Friday, April 12, 2013

Time Magazine,

December 4, 1978, Time Magazine, Cult of Death: The Jonestown Nightmare, 3846 words,
December 4, 1978, Time Magazine, Nation: Why People Join, 681 words,
December 4, 1978, Time Magazine, Nation: Messiah from the Midwest, 1465 words,
December 4, 1978, Time Magazine, Time Essay: The Lure of Doomsday, by Lance Morrow, 1028 words
December 4, 1978, Time Magazine, TIME U.S. Cover: Jonestown Deaths
December 4, 1978, Time Magazine, A Letter From The Publisher, Dec. 4, 1978, 320 words,

December 11, 1978, Time Magazine, Nation: But Where Is What I Started For?, 909 words
December 11, 1978, Time Magazine, Nation: Another Day of Death, 2128 words
December 11, 1978, Time Magazine, Nation: Paranoia And Delusions, 978 words
December 11, 1978, Time Magazine, Nation: The Horror Lives On, 1016 words
December 11, 1978, Time Magazine, Nation: The Press Abroad: Aghast, 546 words
December 11, 1978, Time Magazine, Nation: Anguishing Letters to Dad, 912 words,
December 11, 1978, Time Magazine, Nation: Following the Leader, 1604 words
December 18, 1978, Time Magazine, Religion: Looking Evil in the Eye, 1070 words
December 18, 1978, Time Magazine, Books: The Quickie Phenomenon, 762 words
December 18, 1978, Time Magazine, Nation: Eerie Echoes, Missing Money, 613 words,
December 18, 1978, Time Magazine, Religion: The Quandary of the Cults, 765 words
December 25, 1978, Time Magazine, Letters, Dec. 25, 1978, 880 words
January 1, 1979, Time Magazine, Letters, Jan. 1, 1979, 934 words
January 1, 1979, Time Magazine, Man Of The Year: Four Who Also Shaped Events, 2217 words
January 8, 1979, Time Magazine, Letters, Jan. 8, 1979, 976 words,
January 15, 1979, Time Magazine, Letters, Jan. 15, 1979, 919 words
February 19, 1979, Time Magazine, Religion: Cult Wars on Capitol Hill, 842 words,
March 26, 1979, Time Magazine, Nation: Hurry, My Children, Hurry, 1680 words,
March 26, 1979, Time Magazine, Nation: Following the Flock, 263 words,
August 27, 1979, Time Magazine, Religion: Flying Saucery in the Wilderness, 892 words
April 14, 1980, Time Magazine, Television: Ratings Gambit, by Frank Rich, 520 words,
December 15, 1980, Time Magazine, Books: Devils in the Flesh, by R.Z. Sheppard, 727 words
December 22, 1980, Time Magazine, GUYANA: Magic Majority, 503 words
April 6, 1981, Time Magazine, Television: The Networks Get Religion, by Richard Corliss, 1302 words
June 15, 1981, Time Magazine, It Was Given on a Crown of Thorns, 580 words,
June 4, 1984, Time Magazine, Theater: Guyana Trip, by Richard Zoglin, 281 words
December 15, 1986, Time Magazine, American Notes Dec 15 1986, 743 words,
December 21, 1987, Time Magazine, An Upstart Mayor, a Shaky Future, by Paul A. Witteman. 1291 words
October 31, 1988, Time Magazine, The Death of Dayna, By Frank Trippett, 477 words, Behind the curtains, scenes of Dickensian horror.
March 15, 1993, Time Magazine, In the Name of God: When Faith Turns to Terror, by Lance Morrow, 800 words Often a sweet refuge, faith can also become a fortress of merciless hatred
May 3, 1993, Time Magazine, David Koresh: In the Grip of a Psychopath, by Richard Lacayo,
October 6, 1994, Time Magazine, It's Murder, Jonestown Style
October 17, 1994, Time Magazine, In the Reign of Fire, by Richard Lacayo, 278 words
April 7, 1997, Time Magazine, The Lure of the Cult, by Richard Lacayo, 1886 words,
April 7, 1997, Time Magazine, Our Days of Judgment, by Pico Iyer, The Heaven’s Gate Tragedy Asks Us, When Does a Cult Become a Faith? 848 words
October 27, 2000, Time Magazine, The Phantom of Utopia, by Robert Hughes, Geniuses, crackpots and dictators through the ages have pursued the delusion of human perfectibility. 1266 words
November 6, 2000, Time Magazine, Ideas: The Phantom of Utopia, by Robert Hughes, Geniuses, crackpots and dictators through the ages have pursued the delusion of human perfectibility. 1249 words
November 20, 2000, Time Magazine, The Phantom of Utopia,, by Robert Hughes, Geniuses, crackpots and dictators through the ages have pursued the delusion of human perfectibility. 1249 words
November 17, 2008, Time Magazine, Mass Suicide at Jonestown: 30 Years Later,
November 18, 2008, Time Magazine, Q&A: A Jonestown Survivor Remembers, by Andrea Sachs, 1573 words
November 18, 2008, Time Magazine,  Q&A: A Jonestown Survivor Remembers, by Andrea Sachs
February 10, 2012, Time Magazine, Jailed Polygamist Warren Jeffs Prepares His Flock for Doomsday, by Hilary Hylton, 1877 words





December 4, 1978, Time Magazine, Cult of Death: The Jonestown Nightmare, 3846 words,

Monday, Dec. 04, 1978

Cult of Death: The Jonestown Nightmare


"The large central building was ringed by bright colors. It looked like a parking lot filled with cars. When the plane dipped lower, the cars turned out to be bodies. Scores and scores of bodies —hundreds of bodies—wearing red dresses, blue T shirts, green blouses, pink slacks, children's polka-dotted jumpers.

Couples with their arms around each other, children holding parents. Nothing moved. Washing hung on the clotheslines.

The fields were freshly plowed. Banana trees and grape vines were flourishing. But nothing moved."

So reported TIME Correspondent Donald Neff, one of the first newsmen to fly in last week to the hitherto obscure hamlet of Jonestown in the jungles of Guyana, on the northern coast of South America. The scene below him was one of almost unimaginable carnage. In an appalling demonstration of the way in which a charismatic leader can bend the minds of his followers with a devilish blend of professed altruism and psychological tyranny, some 900 members of the California-based Peoples Temple died in a self-imposed ritual of mass suicide and murder.

Not since hundreds of Japanese civilians leaped to their deaths off the cliffs of Saipan as American forces approached the Pacific island in World War II had there been a comparable act of collective self-destruction. The followers of the Rev. Jim Jones, 47, a once respected Indianaborn humanitarian who degenerated into egomania and paranoia, had first ambushed a party of visiting Americans, killing California Congressman Leo Ryan, 53, three newsmen and one defector from their heavily guarded colony at Jonestown. Then, exhorted by their leader, intimidated by armed guards and lulled with sedatives and painkillers, parents and nurses used syringes to squirt a concoction of potassium cyanide and potassium chloride onto the tongues of babies. The adults and older children picked up paper cups and sipped the same deadly poison sweetened by purple Kool-Aid.

All week long, a horrified world marveled at new details of the slaughter and new mysteries about Jones' cult. While the bodies swelled and rotted in the tropical sun, two U.S. military cargo planes flew in to bring back the remains to grieving relatives. At the same time, helicopters whirred over the jungles to search for survivors who were thought to be hiding from the cult. There were reports that the colony had been terrorized by Jones, who was rumored to be dying of cancer. Police found huge caches of illegal arms, ranging from automatic rifles to crossbows, but hundreds of thousands of dollars had disappeared from the colony's safe. And only at week's end did officials declare that there were virtually no survivors in the forest, and that the death toll was not 409, as first announced, but about 900.

Psychiatrists and other experts on group psychology and mind-control techniques offered rational explanations of how humans can be conditioned to commit such irrational acts (see box). Yet the stories told by those who survived were both fearsomely fascinating and ultimately inexplicable. How could such idealistic, if naive, people set out to build an idyllic haven from modern society's many pressures and turn it into a hellish colony of death? This is how the Jonestown dream turned into a nightmare:

In the spring of 1977, Ryan, a liberal but maverick Democrat, spoke with a longtime friend, Associated Press Photographer Robert Houston. Houston, who was ill, told Ryan that Houston's son Bob, 33, had been found dead in the San Francisco railroad yards, where he worked, just one day after he had quit the Peoples Temple. Though authorities said his son died as the result of an accidental fall, Houston claimed the cult had long threatened defectors with death.

A loner who liked doing his own investigating of constituents' concerns, Ryan began inquiring about Jim Jones and his followers, who had just started clearing some 900 acres in the rain forests of Guyana. Other unhappy relatives of temple members, as well as a few people who had fearfully left the cult, told the Congressman that beatings and blackmail, rather than brotherly love, impelled the cultists to work on the new colony. Articles in New West magazine and the San Francisco Examiner in August 1977 further documented the temple's increasing use of violence to enforce conformity to its rigid rules of conduct. Members were routinely scolded by Jones before the assembled community and then whipped or beaten with paddles for such infractions as smoking or failing to pay attention during a Jones "sermon." A woman accused of having a romance with a male cult member was forced to have intercourse with a man she disliked, while the entire colony watched. One means of indoctrinating children: electrodes were attached to their arms and legs, and they were told to smile at the mention of their leader's name. Everyone was ordered to call Jones "Father."

Ryan repeatedly asked the State Department to check into reports about the mistreatment of Americans in Jonestown. The U.S. embassy in Georgetown sent staff members to the colony, some 140 miles northwest of the capital. They reported they had separately interviewed at least 75 of the cultists. Not one, the embassy reported, said he wanted to leave.

That did not satisfy Ryan, who decided to find out what was happening in Jonestown by going there. Ryan wrote Jones that some of his constituents had "expressed anxiety" about their relatives in the colony. Back came a testy letter, not from Jones but from controversial Attorney Mark Lane, who has built a career on his theories of conspiracies behind the assassinations of John Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. Lane charged that members of the Peoples Temple had to flee the U.S. because of "religious persecution" by the Government and implied that Ryan was engaged in a "witch hunt." If this continued, he said, the temple might move to either of two countries that do not have "friendly relations" with the U.S. (presumably Russia and Cuba), and this would prove "most embarrassing" for the U.S. Lane asked that the trip be postponed until he was free to accompany Ryan. Ryan refused.

Lane then found the time to go along.

Ryan took along eight newsmen as well as several relatives of temple members, who hoped to persuade their kin to leave the colony. The visitors arrived in a chartered aircraft, an 18-seat De Havilland Otter, at an airstrip in Port Kaituma, six miles from Jonestown. They rode to the colony along a muddy and barely passable road through the jungle in a tractor-drawn flat-bed trailer. At Jonestown all were greeted warmly by a smiling Jones.

The members of the Peoples Temple put on a marvelous performance for their visitors. Reporters were led past the central, open-air pavilion, used as both a school and an assembly hall. The visitors saw the newly completed sawmill, the 10,000-volume library, the neat nursery, where mosquito netting protected babies sleeping peacefully on pallets. The colony hospital had delivered 33 babies without a single death, the tour guides said.

The highlight of the visit was an evening of entertainment in the pavilion. As a lively band beat out a variety of tunes, from rock to disco to jazz, the colonists burst into song, including a rousing chorus of America the Beautiful. Even the skeptical Ryan was impressed. He rose to tell his assembled hosts: "From what I've seen, there are a lot of people here who think this is the best thing that has happened in their whole lives." The audience applauded loudly. Jones stood up and led the clapping.

Privately, Ryan expressed a few reservations. He found some of the people he interviewed unnaturally animated. Yet no one had expressed any dissatisfaction with life at Jonestown. At the head table,

Jones told newsmen, "People here are happy for the first time in their lives."

Next day, however, NBC Correspondent Don Harris asked Jones about reports that his colony was heavily armed. Jones, who had been swallowing lots of pills, blew up. "A bold-faced lie!" he cried. "It seems like we are defeated by lies. I'm defeated. I might as well die!"

The colony's facade was crumbling.

One Jonestown resident had nervously pushed a note into Harris' hand. "Four of us want to leave," it said. Ryan was getting other furtive pleas from cultists asking to go back to the U.S. with him. Jones was asked about the defectors. "Anyone is free to come and go," he said magnanimously. "I want to hug them before they leave." But then Jones turned bitter.

"They will try to destroy us," he predicted. "They always lie when they leave."

As divided families argued over whether to stay or go, Jones saw part of his congregation slipping away. Al Simon, father of three, wanted to take his children back to America. "No! No! No!" screamed his wife. Someone whispered to her: "Don't worry, we're going to take care of everything." Indeed, as reporters learned later from survivors, Jones had a plan to plant one or more fake defectors among the departing group, in order to attack them. He told some of his people that the Congressman's plane "will fall out of the sky."

The first violence occurred as Ryan conferred with Jones about taking those who wished to leave with him. Lane and Jones' longtime attorney, Charles Garry, sat in on the negotiations in a room inside the pavilion. Suddenly a cultist later identified as Don Sly ran up to Ryan from behind, grabbed him around his throat with one arm and brandished a knife with the other. "I'm going to kill you!" Sly shouted. Lane and Garry wrestled the knife away from Sly, accidentally cutting the assailant. The blood spattered Ryan's clothes. Jones watched impassively. He made no move to interfere.

