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: Likely late fall 1977 (Charles Garry recently in Jonestown, described it as paradise)
Jimmy Carter, U.S. President (by reference)
Charles Garry, Temple attorney
“Ennis children,” Guyanese nationals
Mrs. Taylor (three women named Taylor in their 70s or older)
Burger Lee Dean
Carrie Ola Langston
Mike Prokes (speaks)
Larry Schacht (by reference)
Bible verses cited:
“The church’s inception on the day of Pentecost had very little to do with just the esoteric or the metaphysical. Certainly the new birth was the beginning. But after the inception of the Christ within, we saw manifestation in every phase of human life, a total restructuring of apostolic society. People selling their possessions and having all things common, going about from house to house, sharing, enjoying a humanistic relationship of a higher dimension and higher order.” (Acts 2)
“Jesus Christ in his judgment in the latter day, in Matthew 25, did not judge those who were believers on whether they had been baptized by trine immersion or by other type of liturgy. On the contrary, he judged the church by whether they had fed the hungry that had come to them, whether they administered to those that were without homes, who were naked, who needed clothing, who were oppressed, who were in prison. He said if you did not do it unto the least of humanity, you did it not unto me.” (Matthew 25, esp. Matthew 25:34-46)
“On the day of Pentecost they settled a community. People came together, a hundred and twenty came together, and immediately there was a sense of community.” (Acts 1:15-26, esp. Acts 1:15: “And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty.)”)
“We read a literal – or if you choose to be symbolic about the biblical passages – a figurative statement about Ananias and Sapphira. They came before the apostolic council and held back some of their possessions. I believe Scriptures relate that they dropped dead, both of them, because they withheld only a small portion of their wealth from the community.” (Acts 5:1-10)
Jim Jones and Mike Prokes, Peoples Temple’s longtime publicist, record two segments which will be used as part of the Temple’s regular weekly program that also includes music performed by the Jonestown choir. The program is broadcast in Guyana’s capital city of Georgetown. It is likely that the two segments were recorded during a single session, in that Jones uses the same, fairly unique phrasing in both (describing life in Jonestown as his “cup of tea”; referring to the 120 early Christians who gathered at Pentecost; noting that the creation of a socialistic society is “not easy”). Aside from Jones’ reference to a comment Charles Garry made about having been to paradise – a quote used quite often in Jonestown’s final year – there are no specific time cues as to when the tape was made.
In each segment, Prokes interviews “Bishop Jones,” who responds to questions with lengthy, considered answers. Both men recognize who the audience for the broadcast is, and speak specifically of what Jonestown offers for Guyanese nationals, how the Jonestown medical team goes into neighboring communities, how the boat from Port Kaituma into Georgetown carries Guyanese who need emergency medical treatments that the Jonestown clinic cannot provide.
The first segment focuses on Peoples Temple as a human service organization which is a necessary and logical complement to its religious function. “What was it that convinced you that religion must be made practical?” Prokes begins, then follows up Jones’ answer with, “And how do you see Jonestown as fulfilling what you’ve just described?”
Jones’ answer offers much more overtly religious language than the people of Jonestown heard during this period, although his words invoking the days of Pentecost, the necessity to hold all things in common, and the articulation of the social gospel in Matthew 25 would have been familiar to every Temple member. Jonestown is an extension of all these biblical imperatives, Jones says, a church in action. “[I]ndeed it is a takeoff from the early church… Egalitarianism was basic to the Christian concept, and so Jonestown is an egalitarian community.” He offers a more expansive statement on the Temple’s philosophy a few minutes later when he says, “Pentecostalism, communalism, socialism, is much more than a fair distribution of goods and services. It is a system of human relationships where domination is replaced by cooperation, where the masses of people shape the country they live in, or the community, and exercise collective control over their destiny. It is power, really, to the people in a non-violent sense.”
Although Jonestown is reflective of the early Christian community, it is by no means limited to Christians, a point he makes in both segments. “[W]e’re not narrowed in theology to exclude people who disagree with us, who may not believe in an anthropomorphic being. That’s irrelevant, because it is written, God is love, and you could easily reverse that – love is God – and there can be no love without equality.” For that reason, the doors of Jonestown are open to “agnostics… atheists… Mohammedans… Jews, Hindustani, people who have tired of the worship of things.”
With these attributes, he says, Jonestown is a model community. “[P]eople visit daily from all levels of government and various parts of the world, and the frequent quote is, this is a model to be emulated the world over, and indeed, it can be. And by necessity, we must.”
The second segment continues the same themes, although it has more detailed descriptions of the facilities in Jonestown, including some that were not as far along in their development as Jones portrays them. They are building a zoo, he says, as part of their efforts to protect the animal life they may have disturbed. They have introduced closed-circuit television into the community and plan to expand it to surrounding areas of Guyanese populations. They have built a children’s park, which they plan to reproduce in Port Kaituma as well. Most of these promises remained unfulfilled when the Jonestown experiment ended in November 1978.
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 June 25, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B110-57. This tape was found to contain the following:
JIM JONES reading news, announcements and commentary.
Differences with FBI Summary:
Jim Jones reads the news on scores of other tapes. However, this tape is a public relations piece, a program to be aired on a Georgetown radio station for Guyanese consumption. Nevertheless, in that it is a general commentary unrelated to any meetings or sermons in which Jones delivers messages to his followers, the FBI’s description of the tape meets its purposes.
Tape originally posted May 2013