Conspiracies are no longer fashionable on the U.S. scene. In the 1960’s, the impact of the Vietnam War, the foment of the New Left, and the vitality of the Black liberation struggle kindled a consciousness of the possibilities for wide-scale government disruption of dissident organizations and individuals. The trials of the Chicago Seven, the Berrigan brothers, and Angela Davis; the deaths of Jonathan and George Jackson; police and governmental repression of urban riots and campus uprisings, culminating with the deaths of students at Kent State University: all of this underscored the potential for political persecution. The recognition of this ability to shatter those who challenge the ruling power structure of society reached its apex with the revelation of Watergate and the subsequent publication of books and articles on the domestic and international activities of the CIA and FBI.
These revelations presented a challenge to the American people as a whole – not just the “radical fringe” – a challenge to re-think their values, to re-assess their acceptance of a system that could self-righteously defame, discredit, and even destroy those who dared to openly question that system’s functioning. But the American people have not been fed on a diet of commercialism and illusion to no effect. As in the case of similar challenges presented in the past, reality proved too stark, and the responsibility too great for a people made apathetic and sluggish by ease, comfort, or the false promise of success around the corner. In view of the fact that conditioning had made Americans unable to confront the grim implications of objective reality, they came up with the classic American solution: they made reality into illusion. Munching popcorn, Americans watched Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman defeat the modern day “bad guys” and promptly forgot that Enemies’ Lists, character assassination, surveillance, and systematic destruction were not the product of a scriptwriter’s imagination, but part and parcel of the fabric of American capitalist society.
It is, perhaps, in this failure to separate reality from illusion that America has been blinded to the forces that are eroding its moral sense, providing a way for us to understand the 1970’s. It is also that same failure that can help us understand
the efforts to silence another principled and outspoken voice for sanity and reality: Jim Jones.
(end of Foreword – begin the next part on a separate page) [Handwritten note: “Put in a Title Page for Book I”]
[Handwritten title: “Book I – Foundations: The Reasons Why…”]
In recent weeks the outlines of a massive conspiracy against Jim Jones and Peoples Temple have begun to emerge. The effort involves U.S. Treasury Department informers, Interpol, paid-off government officials, and a host of individuals who have been coerced (and in some cases blackmailed) into supplying false testimony to an unusually eager and co-operative tribe of sensation-mongering yellow journalists. There have even been assassination attempts.
The object of it all is a Disciples of Christ minister who has adopted children of all races, who lives very modestly, and who has devoted his life to breaking down racial barriers and helping poor and destitute persons. Moreover, Jim Jones is one of the most outspoken and fearless critics of American society. Thousands of people have joined his church, which, in its enthusiasm, unity, and activism, can be more properly called a political humanitarian movement.
Currently Jim Jones is in Guyana, where he has been building a huge cooperative community that has nearly one thousand residents, and is growing. [Superscript 1] Despite the attempts to destroy him and his movement, he remains today more determined than ever to persevere in his work.
However, before entering into any detailed discussion of the particulars of the current conspiracy against Jim Jones and Peoples Temple, it is necessary to take the time to put some of the basic issues of his life and work into perspective, and to explain why some of the most powerful reactionary forces in America are going to great lengths to stop him.
Jim Jones grew up in the grinding poverty of the Depression-scarred Midwest. He knew from personal experience the misery of hunger and want. More than anything else, it was this experience that made him determined to do something about conditions that, even in times of “prosperity,” have continued to leave millions of people impoverished and neglected in the midst of a nation of vast wealth. It would be to the perennial “losers” who never could seem to overcome their plight that Jim Jones would turn; to those who never had the educational opportunities to realize their talents and potential; to those who suffered job discrimination because of race or ethnic background, or who were stuck permanently in the vicious cycle of poverty, unemployment, or slavish labor; or who turned to drugs, drink, or crime as a means of escape, or even survival… it would be to such desperate and rejected people that Jim Jones would devote his life and his ministry.
He is convinced that the answer to the conditions of gross inequity can be found in the creation of cooperative, communal social structures in which people work together on a basis of total equality, for the common good and for an end to the seemingly ineradicable conditions of poverty, war, and racism plaguing mankind. While still in his ‘teens, he became a partisan of social justice causes. One of his heroes [Inserted handwritten edit: “was Lenin, the architect of the Russian Revolution. Another”] was Mao Tse-Tung, who was still struggling to free the Chinese masses from horrible oppression and abuse. The young Jim Jones was not “religious” in the conventional sense, though as a child he found a kind of second home in the Pentecostal church, where he received a measure of care, help, understanding. He became particularly drawn by the [“communism” crossed out] socialism of the early Christians, capsulized in the Acts of the Apostles, where it is written that, on the day of Pentecost, “All that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.” (Acts 2:44-45). To Jim Jones, such a form of social organization pointed the way to the self-overcoming of humanity. It was this theme of sharing and communal living that he saw underlying the teachings not only of Jesus, but of a long series of religious leaders, moral philosophers, and revolutionary social thinkers down through the
centuries, many of whom were severely persecuted for their ideas, though more for their efforts to implement them. [Superscript 2] [Handwritten edit illegible]
It was during the post-war and early McCarthy period that Jim Jones became a [“communist” crossed out] Marxist. He believed strongly that the capitalist system was the root of practically all of America’s social problems as well as the economic and human exploitation of scores of nations that had, in effect, become colonies of corporate greed for profits. He deeply agreed with the Marxist analysis of human misery bred by a profit system that benefited a few through the use of the many, [Handwritten “21”] placing monetary and commercial values above human values. He was determined to do what he could to translate his radical vision of society – in which there would be no want, no unemployment, racism or privilege – into reality. It is here that one can find the roots of the persecution that Jim Jones is currently undergoing, and which has followed him for some twenty-five years.
His concern for humanity led him, in the early 1950’s, to found a church [Handwritten “22”] in Indianapolis, Indiana, on the “apostolic” model of total sharing and equality, that would strive for the communalistic ideal of the disciples of Christ. His Peoples Temple would be nothing less than an attempt to reclaim the original, revolutionary birthright of the primitive church which, over the centuries, had lost its way and actually had become a reactionary force, abandoning the communism of the Acts of the Apostles for a watered-down, self-centered, dogma- and ritual-ridden faith, more concerned with pious rhetoric than acts. Instead of challenging (as did Jesus and many of the early Church Fathers) a society predicated on competition and exploitation, the church had become, in effect, its weekly apologist. For the oppressed it had become an “opiate”, providing a convenient rationalization for people to endure their misery by offering guilt-edge promises of release and liberation… in the hereafter. Jim Jones deeply [handwritten marginal note: “D” in a circle and question mark] realized the truth of what many social scientists, like Max Weber, had clearly demonstrated: Christian teachings had been modified into a “protestant ethic” to justify the economics and morality of personal gain and materialism (the “spirit of capitalism”) of the ruling and ownership classes that were the consistent target of Jesus throughout his life. Christianity had become Antichrist.
Peoples Temple, then, would be no ordinary church; its minister, likewise, would be no ordinary one. Through Peoples Temple, Jim Jones attempted to actualize the old Christian ideal of caritas – a kind of loving, compassionate force that reaches out from one individual to another, binding people into a community, overcoming the separateness and egocentricity that is the disease of human society. Through such a basic principle is sought in realization of our collective identity, our essential oneness beyond all seeming differences of race, creed, educational background, ‘culture,’ individualisms and idiosyncrasies that create division, antagonism, fear, mistrust, hatred. Jim Jones saw the critical factor in this ideal of self-overcoming as human service. He emphasized that the highest service to any God or deity can only be measured and determined by one’s service to fellow human beings. Without this nothing else mattered. This follow the ideals that Jesus propounded throughout his life, but which are perhaps most eloquently and dramatically spoken in Matthew 25:35-40 where Jesus makes a judgment of his disciples, finding them guilty of not serving Him (their spiritual leader and principal-bearer) because they neglected to serve people who were in desperate need. [Superscript 3]
[Handwritten title: The Early Years Of Peoples Temple]
[Handwritten “23”] It wasn’t long before Jim Jones became well-known in Indianapolis for his consistent attempts (along with his church members) to live according to that difficult standard. Peoples Temple opened a free restaurant, dispensed clothing and even money to the needy. The young minister sought out the most wretched, hopeless situations, paid people’s rent when they were about to be evicted, got them medical assistance, took people into his home, fed them, got them jobs and decent clothing. But this was nothing new for Rev. Jones. Even as a child during the worst of the Depression, he would befriend total strangers and help them out with whatever meager resources he could gather. Throughout his formative years he was looked upon almost as an eccentric for his insistence on giving, as well as for his brash, sometimes outrageous challenges to hypocrisy and selfishness. [Superscript 4] [Handwritten and circled: “E”]
Understandably, many persons were attracted to Peoples Temple who, because of racism and/or economic oppression, found themselves
in destitute circumstances, unable to secure the basic necessities of life for themselves or their families. Yet, in founding his church, Jim Jones made a bold promise to his congregation: [Handwritten “24”; the next line, all in capital letters, was struck out: “As long as there is food on my plate, there will be food on yours; as long as there is a roof over my head, there will be a roof over yours.”] The church, then, would be the insurance of sustenance and nourishment to its membership. Its minister would, by his own practice, set an example of selfless living for the congregation which, if followed, would make good his personal guarantee.
Through overwhelming obstacles, Rev. Jim Jones kept his promise as his ministry grew over the years, and the membership of the church burgeoned into the many thousands. It has taken a carefully organized structure to accomplish this. First of all, he had to set a consistent example of selfless living and utter frugality to show that he meant to live by his precepts. [Handwritten “1”; the following lines were struck out, with a marginal note of “Problem area, TB,” likely Terri Buford; “He turned everything he owned over to the church – to the “household of the faith” – inspiring others to do likewise. This initial act of charity was the key to the success of the now vast Peoples Temple organization. As people saw what was being done to the resources they donated, they soon came to feel secure in their giving. They saw that their donations were not going to the ministers, or to some nebulous or spurious program that did not relate to their own lives:”] they were helping to build and support a structure that would support them for the rest of their lives. This was a far cry from what many of his parishioners were used to in their former churches, where the minister had a fine home, expensive clothes, and a brand-new luxury car. Meanwhile, they would see nothing of their giving (except in the minister’s opulent life-style), and when they would become ill or get into difficulty and need help, would receive only a sanctimonious word (if that) from their reverend “man of God.”
In Peoples Temple, that was all changed. Each person’s living necessities, including education and health care, were guaranteed – from cradle to grave. This is the promise made to every member of the Peoples Temple “family,” no matter if they
have much or little or nothing to contribute in terms of property or finances. The Temple has been the “source of supply”, the nourishment of its members and, to a significant extent, the community at large, meeting educational, medical, recreational, and a variety of emergency needs. No member need fear hunger, homelessness, destitution. And there are many benefits: vacations, special programs for children and adults, trade-tech training, [words crossed out: “a cheap credit union,”] job placement services, and, perhaps most valuable of all, the support of a group of people, a “family” that really cares about each individual and will “go to bat” for them, a family led by a man who is an outstanding exemplar of care and concern, a friend at all times who will never let his people down.
But to those who know him, words are inadequate to convey the total dedication, selflessness and sacrifice of Jim Jones, the moving force behind Peoples Temple, a man who has devoted his life to the struggle for human liberation. He would take homeless and destitute people into his house until there were, at times, upwards of thirty people under his roof. [Handwritten “25”] Jim Jones took in ex-convicts, orphans, homeless persons, [word crossed out: “evictees”]. He wouldn’t buy clothes for himself, not even at “goodwill” stores, but took only what people had rejected. He adopted children of all races, including the unwanted offspring of American servicemen and teenage prostitutes in Asia. He saved people from jail, foreclosures, evictions, starvation, all sorts of trouble, his life a perpetual act of giving without asking for anything in return. [Superscript 5]
In the heart of the squalid ghettos of a dismal midwestern city, Jim Jones was reviving the original, revolutionary concept of the church as a communistic, supportive, and liberating body, energized by compassion for the rejected and outcast, giving them a home, a sense of worth and pride, a voice… power over their own lives. Peoples Temple was proving that such an ancient concept was not archaic: on the contrary, it was particularly viable and relevant to the problems facing individuals attempting to cope with the alienating and often cruel realities of modern industrial capitalist society, where the institution of the family is being
decimated by the commercialistic and competitive values intrinsic to that society, and where its larger expression, that humanizing sense of community (the sine qua non of civilization itself) has been supplanted by what David Riesman has aptly characterized as the “lonely crowd.”