Outwardly, Ryan appeared calm and seemed to shrug off the attack. The visiting newsmen and relatives were alarmed. The colonists who wanted to flee were frightened. But the plans for departure proceeded. The party again headed down the rutty road to Port Kaituma, where the two aircraft awaited them.

Lane and Garry stayed behind at Jonestown, knowing that the aircraft would be overcrowded. They expected to be picked up the next day.

At the crude landing strip, the party split up as its leaders tried to decide how to get everyone in the Otter and a smaller five-passenger Cessna brought in to help take the defectors out. A slim youth boarded the Cessna. "Watch him," one of the defectors warned Ryan. The Congressman, the newsmen and most of the fleeing cultists prepared to get into the larger craft. Then a tractor pulling a long trailer approached the field. The three men standing in the trailer did not appear to be armed, but the departing cultists were terrified.

The tractor crossed the airstrip. The men in it suddenly picked up guns and began firing at the people near the Otter. Before he could seek cover, Ron Javers of the San Francisco Chronicle was hit in the left shoulder. He crawled behind a plane wheel. NBC Cameraman Bob Brown stayed on his feet, filming the approaching riflemen. "He was incredibly tenacious," Javers reported. "Then I saw him go down. And I saw one of the attackers stick a shotgun right into his face—inches away, if that. Bob's brain was blown out of his head. It splattered on the NBC minicam. I'll never forget that sight as long as I live. I ran, and then I dived head first into the bush and scrambled as far into the swamp as I could."

Inside the Cessna, the young man, later identified as Larry Layton, 32, proved that he should have been watched. He opened fire with a pistol, wounding a woman, Vernie Gosney, who was seated beside the pilot. Layton ran from the plane. After the assailants withdrew, the Otter was found to be too damaged to fly. Its crew rushed over to the Cessna and managed to take off for Georgetown with five survivors.

When the shooting was over, Ryan, Harris and Brown lay dead on the runway. Killed, too, were Greg Robinson, 27, a photographer for the Examiner, and Patricia Park, one of the cultists who had hoped to find freedom in the U.S. At least ten others were wounded.

The survivors spent a night of terror in a small bar near the Port Kaituma airstrip. They feared that the Jonestown gunmen would return to finish their deadly task. Drinking coffee laced with rum through the long night, the defectors from Jones' colony told how far their community had fallen from their Utopian ideal. They lived in fear, one reported, because "Jim Jones said the Guyanese government gave him authority to shoot anybody who tried to leave."

The fugitives recalled the "white night" exercises in which loudspeakers would summon all Jonestown residents from their sleep.

They would convene in the central pavilion, and Jones would harangue them about "the beauty of dying." All would line up and be given a drink described as poison. They would take it, expecting to die. Then Jones would tell them the liquid was not poisonous; they had passed his "loyalty test." But if ever the colony were threatened from without, he told them, "revolutionary suicide" would be real and it would dramatize their dedication to their unique calling.

The survivors of the landing strip massacre had no way of knowing that the ultimate white night—a ghastly and irrevocable test of loyalty—had already taken place back in the Jonestown commune. Equally unaware of the murders at the airfield, Lawyers Lane and Garry witnessed the ominous signs of the impending disaster. Recalled Garry: "When 14 of his people decided to go out with Ryan, Jim Jones went mad. He thought it was a repudiation of his work. I tried to tell him that 14 out of 1,200 was damn good. But Jones was desolate."

After the Ryan party left for the airstrip, the two lawyers took a walk, comparing impressions of the visit. When they returned to the center of the village, they found all its residents assembled in the meeting hall. "You and Mark better not attend because tension is running pretty high against you," Jones told Garry. He and Lane retreated to a guest house several hundred feet from the pavilion.

The attorneys became frightened when they saw eight men run toward a nearby building and take out rifles and boxes of ammunition. Said Garry: "Then two young men whom I knew very well came to us with rifles at the semi-ready. They were smiling, very happy.

'We're going to die for the battle against fascism and racism,' they said.

'We're going to die in revolutionary suicide—with dignity and honor.' They were both black, maybe 19 or 20. I got the impression that perhaps they were sent down to get rid of us."

But the quick-witted Lane had a suggestion. Said he: "Charles and I will write the history of what you guys believed in." The gunmen paused. Then one said, "Fine." The ready-to-die cultists hugged both lawyers. Lane had another apt thought. "Is there any way out?" he asked. The armed men pointed into the bush and said the road to Port Kaituma lay in that direction. The attorneys plunged into the jungle. As they fled, they heard Jones shouting:

"Mother, mother, mother!" They heard shots and screams, then nothing.

The outer world would not get an accurate report of what had happened for nearly two days. But one survivor, Stanley Clayton, 25, reported that there may have been more coercion and fear than loyal devotion when the final test came. Clayton was cooking black-eyed peas in the colony's kitchen when the call to assemble was sounded. He recalled: "A security guard came into the kitchen, pointed a pistol at everybody and told us all to go to the pavilion." Jones had already ordered that preparations for mass suicide be started. But one woman, Christine Miller, was protesting. Continued Clayton: "She was telling Jones she had a right to do what she wanted with her own life. Guards with guns and bows and arrows pressed in on her, and Jones tried to make her understand that she had to do it."

Then a truck drove up to the pavilion. Said Clayton: "The people in the truck rushed up to Jones. He announced that Congressman Ryan was dead and we had to do what we had to do. He told the nurses to hurry with the potion. He told them to take care of the babies. He said any survivors would be castrated and tortured by the Guyanese army.

"The nurses started taking the babies from the mothers. Jones kept saying, 'Hurry, hurry!' But the people were not responding. The guards then moved in and started pulling people, trying to get them to take the potion." Clayton had seen enough. "It was dark by now. I went around to each of the guards, embraced them and told them, 'I'll see you later.' I skipped out into the bushes. All the time I kept saying to myself, 'I can't believe this. Jim Jones is mad.' "

Another survivor, Odell Rhodes, agreed that the armed guards helped persuade the cultists to kill themselves. But many, Rhodes reported, had taken their lives willingly. When Christine Miller challenged Jones' claim that "we've all got to kill ourselves," Rhodes said, "the crowd shouted her down." Many mothers, he added, voluntarily gave the cyanide to their children, then swallowed the poison themselves. Seated on the high wicker chair that served as his throne, Jones kept urging the crowd on, holding out the vision that all would "meet in another place." The scene quickly turned chaotic. Said Rhodes: "Babies were screaming, children were screaming, and there was mass confusion."

Nevertheless, the lethal drinking continued. Cultists filled their cups from a metal vat on a table at the center of the pavilion, then wandered off to die, often in family groups, their arms wrapped around one another. The tranquilizers in the liquid concocted by the temple's doctor, Larry Schacht, 30, may have dulled their senses; it took about five minutes for them to die.

No known survivor had witnessed the entire ritual of death, so just how Jones died remained uncertain. He was found at the foot of his pavilion chair with a bullet wound in his head, an apparent suicide. A pistol lay near by. An autopsy disclosed that Jones had not consumed the poison and had not been dying of cancer, as he had often told his followers.

TIME Correspondent Neff arrived on the scene in the same Cessna that had flown away from the gunfire at Port Kaituma. He reported:

"The first of the bodies was a man by himself, face down, his features bloated, his torso puffed into balloon shape. Then more bodies, lying in a yard. Grotesque in their swollenness but looking relaxed as though comforted in their family togetherness. Nearly all of them were on their faces, eerie figures of slumber.

"I turned a corner, and the whole mass of bodies came into view. The smell was overpowering, the sight unworldly. There were no marks of violence, no blood. Only a few bodies showed the gruesome signs of cyanide rictus. Outside there were three dead dogs, poisoned. Down the road in a large cage was 'Mr. Muggs,' the commune's pet gorilla. He had been shot. In a tree-shaded area was Jones' home, a three-room bungalow. Bodies were scattered through all three rooms, some on beds, others on the floor. The quiet was broken only by the meowing of a cat beyond the porch."


Skip Roberts, the Guyanese assistant commissioner of crime, told Neff that the first troopers arriving in Jonestown had found Jones' house ransacked and a large safe standing both open and empty. Two of the victims in the house had been shot: one of Jones' bodyguards and Jones' mistress, Annie Moore. Most of the eight men suspected of having taken part in the airport ambush also lay dead of poisoning in the house.

The first searchers reported finding $500,000 in cash, many U.S. Treasury checks, an unspecified quantity of gold —and about 870 U.S. passports. The fact that Jones was rumored to keep some $3 million in cash at his commune raised a mystery as to whether large amounts of money were missing. The passports far exceeded the number of bodies first reported to have been found in Jonestown, promoting belief that hundreds more of the cultists had fled into the jungle.

Not until week's end did Guyanese authorities report that they had miscounted the bodies. Instead of 409, as first related, the count was about 900. U.S. embassy officials confirmed the discrepancy, attributing it at first to the finding of many children's bodies underneath the piles of others. The State Department later explained more plausibly that additional bodies had been found in outlying buildings—but failed to explain why those buildings had not been searched earlier.

As the U.S. sent large Air Force cargo planes to return the mounting numbers of American bodies to the East Coast (at a cost of some $3 million), the FBI moved into the case on the basis of a 1971 law making the assassination of a Congressman a federal crime. The FBI was also probing persistent reports by surviving members of the cult that Jones had decreed that if his community was destroyed, a "hit team" of other members would be dispatched to hunt down and kill any defectors who had turned against the cult, as well as any public officials considered guilty of harassing his group.

In San Francisco, outside Jones' remaining temple, a crowd gathered despite a chilly rain. Some were anguished—and angry—relatives of those who died in Jonestown. Inside the temple, Guy Young, 43, said he had "one son and a son-in-law that I know are alive." Then he sobbed, and another member explained: "His wife, four daughters, son and two grandchildren have been reported dead." Young recovered and added: "I don't regret one moment they were there. That was the most happy and most rewarding days of their lives."

Inevitably, bitterness erupted over whether the tragedy at Jonestown could have been prevented. Members of Congressman Ryan's saddened staff claimed that the U.S. embassy in Georgetown should have known of the cult's potential for violence and warned him. Sorrowing relatives of the victims charged that both the State Department and FBI should have long ago heeded their warnings about Jonestown. Yet both agencies had a valid point in claiming that there are important legal restrictions against the Government's prying into the private affairs of Americans living abroad, as well as constitutional protection of groups claiming to be religious.

The bickering, the probes, and the fear of hit men stalking their prey will not soon end. Yet the blame for the tragedy at Jonestown must rest primarily on Jim Jones. Even his 19-year-old son Stephan admitted, "I can almost say I hate this man." His father, Stephan said, "claimed he was afraid of nothing, which I know was bull. My father was a very frightened man."






December 4, 1978, Time Magazine, Nation: Why People Join, 681 words,
Monday,

Nation: Why People Join

[He has] no more pressing need than the one to find somebody to whom he can surrender, as quickly as possible, that gift of freedom which he, the unfortunate creature, was born with.

—Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

The landscape of their minds was as grotesque as the corpse-littered village they left behind. They had started as seekers after meaning, direction, comfort and love. The Peoples Temple, which provided a number of social services to the poor, had filled their lives with purpose. But in the jungle of Guyana, it had all turned into fear and hatred.

Why did they join an organization like the Peoples Temple? And why did they stay in it? Few if any of the thousands of cult groups in the U.S. are as violent as the Guyana group was in its last days, but many of them share a number of unusual characteristics. Social scientists who have studied these groups agree that most cult members are in some sort of emotional trouble before they join. Says Dr. Margaret Thaler Singer, a psychologist at Berkeley: "About one-third are very psychologically distressed people. The other two-thirds are relatively average people, but in a period of depression, gloom, being at loose ends." Such people are vulnerable to well-planned recruitment techniques. These usually involve displays of effusive affection and understanding, or "love bombing," as one psychiatrist puts it. Once recruits start going to meetings, they are frequently subjected to various drills and disciplines that weary them both physically and emotionally, producing a sort of trance.

Cut off from family and friends, the new member gets repeated infusions of the cult's doctrines. The lonely, depressed, frightened and disoriented recruit often experiences what amounts to a religious conversion. Former members of such cults frequently say that something in them "snaps," report Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman, authors of Snapping, a new book on what they call "America's epidemic of sudden personality change."

At this point, the cultist's life is no longer his own. Personalities change from the lively and complex patterns of normality to those of an automaton reciting what he has been taught. The usual problems of living have been replaced by a nearly childish existence in which the cult and its leaders supply all rules and all answers. Erich Fromm, in his classic treatise on the rise of Nazism, called this process the "escape from freedom."

"Most members have little or no sense of inner value," says Stefan Pasternack, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. "They have a desire to be part of something meaningful. In joining, they regress and relax their personal judgments to the point that they are supplanted by the group's often primitive feelings. With a sick leader, these primitive feelings are intensified and get worse. The members develop a total identity with the leader and in the process take on his sickness."

