Temple Testimonials After New West Article

THE FOLLOWING ARE A SELECTION OF EXCERPTS FROM STATEMENTS MADE IN RECENT DAYS BY A WIDE VARIETY OF CIVIC, COMMUNITY, AND RELIGIOUS LEADERS IN RESPONSE TO A SENSATIONALISTIC SMEAR CAMPAIGN DIRECTED AT PEOPLES TEMPLE AND ITS MINISTER, REV. JIM JONES.

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MERVYN M. DYMALLY, Lieutenant Governor, California:

Not surprisingly, the metropolitan media have singled out Peoples Temple for scrutiny and criticism. This unusual attack on the Church is the cause of great concern and anguish among the friends of Peoples Temple. However, I am pleased to report that those of us who have looked at the great work of Pastor Jim Jones will continue to have strength in our commitment to him. My former colleagues in the state legislature and Mayor of San Francisco, George Moscone, who has given much assistance, has continued to express confidence in the Rev. Jim Jones. The Chairperson of the Legislative Black Caucus and its members are strong in their support of the Peoples Temple and, so is the President of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (Black Press of America), Carlton Goodlett.

WILLIE L. BROWN, JR., California State Assembly:

I have represented thousands of people in the metropolitan area where the headquarters of Rev. Jim Jones’ church, Peoples Temple, is located, and I am very familiar with the outstanding work his organization has done in service to society. Rev. Jim Jones is one of the most principled voices for social justice in the nation, and he has been instrumental in providing forceful leadership in developing practical solutions to serious urban problems, such as crime, drug abuse, and neglect of the elderly. Because he is an extremely effective leader in the arena of social progress, Jim Jones has been the object of some malicious attacks from various individuals who (out of personal vindictiveness, racism, and other despicable motives) have mounted a smear campaign. This campaign has been denounced by progressive community leaders and public officials who are working effectively for the interest of blacks and other minority people in our society.

DONNETER E. LANE, Executive Director, San Francisco Council of Churches:

It is a privilege that I/we have the opportunity to express a word of concern for the Christian Ministry of the Rev. Jim Jones and members of Peoples Temple (Disciples of Christ) here in the city of San Francisco and throughout the state of California.

It appears that persons who contribute to humanity the human needs, find themselves in controversial situations, usually marked by misinformation and unsound reasoning. Rev. Jones has contributed to San Francisco and to the needs of the underprivileged and oppressed. He has not done this alone, but with the concern and co-operation of people who are disciples of Christ, in every sense of the word.

Throughout Christendom there have always been those who rejected those who would be followers of Christ. The Scriptures say “feed the hungry – closing naked – heal the sick.” (He has a spiritual gift of healing and provisions for

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those seeking help.)

Rev. Jones has contributed spiritually to the San Francisco Council of Churches Board of Directors since becoming a member. His members have shown concern in the issue related to Council work. Theirs a true spiritual commitment and voluntarily rendered. Rev. Jim Jones’ philosophy is a challenge to the citizens of San Francisco and especially to Christians who are not committed to the Christian doctrines.

I/we have the honor and privilege to speak for one from our community and a member of the San Francisco Council of Churches.

CRISTINA Vasquez, National Representative, Equal Rights Congress:

To many people in this country, as well as throughout the world, your church and what you stand for has meant hope and justice. But what is more important, that hope has become a reality.

I for one have seen the fruits of your work and have seen that you practice what you teach. There is no doubt in my mind that when an issue of justice or human rights has come to your attention, you have always responded in every way possible to help.

I would like to express that although it outrages me to see what the news media is doing, it does not surprise me. In my life I have always seen that we are always playing against each other – church against church, blacks against latinos, latinos against blacks, every minority and working people blaming each other for their failures and problems because that way they can keep us apart and not see that the real problems is between those who have and those who don’t.

I would like… to do whatever little we can to show the media and whoever is trying to discredit your work that as long as we live we will not stand for anybody trying to destroy any of our honest, hard working leaders that are fighting for our rights.

