God, I am God. You are God.” (John 10:32-34, “Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?”)
“But because, you being a man, make yourself God, in the tenth chapter of John. And He said, it is written, all of you are gods. Shit, I’m no different than you. Everybody’s a god. So Jesus is God, I am God. You are God.” (John 10:34, “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?”)
“They shall … even kill you, thinking they do God a service.” (John 16:2, “…yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.”)
“Paul said, don’t look up to go to heaven.” (Acts 1:10-11, “And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?”)
General reference to books of Romans, Timothy, Thessalonians
“He said, the righteous faith saith on this wise, the word, Heaven, God, is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thine heart. Don’t say who will go up to heaven and bring him down, or who shall go into the deep and bring him up from the grave. But what saith it? The Word is within thee. Heaven is on earth. That’s the only heaven you’ll find. God is here. That’s the only God you’ll know.” (Romans 10:6-10)
“In God, or in Mind, Loving Mind, Divine Mind, there’s neither male nor female, bond nor free, Greek nor Jew.” (Romans 10:12, “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.”)
“That’s why you have to have a prophet. How can you hear without a prophet or preacher, how can he preach lest he be sent?” (Romans 10:13-15, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?”)
“Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”)
“You are saved, not by Bible reading, but even King James admits, by the foolishness of preaching.” (1 Corinthians 1:17-27, esp. 1 Corinthians 1:21, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”)
“Women were to be silent in the churches. It’s in your Bible. Women, keep silent. If you have a question, ask your husband.” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35, “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” Also, 1 Timothy 2:12, “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”)
“The Bible says that Adam was Jesus, and Jesus was Adam. The first man, Adam, was a living soul. The second man, Adam, was referring to Jesus. He was a quickening spirit.” (1 Corinthians 15:45, “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.”)
“The word is living. It’s not a dead letter. The Bible killeth. It says the letter– Letter to Romans, Letter to Timothy, Letter to Thessolonica, all those letters. Bibles murder. Second Corinthians, 3:6. The Bibles murder, the letters murder, our letters kill, but the spirit maketh a life. What is the Spirit? God is love, or love is God. Whosoever loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” (2 Corinthians 3:6, “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”)
“Where the Spirit of God is, there is liberty.” (2 Corinthians 3, esp. 2 Corinthians 3:17, “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”)
“In King James, there’s racism. He says, slaves, obey your master. Servants, obey your master.” (Colossians 3:22, “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God;” see also, Ephesians 6:5, Titus 2:9)
“We would do something about the here and now. But the Bible says by and by. When the morning comes, there’s gonna be a beautiful city, or God’s gonna come down and rapture his people, and take them up in the sky.” (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17)
“If your church is not taking care of the senior citizens in their golden years, not ministering to children, it’s not a church. It’s a form of godliness denying the power thereof.” (2 Timothy 3:4-5, “Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”)
“They that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”)
“Hebrews 4, the fourth chapter, the twelfth verse, says the Word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword. It discerns the thoughts.” (Hebrews 4:12. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”)
“Pure religion, undefiled, before God and the Father is to minister to the 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, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”)
“If you have a good master, be thankful. If you have a bad master, endure him.” (1 Peter 2:18: “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.”)
“Whosoever loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. So when anyone loves, whether they’re an atheist, an agnostic, a Catholic or Jew, whether they’re a communist or whether they’re a moderate capitalist, whatever their politics or their religion, whatever their race, if they love, they’re born of God.” (1 John 4:7-8, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”)
“How many believe there’s a heaven with streets of gold? How many believe there’s 12 gates to the city and it’s foursquare? Four blocks wouldn’t be enough to get the Ku Klux Klan in.” (Revelation 21: 12-27)
This sermon and request for donations to Peoples Temple took place in Los Angeles in May 1974, a short period after the members of the Symbionese Liberation Army died in a shoot-out and fire in nearby Compton. That event set much of the tone for what Jim Jones had to say that day.
Jones begins by saying that he had needed help to get to the pulpit, because someone had tried to poison him by placing a needle in his underwear. But, he is still there, “just as I always will remain.” As for those who tried to do this evil, he hopes they know “that it will take something more to remove God than you’re accustomed to doing.”
Later in the service, he explains to newcomers why someone might want to cause him harm. “They that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution,” he says, and then takes it one step further: “if you’re not getting persecution, you’re not living godly… if you’re not getting persecuted, you’re not living the just life.” In conclusion, he says he can’t be poisoned until his time has come, and the people who are after him should realize that.
He welcomes the guests with a descriptions of the works of the church: the children’s center, the senior homes, and a 25,000-acre Promised Land in South America to get them away from the concentration camps in America.
He speaks of the burning of the Temple in San Francisco the previous week, but many people, churches — both Christian and Muslim — and civic agencies are helping them rebuild.
The church needs money to rebuild, he says, but it also needs money for its many endeavors, including the preparation of the Promised Land. The first duty of a church it to “is to take care of… the household of the faith,” but that duty extends to its projects as well, such as its children’s homes and senior centers. “If your church is not taking care of the senior citizens in their golden years, not ministering to children, it’s not a church. It’s a form of godliness denying the power thereof.”
And when people give their money to the Temple, little of it goes to him. He doesn’t have a Cadillac like some preachers, the clothes that he’s wearing are used, and “I never bought a pair of shoes in my life.” He makes this point again later in the service.
