The Reverend Jim Jones



He was an extraordinary man whose beliefs were the death of 912 cult members, 276 being children, of the Peoples Temple in Guyana in 1978. The question that arises is how he could convince all of them to commit ritualistic suicide. The answer lies within his booming personality.


According to, each year, a memorial is held at Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland, CA where 260 People's Temple children are buried. Due to the lack of dental records, the children were never able to be identified and thus were buried together there.

Within a few months of the mass deaths, other People's Temple members who had survived also committed suicide, with one mother slitting the throats of her three children.

A year later, ex-People's Temple members Jeanne and Al Mills and their daughter Linda, who had been speaking out about their cult experience, were shot to death in their Berkeley, CA home. They had become among the most vocal People's Temple critics and feared for their safety.

             "If we can't live in peace then let’s die in peace. We are not committing suicide-it’s a revolutionary act."

                                                                                                              ---Jim Jones on the last day at Jonestown                                     


By personality we mean what traits did he possess? We will look at the “Big 5” model, which gives a picture of what kind of personality he had. First he was extroverted and charismatic using words to convince people to follow him. He was not emotionally stable as he was prone to dogmatic outbursts that would wear down those who were around him thus making him quite neurotic. He was quite intellectual in that he excelled in school and became a person of great power in the San Francisco Housing Project and many highly regarded California politicians, including then Governor Jerry Brown, listened to him. Because of his determination it appears that he was quite conscientious in his endeavors and felt responsible for his “flock”. In the end it would seem that he was quite a difficult personality to deal with because of his rants and basic paranoia. The final act of this man was to convince people to drink grape kool-aid - Now I ask you what kind of a personality picks grape kool-aid as their final drink before death?

History:                                                           WHO WAS JIM JONES?

James Jones was the founder and charismatic leader of the People’s Temple. He began his career as a student minister in 1952 at a Methodist Church, and soon left when the church refused to allow African Americans in the service. He preached a "social gospel" of human freedom, equality and love, which required helping the lowliest of society’s members. Later on, this gospel became socialistic, or communistic in Jones' own view, and the hypocrisy of white Christianity was ridiculed while "apostolic socialism" was preached. Jones went so far as to encourage Temple members to call him "Dad" and "Father". He also asked his members to consider him the incarnation of Christ and of God.

By the late 1960's Jones openly preached in the Peoples Temple his version of communism which he called "Apostolic Socialism". Jones taught that he was the manifestation of the Christ Principle. Jones healed like Jesus did, and even claimed to have raised the dead. Like Jesus, Jones preached the importance of right human relations and radical egalitarianism. He taught that all people had access to the Holy Spirit within themselves, but that Jones' healing power demonstrated that he was a special manifestation of "Christ the Revolution."

                        "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light. No one can come to the father but through me."----Jim Jones

He offered a place of refuge in his church for those suffering from social torment, including the lower class African Americans who at that time were in the midst of racial segregation. Jones claimed that he was a highly evoked black soul incarnated in a white body, and felt that only he could identify with the problems of the African Americans. He believed in a utopian society consisting of racial integration and social equality. But, he believed that a cataclysmic period of race war, genocide, and nuclear war was nearing.

Jones was able to do evil because the people around him permitted and assisted him in committing evil acts. Peoples Temple members' dualistic perspective in which they saw Peoples Temple as being attacked by evil capitalistic society, led them to resort to violence to preserve their community. Jim Jones first mentioned suicide in 1973. In 1976 the first suicide drill was conducted within Jones' inner circle as a loyalty test. For at least a year prior to fateful November 18, 1978, revolutionary suicide was discussed publicly at Jonestown. Whatever Jim Jones commanded, the members did.

Jim Jones was the patriarch of a dysfunctional family because no one wanted to acknowledge the mental illness of their beloved and idealized Dad. His addiction to drugs and alcohol cause his erratic behavior and aided in the deterioration of Jonestown.


History of the Peoples Temple and their leader Jim Jones go to:

For a brief timeline and some quotes of Jim Jones go to:

A quirky little song about the cult:

The investigation of Jonestown by the FBI:

Jonestown 20 years later:

For more info on Grape Kool-Aid: