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 “9/5/73”
Date cues on tape: (June/July 1973) Jones speaks of Watergate hearings, upcoming August bus trip for Temple members
Eugene Chaikin (by reference)
Archie Ijames (speaks)
Sister Tyrone Johnson
Jim Jones Jr. (by reference)
Marceline Jones (by reference)
Tim Stoen (by reference)
Pinkey [likely Hansberry]
Bill Smith, son of parishioner
John Kennedy, assassinated U.S. President
Robert Kennedy, assassinated U.S. Senator
John Mitchell, Attorney General under Richard Nixon
Tom Bradley, Mayor of Los Angeles (by reference)
Cecil Williams, minister at Glide Memorial Methodist Church
Pat Alexander, publisher of Los Angeles Herald-Dispatch (by reference)
Jim Garrison, New Orleans district attorney who investigated JFK assassination
James Earl Ray (by reference), convicted assassin of Martin Luther King
Billy Smith, black soldier accused of fragging (described as son of Temple parishioner)
Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights activist
Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King
Ralph Abernathy, Civil rights worker, president of Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Jesse Jackson, head of PUSH
Lester Kinsolving, columnist, Peoples Temple antagonist
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.)
- “[W]e got our placards and we marched around Jericho’s walls.” (Joshua 6)
“Soft answers will turn away wrath many times.” (Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”)
“I said I’d turned the last cheek of my butt… But the principle of turning the other cheek, you can use that once, I’m all for it. … So Martin [Luther King Jr.] passed, and he was the last chapter of Jesus’ turning 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)
“You should exactly go a few extra feet. I don’t say you go two miles. Jesus said, when they ask you to go one mile, bearing the Roman slavemaster’s pack, go two. Well, my dear, we’ve been carrying the slavemaster’s pack for 2000 years. Now we say, it did not work. And we won’t carry his pack, not even one teensy-weensy damned inch.” (Matthew 5:41, “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.”)
“If we’da prayed and got on our knees and said pray for those that do spitefully use you, [Lester] Kinsolving would’ve destroyed us.” (Matthew 5:44, “I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” See also, Luke 6:27, Luke 6:35)
“All things that are true try the spirit, try a principle.” (1 John 4:1, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”)
While this 1973 address by Jim Jones to his congregation in the San Francisco Peoples Temple includes a handful of biblical references and some discussions of the political issues of the day, it focuses more on the power that the church offers its members. Sometimes defiant or purposefully confrontational, Jones spends more time telling the people in attendance what he has done – and can do – for his followers.
At several points, Jones gives a hint as to why he speaks the way he does this night. There are more outsiders than there normally are, people who have come for a healing, and while he says he will accommodate then eventually, there are a few things he wishes to tell them about Peoples Temple beforehand. “You’ve got to get an understanding to get the healing,” he says early in the address, then reiterates it late: “This church’d be packed from wall-to-wall if we would let ‘em come in here for healings. But we’re seeking people in here that are concerned about liberation.”
At the same time, he recognizes some of the visitors for their spotty attendance. He chastises them for coming once every six months for relief from their arthritis or similar ailments, and then returning to their home churches with their “jackleg” preachers who drive fancy cars and celebrate preachers’ anniversaries and birthdays. While this language is familiar to Temple members, it apparently is too much for some of the irregular attendees, who try to sneak away during offerings or on other occasions. “You don’t have to slip out,” Jones says lightly at one point, then adds, “It’s a circus to watch folk up here, I’m tellin’ you. Some of them come in here and they look around and see if there’s anybody a member of their church. … If it wasn’t such a tragedy that they’re doing, it would be funny, but it’s a tragedy.”
There are reasons they should stay, Jones says. After enumerating the number of facilities the Temple has, especially in Redwood Valley – children’s homes, senior citizen homes, sanatoriums, apartments – he talks about the people he keeps out of jail (or secures an early release, if they’re in jail), the people who win their civil lawsuits because they do what he tells them, the people whose medical problems are less serious after they attend services, and everyone else who has had trouble fighting the system because they’re black or poor.
To illustrate his point, he tells a long story about a woman from the church who was supposed to go to the hospital in an ambulance. She was disrespected by the attendants as they shoved her into the ambulance and locked her in, and tempers rose. The situation threatened to get out of control when a Temple member brandished a gun. The ensuing melee resulted in a number of people going to jail, including Jones himself. The story allows Jones to make several points: he was able to bring a measure of peace to prevent the situation from turning into a full scale riot; he performed several miracles, including making the gun disappear into thin air (“If you don’t believe this, you can go check the records in the police department and see, they’re still looking for that gun. Here was a holster, here was the bullets, but the gun was gone. They grabbed him, but the moment they grabbed him, my spirit grabbed that gun”) and then – “the other miracle” – the woman disappeared from the ambulance. But most important, following his own arrest, he refused to leave the jail unless everyone with him was freed of all charges at the same time. “And what happened? They all got dropped, and they let us all go. … [I]t’s just to show you that we stick by each other.”
Despite these demonstrations of his power and influence, he is willing to surrender it and unite with other church leaders, if only they would seek the same goals of black liberation that he does. If anyone knows of a church leader who does more for the oppressed in their community, he says, tell him about it, and “I will unite with him. … I will be glad to be second-in-command to anyone that will be a better father than I am, but,” he adds, “I’m an awfully good father, and I demand that whoever I follow has to be as good as father as I am.”
He didn’t have to have a facility for the Temple in San Francisco, he says – they could have used their financial resources for “black causes” – but when Temple leaders approached Cecil Williams, a well-known Methodist minister, to ask about using Glide Memorial Church on days other than Sunday, they were turned away. “He said no,” Jones reports Williams as saying, “I’m doing my thing. You go do your thing.” It didn’t help, Jones adds as an aside, that during one of the meetings between Jones’ lieutenants and Williams, the minister had “a young woman with her dress clear up to her hips setting there, flitting around with him on the knee … a spectacle that [Temple leaders] didn’t particularly think was enhancing to liberation.”
Many of the words – and much of his tone – about dealing with those outside the Temple are of defiance. Whether it’s standing up to a societal nemesis like Ma Bell or a personal bête noire like Les Kinsolving of the San Francisco Examiner, Jones evokes Jesus’ words of peace from the Sermon on the Mount, only to dismiss them: they’ve run of out cheeks to turn, they’re not going to walk the extra mile or even one more inch. In one of his criticisms of the “white man’s religion” that has served to enslaved blacks, both in the US and in South Africa, he speaks of a conversation that he had with Martin Luther King, Jr. – who, Jones says, “didn’t believe in the Bible, no more than I did” – in which the civil rights leader advised Jones to become a Baptist if he wanted people to listen. “Well, he’s dead. And they didn’t listen … they didn’t even listen with Martin being a Baptist. They didn’t hear what he was doing.” And while King’s wife pledged to non-violence shortly before his assassination, that was “a mistake. She shoulda said, if Martin ever goes down, we will all fight to the last man and woman.”
Jones’ defiance extends to people who have stood in his way. Near the end of the tape, Jones speaks of an unnamed man who attacked them in the press, and who’d since been “crushed below the mountain,” whose wife had had a major heart attack, and whose daughter had died.
“I said it exactly how it would happen,” he adds. But why was it necessary for the child to die, he asks himself rhetorically. “I took away that which would hurt him the most and which he would hurt the most. I know what I’m doing. I can heal … but if you’re going to skimp and refuse to help me help others that’re starving, then be careful.”
Date of transcription: 7/6/79
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 23, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B110-33. This tape was found to contain the following:
JIM JONES delivering a church sermon detailing some of the accomplishments of PT.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted July 2014