REV. NORMAN E. LEACH, Program Administrator, San Francisco Council of Churches:

I am writing to express my concern for the work which the Rev. Jim Jones and the members of his Peoples Temple (Disciples of Christ) perform in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. As happens all too frequently, when someone actually attempts to live out the commandments of the Christian Gospel, there is adverse reaction from the non-Christian community. And even, sometimes, from within that community.

Peoples Temple in San Francisco has recently found itself under attack from a few persons who were former members, in addition to a few others who wish to discredit the work and ministry of Peoples Temple – or whatever their motives. I do not attempt to understand or to speak to the motives behind these actions; however, I can and will speak to my observations as to

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the ministry of the Rev. Jim Jones and his congregation.

Peoples Temple offers a tremendous witness to the Gospel of liberation and justice within our community. Judges refer young people to Peoples Temple for rehabilitation programs. They also offer services and training for youth around such skills as carpentry, printing, broadcasting, electronics, auto mechanics, tutoring, etc. All of these are vital ministry with the people of this city. This type of ministry fulfills a great need which otherwise would have to be met by the city’s Social Services and other agencies were it not for church groups like the Peoples Temple.

ART AGNOS, California Legislature, Majority Whip:

Recently in San Francisco a number of people have begun to attach a political meaning to the work carried on by the Rev. Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple.

As a politician, I am aware from firsthand experiences that the leadership and congregation of Peoples Temple carry out exceptional public service activities without partisan political overtones.

While it is true that their religious beliefs require active participation in issues confronting the community such as supporting in large numbers the tenants of the International Hotel, 99% of all the work done by Peoples Temple is in service to the elderly, poor families, and troubled youth. On many occasions I have referred destitute people to Peoples Temple for help and they have all received it.

It is most unfortunate that some people in San Francisco feel threatened by this very simple organization and philosophy of service.

JOSEPH E. HALL, President, San Francisco Branch, NAACP:

I am writing to let you know about the outstanding work of the Peoples Temple here in the San Francisco community. Rev. Jim Jones has been a friend to hundreds of youths in the city, and his church has rehabilitated many from drug use, help young people out of legal difficulty and anti-social patterns, and brought out the finest potential in people who were held back due to the hardships and oppression of their lives. He has established tutorial and educational programs, opportunities for youth to receive free job training, and legal and medical services for the indigent. This church has taken in senior citizens cast aside by their relatives, and children abandoned by parents and unwanted by agencies. He has provided a wholesome environment where people are accepted and made to feel needed and productive regardless of race, sex, age or educational or religious background.

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ENOLA D. MAXWELL, Executive Director, Portrero Hill Neighborhood House:

I have known the Reverend Jim Jones of the Peoples Temple for ten years. During the years I have known him I have never heard it said that he turned down a person or organization in need, regardless of race, color or creed.

In my opinion his ministry best exemplified the life and teachings of Jesus Christ: What is the need, and what can I do to help.

For this Jesus Christ and Martin Luther King were persecuted, and many others were condemned without having done any evil.

DENNIS ROBERTS, Attorney (from a letter to Rev. Jim Jones):

I have been following with great interest the vituperative and defamatory attacks against you and the Peoples Temple which have appeared in New West magazine and, more recently, reprinted in the Mendocino Grapevine. I recently saw the July 21 editorial in the Sun-Reporter.

I initially met you in my capacity as attorney for Dennis Banks. At the time of our first meeting his wife, Ka-Mook, was incarcerated in Kansas under a $20,000 bail. The defense fund was virtually non-existent and the possibility of Ka-Mook obtaining bail was slim indeed. Then you and the Temple step forward out of the goodness of your heart and produced virtually the entire bail for Ka-Mook. This put her in the position of being freed to help prepare our defense. Today, we got the wonderful news that the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco held that the government’s case against her must be dismissed. If you did not provide the bail, she would have had to sit in jail for about two years until she was ultimately vindicated, and instead of being free to be with her family and small babies. If I knew nothing else about you, this would be sufficient for me to sing your praises to every available ear. However, after our initial meeting I was so impressed with your good works that I started to do my own “investigation.” Everyone spoke in the most glowing terms of you, the Temple, and the work that you have performed. You have consistently articulated the position of the underdog and provided the support necessary to stand up to overwhelming governmental attack. In so many cases you and the Temple made the crucial difference in the ability to withstand these attacks.