[Handwritten title: A “Dangerous Man”]
Jim Jones did not go very far in his work without encountering the fiercest opposition, harassment, and persecution. He was introducing into society an institution that challenged racism, elitism, selfishness, and the smug anti-collectivism of middle America. Beyond that, Peoples Temple is a kind of institution that has always been hateful to the wealthy classes whose prosperity depends upon the economic oppression of the masses – an institution that was building collective strength and a sense of power among the disenfranchised. In the McCarthyistic language of the protectors of vested interests, Peoples Temple was a “subversive” organization. And American working-class history is full of examples demonstrating a sad truth: organizations that function on principles of collective support, that tear down racial and economic barriers, and are able to show that social programs are indeed soluble IF SOCIETY WOULD ADOPT A COMMUNAL MODEL OR PROGRAM OF SHARING WEALTH, will be seen as a threat to established structures and, hence, targeted for destruction. One need only think of fraternal, union, civil and welfare rights organizations, socialistic intercultural and interracial groups such as the IWO (International Worker’s Order) which were successfully building such programs. They have all been either bought off, subverted, made to compromise their principles and demands, or persecuted to extinction as part of the “communist conspiracy.”
Today Jim Jones is regarded as a very dangerous man by the defenders of the power elite. He is outspoken, articulate, thoroughly convinced of the rightness of his cause. And people who have met and heard Jim Jones speak his mind know that he possesses the kind of magnetic, arresting personality, stemming from his convictions and dedication, and a lifetime of struggle, that makes people listen when he talks. They know his dynamism, his refusal to compromise on injustice, racism, inequality, and his [Handwritten “26”] contempt for a profit system that
not only does nothing about these terrible realities beyond mere token gestures, but which perpetuates, breeds, and thrives on them. [Handwritten “27”] All this combined with the paranormal abilities Jim Jones has demonstrated for nearly three decades in the area of what is termed “spiritual healing” or “mind power” (which have attracted literally hundreds of thousands of people over the years to hear his message), plus his superb administrative and organizational abilities that have made his Peoples Temple grow and prosper. Together they have made Jim Jones a most disturbing, dangerous, and infuriating presence to many people who are opposed to his radical Christian ideology (he is, more properly, a Marxist), and the communistic church which translates it into practice. Besides, Jim Jones has always been a “white nigger” (and part Indian – a veritable and self-declared “American mongrel”) who just won’t “stay in his place,” and who cannot be bought off at any price. [Handwritten “28”] While still in his 20’s he was appointed, through sheer perseverance, as the first Executive Secretary of the Human Rights Commission of Indianapolis, under Mayor Boswell. He proceeded to integrate everything in sight, while the many well-entrenched racists in the city’s business, government and media establishment went through a series of apocalyptic fits. He was offered a post in another area of civic service – that would have quadrupled his salary – just to get him out of his position. He refused it.
The Indianapolis years were years of continuous harassment. [Superscript 6] His house was firebombed, he was beaten up by paid thugs, knifed, and shot at. His small adopted children [Several words deleted: “could not be left alone in the house. They”] [Handwritten “29”] had to be escorted to and from school. He and his church members received harassment from the IRS, and were the object of constant surveillance. Life became so difficult for his integrated “rainbow” church family, as well as for his own children, that, desiring a more favorable climate for them to grow up in, Jim Jones moved to California in 1965, where over 100 of his church members followed him. He re-established the Temple in a [Several words deleted: “tiny hamlet, Redwood Valley”] [Handwritten “30”] 110 miles north of San Francisco. The church flourished there, though the racism of rural California was to prove every bit as pernicious, persistent and virulent as in Indiana. [Superscript 7]
A ghetto dweller throughout his years in Indianapolis, Jim
Jones felt uncomfortable living in the relatively peaceful surroundings of this rural area. [Handwritten “31”] He felt responsible, not without some guilt, about people trapped and oppressed in America’s urban ghettos. Soon, he began to hold meetings in San Francisco, and attracted a large following there, especially in the black community. He opened a church in Los Angeles, and thousands came every week to share a firebrand [Handwritten and circled “H”] of justice, a man who fearlessly and ruthlessly excoriated the [Several words deleted: “political, economic and social establishment of the nation for its corruption, greed, insensitivity; its racism, militarism”], an international gangsterizing. [Handwritten “32”] He also tore into his particular, specialized target: organized religion. [Marginal handwritten note: “See correction”]
[Handwritten title: To “Cry Aloud And Spare Not”]
There has perhaps never been a voice from any American pulpit that has so comprehensively, so totally exposed the smug corruption, the hypocrisy, the blatant abuses, disgraces, contradictions and abominations of the American clergy. Week after week, Jim Jones targeted the self-seeking, ostentatious preacher class, and their cynical use of religion [Two lines circles, noted with “I”: “as an “opiate” to keep people oppressed, content with their misery. He ridiculed the pie-in-the-sky promises of a religion”] that co-operated, sometimes directly, sometimes subtly, with the racism and repression that he has fought tooth and nail all his life. He believed in “crying aloud and sparing not.” His hard-hitting, often thunderous evangelistic style, which was the vehicle for blistering attacks on a number of sacred cows, outraged the mouthpieces of conventional religious and moral claptrap. His language was strong; his tone could be stern and denunciatory, bitingly sarcastic. He didn’t spare the “paper idol” – the Bible itself, which he exposed as a confused and confusing, obscure and contradictory hodge-podge of history, myth, legend, conflicting codes, bombast and archaism, riddled with monumental silliness and compendious enough to provide ready-made justification for practically anything. He brought out, however, its many pearls of wisdom, its universal truths that can be found in the so-called “social gospel” of Jesus: the teachings of selflessness, sharing, and compassion.
But Jim Jones did not see Jesus as a passive weakling: on the
contrary, he was a social revolutionary who would, with his teachings of “letting the oppressed go free,” [Handwritten “33”] overthrow the established order of greed and abuses, of corruption and wickedness in high places. Jesus was one of a line of great rebels of history, which Jim Jones feels intimately part of, [Several words struck out: “and energized by”]. He preached the revolutionary Jesus, and like Jesus, he relentlessly cursed the priest class, the pushers of ecclesiastical opium. But his attack was much broader.
Everywhere he has gone, Jim Jones has insisted on challenging people’s conscience with a relentless persistence. He is a specialist at tearing down the elaborate yet baseless rationalizations and compromises that permeate our materialistic, self-centered social ethos. [Handwritten “34”] He is particularly incensed that people with even liberal and progressive views can live in circumstances of relative comfort and luxury while giving only symbolic and token concern for the great injustices and undeserved human misery bred by American capitalism. He is unwilling to countenance this sort of hypocrisy, which makes him [Several words deleted: “an uncomfortable person to be around.”; substituted handwritten edit illegible] to many people who suffer from it.
Further, Jim Jones has been able to convince many privileged people that they have been living well only at the expense of the underprivileged. He does this in terms of the revolutionary religious teachings that people either ignore or, grudgingly and self-consciously, give mere lip-service to in church. And, using the same arguments, chapter and verse, he has convinced great numbers of poor people that they not only should refuse to be content with oppressive conditions, but that they can do something about them. In fact, that is what Jesus Christ was all about. He pointed the way by establishing a socialistic community of sharing that was the Early Church. [Marginal note with initials “JB” – Jean Brown – circled with question mark] The church was actually conceived as AN INSTRUMENT FOR ORGANIZING THE MASSES FOR FUNDAMENTAL SOCIAL CHANGE, for the elimination of privilege through establishing a social order based upon economic equality, itself an expression of a radical compassion and identification among men of their common condition, their responsibility to one another.
Predictably, some have criticized Jones for involving his
church and what they loosely term “politics,” as if this were in some way [word “sinful” struck out, replaced by “irreligious”]. [Handwritten “35”] Throughout his ministry, however, Jim Jones has relentlessly and fearlessly exposed and attacked the reluctance and outright refusal of the contemporary church to challenge prevailing economic and social inequalities and injustices. He has charged that the church’s silent complicity and even defense of these conditions amount to a total betrayal, a perversion of its revolutionary origins, as a travesty – indeed, a crucifixion – of the life, example, and purpose of its martyred founder. He has denounced many of the churches as perpetrators of a cruel hoax, deliberately designed to oppress the poor, concocted, as we have mentioned, out of a demeaning “opiate” of pie-in-the-sky theology and deferred dreams. Not only has the “preacher class” of apologists for the materialistic status quo been a favorite target, but also the politicians and “pillars of society” who invoke God on the one hand while giving their blessings to (and even instigating) the most ungodly, inhumane exploitation of their fellow man on the other.
[The following paragraph, comprising the balance of page 12, and the first four lines page 13, are crossed out, with a notation to “See corrections & deletions,” as well as the numeral 4 circled alongside the paragraph on page 12.] He has pointed out, further, that the almost exclusive preoccupation of Christians with the Crucifixion and final days of Christ is a symptom of [two words crossed out: “an only”] thinly-veiled recognition of complicity in that symbolic murder – whose moral equivalent is the collective refusal of “Christians” to accept the responsibility, the sacrifice of emulating His life, thus perpetuating the crime down through the centuries. The established church, then, instead of fulfilling its original mission as a revolutionary, collective body that testifies to the gospel of equality, unity, and liberation of mankind, has become, according to Jim Jones, a tragic/ironic symbol of guilt and betrayal – focusing, predictably, on the death of its founder. Clearly, such an analysis does not endear him to conventional church-persons, or to those for whom the Christian religion has been perverted in order to protect them from what is almost self-evident: that, by the standards of its founder, Christianity is totally incompatible with the capitalist economics that permeate America, and which give form to its politics, social institutions, mass media, and its exploitative control over the economies of other nations. [Superscript 8, with a secondary circled “5”]
[Thus, throughout his ministry, Jim Jones has used his pulpit to deliver blistering attacks on the abuses and corruption of American institutions and the force of American capitalism as wielded by its “power elite.”] For many years, Jim Jones has followed a grueling schedule, speaking five and six times weekly at services lasting several hours each. Hundreds of thousands of people – perhaps as many as two or three million – have heard his message. Most have been ghetto dwellers. He has spoken in churches and auditoriums in major cities in every area of the nation, though he has concentrated his ministry in San Francisco and several other cities in California.
He has inveighed heavily against the military-industrial complex, corporate rip-offs, corruption of all sorts, war-profiteering, the politics of neglect and genocide, treatment of American Indians, blacks, welfare mothers, the elderly, and a host of other issues. He has reserved his most pungent and devastating attacks for the ruling elite that runs the economy and dehumanizes millions of people in its profit machines. [Following sentence is circled, and noted in the margin with a capital “K”: Jim Jones is a foe of the “affluent society.”] He has verbally attacked the “masters of war” who rob ordinary people of decent health care, housing, schools, safe working conditions, and adequate social services, in a massive conspiracy with politicians to build frightful arsenals of mass destruction that threaten the world. He has charged neglect of safety standards in America’s factories, fields, and mines; and condemned the laissez-faire attitude of government toward organized crime and dope-dealing. He has waged a comprehensive attack upon the superficial, commercialistic TV-culture and how it has shackled and fried the brains of millions of people, rich and poor alike. He has scored the failure of the American educational system, police brutality, crime in the ‘suites’, corruption in the treatment of children, the elderly and the mentally ill, exposing the massive inequities that characterize every area of American society. No words are spared by Jim Jones as he analyzes, dissects, and thoroughly denounces the abysmal failure of the American system to live up to its promise of ‘liberty and justice for all.’ He scours newspapers and magazines, giving copious illustrations of every point he makes.
