An account of The People's Temple Mass suicide and Jim Jones's persuasion and propaganda

Essay by bart591High School, 10th gradeA+, December 2003

download word file, 3 pages 3.0

Over 910 people committed mass suicide in November of 1977. The people were all followers of the People's Temple (a religious death cult) based originally in California, lead by the infamous Jim Jones (Dickerson 2). The demise of the People's Temple and the killings of over 900 people in Jonestown, Guyana were due to the Temple's contradicting beliefs, Jones's growing insanity and abuse of prescription drugs, and the assassination of Congressman Leo Ryan.

James (Jim) Warren Jones was born, May 13, 1931 during the great depression in Crete, Indiana (Dickerson 2). His up bringing was on the surface normal but many factors influenced the final outcome of his People's Temple. Is it suspected that Jim's father was an avid member of the Ku Klux Klan, which may have shown young Jim how to hate (Dickerson 2). Jim's neighbor, who was a Pentecostal religious fanatic, introduced him to a cult-like atmosphere.

These influences led to the creation and subversion of the People's Temple (Dickerson 2).

Jim Jones was an extremely smart man and held degrees from both Indiana University and Butler University (Robinson 1). Jones used many techniques to obtain members of his church, but foremost were charisma and brainwashing. Jim Jones fits Doyle Johnson's profile of the "charismatic cult leader." (Dickerson 4) Jim Jones would adopt children to create religious propaganda as much as to use them to engage in pedophilia (Mills 203). Jones would brainwash his following in many ways, most however were brainwashed through sleep deprivation and upward of 7-hour church services daily. "Jones, being utterly deranged, participated in a brainwashing practice and manipulated not only the thoughts, but also the actions of his followers." (Dickerson 4)

During the so-called services Jones would preach to his following, giving them lies, half-truths, and fake revelations. The crowd would...