From the beginning of its history, Peoples Temple opened its doors to the poor and minority populations of Indianapolis, and soon began offering programs beyond those of a regular church, such as a community kitchen and clothing distribution program. It also began soliciting contributions and donations specifically to support these extracurricular activities, including during its own services and on its weekly radio broadcast.
In November 1960, the Temple learned that those solicitation efforts required a permit from the city, when the Charity Solicitations Commission sent a notice that the church was not in compliance with an ordinance and regulations covering charitable groups. And while the Temple complied with the city’s request to apply for a permit, it was not without some quibbling.
The documents on this page include the Temple application for a public solicitation permit, several letters from the city reminding the Temple of its obligation to comply with the ordinance (the first of which includes a handwritten note of complaint at the bottom of the page), and memos from the Better Business Bureau reflecting the inquiries which the Temple made about the ordinance.