But his analyses are never complete without his pointing the way out of the morass, the seemingly bottomless pit of corruption,
waste, neglect, and deceit bred by the profit system. The answer is, for Jim Jones, socialism – a system of social organization based on entirely different premises and priorities, where the health and well-being of all people is put first, and the disease of profiteers, landlords, and conniving politicians is extirpated, rooted out. Jim Jones speaks with the voice and conscience, the outrage and articulateness of a champion of the oppressed. He advocates an alliance of all races, poor and working-class people with all people of conscience, in a struggle against the class of exploiters and all who serve them. His compelling language, and the answers that he not only has clearly formulated and enunciated, but which, in the mass movement of Peoples Temple, [Several words struck out: “he has incarnated and institutionalized”] [Handwritten insertion: “have been institutionalized – thus”] proving the rightness and validity, to make him one of the most dangerous men in America. [Handwritten “36”] He is clearly and deliberately a subversive, using the church for its original purpose: to organize the masses towards building a poor people’s collective… a socialist movement to challenge and hopefully alter or abolish the prevailing social order which has, in the language of Jefferson, become destructive of the universal Rights of Man. [Handwritten superscript 5]
[Handwritten “37”] Yet in spite of the thousands of hours he has preached, to the point of practically ruining his voice, Jim Jones has never been content with or limited by the role of the mere man of words. By inclination, he is an activist. From his youth, he has always been a mover, a shaper, and organizer, and instigator. His childhood is replete with anecdotes of a Huck Finn-like rebel, a mischievous, outrageous schemer who used his ingenuity to stir up all kinds of trouble in his native Lynn (Indiana) where he grew up, the only child of a disabled and unemployed war veteran and a mother who worked two jobs to support her family.
Let us, at this point, take a closer look at the central focus of his activism: Peoples Temple. As we have said, Jim Jones’ conception of the “Temple” was not that of an ordinary church. It would be the seed-model, the germ of a new, revolutionary society that transcended privilege, class, race, generation gaps, a church that was no Sunday-morning ritual of pious inanities. It would not even be just a “good works” church, though its charitable and humanitarian activities are staggering in their scope. More
than this, Peoples Temple would be a community, a total way of life, a socialistic system of cooperation, human concern, help and sustenance for its members – its “extended family” – that also reached outward into the community. It would be a church that naturally attracted people not favored by the American “dream” but, rather, victimized by it. Mostly black, mostly people with problems, who couldn’t “make it,” refugees from the middle-class, seeking and searching for something more than an empty value system, second mortgages, rat-races, and a frustrating, pretentious and phony life-style in the American wasteland. But at Peoples Temple, members were not given some manufactured, cult-like, “new age” morality. [First three words struck out: “The young and”] The idealistic were often disappointed with Peoples Temple because Jim Jones refused to tolerate the basic “class-values” that persist even in the “New Age” communities which are often subtly racist, elitist, and, in a strange way, middle-class, tolerant of an ethic of “do your own thing,” while insensitive to the masses who are trapped into doing someone else’s “thing.”
No, Jim Jones has called for members of Peoples Temple to identify with the strivings of the wretched of the earth, and not just in some vague, mental way. He views Peoples Temple as a place where people work and struggle for nothing short of what Jesus had in mind when he cried out against the corruption of the world – a revolutionary social order. Jim Jones is no escapist, either. On the contrary, he seeks out the problems, the critical situations, the hardship cases. He doesn’t run from them. His ability to see through the subtle (and not-so-subtle) defense-mechanisms, rationalizations, and insincere posturings of people who want to think of themselves as “enlightened,” or “revolutionaries,” or “sensitive and caring” is uncanny, and he encourages a level of honesty, commitment, and identification with the oppressed that most middle-class refugees are unwilling to assume.
[First line struck out, handwritten note to “see corrections”: “Jim Jones, then, wants no token commitment from his followers”], but a reasonable sacrifice of one’s own selfish desires and indulgences for the good of the collective. And it has been the building of collective strength in the church/body through the ideal of service to the common good by individual
members that has been the core of the revolution of Peoples Temple. [Several lines struck out, handwritten note to “see corrections”: “It represents, in modern terms, a return to the communistic origins of the primitive church and, in its ethic of collective sharing, pooling of resources, co-operating at all levels, it has pointed the way out of the crisis facing a society based upon selfishness, the cult of personality, in the glorification of a few models of privilege at the expense of a growing underclass trapped in frustration and despair. More than that, Jim Jones has clearly exposed the United States, in particular, as being a force that has stifled the movement of people all around the world to free themselves from the shackles of economic domination and petty dictators who have been propped up by U.S. dollars.”] There has been no contradiction in the mind of Jim Jones between his revolutionary religious convictions, and for speaking out against the abuses of power, money, and a military-industrial monster that is draining the economy, perpetuating poverty, and terrorizing the world.
[Handwritten “38”] He charges that those who accuse the church of “getting involved in politics” not only do not realize the essentially inextricable connection of the church with society and the forces that shape social conditions, but, beyond that, are either consciously or stupidly apologizing for an old doctrine that has been utilized to render churches innocuous, to prevent them from being any more than defenders or merely token antagonists of the prevailing social order. The sham dichotomy of “religion” and “politics” (which is now sanctified by the IRS) refuses to recognize that politics is [Handwritten “39”] [Balance of paragraph struck out: “a symptom of a certain value system, certain moral priorities. And the revolutionary Jesus (along with a long series of other “prophets”) did not hesitate to attack that value system.”]
In this connection, Peoples Temple has for years been very active in the support of liberation struggles here in the United States and abroad. Recipients of this support have been efforts for Southern African liberation from apartheid and economic exploitation, anti-fascist efforts in Chile, Northern Ireland, South Korea, and many other nations. The Temple has assisted Chilean refugees and Native Americans; hosted delegations from the Soviet Union in the interests of understanding and friendship; given strong support to countless victims of injustice and oppression; spoken out militantly against the treatment of the Pendleton 14 (victims of a Klan-infested military); and for the release of Rev. Ben Chavis and the
Wilmington 10. The racist Bakke Decision is another recent issue among many to which the Temple has lent its voice of protest. Support has also been extended to the gay community in its struggles against a resurgence of right-wing “fundamentalist” attacks. The Temple building has been used as a forum for Southern African liberation leaders, the Venceremos Brigade, and for many, many persons who have come before thousands [Handwritten and circled “L”] to report on human rights violations in nations such as the Philippines, Chile, and Zimbabwe [Handwritten and circled “M”], as well as our own. The church has sponsored delegates to international conferences documenting and organizing against racism and oppression.
In addition, the Temple has been active in the recent formation of the Northern California chapter of the World Peace Council, an organization that has worked for twenty-five years against militarism and the neglect of human beings for which the military establishment has been responsible. The Temple’s newspaper, PEOPLES FORUM, has exposed official complicity in shielding Nazi mass-murderers [Superscript 9], and was one of the first to warn about the rise of neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan activity in San Francisco. [Superscript 10] The Forum [Handwritten and circled “N”] has also run articles about corruption, injustice, and abuse in practically every area of American society, as well as on the international scene. [Superscript 11]
The congregation of Peoples Temple has helped plan and has attended en masse countless demonstrations in support of press freedom, liberation struggles, civil rights, and vital causes around the world while opposing repression and the denial of human rights in the United States. [Superscript 12] The church has been the scene of solidarity demonstrations and cultural programs that have brought together leaders of various segments of the community – local, national, and international – for the advancement of the cause of unity of the poor and working masses of the world who are striving for survival and a decent life. In this way, Peoples Temple has taken the “gospel of liberation” to the public as a witness to its revolutionary faith, demanding that the universal brotherhood of mankind be the order of the day. It has done this so that society may one day be rebuilt on a basis of harmony, compassion, and equality.
Furthermore, the existence of Peoples Temple has exploded several myths purveyed by reactionary and bigoted elements in America. One of these is that people of different races (especially blacks and whites) cannot work, live, and co-operate together on all levels. The Temple is a living refutation of this cruel hoax: it is a model of integration where economic, generational, and cultural differences have been overcome, subordinated to the achievement of a higher human ideal. The Temple has also tried to be a force that forges constructive alliances between our religious communities: ecumenicity has been promoted as the Temple has sought areas of mutual concern among [several words struck out: “Muslims, Jews, and Christians,”; handwritten insertion of “widely varying religious groups,”] [Handwritten “9”] along with non-religious people. Jim Jones has continuously emphasized the importance of unity. He views religious, cultural, and ethnic diversity as factors that should not divide, but rather enrich and broaden our society. The Temple has always sought the common bedrock of human compassion and aspiration that underlies the great faiths, and even the major secular ideologies of the world, and has built on that foundation a community of tolerance and understanding.
[Handwritten title: “A Heavy Price To Pay”]
Obviously, Jim Jones could not go very far in this sort of work without inviting organized, establishment opposition. It would not simply be a question of racists and fanatics venting their bigotry and hatred against an interracial church (although the persecution that has come from these people has been cruel, vicious, and harrowing). When Dr. Martin Luther King went beyond a civil rights platform and looked out at the militaristic adventures of the United States in Southeast Asia; when he taught not only about the poverty of blacks in the U.S., but about the unity of black struggle here with that of the poor and oppressed of the whole world, regardless of race or nationality, he identified a common struggle against a common enemy. When he saw the issues in terms of economic exploitation rather than merely a legislative problem (the Congress could pass laws, but they could be easily sabotaged), Dr. King became a danger to the vested, established interests of the United States and further, to controlling neo-colonial interests of the capitalist oligarchy. He
and his movement had to be dealt with. He became the target of a vicious conspiracy that used gossip, lies, blackmail, and a host of “dirty tricks.” Finally, as he was organizing not just black but an interracial group of poor workers, in preparing to dramatize their case in a massive “poor people’s march” on Washington, he was assassinated.
The same pattern of persecution against Dr. King, Malcolm X, and many other outspoken leaders who have cried out against American injustices, is being pursued in the case of Rev. Jim Jones, whose [word struck out: “charisma,”] dynamism, Marxist convictions, refusal to compromise, plus his outstanding organizational abilities, and ability to raise funds for the direct benefit of the donors as well as for liberation causes around the world – have infuriated and frightened establishment, reactionary forces. This is why they are out to ‘get’ him.
Those who are familiar with his ministry know that, over the years, Jim Jones has been made to pay a heavy price for being an [word struck out: “apostle”; handwritten inserted words: “eloquent & impassioned voice”] of outrage at injustice, and a proponent of thoroughgoing change to bring about a society based upon the common good and not just the profit of a few. He has been branded [words struck out: “a traitor”] a race-mixer and a communist (and with some qualification, he pleads guilty to [handwritten inserted words illegible]); [Handwritten “40”] he has been shot, knifed, poisoned, threatened innumerable times; his family members, children, congregants (and even their pets) have been terrorized, beaten up, run off the road, waylaid. His churches have been fire-bombed, vandalized, and set afire. [Superscript 13] His congregation has been infiltrated with informers, provocateurs (some of whom are now giving false testimony against him), and subjected to severe, McCarthyistic harassment, bogus investigations, yellow journalism, and torrents of malicious gossip and highly-publicized lies.
But the persistent attempts to discredit and destroy Jim Jones and his work have not succeeded. The original premise upon which he founded Peoples Temple has proven strong and sound. The communal, family-like, fraternal structure of the Temple – a structure of sharing and support, compassion and co-operation – has continued to thrive. It has over the years been enormously
successful in helping thousands of people, many of whom had no other recourse, to overcome all sorts of difficulties. Drug addicts have been rehabilitated, persons arrested on trumped-up charges or who had no counsel have been given legal assistance; young people who had no hope of advancement have received educational opportunities, assistance in the form of scholarships, job training, and counseling through Peoples Temple. Senior citizens have been cared for, decently housed, clothed, and fed, assured of medical care, personal care, therapy, and an end to the loneliness, despair and insecurity that are so often their plight. Many people on the verge of suicide have found help and a reason to live. Finally, Peoples Temple has consistently reached out, beyond its own membership and closer circles, to extend massive and often critical, life-saving help to hundreds of individuals, groups, organizations and worthy causes that have needed it, or who are working in the interests of human decency, liberation, and justice. In recent years, the Temple has been instrumental in keeping alive fledgling or floundering programs and alternative “peoples” organizations that are trying to provide services to the needy in many areas where established institutional structures are increasingly failing to do so. [Superscript 13] As a “community within the community,” Peoples Temple has proven that poor people can build a power base, and find a unified voice that will “cry aloud and spare not” against racial and economic injustices of society, even educating the public through its own free newspaper. [Superscript 14]
[Handwritten title: “Behind The Smear Stories”]
Meanwhile, [words struck out: “and understandably”] the attacks against Peoples Temple and Jim Jones have intensified. In 1977, a very well-orchestrated and carefully-planned campaign was mounted, using (typically) yellow journalism as its front line of attack, to attempt to discredit, and ultimately terminate the work of Jim Jones. [Sentence deleted: “He has been charged with exploitation, abuse of his members, influence-peddling, and other assorted “crimes.””] The method of attack is nothing new to those familiar with the way reactionary, McCarthyistic elements in the American political and business establishment have operated to destroy all sorts of progressive organizations and leaders who they determined were a threat to their privileged position. The particular efforts that have been pursued against Peoples Temple have included blackmail, infiltration, surveillance, wide dissemination of sensationalistic press stories replete with
lies and gross distortions, pressuring of elected officials, and dubious, possibly fraudulent court proceedings. The Temple has dug and probed behind the sensationalistic, biased garbage that has been printed about Jim Jones. Behind the rotten smell of the New West and Examiner stories, the gross lies, vicious innuendos, and wild charges, we have found a stinking plot that will be exposed in the following pages, a plot that reaches up into the subterfuge and stratagems of the Nazi-riddled Interpol organization, housed within the United States Treasury and Justice Departments. [Handwritten “41”]
[Handwritten and circled “O”] [Handwritten sentence inserted: “’The media can make monsters out of whomever it chooses,’ stated Phil Tracy, co-author of the article that launched the smear campaign against Jim Jones.”] A gullible, credulous public is today particularly vulnerable to press stories that can manipulate opinion [words struck out, with the editorial note, “one or the other – redundant”: “or in the words of the New West author of the anti-Temple stories, ‘make monsters’ out of whomever it may choose.”] It would take a volume to detail how this has been done systematically. Black elected officials, especially, have been victims of post-Watergate witch-hunting, where the ploy of “uncovering corruption” has been used to mask or smokescreen outright persecution of innocent persons. [Superscript 15] The use of this tactic against Peoples Temple and Jim Jones is only a very recent chapter in a long, shameful heritage of abuse that has characterized American social history, particularly in this century. [Superscript 16]
[Handwritten title: ‘The Tip Of The Iceberg’]
We hope that the foregoing will help readers understand the reasons behind the organized attacks that have been leveled against Jim Jones and Peoples Temple. What follows will be a presentation and documentation of some of the growing body of evidence which has demonstrated the existence of a complex conspiracy to disrupt and systematically destroy Peoples Temple and its leader. We have good reason to conclude that the collusion we have discovered represents only the tip of the iceberg that [circled word: “ultimately”] involves very high levels of government, especially in military, police, and intelligence spheres. The scope of the attacks covers the Temple’s local programs in San Francisco, Redwood Valley, and Los Angeles, and its agricultural project/community in Guyana, South America. We charge that the actions of people we know to be involved are totally immoral and
to a significant extent illegal in a nation that claims to grant and protect freedom of religious and political expression within its bounds.
We remind our readers that what follows is by no means the full story of hate and harassment Peoples Temple has experienced. The destruction of our church building by arson; threats and attempts on the life of Jim Jones and members of his family; the planting of sophisticated explosive devices; the endless torrents of hate messages, and numerous other abuses, would take too long to recount.
The investigations of the conspiracy that we have carried out have not been easy. There have been difficult obstacles at every turn. But the Temple plans to keep the public informed as more evidence emerges. We are, after all, a single church of mostly poor and minority people who have had to stand up against the combined powers of the establishment media (which has ignored or mangled the Temple’s attempts to expose the truth) and well-financed agents and agencies, informers and infiltrators who have resorted to the most vicious and devious stratagems. As the full story becomes clear, we hope that it will help concerned [word struck out: “Americans”; handwritten substitution illegible] better understand the vast potential for abuse and subversion of the rights of innocent people by well-financed reactionary forces that are deeply entrenched in positions of power and influence in the American establishment.
[Handwritten titles: “Book II – Conspiracy!”
[“Part I – The Lower Levels”
[“A Dirty Deal”]
In May, 1977, American Indian Movement leader Dennis Banks was offered a “deal.” As verified by Banks’ own statement, a man named David Conn tried to blackmail Banks by suggesting that a serious matter of extradition hanging over his head would go better for him if he would sign a public statement denouncing Jim Jones.
Dennis Banks notified Peoples Temple right away. This event was the first indication that there was indeed an active conspiracy targeting Jim Jones and his church for defamation and destruction. The sworn statement of Mr. Banks, [following words in brackets: “which follows”; handwritten note, “reword if necessary per layout”] tells a shocking story.
(here reprint – perhaps on a facing page in the text – the entire statement of Dennis Banks)
In subsequent weeks, Temple members and friends gathered information from various sources about David Conn and other individuals whose names came to the surface in connection with his. Confidential sources have revealed that Conn claimed to have a “high priority number” with at least one federal agency: the U.S. Treasury Department. Indeed, he confided to Dennis Banks that he was working with the Treasury Department and an agent of the IRS. We have evidence that he has contacted various individuals who are no longer members of Peoples Temple, and has pressured them for information. He called in to a local radio station and gave his name as a source of information on Peoples Temple for anyone wishing to contact him. Evidence strongly indicates that he has been conducting an “investigation” of the church for some six or seven years, and there is no doubt that he is being sponsored in his concerted campaign.
The Conn-Klineman-Mertle Connection
The Temple’s investigation has been corroborated by Bay Area journalist Art Silverman. David Conn told Silverman of his collaboration with freelance journalist George Klineman of Santa Rosa in approaching “various police and governmental agencies last fall (1976), offering them witnesses and documents with which to attack the Temple.” [Superscript 18] both George Klineman and David Conn are
directly connected to articles that appeared in New West magazine [Superscript 19] written by Phil Tracy and San Francisco Chronicle reporter Marshall Kilduff, launching the massive media smear campaign against Jim Jones, which still continues. Klineman was credited with helping write the stories, while Conn was a secondary source and appeared at a New West-sponsored press conference held at the Sheraton-Palace Hotel in July, 1977, to help promote the smear campaign. Interestingly enough, David Conn has been for many years an intimate friend of the two key original sources for much of the anti-Temple publicity, Elmer and Deanna Mertle (a.k.a. Al and Jeannie Mills). Mertle and Conn worked together at Standard Oil Corporation up to the time that Mertle join Peoples Temple with his present wife, Deanna, a veteran of ultra-right wing causes. The Mertles were members of the Temple throughout the seven-year period during which Conn was “investigating” it!
Conn, the Mertles, and Klineman each have a special role play; their collaboration is instructive, and gives us a glimpse at the overall structure and functioning of the conspiracy. First, there are individuals like David Conn with direct connections to federal agencies; next, there are “insiders” (the Mertles) who have infiltrated the organization [words struck out: “and can help identify and organize others inside”], as well as former “dissident” members against the Temple: [Handwritten “11”] finally, there are opportunists with media credentials (Klineman) who can work to bring the efforts of the other two into the public eye and, hopefully, turn the general populace against the organization through an “expose.” But the scenario is not complete.
An ‘Investigator’ With A Record
Enter at this point a man who is perhaps the most critical and active figure in all of the anti-Temple activity, an individual who, in his own peculiar fashion, can be said to be a kind of symbol of the conspiracy, embodying that special character: Joseph Mazor.
Mr. Mazor is working as a ‘private investigator’ on behalf of a group of former Temple members, led by the Mertles, who has specific “grievances” against the church. In this role, Mazor styles himself as a champion of these [words struck out: “unfortunate victims of Jim Jones, who the media portrays as the “Temple Tyrant.”; Superscript 20A”; handwritten addition: “people.”] But Temple officials, along with Silverman of the Barb, have investigated this ‘investigator,’ and the results have been most interesting. It turns out that Mazor has a lengthy criminal record, including at least eight arrests in three states for various bogus check and fraud charges, six convictions, and several jail and prison terms. He has also been returned to confinement on three separate occasions for violating probation and parole by committing new crimes! [Superscript 20]
Art Silverman [Superscript 21] quotes from a confidential, 16-page California Adult Authority report on Mazor, written in 1970: “He (Mazor) is a smooth ‘con-man’ with an insatiable desire to get ahead… He is a bright, well-educated, and so well-versed in the law that he had five attorneys in the Pomona area convinced that he had a law degree… It is felt that the subject is a menace to the community.” [Superscript 22]
Mazor was hired to investigate Peoples Temple back in November, 1976. But he refused to disclose who employed him, beyond the statement that it was an outsider, someone who was not and never had been connected with Peoples Temple. (Later, we will shed some light on that most important matter). It was also disclosed that Mazor hired one of the largest and most prestigious public relations firms in San Francisco (Lowry, Russom, and Leeper) to help promote his anti-Temple activity by fronting material to the media. Who financed this? The Barb reported that Mazor asked this firm to coordinate a publicity promotional effort to maximize the coverage. [Superscript 23] A source close to Lowry, Russom, and Leeper also told Silverman that Mazor came to the company “saying that he wanted to become San Francisco’s next Hal Lipset (a famous investigator),” and that the Peoples Temple controversy “presented an excellent opportunity” to garner publicity. Bob Kenney, an account executive at the public relations firm, told Silverman that he had been working for Mazor
“on this Peoples Temple project, showing him how to handle the media.” Kenney’s work for Mazor reportedly included sending out letters to selected journalists offering them – through Mazor – explosive material of an “incriminating” nature against Peoples Temple. [Superscript 24]
[Next paragraph marked in margin by squiggled line] So Joseph Mazor is not content, evidently, with just helping out ex-members in various schemes against the Temple. No, Mr. Mazor is busy helping himself in the bargain. The crusading private eye (whose efforts have centered around a “bring ‘em back alive” kidnapping campaign into the jungles of Guyana, complete with charter jets, [words struck out: “bogus”; handwritten substitution: “unenforceable”] court orders, and the like) is hardly ashamed of the naked opportunism with which he has used the situation to cover up his criminal past. And, in his quasi-legal shenanigans, his self-promotional campaign and his eagerness to refashion his image from a con-man to a ‘champion of justice,’ good-guy private-eye, and hero of the innocent good citizens whose loved ones have been whisked away to some kind of Devil’s Island ‘prison’ by the evil Peoples Temple, Joseph Mazor is the very pattern, the prototype of the person that is preferred by more powerful forces that are paying his bills to do their dirty work.
There are several matters involving Mr. Mazor that have not been clarified. One extremely interesting question (which Peoples Temple has asked Governor Brown [words struck out: “and to which it is currently awaiting an explanation”; handwritten substitute: “and the Department of Consumer Affairs”], is just how a three-time felon was able to secure a State Investigator’s license shortly after being released from prison – [balance of sentence struck out: “He also, incidentally, is a convicted felon who somehow has authorization to carry a concealed weapon”; handwritten substitute: “a license which, incidentally, authorizes Mazor to carry a concealed weapon.”]