Just as the cult members give themselves up to the group, the leader too takes his entire identity from his followers.

Both leader and followers thus see an overwhelming necessity to keep the group alive and intact. Dissenters are often punished severely. Loyalty is intensified by claims that the outside world is evil and threatening. Return to normal life becomes more and more difficult, even terrifying.

"The gravest threat imaginable to such a group is for someone to try to take members out of the 'family,' " says U.C.L.A. Psychologist David Wellisch. Leo Ryan's mission to Guyana may have been just such a threat, the spark that triggered the tragedy.

With Jones' own behavior growing more paranoid and the sudden presence of the Congressman and the press, some experts believe there was almost a psychological inevitability to the disaster. "Following that type of fragmentation, there was only one thing left," says Dr. Stanley Cath, a Boston psychiatrist. "They could return to the world of reality, but they would have had to face their own inadequacies, the world they had already discarded, the families they had already discarded. So for them, death was preferable because death had already been proclaimed rebirth."
_____________________________________________________________________________


December 4, 1978, Time Magazine, Nation: Messiah from the Midwest, 1465 words,

Monday,


Nation: Messiah from the Midwest

The sad story of a boy and his Bible

The most vivid memories that childhood companions have of James Warren Jones—or "Jonesie," as they called him—are of his funeral sermons for dead animals in the Indiana town of Lynn, where he was born 47 years ago. Once, when he was 13, Jones invited a group of boys to his family's barn, recalls Harlan Swift, now a Chicago insurance executive. Amid burning candles, the aspiring preacher carefully opened a matchbox, revealing a dead mouse. "He had a service all organized," recalls Swift, "a very, very intense dramatic service for that dead mouse." A former classmate, Tootie Morton, was leery of these pet funerals: "Some of the neighbors would have cats missing, and we always thought he was using them for sacrifices."

The major industry in Lynn (pop. 1,360) is casketmaking: there are now four such factories. It was prime territory for the Ku Klux Klan, and George Southworth, now of Miami, recalls that Jones' father took part in the weekly meetings, with sheets and hoods, on a field near town. But other childhood acquaintances do not remember any link between the Klan and the elder Jones, a railroad man who worked only rarely after being gassed in World War I. Jones claimed his mother was an American Indian, but his cousin Barbara Shaffer says, "He made that up to impress somebody." He was an only child; the three lived in a one-story, tin-roofed frame house that has since been replaced by a supermarket.

Before he entered his teens, Jones picked up religion from a neighbor, Mrs. Myrtle Kennedy, who was a devout member of the Church of the Nazarene. He took to carrying a Bible, but no one made fun of the husky boy, who got into fights easily. He was a natural leader, gathering friends around him and telling them what to do.

He would preach to them, sometimes frightening his listeners with visions of a hell where, with senses undiminished, sinners burned forever. His first chance to mount a real pulpit came when he was 14 and working at a nearby hospital; some of his black co-workers invited him to bring his Bible and give a sermon at their church. "You could see there was something haywire even at that time," says Swift. But Mrs. Kennedy's daughter Thelma Manning remembers Jones more fondly: "He had a little white shaggy-haired dog. They were inseparable. I want people to know Jim Jones had a good side."

In 1945 his parents split up (his father died alone in a Lynn hotel six years later, his mother lived until 1977), and he moved with his mother to Richmond, 16 miles away. The Richmond High School 1949 yearbook shows a handsome young man with slick black hair, staring ahead with a slight smile. That year, at 18, he married Marceline Baldwin, a nurse whom he had met at the hospital where they both worked.

Jones briefly attended Indiana University in Bloomington, but left for Indianapolis to preach and later form his own church. He went to night school at Butler University there, and ten years later he finally won a degree in education. At matriculation, he listed his religion as Unitarian, and for a time linked himself to the Methodists, but the first church he founded, called the Christian Assembly of God, had no affiliations. It was in a poor neighborhood, and he won worshipers by distributing free food and helping people find jobs. He raised money by importing monkeys and selling them for $29 apiece. He eventually made enough to pay $50,000 for an old synagogue in a black neighborhood.

He had one son and adopted other children, ultimately eight in all, including blacks and Koreans. He once heard an affluent black doctor at an adoption agency reject a child because he was "too black." Snapped Jones: "Well, I'll take him then." The mayor appointed him the first full-time director of the Indianapolis human rights commission. Jones became increasingly embittered at the racism he encountered. His wife was spat upon while walking with their black child, and when one of his Korean children was killed in a car accident, he later said, he could find white undertaker to bury her.

These frustrations were accompanied, in late 1961, by a kind of vision of a nuclear holocaust destroying Indianapolis. Having read a magazine article listing a selection of the best places in the world to avoid an atomic war, Jones took his wife and three children to one of them, Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Belo Horizonte did not present many opportunities, however, so Jones moved to Rio to teach at the American school there. "Jim was no fanatic," said a woman who befriended him there. "He had no wild streak at all. They were just normal, rather naive and provincial Mid westerners. They led a simple life, and Jim's main concern was always for those people he saw suffering. He used to stop children in the street and talk to them, help them if he could."

But the church in Indianapolis, now called the Peoples Temple, was suffering from a lack of a charismatic leader, and Marceline was homesick, so Jones decided to return. He affiliated with the Disciples of Christ, a 1.3 million-member denomination, and in 1964 was ordained a minister by that group. But he still considered Indianapolis narrow and racist. A good friend, the Rev. Ross Case, also of the Disciples of Christ, had moved from Indiana to California, and Jones decided to follow him. He eventually brought more than 100 supporters to Redwood Valley in Mendocino County, north of San Francisco. Robert Kauffman, a former bank executive from nearby Ukiah, recalls that Marceline Jones walked into his bank and opened an account of nearly $100,000.

Once established, Jones and his faithful began making evangelistic forays to San Francisco and beyond. He again bought an old synagogue, this one in the run-down Fillmore area of San Francisco's inner city. Using it as his headquarters, he opened an infirmary, a child-care center, a carpentry shop and kitchens for feeding the neighborhood poor. His services were dazzling, with soul and gospel music and dance groups. He attracted increasing numbers of black parishioners (the Peoples Temple was more than 80% black). He involved them in liberal causes, busing them to protest demonstrations, making them canvass for politicians he favored, and ordering them to undertake letter-writing blitzes.

He took them on pilgrimages, one of which brought eleven busloads to Indiana and Florida (to visit his then-retired spiritual mentor Myrtle Kennedy); another brought part of his flock to Washington, D.C., where he had them pick up trash on the Capitol grounds. Editorialized the Washington Post in August 1973: "The hands-down winners of anybody's tourists-of-the-year award have got to be the 660 members of the Peoples Temple . . . who bend over backwards to leave every place they visit more attractive than when they arrived."

Politicians were particularly impressed. Governor Jerry Brown came to the Peoples Temple. San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, who received important help from Jones in his close 1975 election, appointed him to the city's housing authority in 1976. (Said the mayor about last week's horror: "I proceeded to vomit and cry.") The sheriff and district attorney were temple visitors, but Lieutenant Governor Mervyn Dymally outdid them all by dropping in on the 27,000-acre plantation in Guyana that Jones had acquired in 1974.

Vice President Walter Mondale recognized Jones' help in the 1976 campaign and invited him aboard his private plane.

When Jones helped a rally for Rosalynn Carter in San Francisco by busing in 600 loud supporters, he was rewarded with a "Dear Jim" thank-you note hand written on White House stationery. Jones claimed to have received appreciative letters from Senators Hubert Humphrey and Henry Jackson, and HEW Secretary Joseph Califano, among others.

The temple swelled with new members—up to 20,000, Jones claimed. But his services became stranger and stranger. Jones would "heal" parishioners by pretending to draw forth "cancers" that actually were bloody chicken gizzards.

And his megalomania soared.

Said his old associate the Rev. Case: "Jim stopped calling himself the reincarnation of Jesus and started calling himself God.

He said he was the actual God who made the heavens and earth." Jones ordered his followers to buy, and sell to the public, small pictures of him to ward off evil. He demanded for

the temple's coffers all members' savings and earnings, amassing a fortune that a former member estimates at $15 million. Discipline gave way to brutal beatings. It was a progression perhaps foreshadowed way back in Indianapolis when 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!"
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December 4, 1978, Time Magazine, Time Essay: The Lure of Doomsday, by Lance Morrow, 1028 words
Monday,

Time Essay: The Lure of Doomsday
By Lance Morrow

The Jonestown story, like some Joseph Conrad drama of fanaticism and moral emptiness, has gone directly into popular myth. It will be remembered as an emblematic, identifying moment of the decade: a demented American psychopomp in a tropical cult house, doling out cyanide with Kool-Aid. Jonestown is the Altamont of the '70s cult movement. Just as Altamont began the destruction of the sweet, vacuous aspirations of Woodstock, Jonestown has decisively contaminated the various vagabond zealotries that have grown up, nourished and sometimes turned sinister.

All new religious enterprises, of course, are liable to be damned and dismissed as "cults." The term is pejorative: cult suggests a band of fierce believers who have surrendered themselves to obscure doctrine and a dangerous prophet. Yet some religions that are institutions now, more permanent and stable than most governments, began as cults.

Although Jonestown has prompted a widespread revulsion against cults, both fairness and the First Amendment suggest that one standard of judgment can still be applied: "By their fruits ye shall know them." Visionaries, even when they operate from a cult, can bring dimensions of aspiration and change to religion, which otherwise might be merely a moral policeman. But the historical record of cults is ominous and often lurid. Jonestown, for all its gruesome power to shock, has its religious (or quasireligious) precedents.

Jonestown has even been rivaled as a mass suicide. The Jewish Zealots defending the fortress of Masada against besieging Roman legions in A.D. 73 chose self-slaughter rather than submission; 960 men, women and children died. The event occupies a place of some reverence in Jewish memory and is not really comparable to Jonestown; the Zealots faced the prospect of slaughter or slavery, and their choice therefore possessed a certain passionate rationality. In the 17th century, Russian Orthodox dissenters called the Old Believers refused to accept liturgical reforms. Over a period of years some 20,000 peasants in protest abandoned their fields and burned themselves. In East Africa before World War I, when Tanganyika was a German colony, witch doctors of the Maji-Maji movement convinced tribesmen that German bullets would turn to water; they launched an uprising, and the credulous were slaughtered.

Religion and insanity occupy adjacent territories in the mind; historically, cults have kept up a traffic between the two. The medieval Brethren of the Free Spirit, the heretical Beghards and Beguines who practiced in Cologne and other Northern European cities, became nihilistic megalomaniacs. They began in rags but then, in the conviction of their spiritual superiority, which they eventually believed to surpass God's, adopted the idea that the general run of mankind existed merely to be exploited, through robbery, violence and treachery. In 1420 a cult of Bohemians called the Adamites came to regard themselves, like the Manson gang, as avenging angels. They set about making holy war to cut down the unclean; blood, they said, must flood the world to the height of a horse's head. They were finally exterminated after committing uncounted murders. In 1535 an army of Anabaptists under Jan Bockelson proclaimed its intention "to kill all monks and priests and all rulers that there are in the world; for our king alone is the rightful ruler." They, too, had to be forcibly suppressed. Cultists, of course, are sometimes the victims of persecution. The heretical Albigensians, or Cathari, were broken by church crusade and massacre in the 13th century.

The U.S. also has had its bloody moments. Mormons were slaughtered in Illinois and persecuted elsewhere. But it was some 60 Mormons disguised as Indians who, in September 1857, committed the Mountain Meadows Massacre. With the help of 300 Indians, the Mormons killed more than 120 men, women and children in the Fancher party that was passing through Utah on the way to California. It was, says Historian William Wise, "the logical and culminating act of a society whose leaders believed themselves superior to the rest of mankind and who maintained that their own ecclesiastical laws took precedence over the laws of their country."

The tendency to join cults seems to come roughly in 50-year cycles in the U.S. A wave broke in the mid-19th century, then again after World War I, and now in the '70s. For several thousand years, the rule has been that cults nourish in times of great social change.

The success of cults today is based partly upon an edifice of unhappy sociological cliches: the breakdown of the family and other forms of authority, the rootlessness and moral flabbiness of life.

At their worst, the cults acquire a psychosis of millennialism. This chiliasm, playing at the drama of the last days, nourishes when life is no longer seen as ascendant. But no matter how democratically advertised, visions of the New Jerusalem, Utopia or an Edenic Jonestown are bathed in a totalitarian light. And they are shadowed by glimpses of enemies: Antichrist, Gog and Magog; paranoia is often a cult's principal instrument of discipline. Even in 1978, one catches whiffs of an old dementia and witchfire.

Traditional religions allow people to live inside history, but still give sacramental expression to their spiritual longings.

Cults too often strain to escape from history, through the reconstruction of Eden or a vision of the Second Coming.

Experiments in earthly paradise have a way of ending in horrible irony. Zealots become infected with a fierce nostalgia for a mythical lost wholeness, an ecstasy of spiritual servitude.

In Jones' cultish socialism, the spiritual and political were joined. In their terrific surrender, cultists reduce a multiform, contradictory world to cant formulas, and thus they become as dangerous as anyone whose head resounds with certainties.

