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The Jonestown Guyana Tragedy No One Wants to Talk About

Fri, Apr. 12, 2013 Posted: 03:26 PM


A Case Study in How False Christianity and Politics Destroyed Many Lives

An extremely familiar phrase we hear quite frequently is some version of “drinking the Kool-Aid,” which references the unfortunate incident in which over 900 people perished in Jonestown, Guyana on November 18, 1978. The entire group of people either committed suicide by willfully drinking the cyanide-laced drink or gave the deadly potion to their children. It was at the command of their leader—Rev. Jim Jones—the one who the members of the Peoples Temple cult so devotedly followed that led to the greatest American tragedy prior to the 9-11 Attack. This reference describes how one might blindly follow another person or belief without thought or question, foolishly accepting or believing in the individual to the point of forsaking all truth and reason. This is the Rev. Jim Jones legacy and his story is practically faded by only a few years and probably for good reason, because the full story would identify very powerful and influential leaders today!

Although many people might speak of the Kool-Aid reference, nearly a generation has passed without any knowledge of where it came from! Under normal circumstances, one might see how the media, politicians and even our lawmakers would be imposing increasingly stricter laws and regulations to “protect” unsuspecting victims of religious groups. In spite of Constitutional guarantees, the political class would be seeking a way to circumvent those protections (i.e. “the right to keep and bear arms”). However, the 1st Amendment—the “freedom of religion” clause—may never be attacked the way the 2nd Amendment is. Why? Not because the politicians are so reverent, nor are they so pious. Perhaps it is because of the risk of exposing the close relationship between the politicians and irresponsible church leaders. A close and honest study of the Jonestown Tragedy would name some very prominent as being major beneficiaries of Rev. Jim Jones’ abuse of those who trusted him. The men, women and children who died in the massive suicide in the South American jungle were victims well before that day—they were also victims of the political class!

This is the one group of people that has been allowed to sink into the obscurity of history, because to remember them would do more to question the politician’s sincerity than practically anything else! (Perhaps churches and faith-based organizations would be in greater peril today if the Democratic Party power legacy today had not treaded through California!) Just as destructive as guns in the hands of the wrong people, so is the power to manipulate the minds of those most vulnerable solely for purpose of political gain! Those specifically in mind are the members of The People’s Temple who died in Jonestown, Guyana and those left stateside. Yes, those were terrifying times for the San Francisco Bay area… but let us not forget those 909 souls—of which 303 of them were children—who died of cyanide poisoning. This does not include Rev. Jones’ ordering his henchmen to gun down Congressman Leo Ryan and four others at the airstrip near Jonestown as they were preparing to leave! But how does this tie to Feinstein and Pelosi? Here’s how…

During the mid and late seventies, both politicians were part of the all-powerful political machine that was ruled and controlled by an ultra-liberal faction of the Democratic Party during the mid and late seventies. This group controlled the Bay Area and demanded unwavering loyalty from anyone who sought political office. George Moscone, Willie Brown, Diane Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi were some of the leaders of this group. Pelosi had become the state Democratic Party chairman for northern California came from the city of San Francisco. However, one name is usually stricken from the record whenever this group is mentioned— Rev. Jim Jones! Yes, the same and very Rev. Jim Jones of Jonestown, Guyana infamy!

It is the same Rev. Jones who convinced nearly 1000 of his People’s Temple congregation to leave California and live in a communal village in the South American country of Guyana he named Jonestown, but many people did not know about his strong political ties to the Democratic Party. As surely as the main-stream media is determined to associate Christians and conservatives with practically all of the gun violence we have experienced, they have been just as successful in diverting any notion of the left’s association with Rev. Jones or any other radical extremist! Even more so is the mystical connection between the politician and the preacher as they worked in concert to manipulate the People’s Temple church members. The matter of the pastor/leader of a church congregation first acquiring and ultimately abusing members to the degree of cultic fashion is no strange thing, especially when it comes to the Democratic Party’s unholy alliance with many of our predominantly minority churches! Shortly after the Jonestown tragedy, journalist Robert Lindsay wrote in the New York Times an article titled "How Rev. Jim Jones Gained His Power Over His Followers." He observed...