Mazor, Conn and Klineman, along with their chief accomplices and star media witnesses, the Mertles (who, again, did the “inside” work, infiltrating the Temple for seven years), [words struck out: “form the key links”; handwritten substitute: “are the chief plotters”] [Last two lines bracketed, handwritten “12”, note to “see correction”] on the lower rungs of this right-wing conspiracy, reaching with one hand, so to speak, to government, police, and intelligence agencies, and with the other, to the news media.
We are, then, faced with a question of overriding importance. A high-powered public relations firm, several attorneys, reporters,
infiltrators, and this most questionable ‘private investigator’ have all been working on the campaign to malign and destroy Peoples Temple for over a year. Who has co-ordinated and financed this elaborately planned and orchestrated effort? Evidence points directly to areas “higher up” in military-police-intelligence circles. Before we discuss them in detail, however, let us take a closer look at the “front line” of the conspiracy.
[Original title crossed out: “Use of the Public Media to Impugn Jim Jones and Peoples Temple”]
[Handwritten: “Part II – Media-Manipulation”
[“Laying the Groundwork”]
The media plays a critical role in conspiracies such as the one directed against Peoples Temple. As we have mentioned, a sensationalistic ‘smear’ campaign creates a smokescreen that at once covers illegal plotting andjustifies its results. Klineman, Conn, the Mertles – and Joseph Mazor – began in early 1977 to move on this front.
In order to work effectively through the media, the groundwork had to be laid. We know today that by February, 1977, five full months before the New West story broke, a group of some thirteen former members of Peoples Temple had [line crossed out: “already met together with David Conn and an agent of the U.S.”; edited substitute: “met with an agent”] Treasury Department and Interpol. [Superscript 25] The PR firm of Lowry, Russom, and Leeper had already been hired by Mazor [Handwritten “13”] to help with promotional angles. According to official reports that have been made available to us, [marginal note to “check out”: “originating in the Treasury Department”], the media ‘smear’ campaign was cooked up using this group of former members as its vehicle, because the agencies engineering the plots against Jim Jones could find no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing that could legitimize their efforts. (To date, after a great amount of sound and fury, no formal charges have been filed).
These secret meetings of former members and government agents are a key element in the conspiracy. The efforts to launch the smear campaign in which former members would play starring roles finally found its sponsors in Chronicle reporter Marshall
Kilduff and New West contributing editor Phil Tracy. As we have mentioned, freelancer George Klineman was a key figure in ‘selling’ the material to New West (he even helped write it), though there is evidence that he had tried unsuccessfully to get other periodicals to work with him and his collaborators.
All of this shows that the media was manipulated by the conspiracy, if they didn’t consciously participate from the beginning. The contention of New West editor Rosalie Muller Wright that the former members who participated in these efforts were taking a “spontaneous, courageous action” because they were “scared to death” is completely, demonstrably false. It is now clear that the impression of ‘spontaneous’ action was deliberately created, along with the vicious innuendo of being ‘scared to death.’ We shall see how this clever fabrication was used as the ‘angle’ for the entire smear campaign. Perhaps Mrs. Wright knows this, along with the rest of the media who have defended and promoted the fraudulent campaign. Perhaps not. It’s the old story: either a knave… or a fool. [Superscript 26]
In either case, Tracy and Kilduff weregetting ready to release their story in mid-July. But New West would not be content to just print the story. Something else was needed to arouse public interest. This wasn’t going to be in the ordinary exposé.
[Handwritten headline: “The Great New West Break-In”]
On the morning of June 17, 1977 a call came in to Peoples Temple from a San Francisco Examiner reporter. He was impatient: he had only 15 minutes until his deadline, and he wanted to know the Peoples Temple ‘side’ of the story about a ‘break in’ that had occurred the previous night at the offices of New West. It seems that a file containing the material for the forthcoming story on Peoples Temple had been ‘disturbed.’ (There was no theft – something just seemed to be slightly out of order according to Phil Tracy). Peoples Temple knew nothing of any break-in. Yet that afternoon, front-page coverage of the incident appeared in the Examiner (and the story was likewise carried in the Chronicle the next day, also on the front page). [Superscript 27]
The coverage was full of [word struck out: “innuendos”; handwritten substitution: “inferences”] that Peoples Temple was responsible. And for several days the media continued to cover the ‘break in,’ a highly questionable incident which, strangely, received publicity far out of proportion to its flimsy, unsubstantiated nature. Something was up. The effect of the publicity was, of course, to build up suspense in the public about the forthcoming article on the Temple, and to make it seem that Peoples Temple was so desperate to keep the story out of print, or whatever, that it tried to break into New West to glimpse it, or for some other obscure purpose. [Superscript 28]
Peoples Temple responded by calling for an immediate and thorough police investigation. The official police report of the investigation [Superscript 29] concluded that there was no break-in, and that if any tampering was done, it was very likely done by one of the magazine’s own employees! The police investigation brought out what the Examiner and Chronicle stories mysteriously did not mention: that Jon Carroll, a New West employee (who also has written columns in the Examiner) only a few days previously had to ‘break in’ to the identical office through the identical window where the burglar was alleged to have entered. Carroll explained that he had “locked himself out of his office when he went to the bathroom” late one night! Mr. Carroll, however, did not offer this information until the police investigation was completed and it was disclosed that the only fingerprints on the window that was allegedly broken into were his.
So what was this ‘break in’ after all but a shoddy publicity stunt, a hoax. Its effect, as we have mentioned, was as clear as its purpose: to promote public interest in the Peoples Temple smear campaign that was soon to follow. And it revealed, too, that the local media, most notably the San Francisco Examiner, would willingly prostitute its front pages to the effort. Its eager, though shameful coverage of the ‘great New West break-in’ was to foreshadow its later role in the attempts to destroy Jim Jones.
Exposing the Exposé
“We can make monsters out of anyone we choose.”
New West reporter Phil Tracy (spoken to Rev. Jim Jones in an interview that was never used)
The New West story [Handwritten superscript 30] launched a frenzied, bizarre campaign that has been carried in the local and even national electronic and print media accusing Peoples Temple as a cruel, exploitative organization. Accusations have been rehashed a hundred times. The public has been barraged with lurid, innuendo-filled press stories, twisting around truths, amalgamating distortions and embellishments with gross lies. Those who have closely followed the attacks have recognized, in the words of one noted columnist, that there has been “a lot of smoke, but no smoking gun.” [Handwritten superscript 31] Wherever investigations have actually been carried out by official agencies, no evidence of wrongdoing has been uncovered: the allegations have proven to be groundless. Beyond the smokescreen of flimsy, unsubstantiated charges paraded as “news,” is one of the most highly-coordinated and well-financed attempts to discredit and destroy a politically progressive organization.
We note that the same tactic was used extensively during the McCarthy period – a tactic borrowed from a man who brought it to a state of great refinement several decades ago: Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. According to Goebbels, the first step in destroying an individual or organization was to use the press to lay down a relentless, brutal barrage of bad publicity. The strategy was to create, through an almost daily repetition of the ‘despicable acts’ or ‘crimes’ of the person or group (usually in the form of unsubstantiated charges), a prejudicial climate of public opinion, tearing down trust, reputation, and sowing confusion. Then, when something ‘happened’ to the now-infamous reprobate, who has been ‘exposed’ to the public, nobody got upset. If anyone raised any objections, they, in turn, were also suspect. A red-baiting, yellow American press, in the hands of media magnates linked right in with the power elite, has been used extensively in this manner. The flimsier the charges, the more they are rehashed. The public is treated to
a spectacle of which it sees only the outer manifestations. What is not seen, of course, is the massive, politically-motivated persecution that is deliberately covered up by the carefully composed stories, which never discuss the real reasons for the persecution, but shifts the grounds to an entirely different set of issues. Thus, the smear campaign is a clever way to [words crossed out: “mask a cover-up as an “exposé.””; marginal note to “see correction” with handwritten “14”]
It would take a separate volume to cut through the tangle of lies, distortions, [word crossed out: “half-truths,”] and misrepresentations that had been used in creating the smokescreen, the “red herring” that has kept the truth hidden. But the stories follow a general pattern that is worth examining, and helps us understand the anatomy of yellow journalism.
[The following paragraph marked in the margin with a note to “tone down”] A human interest angle is developed, on a level of third-rate melodrama, designed to generate public sympathy by portraying a “victim” of the [single word “terrible” – marked in quotes – crossed out] Temple. [Next sentence crossed out, with marginal note to “omit”: “A ‘scared father,’ afraid to speak out about his son’s involvement with a group he portrays as ‘cancerous’; a distraught mother, battling for her child that has been spirited off to the Temple’s ‘prison-camp’ outpost in the swampy jungles of South America; a frazzled intellectual, who has been ‘publicly humiliated’ in some ‘weird ritual.’’] The stories call on stage a vomitous parade of ‘courageous’ individuals who, the script goes, ‘dared’ to [words deleted: “stand up to Jim Jones, the ‘Temple tyrant.’”; Handwritten edit: “level charges at Jim Jones.”] Together, the accounts form a maudlin catalog of sob-stories, conceived and concocted to appeal to the dregs of popular taste. The Grace Stoens, Joyce Shaws, Nadyne Houstons, [Handwritten edition: “Steve Katsarises”], (there are many more), and the ever-present Mertles (Al and Jeannie Mills) are cast on the pages of the newspapers or on television as the fatuous symbols of outraged conventional morality.
This is the way that ‘off-beat’ organizations have so often been smeared: by the insinuation that they are somehow offensive or menacing to the God-Apple Pie-Mother moral totalitarianism that governs American cultural religion. Imperfectly concealed behind the pseudo-liberal, self-righteous posturing of the Tracy and Reiterman articles is the tired old myth of ‘virtue offended.’ Phil Tracy’s statement to Jim Jones during his never-used two-
hour interview with him, when he blurted out that the media can make ‘monsters’ out of whomever it chooses, is more than fulfilled in these shoddy press tales [Balance of paragraph deleted, with note to “see correction”; “of frightened parents, abducted children, ‘strange suicides,’ and the big, bad, power-brokering, tyrannical Jim Jones, who lords it over his quivering flock of brow-beaten, brainwashed boot-lickers.”]
Throughout, people are given to believe that they have been ‘used’ or ‘tricked’ or ‘really didn’t know’ what was ‘going on inside the Temple…’ [Words struck out: “behind those locked doors.”] The press becomes, then, a kind of preliminary tribunal in which the target is accused, given the aura of guilt, convicted, and condemned in the court of ‘public opinion,’ as manipulated by the collaborators in the media who are pursuing the ‘investigation.’ The stream of [word crossed out: “innuendos,”] faceless accusers, [word crossed out: “coerced”; handwritten substitute “false”] testimony, distortions and lies, leads to a form of ‘judgment.’ The traffickers in this stuff know well its potency, and the effect it can have in instigating people to take independent action against the target. Already this potential has been realized as the level of harassment, violence, death-threats and other actions has markedly stepped up since the smear campaign got underway. While many people have seen through the sewage that has been aired in the Examiner and other media, and have given their support to the Temple, others have gone so far as to threaten to shoot anyone stepping out of the front doors of the San Francisco headquarters. And if anyone is shot, the media-provocateurs can take the blame.