Cults are apt to become miniatures of the great totalitarian systems built on Nazi or Hegelian and Marxist foundations.

There are eerie similarities of style: intolerance, paranoia, submission.

Such movements, wrote Historian Norman Cohn, strive to endow "social conflicts and aspirations with a transcendental significance — in fact with all the mystery and majesty of the final, eschatological drama." To be human is to live inside history, to accept a reality that does not respond to dogma or a megalomaniac's discipline. One escape is that found by the people in Jonestown. — Lance Morrow

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December 4, 1978, Time Magazine, TIME U.S. Cover: Jonestown Deaths


Cover Credit: DAVID HUME KENNERLY




December 4, 1978, Time Magazine, A Letter From The Publisher, Dec. 4, 1978, 320 words,
Monday,

A Letter From The Publisher, Dec. 4, 1978

New York Bureau Chief Donald Neff and Photographer David Hume Kennerly heard the bulletin in Miami early Sunday morning: a Congressman had been killed on a remote jungle airstrip in Guyana. Neff and Kennerly, who had worked together in Saigon, were en route to another assignment in South America, but they chartered a jet and were in Georgetown, the capital of Guyana, by nightfall.

By dawn Monday, as news of more murders and suicides spread, scores of reporters and photographers scrambled to arrange transportation for the trip to Jonestown. Only one plane, with its required Guyanese pilot, was available for the journey. After hours of haggling, Neff and Kennerly finally got the plane and permission from the Guyana government to land at the bloodied site. The plane turned out to be the same five-passenger Cessna that had been waiting for Congressman Ryan on the night of his murder. Blood still stained the seat belts, and two bullet holes were punched in the doors

"The horrors of that camp nearly defy description," says Neff. "Kennerly and I helped report the Viet Nam War, but we'd never seen anything remotely like this." In the first days only 14 reporters and photographers reached Jonestown, three from TIME. The third was Matthew Naythons, a practicing doctor from San Francisco who doubles as a news photographer. Naythons had been scheduled to accompany Congressman Ryan's party but had been held back by a visa problem.

Later in the week, Correspondent Robert Geline arrived in Guyana. Lack of transportation to Jonestown kept him and other journalists in Georgetown. But on Thanksgiving Day many survivors from Jonestown took up lodgings at Geline's hotel and they were outwardly calm and willing to talk. Geline recalls, "I was deeply moved, fascinated and horrified by what I heard.

These people had lived in hell, There is no way they or any of us who heard their stories will be the same."
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December 11, 1978, Time Magazine, Nation: Paranoia And Delusions

The survivors describe the dementia of Jim Jones

He would force a child to eat his own vomit. He banned sexual activity between Peoples Temple members but was voraciously bisexual himself and obsessed with bragging about the size of his penis. He was addicted to drugs and had nurses bleed him and provide him with oxygen for imagined illnesses.

These examples of the Rev. Jim Jones' paranoia and delusions surfaced last week in a 215-page manuscript that was made public by former temple member Jeannie Mills in San Francisco and in further interviews in Guyana with stunned survivors of the mass suicide at Jonestown.

After he moved his church from Indiana to California in 1965, Jones' mental condition seemed to deteriorate rapidly. In 1973, eight members fled the commune because of his ban against sex between cult members. Calling 30 associates to his home, Jones declared: "Something terrible has happened. Eight people have defected. In order to keep our apostolic socialism, we should all kill ourselves and leave a note saying that because of harassment, a socialist group cannot exist at this time." He did not go ahead with the plan, but from that time on, Jones periodically conducted fake suicide rituals.

The ban on sex did not apply to Jones; he would brag about his own conquests, male and female. He once boasted that he had sex with 14 women and two men on the same day. He claimed that he detested homosexual activity and was only doing it for the male temple adherents' own good—to connect them symbolically with himself. Some indeed shared his view: the cult's doctor in Guyana, Larry Schacht, used to brag about having intercourse with Jones. Jones took pleasure in forcing female followers to ridicule their husbands' sexual ability.

Temple Attorney Charles Garry says Jones was obsessed with a custody fight for a boy he claimed was his own. The child, John, was born in 1972 to Grace Stoen, who with her husband Timothy was one of Jones' top associates. At Jones' behest, Timothy Stoen signed an affidavit declaring that he had personally requested that the child be sired by "the most compassionate, honest and courageous human being the world contains." The Stoens now deny that Jones was the father and won legal custody of the child last year after a court fight. But Jones refused to let him leave Guyana. Just before Jones' death he told a newsman that the fear of losing the child prevented him from returning home. After the suicides, the child was found dead next to Jones' body.

Jones first visited Guyana in 1962 on his way to Brazil, where he lived for two years. When his paranoia, fueled by unfavorable press reports, led him to move his community from San Francisco in 1977, Guyana was a logical choice. Its socialism matched what he conceived to be his own communal-agrarian ideals. Prime Minister Forbes Burnham told TIME last week: "I feel what may have attracted him was that we had said we wanted to use cooperatives as the basis for the establishment of socialism, and maybe his idea of setting up a commune meshed with that." Guyana had its own motives in making the commune welcome: it wanted immigrants to develop its hinterland and fortify its border with Venezuela. For the Americans, Guyana offered the additional advantage of being an English-speaking country.

One of the temple's strong advocates within the Guyanese government was Viola Burnham, the Prime Minister's wife. According to diplomats in Georgetown, Guyanese officials seemed to find it was in their best interest politically to offer assistance to the cult and even contribute financially. Medicine, building materials, U.S. currency and guns were imported for the commune with little interference from local customs officials.

Jones increasingly claimed that he was physically ill, and he stressed his health problems in a document prepared for Prime Minister Burnham. Attorney Garry was told by Jones' personal doctor that the cult leader suffered from recurrent temperatures of 105° and a fungus in his lungs. But several survivors, including Tim Carter, a Jones lieutenant, say his complaints were lies. The result of the autopsy conducted by Guyanese officials on Jones has not been released. But Guyanese-born Dr. Hardat A. Sukhdeo, deputy chairman of clinical psychiatric services at New Jersey Medical School, who flew to Jonestown to help counsel survivors, says the report shows no evidence of disease. Says Dr. Sukhdeo: "The complaints were all part of Jones' progressively suicidal depression." According to survivors, Jones regularly dosed himself with tranquilizers and painkillers, including Valium and morphine sulphate. Tim Carter told Dr. Sukhdeo that the night before the massacres and suicides, Jones was babbling incoherently.

One of Jones' final delusions was that he would move his cult to the Soviet Union. A delegation from the commune talked twice with Feodor Timofeyev, the Soviet press attache in Georgetown, about a possible move, but a memo of that meeting shows the Russians offered little encouragement. Russian consular officials and a Russian doctor also visited Jonestown, which was the object of a favorable report by Tass. In the past few months, Russian language classes were held at the commune. Members had to recite Russian phrases, like "good morning," before receiving their rice-and-gravy meals.

On the day of the suicides, Jones' secretary ordered Carter and two other close aides to take a suitcase containing $500,000 in small bills and a letter to the Russian embassy. Because the case was too heavy, Carter says they buried it in the jungle. They later gave themselves up to Guyanese police, who now have possession of the money and letter.

Jones' dream of moving the commune to Russia may have stemmed from his delusion that he was the reincarnation of Lenin. Indeed, he once told Jeannie Mills in California: "Lenin died with a bullet in his body and so will I."
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December 11, 1978, Time Magazine, Nation: Another Day of Death,

A former San Francisco official kills the mayor and a supervisor

The gathering constellation of torchlights nickered first at the corner of 18th and Castro streets, in the center of the homosexual community that makes up about one-eighth of San Francisco's population. Held high by marchers stepping to the slow cadence of three drums, the bobbing lights moved down Market Street, their brilliance growing as the grieving crowd multiplied. By the time they reached the steps of the bronze-domed city hall, the crowd of youthful homosexuals, male and female, had been joined by many more conventional citizens, and an army of some 30,000 mourners expressed the sorrow of the shaken city.

At the flower-strewn steps, the mood of the civil rights rebellion of the 1960s was evoked as the crystalline voice of Folk Singer Joan Baez led the assembled marchers in the familiar songs: Kumbaya, Amazing Grace and Oh, Freedom. More candles were lit, more wreaths dropped on the steps, and an undercurrent of bitterness broke through the sadness. "Are you happy, Anita?" asked one crudely lettered sign in cruel reference to homosexuality's hated foe, Anita Bryant.

Once stately and even staid, a very citadel of culture in California, San Francisco has been scarred repeatedly in recent years by outbreaks of violence and turmoil (see following story). It was horrified two weeks ago when it awoke to the realization that it had nourished the Peoples Temple, an ostensibly humanitarian and religious cult whose leader, Jim Jones, had ordered the assassination of California Congressman Leo Ryan and then led 911 followers to their deaths in a frenzy of mass suicide and murder in remote Guyana. But San Francisco's shock was more centrally focused last week from the moment when a tearful Dianne Feinstein, president of the board of supervisors, stepped outside her city hall office to tell a stunned group of city employees and reporters: "It is my duty to inform you that both Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot and killed."

Mayor George Moscone, 49, had learned only a few days before of the deaths of Jones, whom he had once appointed head of the city housing authority, and of the other Guyana victims. "I proceeded to vomit and cry," Moscone had said. Supervisor Harvey Milk, 48, who had spoken at political rallies at the Peoples Temple, had candidly proclaimed his homosexuality and won election to the city's eleven-member governing board. He had also left a tape recording predicting that he might be killed because he had become such a prominent political spokesman for gays. The man charged with killing the other two was not some wild-eyed lunatic but an ex-member of the board of supervisors, Daniel James White, 32. White was a clean-cut former police officer and fireman, who was described by most acquaintances as a handsome, athletic, ever-achieving all-American boy. "If he had been a breakfast cereal," said one acquaintance, "he would have had to be Wheaties."

Amid the sorrow and confusion, hasty theories flourished over why both officials had died. One was that the murders might somehow have been connected with the Peoples Temple. Far more plausible was the notion that White, the only supervisor on the board who had voted against a city ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual preferences, had vented his anti-gay feelings in a murderous attack against Milk and the mayor. Moscone had appointed a few representatives of the gay community to low-ranking government offices.

White was a law-and-order conservative who viewed both the progressive mayor and Milk as overly tolerant of criminals and nonconformists. White had, in fact, won election as supervisor last year partly by campaigning, in effect, against gays. "There are thousands upon thousands of frustrated, angry people waiting to unleash a fury that can and will eradicate the malignancies which blight our city," his brochures declared. "I am not going to be forced out of San Francisco by splinter groups of radicals, social deviates, incorrigibles."

Yet other facts contradicted any tidy theory. White was no political extremist. "I respect the private rights of all people, including gays," he had insisted during debate on the gay rights ordinance. (He was also in favor of handgun controls.) He and Milk got along well on the board, at least until recently.

While White reportedly confessed to the crimes, his motivation was not revealed. He apparently $9,600 salary. His wife Mary Ann had to quit her teaching job when she became pregnant. They later tried to operate a waterfront potato stand, but his city hall duties consumed too much of his time. He decided to resign the post on Nov. 10, then changed his mind and waged a vain fight to get the post back. Moscone had refused to reappoint him.

"I'm really sorry to see him go," Moscone had said after White turned in his resignation. "I think he's a good guy." But while White was out of office, opposition to him had developed in his ethnically mixed district, and the affable but politically shrewd Moscone had decided it would be smarter for him to appoint a more compatible, liberal man to White's position on the board.

The final day began happily for Moscone, a 15-year political veteran, former Democratic leader of the California senate and father of four children. He was visited in his city hall office by State Assemblyman Willie Brown, a black leader and close friend.

"The mayor was really in high spirits, glowing," recalled Brown. "He yelled, 'C'mon in, this I've got to tell you!" Moscone's news was that he felt he had pulled off a political coup in selecting Don Horanzy, 42, a real estate loan officer of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, to fill out White's four-year term. Horanzy had not sought political office but had developed local support by founding a neighborhood "All People's Coalition" in White's lower-middle-class, partly black, Oriental and white ethnic district. The volunteer coalition helped combat crime and spruce up the neighborhood. Moscone had scheduled a press conference for 11:30 a.m. to announce Horanzy's appointment.

White was picked up by an unidentified woman in a red sports car at his modest bungalow on Shawnee Avenue and taken to city hall. Shortly before 11 a.m., White tapped on a basement window just off the parking ramp on the north side of the ornate, gray granite building. He told an engineer inside that he had forgotten his keys to the locked double doors by which supervisors can enter conveniently from the parking area. The engineer recognized White and let him in through the window.

Minutes later, White slipped into a normally locked side door to the mayor's second-floor suite of offices. This entry let him avoid the busy outer reception room. White asked Moscone's secretary, Cyr Copertini, if he could see her boss. Moscone's press aide, Mel Wax, passed by, saw White and sent word that Horanzy and his family should wait in an outer office to avoid a collision with the disappointed former supervisor. Wax figured that White was making a last-minute plea to get his job back. Said Wax: "I didn't talk to him. I was worried that [Horanzy] and White would see each other and we'd have a scene."

