Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
To read the Tape Transcript, click here. Listen to MP3 (Pt. 1, Pt. 2).
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FBI Catalogue Jones Speaking
FBI preliminary tape identification note: None
Date cues on tape: Mid-September 1977 (reference to September 12, 1977 death of South African activist Stephen Biko)
Jimmy Carter, U.S. President [by reference]
Warren Burger, Chief Justice of Supreme Court
Andrew Young, U.S. Ambassador to U.N.
Joseph McCarthy, former U.S. Senator [by reference]
Joseph Alioto, former mayor of San Francisco
Thomas Noguchi, Los Angeles coroner [by reference]
Karl Marx, German economist, father of communism
Vladimir Lenin, leader of Russian RevolutionReza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran
Khalid bin Abdulaziz al Saud, king of Saudi Arabia [by reference]
Richard Hammerschlag, Univ. of Calif. researcher
U. J. Jensen, promoter of cliometrics theory
Richard Earhard [phonetic], unknown academic, supporter of Shah
Allan Bakke, plaintiff in Bakke case [by reference]
Lenny Bruce, 60’s comedian/social commentator
Lou Gurvich, father of Jonestown resident Jann Gurvich
Bea [several Bea’s and Beatrice’s in Jonestown]
Sister Bell [three women with last name of Bell or Belle]
Billy [many in Jonestown]
Carter [likely either Tim or Mike Carter]
Danny [several in Jonestown]
Dorothy [many in Jonestown]
Sister Grimm [most likely Sue, could be Tina]
Helen [several in Jonestown]
Lois [most likely Ponts, could be Breidenbach]
Raymond [likely Raymond McKnight, could be Raymond Fitch]
Tommy [several Tom/ Thomas in Jonestown]
David Betts “Pop” Jackson
Dorothy “Dee Dee” Macon
Laurence Schacht, Jonestown doctor
Bible verses cited: None
(This tape was transcribed by Georgiana Mamlakah. The editors gratefully acknowledge her invaluable assistance.)
Jim Jones leads a meeting of the Jonestown community in mid-September 1977. The gathering takes place within only a few months after the mass migration to Guyana has taken place – the majority of Jonestown’s population arrived in July and August of that year – but already there have been disappointments and complaints from the membership about the Promised Land, and the reactions to those complaints from the group’s leader already seem dismissive and condescending.
It is a community forum, and Jones invites the people gathered before him to offer any questions, suggestions or even criticisms of the way things are going. “Any criticism?” he says at one point. “As long as you do it publicly, we have no objections to it whatsoever.” The tape does not pick up what the people themselves say – the recording is like overhearing one end of a telephone conversation – but it does reveal Jones’ responses. The general complaints – the food they’re eating, the lack of amenities, the desire to return to the US – will only increase as time goes on, and the responses would become increasingly angry and even threatening. There are a few instances here of Jones flaring up, but at this juncture, he spends more time reminding people of how bad things had been in the States, and of how much worse things are getting. “It’s a nightmare back there, you oughta be glad you’re settin’ here tonight.”
The main complaint Jones himself has is about the complaints themselves, and on more than one occasion, he mocks those who raise the issues, oftentimes by imitating the voices of the seniors who have come up to him. Whether it’s food (“This rice, there’s bugs in here”) or toilet facilities (“I just can’t stand the smell of shit, Father, I just can’t stand it”) or socialism (“I don’t know why they talking about Lenin all the time, when we got Jesus that we can teach about”), he sets up a straw man and then knocks it down.
Throughout the evening – whether in response to a complaint or a commentary upon the news from the States – he reminds them of how well off they are. “If we can hold out, you’ll see why you’re here. [If] You can hold out, you’ll certainly be thanking and kissing the dirt. … I think we’ve given enough reasons why you should be grateful you’re here.”
There is a bit of unfinished business for Jones, carrying over from the Temple’s departure from San Francisco. The continuing negative publicity rankles him – “I’ve been gone now nearly four goddamn months. Those sons of bitches still writing about me” – but he ties it in to his larger message that the United States is morally and economically bankrupt. “That’s a poverty-stricken people that have to write about Jim Jones four months after he’s gone. Why in the fuck is he haunting them so? It’s sure not because they’re concerned about black people, ‘cause he’s freed so many black people, and given them so much justice and homes, opportunities, and life. So they’re not concerned about the poor. We know that.”
Jones is also upset with the residuals of Christianity within some of his followers. Early in the tape, he castigates people for “whispering the Bible verses across to somebody else, telling how you once knew the Lord. … You never knew the Lord.” Later he attacks the religion itself: “The name of Jesus has brought more pain and more harm and more heartache and more wars than any good that’s ever come out of it. … More wars, more wars have been fought, more race prejudice been taught, more bigotry has been instilled in the name of Jesus than anything you could think of.” The world would be better off if Jesus had never come along, he adds. “I said I would wish Mary had been … kicked in the abdomen with a donkey, so Jesus would have been born dead.” He then provides one of his own residuals from the States: “In fact the only good that ever come out of the name of Jesus is what I brought out of it.”
“They call us programized because we reject all that nonsense,” he remarks with disdain.
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 1B110-42. This tape was found to contain the following:
JIM JONES conducting a people’s rally with criticism of the membership.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted March 2017.