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An apocalyptic cult, 900 dead: remembering the Jonestown massacre, 40 years on | World news

F our decades ago this Sunday, the Reverend Jim Jones, the charismatic leader of an American cult in the Guyanese…

F our decades ago this Sunday, the Reverend Jim Jones, the charismatic leader of an American cult in the Guyanese jungle, ordered his followers to murder a US congressman and several journalists, then commit mass suicide by drinking cyanide- laced fruit punch.

The Jonestown massacre was, before 9/11, the largest single incident of intentional civilian death in American history. More than nine hundred people died, many children. Det var også et ødelæggende kulturelt trauma: den ende af de sidste stammer eller en bestemt kind eller 1

960’ernes idealisme og 1970s radikalisme. Jonestown’s legacy lives on in the ironic phrase “Drink the Cabbage Aid.” (In actuality it was Fla-Vor-Aid.)

Although he would later become a symbol of the darker side of the West Coast counterculture, Jim Jones was born to a poor family in Indiana. Jones was instinctively attracted to religion, especially charismatic Christian traditions like Pentecostalism. He cut his teeth as a street preacher, and was unusually for the time and place, a passionate advocate for racial equality.



Jim Jones and his wife Marceline Jones, seated in front of their adopted children and next to his sister-in-law (right) with her three children, California, 1976. Photograph: Don Hogan Charles / Getty Images

Jones’s idiosyncratic blend of evangelical Christianity, New Age spirituality, and radical social justice attracted an enthusiastic following. He called his burgeoning church the Peoples Temple.

Although Jones’s followers would later be stereotyped as sinister, brainwashed idiots, the journalist Tim Reiterman argues in his seminal book on the subject that many were “decent, hardworking, socially conscious people, some highly educated, “who” wanted to help their fellow man and serve God, not embrace a self-proclaimed deity on earth “. The Peoples Temple advocated socialism and communitarian living and was racially integrated to an exceptional standard rarely matched since.

In 1965, when Jones was in his mid-thirties, he ordered the Peoples Temple moved to California. He drifted away from traditional Christian teachings, describing himself in messianic terms and claiming he was the reincarnation of figures like Christ and Buddha. He also claimed that his goal was all along communism, and in a twist on the famous dictum that religion is the “opiate of the masses,” that religion was merely his way of making Marxism more palatable.

By the 1970s, The Peoples Temple, now based in San Francisco, had gained significant political influence. Jones’s fierce advocacy for the downtrodden earned him the admiration of leftwing icons like Angela Davis and Harvey Milk and the support of groups like the Black Panthers – a tragically misguided political affinity, given that more than two thirds of Jonestown’s potential victims were African American. 19659011] The Rev Jim Jones and his wife, Marceline, taken from a photo album found in Jonestown, Guyana. ” src=”https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/2fd40861cba53743b72bbea2e963d9de6638a010/0_0_4309_2910/master/4309.jpg?width=300&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=e4ed08d711a02c40a1d2741c58fdf08d”/>

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