I am not a Christian and for many years and felt strongly about the hypocrisy of so many who called themselves “christians.” It is only upon coming in contact with the Peoples Temple that I was able to start to reappraise this opinion and realize that there were people did take their professed religion seriously and who, in fact, did live up to what I would like to believe being a Christian means.

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JERRY S. GARDNER, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (Mendocino Cty.)

I wish to take this opportunity to express my dismay with recent articles being published in local newspapers and by New West magazine, regarding the Rev. Jim Jones and Peoples Temple Church.

I have known Rev. Jones for over seven years and have found him to be an honest, reverent, and Christian example in our community.

Temple members have been licensed by the State of California to provide care and supervision for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled. These Temple members have always been above reproach and among the most capable of providers. State evaluations of these facilities conducted in 1972 will bear this out.

It is unfortunate that such an exemplary man and organization must be subject to this sort of yellow journalism.

HOWARD WALLACE, Gay Action/Labor Committee:

I have read articles attacking Rev. Jim Jones and Peoples Temple in the last two issues of NEW WEST magazine. You may already know that this magazine was recently purchased by an Australian publisher notorious for his scandal-mongering and yellow journalism. It is with concern that the many good works of Peoples Temple continue uninterrupted that I am now writing.

For many years now, I have been a socialist and a trade unionist, an anti-war organizer an active supporter of the Black, Latino, feminist and gay movements in the United States. In that time I have witnessed a host of smear campaigns against all these movements. Peoples Temple is only the latest victim.

They are now an object of right-wing attacks because they practice what they preach – solidarity with the oppressed and exploited of the earth. The Temple’s consistent struggle on behalf of democratic rights and against social and economic inequality is without parallel, even in San Francisco, historically a center of progressive movements. I am one of many thousands in the city who take pride in counting Rev. Jim Jones and Peoples Temple among my friends.

RICHARD GELLER, Vice-President, Unity Foundation:

 I write on behalf of Unity Foundation in reference to the good works of the Peoples Temple organization. Here in San Francisco these selfless Christians have brought help and happiness two countless thousands with their free offering of food, medical care, education, job training, drug habilitation, legal counseling, and spiritual guidance… It has been our delight to work with Peoples Temple, whose honesty and credibility we have found impeccable.

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ROBERT WALLACH, Attorney-at-law:

As a matter of introduction, I am a past president of the Bar Association of San Francisco (1975), a professor of law at Hastings College of the Law and Consultant to the Dean at that school. I am a lawyer in active private practice. I do not belong to Peoples Temple and my only contact with them has been as a result of our shared interests in a variety of community projects in this city.

I have had an opportunity to meet and talk at length with Rev. Jim Jones, examined fully the services and programs of the Peoples Temple and know their reputation in this community in a variety of sources.

In all respects, the Peoples Temple makes a major contribution to the social well-being of this city, particularly among the disadvantaged, minorities and disabled within our community. Those individuals who often find it difficult to assemble support for their position as they seek to obtain lawful and appropriate rights from our society find a strong and giving ally in Reverend Jim Jones and those with whom he works.

ALBERT E. KAHN, Author, Journalist:

I became acquainted with Rev. Jim Jones more than a year ago and in the intervening period I have been much impressed with the assistance he has given to the peace movement in this area, to Chilean political refugees who have settled in the region, and to the care and welfare of underprivileged citizens, not only among his followers but also in the general community.

It is my opinion that in all likelihood the present charges being made against him are, besides sensational journalism, in part the result of work of agents provocateurs operating within his organization, and I hope that in the future there will be concrete evidence of this probability.

