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[Editor’s note: This tape has innumerable pauses and edits, as the speaker pauses every few seconds. In most cases, the transitional words are clear. Only when the words or meaning is lost during the edit is there a notation of it.]
Male: Dear Jim. It’s Friday, December 3, and late this afternoon, I found out the bar results. I flunked. I flunked for the third goddamn time. So, I have decided to resign, at least temporarily, from the church in order to– [tape tone changes] pending my taking the exam for the fourth and last time. [If I] pass the exam this time, I’d like to the church, because at that point I feel like I’ll something to offer the church. I’ve only been a student, being minimal help as a kind of– as a– as a law clerk. I don’t have any respect for the profession of law, for lawyers in general, uh– I’m gonna– I gotta pass this goddamn exam. It’s my fault that I flunked the exam in the past, and I don’t want you or anybody in the church to feel like uh– that it had anything to do with my uh, failing exam or– or my decision to uh– to resign, but I mean, I only have the uh, warmest, most affectionate feelings for you. You’ve more like a dad to me, more like a real parent than anybody I’ve ever had, and the people in the church have always been great to me, I can’t complain about anything anybody’s done. In fact, if anybody has complaints, I’m sure the complaints are against me. But I feel like I’ve let everyone down, and I just can’t face the goddamn humiliation and embarrassment of the whole fucking thing.
I know that the rule, when you leave the church, is to move away 500 miles. Well, I’ll keep that rule, but first, I’m gonna take the bar exam. When I take the bar exam, and the funds for the job program that I’m working at will have run out, and I’ll be able to quit here, and then I’ll leave, and you won’t hear from me again until the bar results are out. (tape edit)
–Ask, I’d like to come back to the church, ‘cause the only way I ever want to practice law is of course through Peoples Temple. It’s just about the only church and the only organization in this country that uh, really gives a damn about any kind of social change. Anyone who’s serious about any kind of social change at all is either going to be an enthusiastic supporter of the church or, if he’s really a– in– in– if he’s really– is uh, concerned about social change, then he’s really going to be a member of the church. I know that.
– [If] I flunk the bar exam this last time, then what I intend to do is to move out of this area, to save some money, to get over to London, get hold of that Bill Anderson guy, and get somehow involved in the South African Freedom Movement. I figure I’ll be able to uh– I figure it’s an English-speaking country and uh, with a white skin, I ought to be able to do a great deal more for uh, black freedom and liberation than I am over here, for goddamn sure. ‘Cause even though I’m not uh, in the church now – at least temporarily not in the church – I’m still a Marxist, albeit a bad one, and I am uh, terrible sorry that I have been such a bad example from a rather dissolute character. My beliefs. (tape edit) Some specific examples. This summer, Paul was breaking up with Sue, I was fooling around with Maureen. I never had intercourse with Maureen, but then, why it is, because I can’t fuck. Maureen, who I believe has a great deal of uh– good deal of uh, character, uh, she’s the one that broke off the relationship. Also I never had any emotion or– or any– or– tried to get back together with her, just let it die off, and then no matter what my own feelings were, I didn’t– I didn’t put any pressure on her or anybody else.
Another example is that I drink. I even smoke dope. When I met her, I went out with prostitutes.
Father, if I could pass the bar exam this time, I would at least make up for uh, some of the goddamn things I’ve done, uh, if only because I have something now that I could offer the church by way of uh, some sort of professional capacity. (tape edit) –indicated being (unintelligible word) outside the church has absolutely no– I mean just uh– I have absolutely no personal ambition to be any kind of an attorney or anything else.
So as you see, Jim, I’m uh, not any kind of candidate for any kind of leadership in the church, not any kind of candidate for any kind of followership. I would like to come back, once I pass the bar exam. (tape edit) [I] want to have duties and responsibilities with respect to the church. In fact, I’ve always considered that the only genuinely good thing about me was the fact that I was in the church, Peoples Temple. I uh– I always have believed and I do believe and– and I will believe that the church the only completely good institution in this screwed-up United States. (tape edit) –for the Temple’s goals and in terms of its means. I have no dispute, no disagreement at all with any policy, with any decisions that have ever been made. (tape edit) –decision here, and I know it’s a wrong decision, but I’m convinced that I have to do this thing, I have to pass this goddamn exam or flunk it on my own and by myself. My decision is not the result of anybody’s ever having done anything to me, because frankly, in the church, the only things that’ve ever been done to me have been good things. The church– well, not just the church, but you were able– you know, when I was a kid, you were the only goddamn adult that listened to me and made me show that I have any worth at all. As for uh, a better uh– a better friend, a better leader, a better father, a better everything than– than you were to me.