Moscone, smiling and in shirtsleeves, came out to greet White. Copertini asked if the mayor wanted anyone to sit in on the meeting, as he usually did with visitors. He laughed and said, "No, I'll see him alone." The mayor then led White through his formal office and into a cozier rear sitting room. "When he wants a heart-to-heart with somebody, the back office is a more informal setting," Wax later explained. "He liked to sit on the couch."

Shortly after 11 a.m. Copertini heard several sharp noises. "I had an awful feeling," she said later. "I went over to the window and looked out, thinking they were shots, but hoping they weren't." At that moment, Deputy Mayor Rudy Nothenberg arrived for an 11 a.m. appointment with Moscone. Nothenberg looked in the mayor's office, did not see him, and walked into the small rear room. He saw the mayor lying on the floor, his head facing downward between the couch and a coffee table, his body bleeding badly.

Nothenberg raced out a side door and into the public corridor, shouting for police. White, meanwhile, headed for the suite of supervisors' offices on the opposite side of the building. He entered a main reception area, then went directly to Milk's office and asked: "Harvey, can I see you a minute?" Milk accompanied White to White's former office, where his nameplate had already been removed.

Dianne Feinstein, sitting near by at her desk, suddenly heard five slowly repeated shots. She picked up her telephone and called the police. White ran into the reception area, yelling: "Give me my keys! Give me my keys!" Somebody gave him the keys to his assistant's car. "He was a wild man—he was just a wild man," one witness said.

Within 35 minutes of the murders, White and his wife walked into a police station four blocks from city hall. It was, ironically, a station out of which White had once worked as a patrolman. He turned in a five-shot, snub-nosed Smith & Wesson Chiefs Special Revolver, nine expended shell casings and eight unexpended rounds of hollow-point ammunition. He spent some 90 minutes under questioning by homicide detectives, then was taken to an upstairs jail and booked. After visiting him there, Mrs. White left weeping.

The coroner reported that Moscone had been shot in the right lung and the liver, then twice in the head at extremely close range. Milk had been shot three times in the body, then twice in the head, also at close range. The nine shots meant that White had reloaded his revolver after killing the mayor. At his arraignment, a controlled but subdued White asked for more time to hire a lawyer and decide how to plead to charges of first-degree murder. He was given until this week to do so.

As the city went into mourning and held services for the victims of the tragedy, Supervisor Feinstein, who had twice run vainly for mayor, emerged as a calming, compassionate leader. "If there was ever a time for this city to pull itself together, this is that time," she pleaded. "We need to be together and bring out what is good in each of our hearts." She praised Moscone at a public service for never abandoning the poor, even, as the mayor had recently said, "now that it has become fashionable to be hard-line and ultrarealistic about social goals." She said of Milk: "His homosexuality gave him an insight into the scars which all oppressed peoples wear."

Milk, a native of New York who moved to San Francisco as a financial analyst in 1969 and later opened a successful camera shop, had been very frank about his homosexuality. At his swearing-in ceremony as supervisor last January, after other officials had introduced their wives, he had presented Jack Lira, 24, as "my lover—my partner in life." Lira committed suicide three months ago in a state of depression. In the remarkable tape recording predicting that he might be killed, Milk urged that if it happened, other gays should "turn that anger and frustration and madness into something positive so that hundreds will step forward, so that gay doctors will come out, gay lawyers, gay judges, gay bankers, gay architects. These are my strong requests, knowing that it could happen, hoping it doesn't."

As is often true in such tragedies, no one could believe that the man who did the killing was capable of such a deed. "I never thought he was at all unstable," said former Supervisor Terry Fran├žois. "Just a normal young father," added another acquaintance. Intensely competitive, White had been captain of both the baseball and football teams and a Golden Gloves boxer while attending San Francisco's Woodrow Wilson High School. Son of a San Francisco fireman, he served in Viet Nam, then worked 3½ years as a policeman. He somehow managed to buy first an $8,000 Jaguar, then a $15,000 Porsche, before taking a leave of absence to hitchhike through the U.S. After joining the fire department in 1973, he was cited for heroism for rescuing a mother and her child from the 17th floor of a burning building. He was to have received the medal last week.

Mayor Moscone, whose father had been a guard at San Quentin and once showed his young son the gas chamber, had long opposed the death penalty. Last week the charges lodged against Dan White were carefully crafted to permit a court to decree that he must die for those murderous moments at city hall.
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October 6, 1994, Time Magazine, It's Murder, Jonestown Style,
140 words

Swiss investigators are convinced that a significant number of the 48 cult members found dead in two villages did not commit suicide but were murdered, according to TIME Switzerland reporter Robert Kroon. Reason: In one location police found several suitcases all packed, as if the members had "traveled from elsewhere for a meeting of the sect," says Kroon. "Police sources tell me they think it's peculiar that people would have their bags packed before they get ready to die." Investigators also tell Kroon that they think the deaths are related to disagreements within the cult. Another indication of murder: Many of the bodies have injection marks, Kroon says, suggesting they may have been heavily sedated or poisoned before they were shot. At least some probably did commit suicide, however: police have found a few goodbye letters written to family members.
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October 17, 1994, Time Magazine, In the Reign of Fire, by Richard Lacayo, 278 words

Once again, mass death in an apocalyptic sect. This time, it was murder

As a lecturer in Canada, France and Switzerland, Luc Jouret, a 46-year-old homeopathic physician and spiritual explorer, expounded New Age theories of child rearing and nutrition. But there were occasions when his audiences got a glimpse of a different Jouret, the would-be messiah who warned that the world would end soon in a convergence of environmental disasters and that only a select few would survive. Jouret liked to talk about the transformative power of fire: "We are in the reign of fire," he said on Swiss radio in 1987. "Everything is being consumed."

Last week Jouret's words seemed to hang in the air over the ashes at two sites in Switzerland and one in Canada where 53 of his followers and their children died. Police in two countries are trying to find out whether the deaths were mass suicide, mass murder or some bizarre combination of the two. An international arrest warrant has been issued for Jouret and fellow cult leader Joseph di Mambro, a 70-year-old French Canadian called "the Dictator" or "Napoleon" by some in the sect.

The grim tale began around midnight on Tuesday, when villagers in the tiny Swiss farm community of Cheiry, 45 miles northeast of Geneva, saw the moonless sky lit by flames over the farmhouse of Albert Giacobino, a wealthy retired farmer who had bought the place four years ago. Firemen who arrived at the scene found Giacobino dead from a gunshot wound. Tacked to a door of the farmhouse was an audiocassette with a rambling taped discourse about earth, sky and astrological alignments.

As firemen picked through the ruins of the partly burned barn, they discovered a number of undamaged rooms on the ground floor, including a chapel with mirrored walls and red satin draperies where 22 bodies lay, many cloaked in ceremonial white, gold, red or black robes. Most of the dead were arranged in a circle with their faces looking up at a portrait of a Christlike figure resembling Jouret. While some appeared to wear serene smiles, nearly all had suffered bullet wounds in the head. Ten had plastic bags tied over their heads. Several had their hands bound. In a final note of morbid festivity, the floor was scattered with empty champagne bottles.

About four hours later, in the Alpine village of Granges-sur-Salvan, 50 miles southeast of Cheiry, fires erupted at three adjoining ski chalets, including one that belonged to Jouret. This time police and firemen found 25 bodies, all of them badly burned, including the remains of at least five children. Earlier in the day two men identifying themselves as Jouret and Di Mambro had got a local locksmith to admit them to the house. Both fires had been set off by the same elaborate system, in which plastic bags of gasoline and containers of propane gas were linked by electrical wires to a telephone. Its ringing could provide the electrical charge to ignite a fireball.

At the same time, police in Canada were raking through the rubble of a spacious chalet owned by Di Mambro in Morin Heights, 50 miles northwest of Montreal, where five bodies were found. Two were wearing red-and-gold medallions bearing a double-headed eagle and the initials T.S., for Temple Solaire, one name for Jouret's group. Three others -- a Swiss man and his British-born wife, both former sect members, and their three-month-old son -- bore stab wounds.

For all the signs of foul play, at least some of the deaths may have been suicides, part of one more episode in cult pathology to put beside the weird tragedies at Jonestown, Guyana, and the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. A victim was found with a letter to her family explaining that she had come to Switzerland to die. Jean-Francois Mayer, a Swiss authority on cults, made public three letters he said were posted to him by cult members before the fire. "We are leaving this earth," read one, "to rediscover, lucidly and freely, a dimension of truth and absoluteness."

Many other signs pointed to murder. The gun that fired the fatal shots in Cheiry was gone. One of the victims had been given a powerful drug. Swiss police speculated that Jouret, Di Mambro or both oversaw the death ritual in Cheiry, drove to Salvan to direct the second stage and then fled. "If this is suicide," said Andre Thierrien, a fireman in Cheiry, "then someone must have given them a helping hand." In Salvan, fully packed bags were found in apartments that had been rented by victims, suggesting that some had expected to make conventional departures from town.

There was also a motive for murder: money. Bank documents seized by police showed evidence of squabbling within the sect about finances. New members were charged steep initiation fees and required to sign away their assets. The sect / acquired farms and lavish houses in Geneva, southern France and Quebec. A disaffected former follower, Rose Marie Klaus, told a Quebec newspaper last year that she and her husband had given nearly $500,000 to Jouret and never saw it again. Giacobino, the owner of the farm in Cheiry, was heard complaining to friends about Di Mambro's free-spending ways and threatening to pull out his investment.

Whatever the mixture of cold-blooded calculation and religious fanaticism that lay behind the deaths, all signs of both method and madness pointed to Jouret as the prime culprit. Born in Kitwit in the Belgian Congo, now Zaire, he went to Brussels in the 1970s for medical training, then moved around the world studying acupuncture and homeopathy, a system of treatment based on minimum doses of medication. Along the way he found himself drawn to the spiritual arcana of the Knights Templar, a mystical brotherhood banned in France in the 14th century. Eventually he joined a French-based group called the Reformed Order of the Temple that mixed Roman Catholicism, yoga, alchemy and anticommunism under the leadership of an ex-Gestapo officer named Julien Origas. After Origas died in 1981, Jouret became leader.

Within three years he had left to set up his own Geneva-based cult, the Order of the Solar Temple, and a network of clubs that promoted his lectures and served as recruitment centers. He adapted Catholic rituals, including communion offered at masses where he played the priest. Like David Koresh, he eventually began urging his followers to stockpile an arsenal of weapons to prepare for the end of the world. In 1993 he fled Canada after pleading guilty to charges that he had tried illegally to obtain three guns with silencers.

Jouret is believed to have attracted up to 75 followers around Quebec and 200 more in Switzerland and France. Though some were recruited from among his patients, most learned of him through the lectures he gave on two continents. In 1988 and 1989 he was paid to speak at a public utility, Hydro-Quebec, where he talked of "self-realization" and recruited more than a dozen employees. Listeners who seemed receptive to his initial message might find themselves invited to join an inner circle where his full apocalyptic vision was unveiled.

Unlike the followers of Jim Jones and Koresh, Jouret's faithful did not live in tightly organized communes. For the most part they kept their day jobs and lived at their own addresses, often hiding their membership even from close ! friends. "We went about our daily lives, but we didn't belong to this world," said a former member who spoke anonymously on Swiss television. "Jouret made us feel we were a chosen and privileged congregation." But he still had the power to make them assemble when he called, though they may not have suspected the fate they were chosen for.
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December 11, 1978, Time Magazine, Nation: But Where Is What I Started For?, 909 words


Monday, Dec. 11, 1978

Nation: But Where Is What I Started For?


I think the place has gone crazy " said Assemblyman Willie Brown, coming out of the city hall, where Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk had just been murdered. Slipping from the City Lights bookstore, Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti lamented the "pathogenic industrial civilization" and then wrote a poem: "A hush upon the landscape/ of the still wild West/ where two sweet dudes are dead/ and no more need be said." Cyra McFadden, whose book The Serial lampoons the insecure laid-back life in rich Marin County north of San Francisco, observed: "I had a good time with the kooks. Now I find I'm less and less amused, and more fearful." Usually ebullient Columnist Herb Caen mourned: "What is it about San Francisco?"

The record of terrorism in the San Francisco area in the past decade is undeniably remarkable.* In 1969 Charles Manson recruited his obsessed family from the flower children of Haight-Ashbury and led them to the slaughter of Actress Sharon Tate and seven others. Police still have not caught the self-proclaimed "Zodiac" killer who preyed on young lovers in the San Francisco area, claiming responsibility for 37 deaths between 1968 and 1974.

In 1973 the Symbionese Liberation Army murdered Oakland School Superintendent Marcus Foster with cyanide bullets. The S.L.A. went on to kidnap Patricia Hearst and involve her in an armed bank robbery. Four of the group were killed in a fiery Shootout with police in Los Angeles, televised live. During the same period, twelve whites were randomly shot by Black Muslim gunmen in the "Zebra" killings. Lynette ("Squeaky") Fromme, a former Manson family member, and Sara Jane Moore both tried to kill President Ford in 1975. The home of San Francisco Supervisor Dianne Feinstein, now acting mayor, was the target of a bomb in 1976. District Attorney Joseph Freitas' car was bombed the following year.