[Handwritten headline: “Two Investigations”]
Before closing this chapter on the abuses of the public media, let us look briefly at two instances in which press stories that insinuated wrong-doing and pushed for official investigations actually resulted in such investigations being carried out and concluded. The first instance, initially written about by Phil Tracy in New West [superscript 34] and followed up by Tracy’s collaborator, Marshall Kilduff of the Chronicle, concerned a young man who never was a member of Peoples Temple and who was never more than remotely involved with church services or programs. He knew of the Temple because his family lived in the No. California area where the Temple was located several years ago. Members knew him as a sensitive, though deeply troubled youth. He had received a settlement after a serious motorcycle accident, which
he donated to the Temple’s human service ministry. In October, 1975, the young man committed suicide. Two years later, under the pressure of Tracy and Kilduff, who were frantically trying to find something to ‘pin’ on Peoples Temple, a second coroner’s inquest was held in Los Angeles. Already, the Tracy story (which had been picked up by other media) had charged that there were ‘strange’ irregularities in the suicide, and the [handwritten addition: “outrageous”] innuendo was clear that Peoples Temple [2 words crossed out: “had murdered”; handwritten substitution: “was responsible in some way for the death of”] the man after getting his money from him. Because of pressure from the media, medical examiners and witnesses to the event were summoned to court. On October 20, 1977, the coroner’s jury upheld the verdict of death by suicide. [Superscript 35]
A second story given heightened media coverage (front page all over San Francisco) was that Temple high school students “dominated” the school that many of them attended. The articles [superscript 36] were ludicrous, transparent attempts to grasp at straws and manufacture ‘news’ out of practically nothing at all. Nonetheless, the Temple was again maligned in the public eye, accused of some vague form of wrongdoing that hinted of dark plotting and behind-the-scenes finagling. Investigations that resulted from the scandal-mongering articles turned up absolutely nothing. The media’s sources moaned that they were misquoted, and denied their statements. [Superscript 37] As with other such trumped-up allegations, the rebuttal statements that totally exonerated the Temple were given low-key, low priority coverage, buried in the back pages. But the effect of the smear was achieved. There were no apologies or explanations.
[Handwritten headline: “TV Gets Into The Act”]
Electronic media coverage used its own gimmickry. One reporter had former Temple members give interviews with their backs to the camera, as if they were in some kind of danger for “testifying,” contributing further to the monstrous implication that former members of Peoples Temple were ‘scared to death.’ However, hundreds of people in the church who viewed these newscasts knew exactly who these persons were. For whose benefit, then, was the act staged?
On another occasion, the TV cameraman working with the same reporter ran at breakneck speed to corner a group of Temple senior citizens in a public park who were preparing to board a bus and, while filming this for television, screamed at the top of his lungs for them to call him a name, trying to bait them into making a response that might make for some sensationalistic footage on the TV news!
[Handwritten headline: “News As Promotion”]
It is important to emphasize that the press smear campaign has been actively promoted around the nation. Tracy and Kilduff have gone on television, talk shows, have held special press conferences, called up investigating agencies, pushing and promoting their stories to the hilt. But while the sensationalism and smears of the Examinerand New West articles, low and sickening from the start, have succeeded in conjuring up a controversy around Jim Jones, they have not produced the “Watergate” the promoters and perpetrators hoped for. Some of these local press stories have been successfully planted in England and Canada. [Line crossed out: “the Toronto Star and LondonObserver both carried a”; substitute edit: “with a”] highly libelous article about Peoples Temple and the mission/community that Jim Jones has established in Guyana. The intensity of the articles is alarming enough, but the fact that they were printed in the two very cities where the largest populations of Guyanese are located outside of Guyana leads to one conclusion: a well-coordinated effort is being made to discredit and run interference with the Temple’s Guyana project.
That is another chapter in the conspiracy which we will soon examine in some detail. But, in order to understand that chapter, we need to look behind the media-manipulation of the public, behind the smear campaign which, in the final analysis is a diversion. We even have to look behind the sleazy tribe of slick, fork-tongue operatives and informers, the Mazors and Conns who are busily engaged in blackmail, coercion of testimony, and assorted schemes to build their case.
The Temple’s continuing investigation of the plots against Jim Jones reveals that they are being orchestrated at a higher level.
Part III – Moving up to the Higher Levels
[Handwritten headline: “Inconsistencies”]
After hearing that David Conn was in some way connected with the Treasury Department, several members of Peoples Temple wrote to that department asking for confirmation or clarification on any kind of investigation that might be going on. Responses came from the Internal Revenue Service, the Treasury Department, and the U.S. Customs Service. None acknowledged any investigations involving Peoples Temple.
In April, 1977, however, Rev. James (J. R.) Purifoy, a former member of Peoples Temple, reached Jim Jones by telephone in Guyana, South America. Purifoy had been telephoned by a man who said he worked with the Treasury Department and who wanted to know anything Purifoy could remember about Peoples Temple and its Pastor. Purifoy said he refused to talk to the caller.
Also, in the written notes taken during his May, 1977, meeting with David Conn, Dennis Banks had noted that “Grace (Stoen) has been visited by Treasury agents.” Mrs. Stoen, a former member of Peoples Temple, was one of the sources used in the original New West story, and has been a key figure in subsequent media attacks against the Temple.
Several other incidents have taken place including that the denial of the Treasury and its related agencies of being involved in any investigation of the activities of Peoples Temple is not true. Each event has represented an invasion of the Constitutional rights of Peoples Temple as a religious organization.
[Handwritten headline: “Routine Procedures”]
On September 29, 1977, Temple officials learned from the church’s freight forwarder in Miami, Florida, that agents of the U.S. Customs Service (an arm of the U.S. Treasury Department) had held up a Temple cargo shipment bound for the agricultural project in Guyana. Seven Customs men pulled crates at random for inspection. The attorney for Peoples Temple, Charles Garry, wrote to the Customs Service demanding an explanation, or at least a statement of fair cause for this action. [Superscript 39] The response from the [balance of line cut off]
they were exempt from disclosure and the search was merely a “routine procedure.”
The freight forwarder, however, confirmed that the Customs agents involved were “from out of town… not the regular Customs agents I see around here…” [Words crossed out: “some of them were from the West Coast.”] Clearly, more was going on than a mere ‘routine’ procedure.
Shortly thereafter, a package containing important documents and church -related business arrived in San Francisco from Guyana at the Post Office. The package had been opened, tampered with, and completely ruined. A substance the color and scent of wine have been poured [two words circled and crossed out: “or spilled”] all over the papers, which included important affidavits and legal documents, obliterating signatures on the documents. A letter requesting an explanation was sent to the Postmaster of San Francisco. As yet, no reply has been received by the Temple.
A most recent intrusion is the blatant interference with the Social Security checks of hundreds of senior citizens, members of Peoples Temple who are now residing in Guyana at the agricultural community. The Temple has received word from a confidential source that a message was circulating in the San Francisco Post Office branches ordering that any SSA (Social Security) checks which have a forwarding order to Guyana be returned to the Social Security Administration (Department of Health, Education and Welfare). For months, these checks had not been received by their owners. All members of Peoples Temple who have taken up residence in Guyana and who are legally entitled to receive these benefits, filed appropriate forms (SSA-21) declaring their intention to live outside the territorial borders of the United States. By law, Social Security checks are to be sent to the recipient, wherever he may choose to reside.
[Paragraph scratched out, marginal note “obsolete, Jean [Brown]”] Letters of inquiry were sent to Congressman Philip Burton and letters of protest were sent to the local postmaster. All responses to date have skirted the real issue. [Superscript 41] In the meantime the Temple has secured a copy of the actual memo which ordered the return of all SSI (Gold Checks) and Social Security (Green) Checks to HEW where the post office has a forwarding order for Guyana. The illegality of this order is clear. Still, there has
been no rectification or even explanation forthcoming from the Social Security Administration for what amounts to an outrageous rip-off by the government of a group of elderly people. [Superscript 46]
[First sentence crossed out: “Is this another ‘routine procedure?’”] What has become clear is that the ‘routine’ is more of a pattern of deliberate official government agency harassment. It is not within the scope of this document to go into the myriad instances of this type of harassment, which have included multiple instances of surveillance [superscript 44], mail tampering, payoffs, bribes, blackmail, and even hired assassins sent through the jungle across international borders… besides what appears to have been a most cruel and inhuman [word crossed out: “plot”; handwritten edit: “attempt”] to “starve out” the hundreds of Temple members in Guyana by holding up their Social Security benefits that are rightfully theirs. However, we have begun to uncover areas of what is shaping up as a very far-reaching, insidious conspiracy that can help us to explain all of the foregoing and, hopefully, get to the heart of it.
The Interpol Connection [Overlaid with a hand-drawn swastika]
The irregularities that have been passed off as “routine” received a great measure of clarification when, in November 1977, several Temple officials conducting investigations into the conspiracy were given access (through government sources) to a lengthy document originating in Interpol. The covering letter of the document bore the name of Mr. Louis B. Sims of [words struck out: “the FBI and”] Interpol. The document discussed Jim Jones, Peoples Temple members, and church activities from information provided by thirteen ex-members who had met with an agent identified only by his number. The meeting took place in February, [marginal note, “see corrections”; four lines bracketed] well before any of the smear articles were published. Among these former members was Grace Stoen, the same person who David Conn said (to Dennis Banks) had talked to agents of the Treasury Department. Typical of Interpol intelligence reports [superscript 42] the document was riddled with fabrications and outright lies about the activities of Peoples Temple and of members
whose names were cited in the report. The report discusses the ‘political influence’ of Rev. Jones and the Temple in the United States. [two lines crossed out: “and affirms that no investigations of any of the allegations in the press have led to anything.”; marginal note: “please revise if inaccurate”] It confirms that the thirteen former members have contacted reporters to spur more investigations, and that articles had subsequently appeared in the press. The report confirms that special observers had been stationed in Houston, New Orleans, and Miami, assigned to watch for shipments leaving the country from Peoples Temple. The report [word crossed out: “mentioned”] the meeting between Dennis Banks and David Conn. It also alleges that Jim Jones took part in some sort of demonstration in Guyana during a time period when he was not in the country at all.
Significantly, the Interpol document did not [word crossed out: “even”] concern itself with the “charges” and allegations out of which the media smear campaign has been fabricated: its concerns revealed the underlying reasons behind the smear campaign and the plotting of Mazor, Mertle, Conn and Co. against Jim Jones and his organization: political persecution. Jim Jones was pictured as a ‘threatening’ presence, a dangerous radical, a friend of ‘black power’ organizations such as the Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam, a revolutionary organizer who, along with his ‘subversive’ organization, had to somehow be stopped. The media smear stories were shown by the Interpol document to be precisely what Peoples Temple has said all along that they were: an enormous red herring, a diversion.
The conclusions recommended further action: more observers, more Customs officials to watch for traffic, and more investigations to be initiated.
We are attempting at this time to acquire copies of the report [next two lines deleted: “It is noteworthy that the document has been dispatched to Guyana by Louis Sims. Sims, incidentally, is also the person who has been”] largely responsible for the campaigns waged against the Church of Scientology in recent years. That organization has done extensive investigations of Interpol, and has documented
Interpol’s Nazi connections.
[Editor’s note: A boxed block of type appears on the top of page 39, which is taken directly from the Temple’s flyer that charges Joe Mazor with being an Interpol agent.
INTERPOL is a private international police organization made up of national police representatives from over 100 member nations Supposedly organized to apprehend criminals, control drug traffic, etc., Interpol’s U.S. branch is funded, staffed, and housed in the U.S. Treasury Department, across the street from the White House. It has a direct hook-up to the computerized National Crime Information Center (NCIC), run by the FBI, and direct contact with state and local police. All Interpol nations have access to US files and records denied to U.S. citizens. Any police state, or private group in any member nation, via their police, can obtain information on U.S. citizens, businesses, tourists, immigrants, suspects, etc., without regard to validity, relevance, truth, or source. Yet, for U.S. citizens, Interpol files are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act! The NCIC computerized files at the disposal of Interpol are massive. A foreign agency, operating through Interpol, could even plant information in U.S. government files.
