Recent documentaries appearing on CNN and CNBC have neglected to tell the whole truth about what really was going on in Jonestown. Instead, they continue to portray the events as a cult, run by a madman. Although Jones was certainly mad, the exact motives of his church are deeply rooted in the psychology and experiments of the CIA. Yes, as far fetched as this sounds, it is true. We ask readers to read the following story carefully and to take notice of the many facts in the life and history of Jones -- all true -- that were ommitted in the televised documentaries. Then, decide for yourself if you think the whole story has been told
Portions of this story are from John Judge's article, "The Black Hole of Guyana" (1985), which can be read in its entirety here. We are indebted to John Judge for his excellent work on this important subject.]
What You Were Told About Jonestown
It was November 15, 1978. The country had already survived the "peace and love" hippy movement of the 60's, the Viet Nam war, and was in the thralls of the materialistic Disco age. Gas prices were high and long lines were common at the pumps. It was a time when most "hippies" were more concerned with finding a job than changing society. Then there was breaking news. A religious cult, like so many that had developed in the late 60's, had apparently committed a mass suicide in the jungle of a South American country that few had known existed. The Guyana based, "Jonestown," named after its charismatic leader, Jim Jones, was depicted as a stereotype of the new breed of socialist based cults and communes that were springing up all over America.
In an era that was rife with war and protests, Americans in the late 60's had been divided among traditionalists who respected the old ways and the "counter culture" who had learned to distrust authority of any kind. When traditional faiths were lax in condemning the evils of the unjust Viet Nam war and racism, many sought to express their faith in more liberal churches, like that of Jim Jones.
The "People's Temple" at it was known, sought to break down the barriers of race, sex and wealth. It provided an alternative to the drugs and "free sex" that characterized the counter culture and "hippies." It all seemed like a Utopian dream. The church was originally established at the 'ground zero' of America'a counter culture movement - near San Francisco - home of the famous Haight/Ashbury neighborhood and the subject of numerous popular songs.
But, like the small cult of Charles Manson, news reports of Jonestown dramatically taught the folly of joining rogue churches and cults. Jones, like Manson, was portrayed as a mad man who had mesmerized his followers, making them do whatever he wanted -- even to take their own lives.
Despite the liberal culture on the sunny California coast, Jones' church had not been without criticism. Rumors and accusations had begun to interest local authorities while it was still in San Francisco. It was claimed that Jones had beat and punished members of his congregation; that he had engaged in kidnapping and had even committed sexual abuse. Some church members mysteriously died and others were threatened with death if they tried to leave. It was against this background that Jim Jones eventually moved his church, and its hundreds of members, to an agricultural camp in the remote jungle of Guyana, in South America.
Perhaps it was this abrupt move that raised more serious red flags with Jones' critics. The accusations of mistreatment continued at the Guyana camp and soon reached the official ear of congressman Leo Ryan. It was then, in November of 1968, that Ryan and some members of his staff and the press decided to visit Guyana and see the commune for themselves. Then all hell broke lose.
Ryan landed a tiny dual-prop airplane on the small, isolated airstrip at Port Kaituma, and visited the camp for one full day. The members of Jones' commune entertained Ryan's entouage with songs, prayers and smiles. Secretly, however, all was not well.
Before he was scheduled to leave, about a dozen members secretly slipped the congressman a note, begging to be taken back to America and claiming that they were being held against their wills. Recovered news film, taken at the time, recorded the event. Ryan confronted Jones and showed him the note. Jones dismissed the note as insignificant but appeared deeply disturbed. Ryan and his group then drove to the airstrip to return home. It was there that they were gunned down and murdered by members of Jones' security team.
Later, after the murder of Ryan and his staff, the entire congregation was alleged to have drunk purple kool-aid laced with cyanide in a mass suicide. Jones himself was shot in the head, also an apparent suicide. For days, the body count mounted, from 400 to nearly 1,000. The bodies were later flown to the United States and cremated or buried in mass graves.
For a few weeks, the horror of what happened at Jonestown was the cover stories of weekly tabloids. But the grizzly photos of contorted blue jean clad bodies soon reached saturation. Most Americans soon tuned out, focusing again on the Viet Nam war but remembering the lessons and dangers of "cults."
Unfortunately there was more to Jonestown than was first reported. Something more evil than a cult or even a demented leader was being covered up and, when it was finally revealed, it would receive less publicity than the sterilized version of the truth most people were fed.
What REALLY Happened: The Truth Is In The Numbers
The first headlines the day of the massacre read: "Cult Dies in South American Jungle: 400 Die in Mass Suicide, 700 Flee into Jungle." By all accounts in the press, as well as People's Temple statements, there were at least 1,100 people living at Jonestown. There were 809 adult passports found there, and reports of 300 children (276 found among the dead, and 210 never identified). The headline figures from the first day added to the same number: 1,100.The Guyanese body count was originally only 408.This figure was verified by U.S. Army authorities on site. However, over the next few days, the total of reported dead began to increase dramatically. In the end, about a week later, the US Army had placed the final body count at 913. Only 16 survivors were reported to have returned to the U.S.
Members of Jonestown were mostly black adults, the elderly and children who were apparently selected to reflect a cross section of the American public.--NEXT--
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