One explanation for the tradition of terror in California, and particularly in San Francisco, is that the area is a mecca for restless dreamers. The mark of the 1849 gold rush is still pervasive. Writes Kevin Starr in Americans and the California Dream: "The state remained, after all, a land characterized by an essential selfishness and an underlying instability, a fixation upon the quick acquisition of wealth, an impatience with the more subtle premises of human happiness." Of the 1960s, when some 1,000 people a day fled west, Joan Didion wrote in Slouching Towards Bethlehem: "Adolescents drifted from city to torn city, sloughing off both the past and the future as snakes shed their skins, children who were never taught and would never now learn the games that had held the society together . . .San Francisco was where the social hemorrhaging was showing up."

Half of all Californians were born out of state, usually in places where they felt confined by traditions and roots. Says Stanford Psychiatrist Donald Lunde: "Many who come west might have been in trouble at home, lost their businesses or lost their families. They come here for a new start —or a last chance." San Francisco Examiner Editor Reg Murphy puts it: "This is every misfit's favorite city."

What the wanderer finds upon arrival is unsurpassed tolerance for every lifestyle, a bracing climate and stunning beauty. Most newcomers flourish; in fact, to the more inhibited East, there are signs of overflourishing. Proclaim ads for $1,500 redwood hot tubs: "There's laughter, playful splashing, quiet conversations . . . it exactly fits the spirit of our time." Other new products include portable solar water heaters for backpackers, and organic dog food.

But despair in a paradise can be even deeper than in places where there are more concrete enemies or elements to fight. Walt Whitman ended his poem Facing West from California 's Shores: "But where is what I started for so long ago?/ And why is it yet unfound?" Nathanael West's classic portrayal of California madness, the mob scene in The Day of the Locust, shows the rage of those who fled the ordinariness of their lives. "Where else could they go but California, the land of sunshine and oranges?" he wrote. "Once there, they discovered that sunshine isn't enough."

As a consequence, some reach even further out, discovering Far Eastern religions, sensitivity training workshops or holistic body maintenance. There is an emphasis on shops or holistic body maintenance. There is an emphasis on self-fulfillment that spawned what Tom Wolfe called "the Me Decade." Says Sex Counselor Nora La Corte: "Respecting the wisdom of the body leads to responsible hedonism and nurturance of the whole person by recharging one's energy for self-healing."

California has long been fertile ground for cults. As early as 1840, William Money, who claimed to have met Christ on the streets of New York City, came to California preaching the world was shaped like a fish. He offered miraculous healing powers, treated 5,000 patients, became involved in politics, and was finally exposed by the press.

Some never find salvation or happiness. San Francisco has the highest suicide rate and one of the highest alcoholism rates in the nation. Despite constant closed-circuit television monitoring, there have been 642 known fatal leaps from the Golden Gate Bridge. Last week, after the horror in Jonestown, the Suicide Prevention Center reported that the number of calls from desperate citizens had increased by 50%.

* Although San Francisco is plagued by terrorism, its overall violent crime rate last year, according to the FBI, was surpassed by 16 U.S. cities.
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December 11, 1978, Time Magazine, Nation: Another Day of Death, 2128 words


Monday, Dec. 11, 1978

Nation: Another Day of Death


A former San Francisco official kills the mayor and a supervisor

The gathering constellation of torchlights nickered first at the corner of 18th and Castro streets, in the center of the homosexual community that makes up about one-eighth of San Francisco's population. Held high by marchers stepping to the slow cadence of three drums, the bobbing lights moved down Market Street, their brilliance growing as the grieving crowd multiplied. By the time they reached the steps of the bronze-domed city hall, the crowd of youthful homosexuals, male and female, had been joined by many more conventional citizens, and an army of some 30,000 mourners expressed the sorrow of the shaken city.

At the flower-strewn steps, the mood of the civil rights rebellion of the 1960s was evoked as the crystalline voice of Folk Singer Joan Baez led the assembled marchers in the familiar songs: Kumbaya, Amazing Grace and Oh, Freedom. More candles were lit, more wreaths dropped on the steps, and an undercurrent of bitterness broke through the sadness. "Are you happy, Anita?" asked one crudely lettered sign in cruel reference to homosexuality's hated foe, Anita Bryant.

Once stately and even staid, a very citadel of culture in California, San Francisco has been scarred repeatedly in recent years by outbreaks of violence and turmoil (see following story). It was horrified two weeks ago when it awoke to the realization that it had nourished the Peoples Temple, an ostensibly humanitarian and religious cult whose leader, Jim Jones, had ordered the assassination of California Congressman Leo Ryan and then led 911 followers to their deaths in a frenzy of mass suicide and murder in remote Guyana. But San Francisco's shock was more centrally focused last week from the moment when a tearful Dianne Feinstein, president of the board of supervisors, stepped outside her city hall office to tell a stunned group of city employees and reporters: "It is my duty to inform you that both Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot and killed."

Mayor George Moscone, 49, had learned only a few days before of the deaths of Jones, whom he had once appointed head of the city housing authority, and of the other Guyana victims. "I proceeded to vomit and cry," Moscone had said. Supervisor Harvey Milk, 48, who had spoken at political rallies at the Peoples Temple, had candidly proclaimed his homosexuality and won election to the city's eleven-member governing board. He had also left a tape recording predicting that he might be killed because he had become such a prominent political spokesman for gays. The man charged with killing the other two was not some wild-eyed lunatic but an ex-member of the board of supervisors, Daniel James White, 32. White was a clean-cut former police officer and fireman, who was described by most acquaintances as a handsome, athletic, ever-achieving all-American boy. "If he had been a breakfast cereal," said one acquaintance, "he would have had to be Wheaties."

Amid the sorrow and confusion, hasty theories flourished over why both officials had died. One was that the murders might somehow have been connected with the Peoples Temple. Far more plausible was the notion that White, the only supervisor on the board who had voted against a city ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual preferences, had vented his anti-gay feelings in a murderous attack against Milk and the mayor. Moscone had appointed a few representatives of the gay community to low-ranking government offices.

White was a law-and-order conservative who viewed both the progressive mayor and Milk as overly tolerant of criminals and nonconformists. White had, in fact, won election as supervisor last year partly by campaigning, in effect, against gays. "There are thousands upon thousands of frustrated, angry people waiting to unleash a fury that can and will eradicate the malignancies which blight our city," his brochures declared. "I am not going to be forced out of San Francisco by splinter groups of radicals, social deviates, incorrigibles."

Yet other facts contradicted any tidy theory. White was no political extremist. "I respect the private rights of all people, including gays," he had insisted during debate on the gay rights ordinance. (He was also in favor of handgun controls.) He and Milk got along well on the board, at least until recently.

While White reportedly confessed to the crimes, his motivation was not revealed. He apparently $9,600 salary. His wife Mary Ann had to quit her teaching job when she became pregnant. They later tried to operate a waterfront potato stand, but his city hall duties consumed too much of his time. He decided to resign the post on Nov. 10, then changed his mind and waged a vain fight to get the post back. Moscone had refused to reappoint him.

"I'm really sorry to see him go," Moscone had said after White turned in his resignation. "I think he's a good guy." But while White was out of office, opposition to him had developed in his ethnically mixed district, and the affable but politically shrewd Moscone had decided it would be smarter for him to appoint a more compatible, liberal man to White's position on the board.

The final day began happily for Moscone, a 15-year political veteran, former Democratic leader of the California senate and father of four children. He was visited in his city hall office by State Assemblyman Willie Brown, a black leader and close friend.

"The mayor was really in high spirits, glowing," recalled Brown. "He yelled, 'C'mon in, this I've got to tell you!" Moscone's news was that he felt he had pulled off a political coup in selecting Don Horanzy, 42, a real estate loan officer of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, to fill out White's four-year term. Horanzy had not sought political office but had developed local support by founding a neighborhood "All People's Coalition" in White's lower-middle-class, partly black, Oriental and white ethnic district. The volunteer coalition helped combat crime and spruce up the neighborhood. Moscone had scheduled a press conference for 11:30 a.m. to announce Horanzy's appointment.

White was picked up by an unidentified woman in a red sports car at his modest bungalow on Shawnee Avenue and taken to city hall. Shortly before 11 a.m., White tapped on a basement window just off the parking ramp on the north side of the ornate, gray granite building. He told an engineer inside that he had forgotten his keys to the locked double doors by which supervisors can enter conveniently from the parking area. The engineer recognized White and let him in through the window.

Minutes later, White slipped into a normally locked side door to the mayor's second-floor suite of offices. This entry let him avoid the busy outer reception room. White asked Moscone's secretary, Cyr Copertini, if he could see her boss. Moscone's press aide, Mel Wax, passed by, saw White and sent word that Horanzy and his family should wait in an outer office to avoid a collision with the disappointed former supervisor. Wax figured that White was making a last-minute plea to get his job back. Said Wax: "I didn't talk to him. I was worried that [Horanzy] and White would see each other and we'd have a scene."

Moscone, smiling and in shirtsleeves, came out to greet White. Copertini asked if the mayor wanted anyone to sit in on the meeting, as he usually did with visitors. He laughed and said, "No, I'll see him alone." The mayor then led White through his formal office and into a cozier rear sitting room. "When he wants a heart-to-heart with somebody, the back office is a more informal setting," Wax later explained. "He liked to sit on the couch."

Shortly after 11 a.m. Copertini heard several sharp noises. "I had an awful feeling," she said later. "I went over to the window and looked out, thinking they were shots, but hoping they weren't." At that moment, Deputy Mayor Rudy Nothenberg arrived for an 11 a.m. appointment with Moscone. Nothenberg looked in the mayor's office, did not see him, and walked into the small rear room. He saw the mayor lying on the floor, his head facing downward between the couch and a coffee table, his body bleeding badly.

Nothenberg raced out a side door and into the public corridor, shouting for police. White, meanwhile, headed for the suite of supervisors' offices on the opposite side of the building. He entered a main reception area, then went directly to Milk's office and asked: "Harvey, can I see you a minute?" Milk accompanied White to White's former office, where his nameplate had already been removed.

Dianne Feinstein, sitting near by at her desk, suddenly heard five slowly repeated shots. She picked up her telephone and called the police. White ran into the reception area, yelling: "Give me my keys! Give me my keys!" Somebody gave him the keys to his assistant's car. "He was a wild man—he was just a wild man," one witness said.

Within 35 minutes of the murders, White and his wife walked into a police station four blocks from city hall. It was, ironically, a station out of which White had once worked as a patrolman. He turned in a five-shot, snub-nosed Smith & Wesson Chiefs Special Revolver, nine expended shell casings and eight unexpended rounds of hollow-point ammunition. He spent some 90 minutes under questioning by homicide detectives, then was taken to an upstairs jail and booked. After visiting him there, Mrs. White left weeping.

The coroner reported that Moscone had been shot in the right lung and the liver, then twice in the head at extremely close range. Milk had been shot three times in the body, then twice in the head, also at close range. The nine shots meant that White had reloaded his revolver after killing the mayor. At his arraignment, a controlled but subdued White asked for more time to hire a lawyer and decide how to plead to charges of first-degree murder. He was given until this week to do so.

As the city went into mourning and held services for the victims of the tragedy, Supervisor Feinstein, who had twice run vainly for mayor, emerged as a calming, compassionate leader. "If there was ever a time for this city to pull itself together, this is that time," she pleaded. "We need to be together and bring out what is good in each of our hearts." She praised Moscone at a public service for never abandoning the poor, even, as the mayor had recently said, "now that it has become fashionable to be hard-line and ultrarealistic about social goals." She said of Milk: "His homosexuality gave him an insight into the scars which all oppressed peoples wear."

Milk, a native of New York who moved to San Francisco as a financial analyst in 1969 and later opened a successful camera shop, had been very frank about his homosexuality. At his swearing-in ceremony as supervisor last January, after other officials had introduced their wives, he had presented Jack Lira, 24, as "my lover—my partner in life." Lira committed suicide three months ago in a state of depression. In the remarkable tape recording predicting that he might be killed, Milk urged that if it happened, other gays should "turn that anger and frustration and madness into something positive so that hundreds will step forward, so that gay doctors will come out, gay lawyers, gay judges, gay bankers, gay architects. These are my strong requests, knowing that it could happen, hoping it doesn't."