As far as the people in– in the church, I have only the greatest respect, and wish that I– I weren’t such a fuck-up, or done more for it, the church and the people and you. I know that uh, going to South Africa, which is my sincere intention of doing, should I not pass the bar exam, I know that’s the second and a lot lesser alternative than what– than working with here with the Peoples Temple, and– and uh, you. And I’m gonna stay active in the movement somehow. I don’t know of a better way to do it. As far as Sue, part of the things I’ve done, I’m still emotionally attached to Sue, and I have been, and to you, and I said I wasn’t. Of course, I was about (unintelligible word) when I told you that– you know, I stood outside a window and watched her and whoever the hell it was doing whatever they were doing.
I don’t want to have anything to do with anybody who’s– uh, who’s either in the church or outside the church during this period. (tape edit) I swear to you, that I won’t even talk to anybody who’s left the church, and unless you instruct uh, various people in the church to talk to me, I won’t talk to anybody in the church either. (tape edit) –this, and I hope you don’t, I hope you test– test me, and I’m sure you will, you can f– you can follow me around. You know where I work and I drive a– I– I have a gray 1976 Toyota Corolla (tape edit) –tomorrow, whose plate number I don’t know yet. (tape edit) –keeping up my intention not to see anybody in the church or who’s left it, I intend to file the divorce papers on Sue this next week. (tape edit) –no interest in going back with her because I don’t want her to have anything to do with anybody right now.
Strange incident with Sue and that is that for the past three or four months, when I haven’t even spoken with each other, but yet uh, just last week, she called me two or three times, and uh, it seemed– At first it seemed like she was calling on a very friendly basis, just wanted to know, just wanted to say hello and shit like that, and tell me what was happening, and that she got her new job raise and all that. After about the second or third call, she got down to the real meat of why she was calling, and it turns out that there is a legal problems that she is involved in– involved in– (tape edit) –this in confidence that may have repercussions on the church. I have no interest in seeing the church hurt at all, and the only interest I have as far as that is to see the church benefit as best I can, and the only way I can benefit it now is to tell you what that legal problem with Sue (unintelligible word) was. And the legal problem was this. It seems that uh, she took out a uh– a J. Magnin uh, credit card, mailed it to her old address at 620 Second Avenue. Well, apparently somebody at 620 Second Avenue – and that, by the way, is the address of Ann Peterson – uh, somebody, that is, uh– We think it’s uh, one of her kids, or Sue thinks it’s one of the– the kids she has, and those kids are all youn– grown-up in their mid-twenties, I think, all of course, not in the church. Uh, somebody in the house, and, like I say, Sue thinks it was one of these kids, took the credit card uh, 299– two– 290 dollars’ worth of uh, goods at J. Magnin’s, uh, by forging Sue’s signature and using the card. Well, Sue uh, found out about it when she got the bill. And so she went and told the uh, people at J. Magnin’s that she hadn’t s– hadn’t even used the card at all, and when the uh, investigator uh, got hold of Sue and– and– and uh, talked to her about it, about the card, and then uh, found– you know, found this– (tape edit) found out that it was 620 Second Avenue and that Sue didn’t li– uh, live there anymore, apparently he began checking into who lived there, and uh, it looks as though unless uh, the two hundred dol– ninety dollars is paid, uh, somebody who lives there, whoever the investigator thinks it is, is going to get prosecuted for felony uh, uh, forgery and probably uh, grand theft. If they get prosecuted, I think it’s pretty clear that they’re gonna be upset uh– at Sue and probably also at the uh, (Pause) at the church. (tape edit) –like anyway. You know, it’s not because I want to get back at Sue, because I don’t, but because even though I’m emotionally attached to Sue, I still (tape edit) –keeping her confidence like this would be (tape edit) –to the church.