INTERPOL is basically a Nazi organization. Its vice-president in the I930’s and 40’s was Nazi General Kurt Daluege, executed later for war crimes. During Hitler’s power period, Interpol was headquartered in Berlin. Its 1939 conference was held under the patronage of the Reichsfuehrer, the SS, and the Nazi chief of Police, Heinrich Himmler. In 1968, Paul Dickopf, a former henchman in Hitler’s Security Police, was elected president. During his reign, the organization became affluent, due to large contributions by three member nations during his tenure: Venezuela, Brazil, and Switzerland, where, coincidentally, the Nazi SS (Odessa) brotherhood is still very much alive.
The Interpol involvement in the plot against Jim Jones at the upper levels of the conspiracy is interesting and instructive for many reasons. Let us recall again the role of the Treasury Department and much of the anti-Temple activity: Conn’s connections with the Treasury, his insistence that Dennis Banks meet with Treasury agents in the proposed “deal” in which Banks would give false testimony against Jim Jones in exchange for protection in his extradition case, and the various forms of harassment (i.e., Customs) that originated in that department. Let us also be reminded that the Treasury Department has been used, practically as a second FBI, for intelligence gathering and political persecution (especially through the Internal Revenue Service, a major
agency of the Treasury). Grace Stoen, a key media ‘witness’ and a woman who has played a major role in efforts to harass Peoples Temple, was noted by Conn (in his conversation with Dennis Banks) to have met with Treasury agents. The Treasury Department, by the way, has been increasingly relied upon for the kind of work that was formerly the exclusive domain of the FBI because of the new Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation, which does not cover the Treasury. [Marginal note “44”]
Interestingly, Interpol in the United States is directly under the wing of the Treasury Department, which is the official U.S. representative to Interpol. The Chairman of the U.S. delegation of Interpol’s General Assembly is none other than the Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Treasury (for Enforcement). Moreover, all Interpol investigations and activities are farmed out to the U.S. Secret Service, Customs, the Bureau of Narcotics, and the IRS – all agencies of the U.S. Treasury which effectively puts the entire department at the service of Interpol [several words crossed out: “which, in the United States, is the Treasury Department.”; marginal note “45”]
The fact that Interpol is a Nazi-riddled organization is well-known (see box). In fact, it was for many years run by top-ranking Nazis. Even as late as 1972, one of Hitler’s top SS (Secret Service) officials, Paul Dickopf, was its director. [Next sentence marked with marginal note: “italics”] But what readers may not know is that Peoples Temple has been one of the most militantly outspoken anti-Nazi organizations in the United States. Through its newspaper, Peoples Forum, Peoples Temple has repeatedly and fearlessly denounced and exposed the rising dangers of neo-Nazism in San Francisco and around the United States. [Superscript 44] It has also run front-page exposes on U.S. government complicity (within the Immigration and Naturalization Service, especially) in shielding top Nazi butchers from prosecution or deportation, while they live comfortably, even luxuriously, in the United States. [Superscript 45] Jim Jones has spoken out publicly on this issue, and has insisted that something be done about it. He has also spearheaded drives, with other concerned organizations in the community, to combat the neo-Nazi upsurge.
Thus it is not surprising that efforts to stop, silence, or destroy Jim Jones would be instigated in the ultra-right, [Text cuts off]
Chronology: (special box)
[Handwritten note: “Teri [Buford] – Please finalize this”]
November, 1976 –
Joseph Mazor hired
Lowery, Russom, and Leeper Public Relations firm hired by Mazor ‘to handle the media’ on the ‘Peoples Temple case’
David Conn and George Kleinman [Klineman] begin concerted attempts to push investigations and work through media against Jim Jones
Spies found monitoring Peoples Temple meeting, traced to military-intelligence sources.
????? – Temple runs strong anti-Nazi articles in Peoples Forum
December 1976-January 1977 – Temple makes inquiries of U.S. treasury concerning any ‘investigations’ that might be taking place (check dates)
February 5, 1977 – contact of former Temple members with government (Treasury) agents
February 24, 1977 – 13-14 former members of PT meet with government agent (w…) Who relays information subsequently to Interpol
May 23, 1977 – David Conn approaches Dennis Banks for denunciation of Jim Jones
June, 1977 – Conn attempts to plant material with leading Bay Area newspersons
June 17, 1977 – New West “break-in”
June 18, 1977 – New West launches smear campaign
August 8, 1977 – Mysterious person appears on Temple’s Guyana project, interrogates people there.
September, 1977 – Assassination attempt on Jim Jones in Guyana
(date – General) – Mazor organizes intention of [words crossed out: “kidnapping children”] “retrieving” persons in Guyana
(date – General) – IRS begins summoning members of Peoples Temple for tax audits.
(add to this if possible)
put in a box, insert around page 43-44 area in text
[Top half of page duplicates page 42 through June 18, 1977 entry]
It costs money to carry out a conspiracy. We have already determined that the hotel bills, plane fares, legal fees, and related expenses of those orchestrating the campaign have run to at least $50,000. This is a very conservative estimate. The bills probably run at least 3 to 5 times this amount.
I have typed up the text for Appendix III, A Case Of Surveillance. I do not think that all the letters from Congresspersons other than Philip Burton are necessary to print. Also, the [illegible initials] articles on Mrs. Wright are repetitious – remember we had two articles on the case and the issues that were about the same – commit one of them, or reprint instead the article that appeared in the Sun Reporter entitled “Age of Surveillance?” in late November, 1976. Also, please type on the top of Jean Brown’s long letter to Senator Stennis a line of explanation: Literature of Inquiry to Senator Stennis concerning events of November 7th at Peoples Temple. But I feel that the letter has statements in it that contradict some of the main text of this book, and could perhaps be omitted. Besides, it is quite long. Perhaps just a few lines of summary that Jean Brown wrote to Senator Stennis and give general contents of the letter, then put the receipt slip, noting as you did that no reply has been received. [Handwritten marginal note: “This will not be an appendix – only the document. The explanation should be put in a box around p. 35-36 of the text”]
Another Special Section Insert To The Book:
We Accuse: Media Guilt In Sham “Expose” On Peoples Temple
“Answering Charges” – A Game With ‘Loaded’ Dice!
After twisting, distorting, or ignoring everything that Peoples Temple has published about what our attorney, Charles Garry, has called “an orchestrated, organized, premeditated government campaign to destroy a politically progressive church,” the sensationalist press has extended to us the opportunity of ‘defending’ ourselves by ‘answering questions’ they have posed concerning a series of allegations that have been dignified with front-page headlines, as if the lies were facts.
After the ‘prosecution’ has (for the time being) rested its ‘case,’ and the verdict of ‘guilty’ has been pronounced by direct implication in the kangaroo court of public opinion (concocted, rehearsed, staged, and edited by the Hearst/Murdoch press – for reasons which we shall soon clarify), the ‘guilty’ are asked to say a few words, to ‘explain themselves!’
In a way we are grateful that we have been asked to do this, because it gives us an opportunity to once more, and perhaps more fully, expose exactly what is going on, to demonstrate to the public how various reporters have either been manipulated or have knowingly collaborated in what amounts to a conspiracy to destroy us – a conspiracy that is at once propagated and covered up through slanderous and outrageously biased newspaper stories.
Questions are posed that concern the beliefs and practices of Peoples Temple and Jim Jones. They once again reiterate and focus upon the ‘charges’ which, strictly speaking, have never been presented as charges, but as facts or, more precisely, as ‘news’ – a rather slippery category which may have the shape and sound of truth, but (heaven knows!) Not the substance.
Such ‘questions,’ then, serve to perpetuate the illusion of the entire media campaign: allegations and ‘charges’ are given reality by our responding to them. It’s a clever trap.
A familiar psychology is at work here. Even the denial of a vicious and totally false accusation does not it all dispel the effect of its having been made: it only reinforces in the public
mind. This is especially true in our cynical post-Watergate climate, where accusations practically presumed guilt, and denials become the equivalent of lies. Accuse someone of a crime (and some scandal-mongering editors and reporters have shown themselves adept at cooking up a case practically ex nihilo), and even though innocent, there is a feeling aroused that he may just be guilty; the power of the press is such that, at the very least, connection is made between the accused and the ‘crime’ that works to tear down the integrity of the accused– often without a shred of evidence – thus making him ‘guilty’ in a more subtle manner. People who have gone through the McCarthy period are familiar with this sort of perfidy.
The point is that to dignify ‘questions’ posed by the sensationalist press in such an atmosphere co-operates with the basic strategy of the architects of the smear campaign: it keeps the grounds of the entire situation removed to a different place, focused upon bogus and spurious issues. And when the accusations and innuendos are multiplied, it becomes evident that, far from what one publisher has called a ‘decent, comprehensive report’ which should be characterized as ‘investigative,’ we have a deliberate attempt to portray Peoples Temple as a distributable organization.
We are not naïve. We know that smear campaigns are diversions, often subterfuges. To pretend that the stories about Peoples Temple constitutes some kind of ‘legitimate inquiry’ into our work is preposterous, though the material is carefully masked as such. Yet attempts persist to perpetuate and dignify what has been a shamefully outrageous and despicable effort to confuse the public, to create a picture of Peoples Temple that is completely the opposite of reality.
[Handwritten headline: “Truth Suppressed”]
The sensationalist media asks us to explain ourselves. We accuse, instead, that they have never explained themselves. We ask them:
Why they have never undertaken to reveal what we have made clear about the conspiracy against us: that over a dozen of the media ‘witnesses’ who appear in the press (according to one editor) in a ‘spontaneous’ and “courageous” fashion to denounce the Temple, CONSPIRED TOGETHER TO CONCOCT AND PROMOTE THESE ATTACKS FULLY SIX MONTHS BEFORE THEY APPEARED IN THE PRESS!
Why they have refused to reveal the facts that
image: no retractions of ‘other-side-of-the-story’ stuff can undo what has been done. For the purpose of the media here has assuredly and demonstrably not been to get at the truth – even though that has been the shape of the subterfuge all along: an ‘expose.’ Even though the newspaper may finally publish a few lines of the truth, they have succeeded in creating enough of a controversy, a sensationalistic smoke-screen of charges, countercharges, and hellaballoo [hullabaloo], that the public will neither notice nor disapprove of the underhanded work that goes on behind the smokescreen, or much regard what Peoples Temple may say in its ‘defense.’ The ‘red herring’ gas either throws the public off the track, or created such a stink that it doesn’t making any difference anymore.
[Handwritten headline: “What’s Being Covered Up?”]
This is the devious psychology of public-manipulation that several reporters and editors have engaged in – and not only in our case – that makes a mockery of a ‘free’ press. And it has been the role that so much of our media has played to protect vested interests. And yet, Peoples Temple, which is been one of the leading candidates for the 1977 Media Victim of the Year Award, has resolutely defended the Freedom of the Press, has gone on marches for this critical Constitutional buffer against totalitarian abuses.
But today, we must speak out, and for that very same reason. Because when that precious freedom is abused and turned into an open-season hunting license, to malign and smear selected targets that are deemed a threat to the interests that Big Media protects, then we are indeed on the verge of tyranny. Today, the adversary role of the media has all but been obliterated: it is quickly becoming innocuous entertainment, protecting the interests of the owning classes, and only presenting enough of the truth about the massive corruption in American affairs to perpetuate the illusion that it is the ‘watchdog’ for the people’s interests, when it really is more of a protector of the rich and the super-rich.
Until the offending newspapers get to the bottom of the Peoples Temple ‘case’, revealing and investigating the right-wing plotting that has been going on behind the scenes, we are not interested in playing the game of charge/counter charge for the entertainment (and confusion) of a bored public that may or may not crave such amusement, but which newspapers nonetheless provide them with in order to turn over a profit. One of the questions that has been put to us is why we haven’t answered the ‘charges’ against us, as if we have
not made the reasons crystal clear many times. The question is asked with the kind of deceptive, mock-innocence. But from the beginning we have made it clear that we are not about to join the ‘crap’ game in which the dice are loaded.
