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 “10/28/73”
Date cues on tape:
People in attendance at Peoples Temple service
Sister Lacy (likely Georgia Lacy)
Male named Mutschmann
Johnny Moss Brown
Tim Carter (likely, by reference)
Bea Morton, also known as Bea Orsot
Lee Ethel Young
Public figures/National and international names:
Johnson, Joe, Assistant Deputy Mayor for Social Programs of San Francisco (by reference)
Rev. Williams [likely Hannibal Williams, San Francisco preacher]
Temple adversaries; members of Concerned Relatives:
Bible verses cited:
“How lovely it would be, because I’m flesh of your flesh and bone of your bone.” (Genesis 2:23, “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh…”)
“But I’m the only man I know that won’t give you back an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” (Exodus 21:23-24, “And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” Also, Leviticus 24:20, Deuteronomy 19:21; countered by Matthew 5:38-39.)
“We are gods and sons of the Most High” (Psalm 82:6, “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.”)
“Who will I send? Who will go for me? I want to hear somebody’s heart, even tonight, some young person, say, here I am, Father God, here I am. Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8, “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.”)
“Seek and save those who want to be saved.” (Luke 19:10, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”)
“I know what the future holds for all who will bear the marks of Christ.” (Galatians 6:17, “From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”)
(This tape was transcribed by Nightrissa Crosby. The editors gratefully acknowledge her invaluable assistance.)
This address to the members of Peoples Temple – which takes place in the auditorium of Benjamin Franklin Junior High in San Francisco in October 1973 – is partially a sermon, partially a collection of offerings (which the Temple rarely recorded) and partially, as he describes it, a business meeting.
The main item on the agenda is to determine where the Temple might re-locate a few months after a fire damaged much of its facility on Geary Boulevard. There are several options, but none seem to excite Jim Jones very much. He doesn’t want to think about moving their Bay Area operations outside of San Francisco: “there’s not much value having the mayor … of Sausalito behind us,” he says with a laugh at one point. “[I]n San Francisco with our church here, we have more political strength, and that’s important.” He raises two or three objections to a downtown site suggested by a woman in the congregation, and he doesn’t want to move to the hardcore ghetto of San Francisco, even though the mayor has offered them some land cheap, because “I don’t like dirt and filth,” and even if they refurbished a facility there, “everybody else will be threatened, they’ll be throwing rocks at us, … they’ll destroy what we got.”
He does recognize the problems with the neighborhood where they’ve been – and where they would ultimately restore the Temple. Highest on the minds of both Jones and his congregants is the Black Muslim temple on the same block. It goes beyond the disrespect with which he says the Black Muslims treat his own followers – although that certainly is present – but extends to the group itself. Jones criticizes the Muslims’ belief in what he describes as a “spaceship [that] is going to come down and take them up” (actually, according to Elijah Muhammed, a Mother Plane or Wheel that was described in the visions of the prophet Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible). Jones lambasts the group’s treatment of women and the clothes they are required to wear, and he couples that with a longstanding criticism of leaders of all faiths who drive around in Rolls-Royces instead of taking care of the people. He is also critical of the core tenet that 20 percent of the population will rule the other 80 percent. The belief goes hand-in-hand with their efforts to advance black capitalism. “[There’s] No use to turn the thing around and have the same black system that’s been so ugly when the whites have been doing it. Just because blacks start doing it, don’t make it any nicer,” he says.
But he reserves his harshest criticism for the group’s hatred of whites. “They’re like the Ku Klux Klan, they won’t talk. They got their fill with hate,” he says midway through the address, then returns to it later. “I do not believe in hating people because of the color of their skin. I fought that in the Ku Klux Klan… and by God, I didn’t come to San Francisco to get the same kind of thing dressed up and called Black Muslims.”
Part of Jones’ antagonism towards the Black Muslims stemmed from his belief that the group was responsible for the August fire that caused $100,000 damage to the Geary Boulevard Temple, although the source of this belief is unknown. The arson attack is very much on his mind, though, as he recounts – as he has elsewhere – the miracles that happened that night to prevent anyone from being hurt or any Temple records from being destroyed. Even though he wasn’t there at the time, the fact that the people had his picture on their walls and heard his voice directing them to safety is proof of his paranormal abilities.
The uncertainty in the Temple’s status has led to discussion about the Temple’s leadership and particularly the issue of a possible successor to him. While he voices support for a process that would “begin to produce the leadership that needs to succeed me,” he also declares that it can’t be done. It’s not that the job is a difficult one, requiring great sacrifice, and embracing the loneliness that comes with it. It’s because of who he is. “Good God, there’ll never be anybody as honest as I. Nobody’ll ever fight for you like I. There never was a human that would die and live for you like I.”
There are also the responsibilities that he has, and the needs that he addresses by taking on those responsibilities, and the tension between them. Early in the address, he thunders to his followers, “Everything here that’s done, I order. Everything that comes about, I set it up. Everything that takes place, I bring it about. Every plan, it’s mine. Every dream, it’s mine. Every administration, it’s mine. You need me. Oh God, you need me.”
He recognizes that difficulty in replacing him, and reiterates how high – ultimately, impossibly high – the bar is that he has set. Early in the address, he states matter-of-factly, “I have looked over all creation. I’ve looked high, and I’ve looked low. I’ve looked on every continent. I’ve looked at the very bottom of the earth. I’ve looked at the top of the earth, and I found nobody but me.” He returns to the challenge a few minutes later: “So before you want to become my successor, you better know what you’re in for. I’ve set an awful hard line. I’ve laid down an awful difficult road. I’ve set down some very difficult steps for you to follow in. I wish sometimes I hadn’t. ‘Cause I’m making it rough for my successor.”
At the same time, he insists that his followers take advantage of him while they have him, to use him up. “Here I am,” he says. “Use me.” Even though he knows it will result in his demise, “I have come to be finished… I’ve come to be expended.” And while he wishes it were different – that he could be their friend, that he could hang out with them and drink tea – “I cannot because your survival depends that I be high and lifted up. And if I be lifted up, I will draw, I will save, I will heal.”
His later protests to the contrary – that they could train someone to be a successor to him – his true belief is revealed at the beginning of the address, when he declares that the Godship principle is among them right then and there, and only then and there. “I’ve not pretended to be your cotton-pickin’ God,” he says ironically. “I pretended to be and maintain to be and declare to be and exhibit that I am and manifested that I am, your only savior.… That’s why then we must never let God get away from us. We’re gonna keep God in a body.”
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 14, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B107-23. This tape was found to contain the following:
JIM JONES monologue concerning miscellaneous topics such as God, people getting into trouble, and purchase of real estate.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted January 2018.