Jim Jones

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Jim Jones (1977)

James Warren "Jim" Jones (May 13, 1931November 18, 1978) was an American cult leader, political activist, preacher, and faith healer who led the Peoples Temple, a new religious organization which existed between 1955 and 1978. In what he claimed to be a "revolutionary suicide", Jones and his inner circle orchestrated a mass murder–suicide in his remote jungle commune at Jonestown, Guyana, on November 18, 1978.


  • My whole life I have suffered from poverty and have faced many disappointments and pain, like a man is used to. That is why I want to make other people happy and want them to feel at home.
    • (1978). Translated back from Dutch to English, indirectly sourced, Messiahs: The vision and prophecies for the Second coming by John Hogue
  • The young preacher once threw his Bible to the floor and yelled at his associates, "Too many people are looking at this instead of looking at me!"
  • If you're born in capitalist America, racist America, fascist America, then you're born in sin. But if you're born in socialism, you're not born in sin.
    • "The Letter Killeth." Original material reprint. Department of Religious Studies. San Diego State
  • "Love is the only weapon." Shit! Bullshit! Martin Luther King died with love! Kennedy died talking about something he couldn't even understand, some kind of generalized love, and he never even backed it up. He was shot down. Bullshit! "Love is the only weapon with which I've got to fight." I've got a hell of a lot of weapons to fight! I've got my claws. I've got cutlasses. I've got guns. I've got dynamite. I've got a hell of a lot to fight! I'll fight! I'll fight!
    • Mass meeting in Jonestown, featured in Father Cares (NPR documentary)
  • Son of a bitchin’ no good lousy ass anarchistic capitalist bitch. That's what I say about my relatives, but you won't say it.
    • "[1]" FBI No. Q265 (October 17, 1978)
  • If my wife said, I'm not going to be a communist, I'd say, well, forget it, by God, I'll forget you too.
    • "[2]" FBI No. Q265 (October 17, 1978)
  • I'd like to choose my own kind of death, for a change. I'm tired of being tormented to hell. Tired of it.
  • If we can't live in peace, then let's die in peace.
  • Take our life from us. We laid it down. We got tired. We didn't commit suicide. We committed an act of revolutionary suicide protesting the conditions of an inhumane world.
    • Last words on "Death Tape" FBI No. Q042 (November 18, 1978)

About Jim Jones

  • Jim Jones was a self-obsessed American cult leader who manipulated the poor and vulnerable, demanded their complete obedience, and ordered the murder of those who questioned his integrity. At the end he killed or convinced nearly a thousand people — including two hundred children — to take their own lives in a jungle settlement in South America called ‘Jonestown’, constructed around his own warped and paranoid fantasy.
  • We were about to board the planes for the flight back to the United States. Jim Jones didn't want us to leave, at least not alive. A tractor trailer loaded with men armed with shotguns and rifles pulled up and opened fire on us at that airstrip. Congressman Ryan was gunned down, having been shot 40 times. The first and only congressman in the history of this country to be assassinated during the line of duty. I was shot five times and left to bleed on that airstrip for 22 hours. Back at Jonestown, over 900 people lost their lives in a mass murder and suicide that night. This is what I awoke to on that long day. I was 28 years old, and I was waiting to die. I laid awake all night fearing some of the gunmen would come back and finish us off. Time passed, and local Guyanese people offered me rum to try and get me through the night. I had a lot of time to think. I promised God that if I lived, I would make every day count. I promised that I would make something out of my life if I was allowed to keep my life. Well, here I am. I have chosen a career as a public servant. One, I hope many of you will contemplate as you move forward in your lives.
  • Constructing or adopting a belief system in which one is either God's prophet or God himself inflates the ego to monstrous proportions. Koresh was more deeply concerned with religion, Jim Jones with racial equality and an egalitarian society. But both compensated for isolation and lack of love in childhood by becoming infatuated with power, and both ended up with delusions of their own divinity.
    • Anthony Storr, Feet of Clay; Saints, Sinners, and Madmen: A Study of Gurus (New York: Free Press Paperbacks, 1997), p. 18
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