“[Jones was] religiously and atheistically conflicted.”
—E. Black, “Wives of God, Mothers of the Faithful”,Jones Town - San Diego State University
The Jones Town mass suicide of the late 1970s AD amounted to 900 deaths including 276 children. These were members of Jim Jones’ People’s Temple.
During a conversation with John Maher in 1976 AD, Jim Jones referred to himself, both, as an Agnostic and an Atheist (transcript of recovered FBI tape Q 622).
Dr. Philip G. Zimbardo, “On the transformation of Jim Jones - From God’s minister to the Angel of Death”, Jones Town - San Diego State University:
“After reviewing much material on Jim Jones, I have found that one thing becomes increasingly clear. It is important to view Jim Jones’ transformation not in a linear fashion – from point A to point B over a number of years – but rather through the lens of his many personae.
By the time of the mass suicide in Jonestown in 1978, Jim Jones had been a reverend, a healer, a leader, a revolutionary, a politician, a tyrant, a God, a Communist, an atheist, a drug addict, and a father, to name a few. But he did not move from one to another to another as time passed, but rather from fewer at once to more at once.
His repertoire of personae grew and grew as he perfected styles from which he found benefits. After perfecting a few, he tackled new ones that he could apply to more effectively control his followers and the destiny of his growing church. His ability to get what he desired by manipulating the authority he gained within these personae began to overshadow the message he originally intended to preach through them.
Eventually, Jones found himself in a predicament. He could not revert to a younger, more idealistic, less manipulative self. He had to continue to abuse the authority he had won himself in order to maintain control over his life’s work. If he failed to do so, those who followed him so loyally might come to see him as a liar and a criminal, rather than an infallible deity, and the church around him would crumble.”
But what sort of Agnostic Atheist sees himself as “an infallible deity”? Well, basically all of them, in a manner of speaking. When it comes down to it; Atheism (beyond being an anti-Christian support group) is 1) deicidal, 2) seeks auto-deification / self-deification, 3) seeks absolute autonomy, 4) seeks lack of ultimate, transcendent, accountability, to name a few relevant aspects.
J. Max Wilson, “Don’t Drink the Kool-aid: Jonestown was an Atheist Marxist Socialist Cult,” Sixteen Small Stones, January 17, 2013 AD
“‘Reverend’ Jim Jones…was the founder of a movement known as The People’s Temple. Many people who use the reference simply assume that Jones and his group were some kind of right-wing fundamentalist Christian cult (after all he is referred to as ‘Reverend Jim Jones’). We have been conditioned by our news and entertainment media to think of cults only in terms of conservative, conspiracy-theory-prone, fundamentalist Christians.
Cults are supposed to be ‘irrational’ and so Hollywood assumes they must be right-wing Christian religionists, which they wrongly assume are irrational, and most people just accept that assumption uncritically. In the movies a left-wing, atheist, Marxist cult is more elusive than Big Foot.
But reality is far more interesting: Contrary to suppositions, The People’s Temple was in fact a deadly left-wing, atheist, Marxist cult and Jonestown was a Socialist commune.
Jim Jones was a dedicated communist from the outset. While he initially founded his group as a liberal offshoot of the Methodist denomination, in his own biographical record he admitted that he did not really believe in religion, he saw it as a tool to disingenuously use to further his Marxist goals. By 1976 he was open about his atheism while still styling himself as a ‘reverend’ and his organization as a ‘church’. In 1977 his wife explained to the New York Times that ‘Jim used religion to try to get some people out of the opiate of religion.’
The fact is that, until the group ran away to Guyana, The People’s Temple was, in many regards, a model for how Liberals think rational religion ought to be. In the 1950s’, Jones broke with Methodists…Jones assigned the highest leadership roles in the organization to young, college-educated women who self identified as socialists, communists, and pacifists.
He regularly cast doubt upon the Bible…He characterized Jesus as a communist revolutionary…By the mid 70s’ the ‘church’ was overtly political and openly atheist and socialist…”
10 People Who Give Atheism a Bad Name, List Verse:
“Jim Jones drew people into atheism through the People’s Temple, largely based in California. He said that he ‘took the church and used the church to bring people to atheism’. In 1978, 909 people at the restricted communist ‘sanctuary’ he presided over in Jonestown, Guyana, committed ‘revolutionary suicide’ at his command…Men, women and children took a vial of cyanide and died within five minutes. Only a few people escaped…the majority of people considered Jones to be the leader of a type of Christian cult, but, as the quote above illustrates, it was really a ruse to attract people who would otherwise have steered well clear of him.”
Lincoln Swain, The Why People: Aphrodite Child’s 666, Jim Jones and the Doom of the 1960’s, Jones Town - San Diego State University:
“Jones scuttled his ministry because he himself got lost. I was struck by how, despite all his revival tent razzle dazzle, Jones was spiritually ground down into a churlish atheist by the grim realities of human suffering, prejudice and stupidity he encountered in Indiana and Brazil. Perhaps already well-unhinged, he escaped into drugs, Cold War paranoia and pansexual trolling, rendering him both dangerously messianic and manifestly ill-suited for leadership of a very vulnerable yet productive flock.”
David Conn, “The Unseen Meaning of Jonestown”, Jones Town - San Diego State University:
“It was obvious that here was a man who had gone most of his life under the illusion that there were no ultimate consequences. He had bought the Marxist drivel of his professors at the University of California, Berkeley. And of course none of them had the insight to tell him that this same atheism is what allowed Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot, and Mao Tse Tung to perform severely outrageous atrocities against their people. They, too, believed that nothing is necessarily and absolutely wrong, and that there are no ultimate consequences.
In researching what allowed Jonestown, I realized that liberal religious groups, like the Disciples of Christ hierarchy who first welcomed Jim Jones to the West Coast, are nothing but another form of atheism. If you manufacture a god, as they did, then you obviously have denied the One True God of the historical faith. It is therefore not surprising that they welcomed Jim Jones and that he saw in them exactly what he needed in order to continue his cultic tyranny. Thus: he continued. Thus: they protected him, right up to the end. It was a symbiosis of evil.”
Anssi Viljanen, “Defined by the Father: A discourse analytical case study of the last speech of Jim Jones”, Jones Town - San Diego State University:
“In the argument of inevitability there is a yet another facet that Jones makes part of the world he creates in his speech. At the end of his argument with Christine Miller, Jones states that there was also a divine will behind the ‘revolutionary suicide’: ‘Some months I’ve tried to keep this thing from happening. But I now see it’s the will– it’s the will of Sovereign Being that this happen to us. That we lay down our lives to protest against what’s being done. The criminality of people. The cruelty of people’ (Q042: 111).
While denying his own responsibility in the course of events and claiming the role of a victim, Jones goes further in claiming it divine responsibility for them to continue on with the plan of suicide. This is interesting in the sense that Jones himself claimed to be an atheist (Q622). Yet he knew that many of his followers came from a religious background. This kind of comment seems to serve the authority of Jones’ message.”
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