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 “9/30/73”
Date cues on tape: Context of tape – reference to assassination of Chilean president Salvador Allende in September 1973 – consistent with tape note
Sister Cooper and her husband
Bishop Crane (speaks) and his wife
Member of Fitch family
Sister Ford’s daughter, Patricia
Johnny Mae YatesPublic figures/National and international names:
President of Chile Salvador Allende
Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy
President Franklin Roosevelt
President Harry S TrumanMiscellaneous people mentioned:
Mr. Cooper with Williams Mortuary
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.)
- “God said, let us make man in our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”)
“Who is like unto God, our God who dwelleth on high? Who humbled himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth? He that raises up the poor out of the dust and lifteth the needy out of the shithill.… You said, ‘You didn’t see shithill in the Bible.’ Oh, yes, I did. I saw shithill, right in the Bible. (Pause) You’re looking at me funny, like you don’t know what I’m talking about. Hundred and fourteenth  Psalm, and I’m right here on the eighth verse. Seventh verse. If you want to be like our God, who dwelleth on high, then you have to raise up the poor out of the dust, and lift up the needy out of the dunghill. And in the Greek, and in the Portuguese, and in the Jewish, that means shithill. ” (Psalm 113:5-7, “Who is like unto God, our God who dwelleth on high? Who humbled himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth? He that raises up the poor out of the dust and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill.”)
“For all things by necessity must work together for good, for those who love their God and are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”)
“Romans 13:1 says all power that be, all powers, not power, powers, plural, all powers that be are ordained of God. And there is no power but of God.” (Romans 13:1, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”)
“Anything that is not of faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23, “…for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”)
“When [Paul] looked out at the false churches and false religions, all of his old formalities, and all the institutional upbringing that he had, he 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.”)
“He said, the captain of our salvation made what? Perfect. Through what? 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 said he was tempted in all points.” (Hebrews 4:15, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”)
“[You] Said, Jesus never made a mistake. Oh yes, he did. He was made perfect. He learned obedience through the death of the cross. So he couldna been perfect, if he learned.” (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.”)
“Him that knoweth to do right, and doeth it not, it is sin… Him that knoweth to do right, and doeth it not, it is sin.” (James 4:17, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”)
This service in which Jim Jones speaks to the members of Peoples Temple in Los Angeles in September 1973 includes most of the elements of a Jones address: reflections on his healing and miracle powers, the health and social benefits of belonging to Peoples Temple, the social gospel mixed with political commentary, the use of the Bible to discredit the veracity of the Bible, snippets of an autobiography, and thundering castigation of people who disagree with him.
The tape begins in mid-sentence with the testimonial of a man, later identified as Bishop Crane, a man the support of whom Jones will refer back to in sermons to come in the years ahead. The man praises the works of Jim Jones and the beauties of Redwood Valley, and thanks both God and Jim Jones for his recovery.
Jones follows the testimonial with a summary of some of his recent healings, including three or four women of breast cancer, others of crippling diseases, and still others raised from the dead. His tone is warm and inviting.
Jones also praises God and Jesus, calling upon “Mighty God,” and reflecting on the “goodness of our Jesus.” There are also several songs during the service in which the congregation praises both God and Jim Jones.
Jones starts his free-form address to the congregation by describing the Temple facilities in Redwood Valley as a place where people can go and live in peace. He points out that the Temple is self-sufficient, that it’s all paid for and — by the way — there’s not a “honky dollar” in there. Even as he describes his own healings, he talks about the health care advice that he insists people follow, and speaks glowingly of the nurses on the Temple staff.
The mixture of faith-healing and health care returns later in the service. He says no one among his followers in Redwood Valley has died since 1959, but, he adds, he wants to keep that record intact. To do so, people need to keep their weight down and watch their diets. They also need to leave abusive relationships that might bring them to harm.
But the ultimate protection is him, as he repeats towards the end of the service: “Now thus far, I have not lost one person ever who’s listened to me. Never lost one.” There are a few former members of the Temple who died, but they were people who fell away. For those who truly follow, Jones says, he can pass his healing powers to them through the revelation of his mind, to allow them to conduct a healing, even if that person didn’t know what he was doing at the time.
Peoples Temple really offers a heaven on earth, he says, and it’s better than an imaginary heaven you might believe in. He recognizes the split allegiance his listeners might have, and says, “There’s a song we sing, when I think of the goodness of Father, or Jesus, wherever you may be in consciousness.” He then adds where the faithful come down: “Or if it’s where it really is, like Sister Smith said, swear Jim.”
It is a theme he returns to later in the service, when he says that trying to compare Peoples Temple to the imaginary heaven is “not fair,” especially since “you’ve never seen the imaginary heaven.” A better comparison, he says, would be to the competition. “I just want you to compare us to other churches. I want you to compare me to other churches.” Both times that he reflects upon his church in this way, he wonders why anyone would want to destroy them.
Jones denies the perfection of Jesus, and uses the Bible to support his case. “[You] say, Jesus never made a mistake. Oh yes, he did. He was made perfect. He learned obedience through the death of the cross. So he couldn’t have been perfect, if he learned… You don’t make something perfect, unless it’s imperfect.” He also says that Jesus lived with Mary and Martha, and so knew what “mortal relationships” were. “I know all about temptation. And I know all about trials. And I know that Jesus went through everything… He even went through sex… [You] Say, how do you know? I’ll give you three guesses.”
He speaks about his past, as he brings up the subject of saving some Latvian people, giving them homes, after World War II. He adds that his work in civil rights brought him to the attention of Joseph McCarthy, who was after him. Then he hearkens back to things he did before Truman and before Roosevelt. “I’ve been around longer than some of you seem to think… I been around as far back as you want to go, if you actually want to go back to infinite principle.” Towards the end of the service, he adds another piece of biographical information, saying, “I’m a high school principal, I’ve been a school teacher.”
Jones insists on preaching and teaching that night, instead of going right to the healings. In a familiar vein, he says people have to have his sayings in their hearts before they can be healed. As for people who don’t like his rhetoric — including his cussing — he asks why they are there, if their own churches were meeting their needs.
He returns to this theme — as he did in other sermons and addresses — late in the service, with similar words: “If you don’t like the God that speaks about dunghills and shit heaps and asses, then you don’t like the God that healed all those women last night of breast cancer. You can’t separate one from the other, because I’m the same today, yesterday, and forever.”
As for people who look down their noses at the Temple and its members, he warns, “Unless you get nasty again down there, and I’ll get just as mean as you can get… I’ll fight for my children. If you want to be sweet, I can give you all the love and sweetness in the life. Every dream you’ve ever dreamed, I can fulfill. But if you want to meet me on the carnal level, I can whip hell out of you.”
Towards the end of the service, he returns to the theme of how his followers can save themselves. Keep the weight down and follow a sensible diet. Follow his sayings. And make 20 calls a day on behalf of the church.
Throughout the service, he tries to balance people’s beliefs in God against their beliefs in him, but he comes closest to his own oft-repeated view in the closing words of the tape. “I did not claim to be your stupid Skygod. I claim to be the only God there is… So don’t compare me to your myths. But you [can] compare me to otherchurches.”
Date of transcription: 7/2/79
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 1B110-7R20. This tape was found to contain the following:
A recording of JIM JONES lecturing on his healing powers and some performances by the people of PT.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate, as minimal as it is, and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted April 2001