"Of particular interest to politicians was the Temple's ability to produce 2,000 people for work or attendance in San Francisco with only six hours' notice."

Rev. Jones’ ability to mobilize so many people, so quickly… who were willing to do practically anything he instructed them to do for the Democratic Party was one of the most cost-effective political machinery strategies ever! Having started his California church in Ukiah, Rev. Jones expanded his influence throughout the state with churches in at least six other major cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sacramento! His influence in the black community apparently raised the ire of many of the African American leaders including the Nation of Islam. However, this process is neither new nor unique. The marriage between the Democratic Party and the black church had become a well-recognized tradition, from the Northeast to the Deep South, with the western states being even more influenced! It has been obvious that the politicians had become more interested in the political benefits than the well-being of the church members.

Therefore, this provokes an interesting question: at what point did Pelosi, Feinstein and other Democratic Party stalwarts begin to reject Rev. Jim Jones’ ideology and his quest for power, or did they? None of the Democratic Party leadership appeared to care how Rev. Jones handled the members as long as he produced voters and campaign workers! To benefit them, Rev. Jones commanded The People’s Temple members to work tirelessly with robotic devotion. Corey Buscher, former press secretary to the late Mayor George Moscone stated that Rev. Jones “made his followers available to support progressive Democrat candidates.” He also recognized that Rev. Jones “offered thousands of ‘foot soldiers’ willing to walk precincts and get out the vote… an offer no politician in his right mind could refuse.” Another political power broker had stated that “If you were having a rally for a presidential candidate, you need to fill up the crowd, you could always get busloads from Jim Jones’ church.”

The Democratic Party of San Francisco often referred to The People’s Temple as “a ready-made volunteer workforce.” However, there became an increasing reports and complaints the abuse of members by Rev. Jones and Temple leaders—mentally, physically and sexually. As members were practically “forced” to campaign and even vote for the candidates, they were closely monitored and were required to provide proof of their assignment completion. Many of them were formerly homeless, hungry and poor—subject to control and manipulation; but as long as they performed for the Democratic Party, nothing was actually brought to light!

Rev. Jones’ contributions to the Democratic Party power structure was so great that he was appointed to serve on the San Francisco Housing Authority Commission— of which he soon became the Chairman of as he also began to frighten many members of the party itself! As he began to cultivate his power, and make demands and payment for mobilizing the Temple members, no one was able to deny him. He had even became a powerful influence within the Jimmy Carter administration, including the president’s wife, Rosalynn. Rev. Jones even met privately with Vice president Walter Mondale aboard his campaign plane! In spite of Rev. Jim Jones’ power to manipulate and control masses of people, that matter was not of any real concern for the Democratic Party because they benefitted from it all!

Only until Rev. Jim Jones’ own paranoia and threat of exposure by the media and concerned relatives did the political class begin to withdraw from him, but on the most part simply remained quiet. He had started building Jonestown in 1970, with the dream of creating a “socialistic paradise” far away from serious scrutiny. Even then, California State Assemblyman Willie Brown was a staunch defender of Rev. Jones, and with that political muscle, Jones was able to stave off much of the opposition from the media and political arenas. Governor Jerry Brown was also a staunch defender.

On November 18th, 1978 of the 909 members who migrated to Jonestown, Guyana, nearly 70% of them were black and perished over there—an interesting demographical statistic! In addition, over 200 of the cult victims were children, in which most of the deaths were by cyanide poisoning as it was given to them by their own parents in a grape-flavored punch. It is clear that the people were led to destruction by a maniacal pastor in search of more power than the Bay Area Democratic Party political machine was willing to grant to him. Instead, the majority of the party leadership ran and hid—quite possibly for one of two reasons—or maybe even both!

Today, the state of California, though beautiful and teaming with resources, is an economic disaster in the hands of the Democratic Party. Laden with debt and cities in bankruptcy, the dream to create a socialistic paradise has become an economic nightmare! However, it makes one wonder if Rev. Jim Jones would have left the United States—even in spite of the accusations—if he would have been able to see how the party he helped build was so successful today!

Dr. Melvin Johnson