As is often true in such tragedies, no one could believe that the man who did the killing was capable of such a deed. "I never thought he was at all unstable," said former Supervisor Terry Fran├žois. "Just a normal young father," added another acquaintance. Intensely competitive, White had been captain of both the baseball and football teams and a Golden Gloves boxer while attending San Francisco's Woodrow Wilson High School. Son of a San Francisco fireman, he served in Viet Nam, then worked 3½ years as a policeman. He somehow managed to buy first an $8,000 Jaguar, then a $15,000 Porsche, before taking a leave of absence to hitchhike through the U.S. After joining the fire department in 1973, he was cited for heroism for rescuing a mother and her child from the 17th floor of a burning building. He was to have received the medal last week.
Mayor Moscone, whose father had been a guard at San Quentin and once showed his young son the gas chamber, had long opposed the death penalty. Last week the charges lodged against Dan White were carefully crafted to permit a court to decree that he must die for those murderous moments at city hall.
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December 11, 1978, Time Magazine, Nation: Paranoia And Delusions, 978 words


Monday, Dec. 11, 1978

Nation: Paranoia And Delusions



The survivors describe the dementia of Jim Jones

He would force a child to eat his own vomit. He banned sexual activity between Peoples Temple members but was voraciously bisexual himself and obsessed with bragging about the size of his penis. He was addicted to drugs and had nurses bleed him and provide him with oxygen for imagined illnesses.

These examples of the Rev. Jim Jones' paranoia and delusions surfaced last week in a 215-page manuscript that was made public by former temple member Jeannie Mills in San Francisco and in further interviews in Guyana with stunned survivors of the mass suicide at Jonestown.

After he moved his church from Indiana to California in 1965, Jones' mental condition seemed to deteriorate rapidly. In 1973, eight members fled the commune because of his ban against sex between cult members. Calling 30 associates to his home, Jones declared: "Something terrible has happened. Eight people have defected. In order to keep our apostolic socialism, we should all kill ourselves and leave a note saying that because of harassment, a socialist group cannot exist at this time." He did not go ahead with the plan, but from that time on, Jones periodically conducted fake suicide rituals.

The ban on sex did not apply to Jones; he would brag about his own conquests, male and female. He once boasted that he had sex with 14 women and two men on the same day. He claimed that he detested homosexual activity and was only doing it for the male temple adherents' own good—to connect them symbolically with himself. Some indeed shared his view: the cult's doctor in Guyana, Larry Schacht, used to brag about having intercourse with Jones. Jones took pleasure in forcing female followers to ridicule their husbands' sexual ability.

Temple Attorney Charles Garry says Jones was obsessed with a custody fight for a boy he claimed was his own. The child, John, was born in 1972 to Grace Stoen, who with her husband Timothy was one of Jones' top associates. At Jones' behest, Timothy Stoen signed an affidavit declaring that he had personally requested that the child be sired by "the most compassionate, honest and courageous human being the world contains." The Stoens now deny that Jones was the father and won legal custody of the child last year after a court fight. But Jones refused to let him leave Guyana. Just before Jones' death he told a newsman that the fear of losing the child prevented him from returning home. After the suicides, the child was found dead next to Jones' body.

Jones first visited Guyana in 1962 on his way to Brazil, where he lived for two years. When his paranoia, fueled by unfavorable press reports, led him to move his community from San Francisco in 1977, Guyana was a logical choice. Its socialism matched what he conceived to be his own communal-agrarian ideals. Prime Minister Forbes Burnham told TIME last week: "I feel what may have attracted him was that we had said we wanted to use cooperatives as the basis for the establishment of socialism, and maybe his idea of setting up a commune meshed with that." Guyana had its own motives in making the commune welcome: it wanted immigrants to develop its hinterland and fortify its border with Venezuela. For the Americans, Guyana offered the additional advantage of being an English-speaking country.

One of the temple's strong advocates within the Guyanese government was Viola Burnham, the Prime Minister's wife. According to diplomats in Georgetown, Guyanese officials seemed to find it was in their best interest politically to offer assistance to the cult and even contribute financially. Medicine, building materials, U.S. currency and guns were imported for the commune with little interference from local customs officials.

Jones increasingly claimed that he was physically ill, and he stressed his health problems in a document prepared for Prime Minister Burnham. Attorney Garry was told by Jones' personal doctor that the cult leader suffered from recurrent temperatures of 105° and a fungus in his lungs. But several survivors, including Tim Carter, a Jones lieutenant, say his complaints were lies. The result of the autopsy conducted by Guyanese officials on Jones has not been released. But Guyanese-born Dr. Hardat A. Sukhdeo, deputy chairman of clinical psychiatric services at New Jersey Medical School, who flew to Jonestown to help counsel survivors, says the report shows no evidence of disease. Says Dr. Sukhdeo: "The complaints were all part of Jones' progressively suicidal depression." According to survivors, Jones regularly dosed himself with tranquilizers and painkillers, including Valium and morphine sulphate. Tim Carter told Dr. Sukhdeo that the night before the massacres and suicides, Jones was babbling incoherently.

One of Jones' final delusions was that he would move his cult to the Soviet Union. A delegation from the commune talked twice with Feodor Timofeyev, the Soviet press attache in Georgetown, about a possible move, but a memo of that meeting shows the Russians offered little encouragement. Russian consular officials and a Russian doctor also visited Jonestown, which was the object of a favorable report by Tass. In the past few months, Russian language classes were held at the commune. Members had to recite Russian phrases, like "good morning," before receiving their rice-and-gravy meals.

On the day of the suicides, Jones' secretary ordered Carter and two other close aides to take a suitcase containing $500,000 in small bills and a letter to the Russian embassy. Because the case was too heavy, Carter says they buried it in the jungle. They later gave themselves up to Guyanese police, who now have possession of the money and letter.

Jones' dream of moving the commune to Russia may have stemmed from his delusion that he was the reincarnation of Lenin. Indeed, he once told Jeannie Mills in California: "Lenin died with a bullet in his body and so will I."
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December 11, 1978, Time Magazine, Nation: The Horror Lives On, 1016 words


Monday, Dec. 11, 1978

Nation: The Horror Lives On

A search for answers to the questions of Jonestown

The grisly remains of Jonestown's dead had been brought to the U.S. and stacked tidily in coffin-like aluminum transfer cases in a huge gray hangar at Delaware's Dover Air Force Base. The shacks and other buildings at the Jonestown commune in Guyana were shuttered and silent. Most of the 80 Jonestown survivors waited restlessly at the Victorian Park Hotel in Georgetown, pending a decision by Guyanese authorities on whether they would be allowed to leave or be held as witnesses, and in some cases defendants, in future murder trials.

The tragic saga of Jonestown was far from over. At Dover, teams of military pathologists, FBI technicians and civilian embalmers worked to identify the 911 corpses (the count now seemed official and final) and prepare them for burial or cremation. Yet the condition of the remains and the lack of fingerprint records for many victims meant the process was slow—and in many cases would prove futile. Autopsies were to be conducted on seven bodies: Cult Leader Jim Jones, Cult Physician Larry Schacht and five others selected at random. Officials decided that trying to pin down the precise cause of death for all victims would be impractical and pointless.

The Government had not yet decided what to do with the remains. Residents of Dover feared that unidentified or unclaimed bodies might be buried near their small town (pop. 28,500) in massive numbers and become a macabre shrine of sorts. Predicted Dover Mayor Charles A. Legates: "You could expect martyrdom, hordes of people making an annual pilgrimage on the anniversary of Jonestown. We just couldn't handle that."

Many of the victims' relatives hoped that the bodies that can be identified would be flown home for burial. But representatives of the relatives complained that many of them cannot afford the $275 that Government officials estimate as the cost of moving each coffin from Delaware to burial sites on the West Coast.

The task of removing the bodies from Guyana and embalming them was expensive, but the Government would not yet predict the total costs. The fact that U.S. taxpayers were bearing the cost upset at least two Congressmen, Illinois Republican Philip Crane and Rhode Island Democrat Edward Beard. They publicly protested the use of federal funds (unofficial estimates of the cost have run as high as $8 million) to transport and process the decayed remains. Said Crane: "Although the entire situation is deplorable, the responsibility to bring the loved ones back to the United States rests with the families, not the Federal Government." Crane demanded to know who in the State Department had authorized the operation (it was the decision of Secretary of State Cyrus Vance).

Law-enforcement agencies pressed on with their investigations. The FBI is trying to determine if there was a plan to kill Congressman Leo Ryan even before he went to Jonestown. In addition, the bureau was investigating the possibility that there are assassination squads made up of surviving cultists and a hit list left behind by Jones, as some defectors from the temple feared. The Secret Service, assuming that the President or Vice President might be on such a list, if one exists, joined the probe. Since some members of the temple in San Francisco refused to cooperate with FBI interviewers, a federal grand jury will likely be convened to question them under oath.

The apprehensions about hit squads were fueled partly by statements from master self-publicist Mark Lane, who has made a career out of pushing assassination conspiracy theories and was one of the cult's lawyers. After being hired by Jones, Lane protested in a press release: "It makes me almost weep to see such an incredible experiment, with such vast potential for the human spirit and the soul of this country, to be cruelly assaulted by the intelligence operations." After the cultists gunned down Ryan and his four American companions, and then engaged in their act of self-destruction, Lane claimed he had known all along that Jones was unstable and that the temple members had rehearsed mass suicide. But he never warned Ryan and the others about the cult's potential for violence.

Last week Lane grabbed more headlines by claiming that he knew there was an $11 million Peoples Temple fund set aside to assassinate defecting cultists, public officials and reporters who had somehow offended Jones. Lane said he even knew the numbers of the foreign bank accounts in which most of the funds were kept. He claimed that he had given this information to the FBI. That agency was checking out a variety of such reports but had not confirmed them.

Yet to be determined by investigators in the U.S. and Guyana was just how much cash, property and other assets still belonged to the cult and whether any of them could be seized as repayment for the costs the ritual of death had incurred. The temple's longtime lawyer, Charles Garry, said assets in Guyana might be used for this purpose but not those in the U.S. Said he: "I don't intend to let them get away with that. It's an ongoing church. Temple money is not subject to government interference."

Just what will happen to those who survived Jonestown, some only because they were luckily away from the commune at the fatal moments, is not at all clear. Eight of the more elderly survivors returned to the U.S. last week, after being released by police in Georgetown because they had committed no crimes and witnessed nothing that would help Guyanese authorities in their investigations. Grover Davis, 79, said he had jumped into a ditch when the suicides were ordered by Jones and pretended to be dead until everyone had left. Why? "Because I didn't want to die," he said. Hyacinth Thrash, 76, recalled that she had felt ill and had slept through the entire poison-taking ritual. When she awoke and saw no movement, she said, "I thought everybody had run off. I started crying and wailing, 'Why did they leave me? Why did they leave me?' " And then she found out why.
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December 11, 1978, Time Magazine, Nation: The Press Abroad: Aghast, 546 words


Monday, Dec. 11, 1978

Nation: The Press Abroad: Aghast


IS SATAN DEAD? This stark headline on the cover of London's prestigious Economist was typical of the foreign press reaction to the Jonestown massacre. As so often happens in moments of great American triumph or tragedy, the world press gasped, grimaced and then gushed forth explanations. Several foreign weeklies published long stories on both the deaths of 911 Peoples Temple members and on the general phenomenon of cults in the U.S. Surprisingly, only the Communist press used Jonestown as an occasion for lashing at U.S. society as a whole.

The Economist struck the most sobering note. Attributing the rise of modern cults to the decline of traditional religious belief among educated people, the weekly observed: "What happened in Jonestown, Guyana, is a ghoulish cautionary tale for these people who, in these differing ways, are seeking God in a secular world. In that search for God, it is all too easy to blunder into the arms of Satan instead." Added the Vatican news paper L'Osservatore Romano: "Christianity is a religion of life, not of death." West Germany's Stuttgarter Zeitung philosophized less cosmically: "It was not just a symptom of America or its system's shortcomings. Mystic sects and pseudoreligious groups exist in this part of the world as well and in worrisome numbers. The Jonestown deaths pose the vital question of whether in our modern way of life our institutions provide a sense of sufficient stability." Commented Tokyo's daily Asahi Shimbun: "The Guyana incident is a ghastly reminder of how fanaticism born of the contradictions of modern society can destroy human beings."

Inevitably, the peculiarly American and Californian ambience caught the eye of many foreign observers. California, noted the Statesman of India with considerable accuracy, is "the home of a hundred strange cults from the merely dotty to the disgusting." A reflection along similar lines prompted Columnist Mustafa Amin of Egypt's al Akhbar to wonder why Jones had not been stopped earlier by the police or the CIA. Yet France's daily Le Monde, which is frequently critical of American policy, found the massacre "unAmerican." Said the paper: "It would have been inconceivable, and without doubt unrealizable on the victims' own soil, with or without their consent. It was necessary to uproot them, to transport them to the heart of the jungle, to transform them into prisoners of a delirious faith in a messiah, who in the end would give free rein to his instincts for domination and death for them to become self-destructive robots." Perhaps reflecting a recent, antileftist trend among French intellectuals, the weekly Le Nouvel Observateur thought that the massacre epitomized "the insanity of totalitarianism in the guise of the clerical spirit."

For Moscow, by contrast, the story was, as Pravda put it, "one more page illustrating the tragic fate of American dissidents who could not find a place for themselves in America." The Soviets made no martyr of Jones, however, describing him as "a skillful, cynical operator who cannily took advantage of the massive disillusionment of Americans with their government and the whole American way of life."