MICHAEL R. SNEDEKER,  Attorney-at-law, Prisoners Union:

I believe their church (Peoples Temple) is one of the most important organizations in California. It combines strongly progressive social policies with a spirituality that makes our common humanity felt rather than simply known as an abstraction. The shortcomings of pure politics is precisely that it does not have content. The limits of pure spirituality are that it removes people from the world rather than connecting them with it. It seems to me that their efforts to combine the material and the spiritual into real existence, to effectively recognize the humanity of all races and ages, to realize the capabilities of everybody, to take care of each other and to take responsibility for the world in which they live, follows the grain of what must be done to build a fully human world.

I have attended their services, the first over ten years

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ago in a remote rural section of California where I work as a researcher and therapist in a large mental hospital. Their services are a unique blend of joyous music, intensely focused concern for suffering individuals, and attacks on the injustice that is part and parcel of our social order. I have known members of the church and one who left the church; he was a former drug addict who felt that he had gained immeasurably by his association with the Peoples Temple. I have also followed their work on behalf of people who were being unjustly treated and seen their efforts to unify the poor and dispossessed of this country into an effective force. They are a warm, energetic, and progressive group of people.

CHARLES BRIODY, Bay Area Ecumenical Committee of Concern Ffor Chile; Formal National Chairperson of the Presidential Campaign for Dr. Benjamin Spock:

I hope that you understand that the media attack on Rev. Jones it is part of what appears to be a coordinated right wing propaganda offensive aimed at dividing working people that currently is sweeping our country and is characterized by a resurgence of the Nazi Party, Ku Klux Klan, anti-Semitic “New Right” and racist organizing – in a period of extreme economic crisis when such periods classically appear in many capitalist societies.

Knowing of the internationally coordinated fascist plot which overthrew the government of Salvador Allende in Chile, I cannot but be sensitive to the totally contrived and subversive nature of the media smears against this exemplary man, Jim Jones.

JOE JOHNSON, San Francisco:

I have been active in community programs in the San Francisco area for over forty years. I am a member of long standing in the I.L.W.U. – Longshoreman’s Union, the Third Baptist Church and a Deputy Mayor of the City. I am well acquainted with the activities of Peoples Temple Church and with the integrity and character of his pastor, Reverend Jim Jones.

Concerning them I say without qualification that this church has been second to none in preventing crime in the city. They have donated thousands of dollars to city-sponsored fund drives for the purpose of creating summer jobs for youth and programs for cultural enrichment.

Too often clever and cynical newswriters, skilled in the art of withering sarcasm and satire can capture the imagination of people, take statements violently out of context and create an atmosphere where violence and harassment result.

On two occasions that I know of, this church has been burned, its members physically attacked, its youngsters

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attending school humiliated and terrorized. In spite of these discouraging incidents Peoples Temple has remained a vital force for decency and dignity for us all.

The article printed by New West and others our typical of the forced [force] of evil who would destroy a good thing.

MARGIE BAKER, Supervisor, San Francisco Public Schools:

I am very honored to be acquainted with the Reverend Jim Jones and the congregation of Peoples Temple located in San Francisco, California. Rev. Jones’ church is located in one of the lower social-economic areas of San Francisco. His membership seems to consist of members of all races creeds and colors. Rev. Jones and his congregation have done so much for young people who, otherwise, would be wasting their lives away. The Peoples Temple also has excellent programs for senior citizens, excellent health programs, and other programs too numerous to mention.

CONNIE WILLIAMS, Owner, “Connie’s Restaurant;” President of West Coast Caribbean Association:

I am writing to express my feelings about Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple. This church, for many years, has been a refuge for literally thousands of poor people, mainly black but consisting of all racial backgrounds in the country.

Because Jim Jones has boldly defended the rights of the poor and oppressed in this racist society, he has suffered continuous harassment and persecution. It is not only difficult but dangerous, as you might well imagine, the stand for egalitarian principles in our society. This automatically results in attacks by reactionary forces. But Jim Jones has always remained undaunted, and, in the face of it all, has proceeded with his work.