In describing heaven, Jones talks about how the whites view it, as being paved with streets of gold. “We don’t want to try to get any streets of gold. Nobody can eat gold.” And if it did have gold, “you know who’ll be polishing them.” The Promised Land doesn’t have gold, he says, but it has fruits and vegetables growing wild. He also challenges those who believe in heaven to show it to him, and to show how that squares with the number of starving children, and the persecution of Jews and blacks. “[T]he only thing you know that loves you is what’s in this house, that’s what you know loves you… I believe what Jesus said, that heaven is within you… Build heaven on earth. That’s what He said. Said, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, take in the stranger, release the prisoners.”
Although he conducts no healings in this service, he asks the congregation how many have seen him raise people from the dead and cure their diseases. He explains the role of miracles: “To keep some of these folks that are loaves-and-fishes crowd, to keep ’em around a while so they can find the truth. Everybody first comes usually to get a healing, and they think I’m gonna heal their toe, and I end up healing their head.” He returns to the subject of healings later on during his exhortations for more contributions, when he says, “We don’t understand it, but we know it works.”
Jones opens the floor to questions. He asks that people not ask about lawyers or counseling or healings — they’ll help with those, too, but in another forum — but says, if people have questions about his teachings, he’d like to hear them.
One man asks about reincarnation, and asks if they all lived in other bodies in other lives and had other families. Yes, Jones says, “[t]hat’s my particular persuasion, due to the revelations that we’ve had here of the … paranormal.” Then he cites biblical support for the concept. In the end, though, he adds, “in reference to fellowship in this assembly, it is not required to believe in the doctrine of rebirth or reincarnation.”
He returns to the theme of reincarnation later in his description of karma. If you don’t feel for your fellow man in this lifetime, he says, you may be in the position of the person you ignored or had prejudice against the next time around.
He does challenge the questioner’s reliance upon families for structure. Again going to the Bible, Jones reminds the congregation that Jesus told his followers to abandon their families, “forsake those ties, leave those things which are behind.” If you hold onto your loved ones, he concludes, “[i]f you live in that realm, you will constantly be reborn in the flesh, and you will die in the flesh.”
In responding to a question about Adam and Eve, and Cain and Abel, Jones says that that was just King James — a slave runner, a known sexual deviant — making things up in the Bible. Adam and Eve is a political story, he says, to justify the oppression of women. It also has inconsistencies, which he explains. “That’s why you have to have a prophet. How can you hear without a prophet or preacher, how can he preach lest he be sent? Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. And the Word of God is sitting in this room.”
The Word is alive, he says, but the Bible kills. God is love, so “when anyone loves, whether they’re an atheist, an agnostic, a Catholic or Jew, whether they’re a communist or whether they’re a moderate capitalist, whatever their politics or their religion, whatever their race, if they love, they’re born of God.”
You can disagree if you like, he challenges the congregation. If you can’t, then “throw aside these weights that beset you… The Bible is the root of all of our problems today.” Then returning to the book he has just condemned, he reminds people that “in the tenth chapter of John… it is written, all of you are gods… I’m no different than you. Everybody’s a god. So Jesus is God, I am God. You are God.”
How does he balance the condemnation with the reliance upon it for his message? He says he uses the Bible as a reference, to “substantiate truth.” He doesn’t need the Bible, except to bring people in who are previously “addicted” to it.
Jones speaks at length about the violence in America which predated — and led up to — such events as the SLA shoot-out, Wounded Knee, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and the Kennedy brothers, and associated conspiracy theories. “We breed that violence. We create that violence,” he says. “I don’t like it. I don’t like violence at all. But until America stops dropping bombs on the colored people of the world, there’ll be violence in our streets.”
Further, he says he understands why groups like the SLA and Black Panthers react with violence, but says — despite his own commitment to nonviolence — he doesn’t care. He won’t judge them, until the true perpetrators of violence in the world are judged. “When people in this country stop doing violence in the name of the law, then we will talk to those out there in the streets.”
Towards the end of the tape, he responds to a question about local politics with a lengthy critique of capitalism and imperialism. The rich elite (personified by Rockefeller) will sterilize the poor and middle class, because they won’t be needed. In an era of computers, the world will need only one-tenth the workers it has today.
Despite his earlier criticisms of the American system and his tacit defense of leftists who commit violence, Jones concludes with a critique of the SLA that speaks of its futility to bring about change in the way it chose. It will only lead you to being set up by government infiltrators and informers, he says. People need to work within the system. Otherwise, the police will bring you down. Their agents provocateur will start violence “so that the people will get upset with the mention of change, social change or revolution, that the people won’t want to hear the word.” In the end, though, he says the SLA “has moved us a little closer to change. Yes it has. Yes it has.”
Editorial observation: This sermon is representative of Jim Jones’ transition from a preacher of God’s word in Indianapolis to his undiluted hostility towards religion in Jonestown. He criticizes belief in what he calls the Sky God, yet he invokes many passages of the Bible to grant Peoples Temple the authority to act as it does. He blasts King James as a slave owner, and says the Bible was used to enslave African blacks, yet he himself uses the King James version.
This is probably seen best in his description of Christ’s ministry as leading towards a “socialist apostolic … kingdom.” Fifteen years earlier, he would have called it “God’s kingdom”; ten years earlier, it would have been “God’s apostolic kingdom”; eventually, Peoples Temple’s work became the “socialist Promised Land.” In the end, it was a “socialist paradise on earth” which criticized those who maintained a religious faith.
Date of transcription: 7/3/79
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 22, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B110-17. This tape was found to contain the following:
JONES leads a sermon to a California congregation coupled with question and answer sessions. JONES endorses the philosophies of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) and its activities. This sermon lasts approximately 49 minutes.
The other side contains the same sermon which has been reversed through technological error.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted April 1999