[Handwritten headline: “The Scandal-Mongers Trick Bag”]
We have had our fill of reporters who have used deception, every form of conniving and cozening in order to build their case. We have proof of some who have gone far and wide asking leading and loaded questions in order to elicit the type of replies they needed. They have also made slanderous and vicious comments designed to cast aspersions on us. [Sentence crossed out: “For example, after Jim Jones suffered a collapse at a Housing Authority meeting (he had no sleep the night before because he was counseling), one of the reporters, who has been quite active in promoting the smear campaign asked if he was on drugs.”] We know how questions and comments can be made which carry hidden accusations. This is an old trick in the bag of the sensation and scandal-monger. Another collaborator, Phil Tracy, interviewed Jim Jones for two hours and did not use a word of his in-depth interview in any of the long stories he wrote about us. In another story concerning the tragic death of one Temple member, the reporter interviewed the man’s former wife for at least half an hour – but practically none of her testimony was included in the story since, we speculate, it contradicted the tenor of the vicious innuendos that the story was expressly written to put before the public.
On numerous occasions, reporters have baited Temple members for information that they later twisted so far out of shape and context as to defy credulity. On one memorable occasion, a national news weekly magazine reporter attempted to lie his way into a Peoples Temple service, identifying himself as a ‘Harvard graduate’ who was sent there by the American Friends Service Committee. His name appeared on the by-line of a scurrilous story about Peoples Temple that was filled with gross lies and lurid sensationalism.
Such ‘reporters’ have eroded practically to zero our ability to trust the establishment media. They have disgraced their profession. We have had ‘newsmen’ come by our church and members’ homes using their cameras to spy and pry at all hours of the day and night, a cruel frightening twist when the camera becomes an Orwellian monitoring device.
One television news reporter had his cameraman filming him interviewing witnesses with their backs to the TV audience even though hundreds of people in the Temple knew their identity full well. The act was obviously staged for the public to make it appear that these individuals were in some danger for making their statements. On another occasion, a TV cameraman cornered a group of senior citizens at a San Francisco park, and filmed them while shouting at the top of his lungs in an attempt to terrorize them, and provoke them into behaving irrationally for the camera! These are but a few of the many examples that illustrate how the media can “make monsters” out of whomever it chooses. This phrase was used by one of the reporters writing about us. It speaks volumes.
We have experienced the most shameful, disgusting duplicity from several members of the press to the extent that we almost regret our years of work to champion the rights of the media, for which our church was commended in the Congressional Record, and for which Rev. Jones has received awards. But we recognize that this is by no means the full picture, and there are many very responsible and courageous people in the field of journalism.
Still, it is interesting that when one of the best investigative reporters in the Bay Area did an in-depth story on Peoples Temple, even living in Rev. Jones’ home for several days, his story was completely killed by his home paper: not a word was ever printed. However, one of the most notorious scandal-mongering ‘religion’ writers in the nation was able to get his ranting, slanderous poison plastered all over the front pages when he added Jim Jones to the long list of progressive, black and pro-civil rights religious leaders he has publicly pilloried. Note well: this individual has since been kicked out of the Washington Press Corps and has been exposed as a paid agent of big corporations who have enlisted him to ridicule and denounce black African nations as a smokescreen for protecting the racist policies of South Africa, where the corporations have their dollars invested, and on whose semi-slave labor they reap profits! Members of Peoples Temple finally had to sue this scoundrel for slander when he was about to peddle his racist venom in another newspaper which carried him as their columnist, the San Francisco Progress. This newspaper was upset the Peoples Temple sued their blue-ribbon columnist for slander. To retaliate, they evenly prostituted their front pages with nymphomaniacal eagerness to the lies of another sensationalist [last line cut off]
that the people who she misquoted, when faced with an investigation, disavowed their statements which, only a few days earlier, had been displayed on the front pages as the gospel truth! (Of course, their disavowals were not carried or, in one case, buried on the back pages). This points directly to why we have stayed out of the game of “why don’t you answer the accusations?” It is not, however, the only case where investigations were carried out by official agencies in the wake of highly-publicized incidents in which Peoples Temple was supposed to be guilty of some crime. There have been several such investigations, and IN EACH CASE, NO OFFICIAL INQUIRY HAS TURNED UP ANYTHING WHATSOEVER TO SUBSTANTIATE THE TEMPLE’S INVOLVEMENT IN ANY WRONGDOING. IN FACT, IT WAS MADE CLEAR IN EACH CASE THAT NOT ONLY WAS THE TEMPLE NOT INVOLVED IN ANY ALLEGED “CRIME,” BUT THAT NO CRIMES EVEN TOOK PLACE!
We could go into a much lengthier discussion of how our work has been distorted, monsterized, lied about, and deliberately mangled beyond recognition by some in the media. It is not just a question of false accusations. It goes beyond that into vicious smear campaigns which are directly linked to what have now been revealed to be a whole series of efforts, including harassment, violence, set-ups, COINTELPRO tactics, and the like that the public is never made aware of.
WE ACCUSE the perpetrators of these smears of concocting a kangaroo court of ‘charges’ that are cast in such a way as to make response to them impossible: we reply again by saying that the charges are not only false in substance, but they are themselves a ruse to trick the public. Once again, we are being set-up. The charges are not being made so that they can be ‘answered’ and the ‘truth’ brought out. They are being aired in the public media for one reason only: to prejudice public opinion against the Temple, and to assassinate the character of Jim Jones. Merely to air a false accusation prejudices the public ipso facto, especially if it is done with the stamp of truth and authenticity (‘news’) the media can bring to its ‘official’ portrayal of reality.
Actually, we are weary of being constantly placed in the position of having to answer questions as if we were guilty of crimes. The accused, who has already been most unfairly and scurrilously portrayed in the news media, is surrounded with an aura of guilt which is only heightened and intensified when he is placed in the position of having to be a ‘defendant’ and to ‘vindicate’ himself. He never can come out winning at such a situation, especially when his ‘side’ of the story is at the mercy of being mangled by the very organs of popular taste that saw fit to print the original lies, and even to invent them. How can there be any fairness in such a situation? Though there is an appearance of equity, the deck is stacked.
The Temple and Jim Jones are guilty of nothing: but to state this alone gives credence to the bogus issue of ‘guilt’ and ‘innocence.’ Note the devious mentality that engineers the whole charade. It is close to the “have you stopped beating your wife?” dilemma. The asking of the question ostensibly provides the ‘accused’ with the opportunity to ‘vindicate’ himself from guilt for something he never did. Even the answer “I never beat her in the first place” does not erase the stigma that the very posing of the question presumes. Someone has made the accusation: in the world of the public media, that’s tantamount to guilt. The denials and apologies, as we have said, complete the illusion of a legitimate process. Beyond that, the real guilty party emerges: the media magicians and make-up artists who have flim-flammed the entire thing, staging it for the express purpose of selling newsprint.
We feel today that to try to expose this kind of thing is perhaps fruitless. The heart of the problem is that the public, which has been nurtured on a diet of pulp, probably doesn’t want anything else. It is almost a truism the media’s penchant for sensationalism has made the kind of smear campaign that has been mounted against us possible. But, as we have clarified in other contexts, the truth goes deeper. The presumed credulity of the public – programmed into us for the purpose of entertaining and diverting us while we are being fleeced by the owning classes (in whose interest Big Media works) is cynically manipulated so that progressive organizations and humanitarian leaders who oppose those vested interests can be pilloried and disgraced, and their effectiveness [last line cut off].
We are now practically convinced that, for these reasons, the deeper truth about Peoples Temple will never be allowed to get into print.
We wish to make it abundantly clear that we have never had any aversion to discussing our beliefs, or spiritual healing, or our work with extreme cases, with individuals who have been ‘salvaged’ largely because of Jim Jones’ patience and willingness to work with people who, in many cases, nobody else was willing to take on, and get them out of desperate, dead-end situations in life. In fact, we have talked about these issues for years. We have sent out press notices, invited media to our church to let them know about our work, not for publicity’s sake, but so that perhaps what we are doing could be a kind of ‘catalyst’ for good, an encouragement to others. But there has been very little interest. And we do not really wonder why. Articles about crime prevention and solutions to social problems sell fewer papers than lurid stories about killers on the rampage, ‘sex fiends’ terrorizing co-eds, or ‘black rioters.’ And the sensationalist press is to be blamed for that, along with the diet of similar stuff on television. It is almost as if the media needs to have killers, rapists, writers, and gang wars around [Handwritten addition: “as an economic asset!”]
[Handwritten headline: “Witch-Hunting”]
We are also beginning to weary of questions asking “what religious beliefs we represent” – questions that carry with them the pernicious innuendo that we are familiar with, hidden under the cloak of an innocent query, as if Peoples Temple’s “religious beliefs” were somehow so odd, so bizarre… so highly unorthodox that they needed to be justified by some ‘special explanation.’ Not only that, but there is also a disturbing ring to the question that there may indeed be some religious beliefs that are unacceptable: the question is loaded with the implication that if the religious beliefs we have are somehow not ‘proper’ (compared to what?), we are suspect. But the very fact that such a question is posed renders us already suspect. There is innuendo in this question that appeals to bigotry – it is the kind of question that is more proper to the Inquisition or the Salem trials of the 17th century than what we might expect of an environment that is supposed to foster freedom of thought and religion. Indeed, such a question works to poison, to undermine that very freedom.
We have never functioned ‘behind closed doors.’ On the contrary, more people have attended services at Peoples Temple than practically any church in California. Our church is the most open and accepting imaginable, with a congregation of people from every walk of life, from all backgrounds, all races and colors, sharing the ideals of universal human brotherhood, equality, justice, and compassion … and who are willing to work for the realization of those ideals in human society. We are a great extended family, and our emphasis is on what must be achieved in the ‘here and now’ for the relief of human misery and suffering. We are not centered on the ‘hereafter.’ We follow the example of the original disciples of Christ, by living communally and sharing. We are not wholly comfortable with the term ‘religion.’ The word has been dirtied by the very abuses, stupidity, and human folly and crime committed in its name that we are pledged to combat and overcome. In that sense, though we are affiliated and active within a national religious denomination (the Christian Church/Disciples of Christ), we are a kind of ‘gadfly’ presence among churches because we point out that religion has proven itself a force that to a great extent has subverted human progress. Even the great teachers, thinkers, and social activists who have shared in this view are often themselves made into ‘founders’ of ‘religious systems’ that wholly pervert the meaning and example of their lives and convictions.
More could, and will be said. There is no escaping the fact that in all of this, Jim Jones and Peoples Temple have been grievously wronged. Several reporters, editors and news media have played a shameful role in it, and we will continue to remind the public of it until there are apologies and restitutions.
[Paragraph crossed out: “A final note: What if, as a result of all the smears and scandal-mongering, the human service work of Peoples Temple in San Francisco have to be harmed, the real victims would be a lot of the young people and senior citizens who were – or would have been – helped by our work, but whose lives could well be ruined because a group of people who genuinely care, who were there – with food, with clothing, with medical care, counseling, with legal assistance, encouragement, help – might not be around to help them. Who would be responsible?”]
[Handwritten headline: “Who Is Responsible?”]
Victims of the smear campaigns that have discredited Jim Jones will also be taxpayers – including readers of the articles maligning us – who were undoubtedly saved hundreds of thousands of dollars that didn’t have to be spent on the many hundreds of persons Peoples Temple rehabilitated from lives of crime, drugs, and socially deviant behavior. And what about those who might be robbed, mugged, perhaps even killed by some desperate young person who might need an organization like Peoples Temple, or a Jim Jones to show some care for him, but who might not find one, and so will go down the well-trodden path that tells the tragic tale of many of America’s inner cities?
Is it possible that some of the blame might be placed on the sensationalist press, glorifying violence, manufacturing scandal in the ‘public interest’ it is supposed to represent? Perhaps that’s a question that those who have given themselves to the media campaign to destroy one of the most promising organizations in the United States, one which was providing some answers to the problems that help sell newspapers, might ask themselves.