ALEXANDRA HUNTER, Ph.D., Day Treatment Director, Westside Community Mental Health Center:

I am writing in support of the Peoples Temple and their community projects. As you may have heard, certain self-serving media persons, seeking fortune and fame for themselves, are using the Temple and Reverend Jones as the means to their goal.

I am a resident of the Western Addition as well as a director of a mental health program in this area. I am very aware of the services provided by the Peoples Temple to both young and old, merely minority persons of our community. These services will not be available otherwise.

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PHILIP MARTIN, Attorney-at-law:

Although I have no personal official association with Peoples Temple, I am familiar with its work in this city. It is an unusual and unique organization, which puts religious principles into practice by working on the day-to-day problems of the people in this community. Its programs and child care, legal aid, housing, and rehabilitation enjoy and [an] outstanding reputation. The people I have met from the Temple have been unfailingly courteous, enthusiastic, and public-spirited.

Recent attempts to smear the Temple here in San Francisco are, as far as I can tell, without any foundation in fact.

JOAN A. BRANN (wife of the late Franklyn Brann):

I am a member of San Francisco’s black community.

Rev. Jones is being maligned by the press. This man is sincerely committed to the poor, the elderly, and to those who spirits have been worn down by the vicissitudes of racism.

Rev. Jones and his congregation were a great source of comfort to me in a time of painful crisis in my own life. His response to those of us who asked for his help goes far beyond any ordinary call of duty.

YVONNE S. GOLDEN, Co-ordinator, Opportunity II High School; President, Black Teachers Caucus:

The vendetta against Reverend Jim Jones is not a new story. History is replete with examples of the persecution of those who challenge the status quo. At one level, Rev. Jim Jones should feel a sense of pride in being immersed into the ocean of a most distinguished community of humanity – where justice, and not expediency, is the good to be pursued; where the legitimate interest of the many, and not the whim of the few, is the mandate of the day; where truth, and not consistency, is the goal to be achieved, and where courage is one of the exacting prices for peace of mind.

No less a stalwart than Martin Luther King ground his entry into the so-called political arena by speaking out against the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, and invokes the absolute wrath of the well organized army of apologist of the status quo. Only the blind, the deaf, the dumb and the apologists fail to see the compulsive relationship between the latest avalanche of inconsistencies, half-truths, and outright lies against the Rev. Jim Jones and the upcoming elections in San Francisco.

We who support Rev. Jim Jones will continue to stand by him. We find solace in the eloquence of Thomas Paine:

“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consol-

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ation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

CARLTON B. GOODLETT, Ph.D., M.D., Publisher of the Reporter, President of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (Black Press of America):

Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple represent some of the most invigorating and challenging religious organizations to appear in California in recent years… In attempting to use the moral force of Christianity in dealing with man-made problems that bedevil, haunt and dehumanize the social order, Jones has created a cyclone where formerly the political leaders, economic scoundrels, and even impotent religious leaders have failed the very foundations of their ethics, in their leadership mantles have been rent, torn asunder, leaving those pompous pseudo-leaders naked and to be viewed as the hypocrites that they have been for decades.

As an institution that feeds the poor, houses the homeless, rescues young and old from the wretchedness despair and drug addiction, marshals the political potential of a people, and husbands the economic pittance of the poor masses into a powerful instrument for justice, freedom, and equality, while building a just  and humane society, by its very nature will have many enemies hidden, lurking in the shadows of greed, ignorance, neurosis and hallucinations. If such an institution becomes powerful, then it must expect its enemies to become powerful. While the New West article was intended to defame and dismember and deter an increasing band of followers of Christian ethics, the great possibilities are there that the story will boomerang, and that which they seek to destroy out of this momentary irritation will become a potent antidote to the hopelessness and despair that permeate the masses… Surely many good men and women of courage, steadfastness, and fundamental belief in the power of the organized masses will see in Jim Jones and Peoples Temple not a comet that momentarily lights up the darkness, but another reminder of the meanings of Edmund Burke’s prophetic words, uttered before the birth of the nation 200 years ago: “All that is necessary for evil in the world the triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

 

Originally posted on January 17th, 2020.

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