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Cults and New

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Cults and New Religious Movements Case Study #1: Jonestown – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Cults and New


1
Cults and New Religious Movements
Case Study 1 Jonestown
2
The Biography of Jim Jones
  • Born on May 13, 1931 in a small Indiana town
  • He was an only child
  • Came from a poor family
  • His father was emotionally distant
  • Young Jim grew up feeling unloved and alienated

3
  • He moved to Richmond, IN where he attended
    college and preached on street corners
  • He preached a message of brotherhood to racially
    mixed working class audiences
  • Moved to Indianapolis in 1951 where he attended
    communist rallies and meetings
  • The McCarthy hearings strengthened his communist
    resolve
  • He decided to infiltrate the church to preach his
    view of communism

4
  • Jones became a faith healer for a time merging
    this with his preaching of the social gospel
  • Social Gospel focuses on ministering to the
    poor and disenfranchised
  • His healings were staged
  • His preaching, however, did not reveal his
    communistic views
  • By the late 1960s, however, Jones was openly
    preaching his version of communism which he
    called apostolic socialism
  • He stressed helping the poor and working toward
    racial equality and justice

5
  • Jones felt that a cataclysmic period of race war,
    genocide, and nuclear war were inevitable
  • Felt that Nazi fascists and Ku Klux Klan and
    other white supremacists would put minorities in
    refuge camps
  • Believed that American capitalist culture was
    evil and irredeemable
  • Felt that the elect had to withdraw from society
    and wait until after the coming cataclysm after
    which, they would establish the perfect communist
    society

6
Attributes Of The Peoples Temple
  • Mary McCormick Maaga identified 3 populations
    within the church
  • People who joined primarily in family groups when
    Peoples Temple was a Christian sect in Indiana
  • They were mostly white
  • Young, college educated whites who joined
    beginning in 1968 in California
  • Blacks who joined in the early 1970s when the
    group began urban ministries in San Francisco and
    LA
  • Constituted the majority

7
  • Pressures on the group in California caused them
    to relocate to Guyana, South America in 1973
  • Prompted by negative news reports, etc.
  • Church was fire bombed by white racists

8
Beliefs of the Group
  • Socialism was the key
  • He wanted to liberate all people, especially the
    poor, minorities, and women
  • Jones derided traditional Christianity as fly
    away religion
  • Rejected the Bible as being written by men to
    justify subordination of women and the oppression
    of minorities
  • Jones felt that he was a messiah sent by the true
    God, the principle of socialism, to rescue humans
  • Felt he was a highly evolved black soul
    incarnated in a white body
  • He also felt that he was previously incarnated as
    Moses, Jesus, and Lenin

9
The Persecution
  • By 1977 the group was under attack by ex-members
    and relatives of members
  • Led by Tim Stoen and Al and Jeannie Mills
  • Called themselves Concerned Relatives
  • They enrolled reporters and federal agents to
    investigate
  • The Stoens were involved in a custody battle for
    their son, John Victor, with Jones
  • Prompted several investigations including the
    Treasury Department, U.S. Customs Service, The
    Social Security Administration, and the FCC

10
The Response
  • Jones instituted draconian measures to keep
    residents from defecting
  • Some were drugged, others confined to small
    boxes, etc.
  • Jones was taking medication to control his
    psychological problems and had become addicted
  • His power decreased when he got to Jonestown
  • Young predominately white women from his inner
    circle had most of the power
  • Jones and his followers were paranoid that the
    U.S. or Guyana Govt. would attempt to infiltrate
    or take over Jonestown

11
The Decision to Commit Violence
  • Prompted by the visit of Congressman Leo Ryan
    from California as well as the other pressures
    put on them
  • Concerned Relatives had asked him to visit
  • Jones initially refused Ryans request to visit
  • Congressman Leo was attacked by a man with a
    knife as he left
  • Leo and his party left with 16 defectors
  • They were killed as they reached the planes that
    had brought them by members of Jonestown

12
  • Jones then ordered his followers to commit
    suicide by drinking Fla-Vor-Aid laced with
    cyanide
  • The ultimate concern (Wessinger) for the group
    was to preserve their community
  • This had been undermined
  • The events that led to this process is what led
    to the decision to commit violence
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