Even though I’ve left, and I know I’m considered to be a traitor, I don’t– have done and don’t want to do anything at all that would ever, ever in any way hurt you or the church. The money that I have, and I’m using, is my own money, the money that I’ve saved from my checks here. The files and all the documentary information I have about the church or belongs to the church, you will find at– on my desk in my room in the parsonage, and the car you’ll find in front of uh, Linda Amos’ old house, which is uh, 480 North Oak. And the keys’ll be in the glove compartment.
I have an old security box filled with letters to anybody because uh, (tape edit) –did anything to– to– in any way at all to ever do anything to hurt the church, I’d really want to be uh, offed right there. (tape edit) –wouldn’t uh, anybody knowing any of the uh, wherewithal if that was done. I don’t give a damn what happens to me. I not saying that because I feel sorry for myself because it– but I’m saying it because it’s the truth, because I’m very disgusted with both myself and uh, my life in general.
Uh, nobody knows about this but you. [I haven’t told] anybody I work with. No matter what happens, I will never tell them that I’ve left the church, because I really– really don’t want to leave the church. Till I pass this exam– (tape edit) –come back. (tape edit) I’m more than willing to talk with uh, anybody that you might send out to talk to me, but don’t waste your time this weekend because I won’t be here. I’m not coming into work on Monday, on Tuesday– (tape edit) anybody that you want me to, at anyplace at anytime. (tape edit) And then they’re more than willing to uh, search my apartment, and I live in town, in Ukiah now, and when I get back, when I get a phone, uh, which will be unlisted, I’ll give you the number. Again, you and the people of– in the church couldn’t have done anything any better, (tape edit) did– (tape edit) (unintelligible word), and I’m the one who’s wrong, and I’m the one who is doing the wrong to the people there. (tape edit) –feels as though I’m doing a greater wrong when I stay, when I can’t do the job that I’ve been trained to do. I think it goes without saying of course, I have never and uh– and never will uh, divulge any– any information that I– I have or any opinions I may have, uh, which have been shared with me about anything that has happened in the church. Should you ever even think that I’m doing so, uh, I would ask that you use this tape on which I’ve made some fairly incriminating statements against me very harshly. Again, I have nothing in common with anybody who’s left, or anybody who’s on the outside. (tape edit) Though all the books that are left in my room that are mine, I now give to uh, you to dispose as you wish. I think there’re some pretty good books in there, and I know uh, maybe Stephan [Jones] would like them, ‘cause I know he has a real appreciation for books. (tape edit) –there else anything I– I can say now. I would like to keep my uh, membership cards (tape edit) Temple, that’s my one uh– one last connection with about the only thing that I really value in– in– in uh– in life. (tape edit) just have a need for uh, security in the Temple and uh, I’ll relinquish them if you uh, say I should.
I have no absolutely no problem with anybody in the church. I think that everybody that left the church is just a sheer asshole, and any information that they tell me, I intend to s– turn over to you directly– or, they– they won’t be telling me, ‘cause I won’t be talking to them, but any information I find out from– I mean, any information that I– that I learn from them, one way or another, I intend to turn over to you immediately or your designated representative. I think that the people who’ve left the church should be shot, and if I uh, had permission to do so, I’d go shoot ‘em myself. (tape edit) (unintelligible fragment) certainly no one at all is to blame for my conduct but me, ‘cause the people in the Temple and especially you– especially you have always been uh, extraordinarily generous, thoughtful and concerned about uh, whatever happened to me. Nor have I ever seen anyone in the Temple working with any church project do anything that was any less than above board, in the highest spirit of uh, Christian humanism.
Finally, let me say that the car I’ve bought, which is 1976 uh, Toyota Corolla, has a uh, life and disability policy, whereby the car is automatically paid for and becomes the property of my uh, estate, should I die. You will find in the files that I have left on my desk a holographic will which is valid and which conveys all my uh, real and personal property, which includes the car, to uh, Carolyn Layton.
(tape edit) –doesn’t make what I’ve done any less wrong. It does insure at least that uh, somebody will– in the church will get uh, the value of the car (tape edit) –(unintelligible fragment) That– That uh, I will say that I will promise you that I won’t do anything uh, stupid to myself, uh, at least until I talk to you on uh, Tuesday, or Wednesday or whenever you want, or not necessarily you, but your reps– representative.