RELIGST 2QQ3 Lecture Notes - Fall 2018 Lecture 2 - Mass suicide, Dysfunctional family

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Published on 21 Sep 2018
Week 2: Jonestown
Jim jones built a very influential church and was an important figure in the san
Francisco area
People moved to guinea to start a new community and most wound up dead;
some escaped because they weren’t in Jonestown. This was the worst death toll
until 9/11 900 people
How do we get from Jim jones a charismatic leader to a mass suicide? November 18th
- Most people don’t join a cult if they know they’ll get hurt. Lots of people wanted to
follow him
- People who were addicted to drugs felt like Jim Jones helped them see the light and get
past that dark side of their lives
- People felt alive in the People temple services; people we dancing and singing. Everyone
felt they had a purpose there and they were special; that’s how he brought so many
people in with diverse backgrounds
Indiana 1931-1965
- He was born feeling different like he didn’t fit in with everyone else. He was born into a
dysfunctional family
- He was obsessed with religion and death; killed a cat and had a funeral for him
- he found a community in the Pentecostal church; he started preaching and wanted
everyone to feel a part regardless of race. Many people didn’t agree with his approach
of wanting to build an interracial community; he was hated by many white people for
doing this
Ukiah 1965-1974
- moved to California (12-15 cars) to a place no one knew
- started with 141 people; message from Jim started from a story of where Jesus told
people to sell everything and take everyone in
- purpose of bus trip was to spread Jim’s beliefs about socialism and how to live an
integrated lifestyle. He talked about equality among races
- he offered people a home, bed, union, something that many people were probably
looking for
- convinced people that he was doing something really good for the community so
started convincing people to sell their homes and give money to church in exchange to
be completely taken care of by this community
- some people were full-time temples which could be 20 hours/day. Some people went
straight for 6 days. People felt guilty indulging in luxuries like sleeping
- He started healing people by giving their sight and ability to walk again; the person that
he apparently healed was actually a secretary pretending to be crippled and blind
- Made people believe the bible doesn’t have power and is an oppression for a lot of
people; said you had to see it to believe it
- Many reasons for people to admire Jim for the things he claimed to do
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