But few foreign judgments could match in poignancy that of a Lebanese newsman as he gazed at the grim pictures from Jonestown. Said he: "We've been committing mass suicide for the past four years now. So what's new?"
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December 11, 1978, Time Magazine, Nation: Anguishing Letters to Dad, 912 words,


Monday, Dec. 11, 1978

Nation: Anguishing Letters to Dad



"Death is something I look forward to"

The Rev. Jim Jones exhorted his followers over a loudspeaker in July to write him letters analyzing their attitudes toward elitism, anarchy, capitalism, socialism and their feelings about sex, authority and death. More than 200 of the letters—including one written on a scrap of cardboard from a milk carton—were found last week in a box on the porch of his cabin at Jonestown. They offer moving insights into the adherents' obsessive loyalty to their leader, whom they addressed as "Dad, "and reveal minds bent upon self-abasement and sometimes self-destruction. The excerpts that follow use the spelling and punctuation of the original letters:

I have to children now. They both mean so much to me. I want to give them security, but I also know I need them to be a security for me. I know I needed someone to share my life with because it seemed to be so lonely at times. Its the fault of too selfish parent. I know if they must die for Socialism it will be a most honorable death because dying for Peace Justice, Freedom for all is worth the struggle.

C. Wilhite

I don't respect Dad the way I should. I respect Dad out of fear of getting in trouble. Rather than respecting him for what he is, a Marxist Lenist. When I'm in a follower role and not in a supervisoral role, I feel threatened that people are against me which isn't true and comes back to my elitetism.

Eugene Smith

One of my biggest problems I feel is my inability to cope with rejection. I wanted to make it in society so I could completely make myself over so that some guy would want to marry and I would get the love and attention I felt needed. This type of sick attitude makes me dangerous to socialism because I could be too easily used by any male I felt attracted to.

Evelyn Thomas

I fell gillty becuase i had money in the state and i did not turn it in. I am a andarech [anarchist] and I think i am a eleist [elitist].

Kecia Daisy, age 11

I waisted money buying cars and trucks, and I waisted money buying candy and soda pop, hamburgers, clothing that I didn't need. And I waist money buying gasoline and oil, waist money paying telephone bills, now Dad after hearing your teaching about how the tax off these above itms help to keep our sisters and brothers in slavement I feel very guilty. Oh yes, I bought beear, whisky, cigars, cigarettes by the carton and I feel guilt.

Gabriel Thomas

I know I still follow you because you have the gift to protect me. I like to look strong but I know I'm weak.

Shirley Smith

It seems like when ever I have a good thought on my mind it usually boils down to having sex. Im attracked to brothers, sisters and even some children. Sexually, I feel this is very bad. Dad all I can say is that I'm two people write now: one of them is a very humble and innocent persons, and the other one is a crull and insinceitive person that goes around with bad thoughts on his mind.

Preston Wade

My Feeling for Father & this cause is a very happy one I can not think of anything that I would or could be happier with. Father is wonderful, clean, straight forward & Supernatural. I play no sexual games to jealous to play sexual games. I am not afraid to die but would like to die for a reason.

Rose Shelton

Another fault is that I miss soda, candy, pie, etc. which I shouldn't miss at all. The way I can prevent this is on agricultural Sunday work extra hard and I think everyone else should to because this produces more. Not only for sweet stuff do we only work for but to make our community become more advance.

Lisa Rodriguez, age 12

I used to think why was I born, why do people have to die, every time I think about it I cried. Now I'm ready to die for this cause.

Burnell Wilson

I really thought I was a bourgeouise Black, who was making it. What I was really doing was killing our people all over the world. I was helping rape innocent women, children, stealing land, bombing beautiful colored people, black, yellow, brown, red, white. I cringe at the thought, but I will live with this because I know what a bitch I really am.

Leslie Wilson

How I feel about dying—It feels like being alone. I would like to stay around a little longer.

Syda Turner

I spend money in buying unnessary things for my grandchildren such as clothes. I want to please you and one way I know is to please the Family and I'll go a long way to please them.

Aurora Rodriguez

I am hostile towards authority and the "reward and punishment system" and "fear motivation." I feel very lonely but I am satisfied with the fact that I am over the hill, 29 yrs old. I think the best use of sex at this time is to further the cause of Communism. Most days I wish I would vanish into thin air. Death is something I look forward to. My only objection is being away from people I care about & someone I'll miss, that's You.

Maureen Talley
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December 11, 1978, Time Magazine, Nation: Following the Leader, 1604 words


Monday, Dec. 11, 1978

Nation: Following the Leader


How cults lure the drifting and discontented—and keep them

"Would you like to know what the meaning of life is?" That is an offer hard to refuse, especially when it is made by bright-eyed, neatly dressed youths who radiate assurance and confidence. Such a street scene has become a frequent occurrence in cities across the U.S. as swarms of cults—some new, some old, some familiar, some obscure—try to recruit new members. They know that in rootless, permissive, mobile America, many people are desperately searching for meaning and stability in their lives.

Cults such as Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, Scientology, Synanon, Hare Krishna and Children of God offer a refuge from the storms of the world. They purport to know the truth of existence, which members promise is available to anyone willing to submit to the discipline of the sect.

People who are drifting and discontented can find instant comradeship and a sense of self-worth in a cult. Says Dean Kelley, director of religious liberty for the National Council of Churches: "Adolescents who have been ignored by their families and their peers find themselves the center of attention of an attractive group of young people who spend hours talking and working with them." This is not just an American phenomenon. Similar groups have sprung up in Western Europe and Japan. Writes Byong-Suh Kim, chairman of the sociology department at New Jersey's Montclair College: "Japanese society has become highly fragmented and materialistic, making young people long for communal solidarity with an authoritarian figure and specific behavior guidelines."

Cults can differ considerably in their demands and discipline; not all indulge in coercion or violence. Still, many conform to a standard pattern of behavior. Once a recruit is drawn into a cult—adherents prefer to call it a sect or denomination—its message is incessantly drummed in. The novice is seldom left alone, a prey to random thoughts. Ties are severed with his past life; communications with family and friends may be eliminated altogether, a process that critics regard as "programming" or "brainwashing." Says Kelley: "These movements divide families, split communities, create tension and friction and turmoil. They are aggressive, abrasive, unheeding of any consideration but the propagation of the 'true faith.' "

Larry Spencer, who defected from the Hare Krishna sect in San Diego, told TIME how he was programmed: "They wake you up at 4 a.m. and you start chanting over and over. You're not really there, you're so tired. They pile on the spiritual answers, but you don't have enough time to think about whether they make sense. Every activity you do is what they tell you to do. I always got along with my parents. I was real close to them. But they told me that my parents were influenced by demons. That was very hard to take."

At the head of most cults is a father figure, who may be called the "Second Messiah," like Sun Myung Moon, or just plain "Dad," like Jim Jones. Sometimes, reinforcing psychological domination with physical coercion, the leader provides peace of mind for his followers at the cost of their independence. "I am not bound by the rules," says Synanon Founder Chuck Dederich. "I make them." For the leader it is a spectacular ego trip; for his followers, a release from anxiety. Small wonder that so many have a zombie-like look that shocks outsiders.

The cults preach love but often practice hate. Anyone who challenges their dogma or defects from the cult becomes an enemy deserving of punishment, which varies in severity, depending on the sect.

The more pacific Moonies rely on moral suasion to keep supporters in line and opponents at bay. Two Synanon members, on the other hand, were charged by police in Los Angeles with putting a rattlesnake in a mailbox in an attempt to kill Attorney Paul Morantz, who had won a $300,000 judgment against the sect. Morantz was bitten by the snake, but survived after hospital treatment. At last week's end, Synanon's Chuck Dederich was arrested in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., on charges of conspiring to commit murder and assault, and of solicitation to commit murder. Both charges, brought by the District Attorney of Los Angeles County, were in connection with the rattlesnake episode. Eleven Scientology leaders are under federal indictment accusing them of conspiracy to infiltrate, bug and burglarize Government agencies in an effort to discredit critics.

The cults have amassed impressive wealth. When Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard was still a science fiction writer in 1949, a colleague recalled his saying, "Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wanted to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." Today Scientology is worth an estimated $50 million. Having earned a salary of $100,000 last year, Dederich once admitted that while other leaders might make do with an old Ford, "I need a $17,000 Cadillac." Far from resenting their leaders' lush lifestyle, many cult members seem to take pride in it. Alluding to Moon's two yachts and $750,000 home in Tarrytown, N.Y., a Moonie reasons, "Why must a religious leader be an ascetic?"

Much of the cults' funds come from members. Explains Neil Salonen, who is the U.S. leader of Moon's Unification Church: "When you have a rebirth, it is accompanied by a certain amount of zeal, and it is out of this zeal that you want to give everything that you have." If zeal is missing, there are other ways of raising money. The Unification Church has sanctioned lying for the good of the cause. A defecting Moonie, Denise Peskin, described how she made the rounds of bars in San Francisco asking for contributions for some fictional project like a drug abuse center. Says she: "It is a condition of faith that if you give money, you will be saved."

Despite their dubious and sometimes deadly activities, the cults have remained pretty much outside the law. Evidence emerged last week that the U.S. State Department had been given ample warning of the impending catastrophe at Jonestown but had not acted decisively. Deborah Layton Blakey, sister of Larry Layton, the commune's alleged executioner, sent the department an eleven-page statement detailing Jones' paranoia and brutality, the suicide drills, the weapons present in the camp, the malnutrition and sickness that were rampant, and the state of fear in which most of the inhabitants lived. She claims that the commune had three days' warning that a representative of the U.S. embassy in Georgetown was about to investigate the complaints. On Jones' orders, members were well dressed for the occasion, and good food was put on the table. "A visit was the only time we ate well," says Blakey. Wearing skimpy halter tops, commune women were instructed to flirt with the embassy official to keep his mind off the investigation. His report was not critical.

In their defense, State Department officials contend that there was little they could do about Jonestown because no residents complained about conditions there. Law enforcement agencies are reluctant to tangle with groups that can claim the protection of the U.S. Constitution's provision on religious freedom, and in recent years the courts have expanded this protection. At the same time, partly because of abuses by some agents during the Watergate era, the FBI has been sharply restricted in its undercover activities. FBI agents argue that the only way they could have found out what was happening in Jonestown was to infiltrate the commune. Had that become known, says an agent, "can't you just hear the roar?"

If a cult or its members violate federal laws, the FBI can of course step in. The most obvious charge would be kidnapingr keeping a member against his will. But invariably when the FBI has investigated such a charge, agents have been told by the supposedly kidnaped person that he or she was perfectly content to stay in the cult. Says Robert Keuch, a U.S. deputy assistant attorney general who is familiar with sects and their practices: "What may be brainwashing to a parent or other relative may be belief to the alleged victim."

The Federal Government, however, has some ways of coping with the cults. At the moment an interagency task force, including members of the FBI, the IRS, the SEC and the State Department, is being organized to investigate the financial transactions of the Moonies. The group will try to determine if Moon sought tax exemption for religious organizations that were set up mainly for business profits or if Moonies had failed to register as foreign agents when they were actually performing that role.

Even if cults are not especially inhibited by the law, they do meet with other kinds of resistance. For example, they have not enjoyed notable success in many parts of the American Midwest. Explains Arthur McKay, former pastor of Cincinnati's Knox Presbyterian Church: "We are on the edge of the Bible Belt and have fairly conservative fundamentalists in quite substantial numbers. Kids who find the so-called liberalism of the mainline churches not to their liking already have available alternatives." Where a religious or secular structure with strong values exists, the cults have less opportunity to make converts. Over the years, they tend to wax and wane, subject to a harsh winnowing process, a religious equivalent of the survival of the fittest. Established church leaders like to cite a prophecy in the Book of Acts: "Refrain from these men [the early Christians] and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it."
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December 18, 1978, Time Magazine, Religion: Looking Evil in the Eye, 1070 words


Monday, Dec. 18, 1978

Religion: Looking Evil in the Eye


Is the subject still a worthwhile one for theologians?

Modern liberal theologians have forgotten the problem of evil," says University of Chicago Philosopher Paul Ricoeur. Is that true, even in the aftermath of a horror like Jonestown? Remarks Yale Divinity School's Barbara Hargrove, "in other ages, what happened to Jim Jones would have been referred to very clearly as coming under the influence of evil forces—'the devil got in him.' But I haven't heard any people using that kind of language."

To be sure, traditionalist Catholics and Evangelical Protestants still talk of individual evil, original sin, even of the devil and demons—and did so in the wake of what happened in the jungles of Guyana. But these concepts have not exactly been popular among more liberal theologians. Brown University's John Giles Milhaven, for example, refuses to attach the label "evil" even to Jonestown. "I think what really happens with people like Hitler and Jones," says he, "is simple psychological sickness. The only response [to Guyana], it seems to me, is pity for everybody involved, not moral horror. Psychological illnesses that keep people from being good, sociological causes that compel people to turn to Jones or to Hitler—that's what one should be concerned with."

The University of Toronto's Gregory Baum, like Milhaven a former Catholic priest, agrees. The enormity of the Rev. Jim Jones' deed, he maintains, in no way discredits the liberal emphasis on social and institutional evil as opposed to individual sin. Yale's Margaret Farley also defends the modern de-emphasis on personal evil. "One of the advantages of looking to social evil is that you don't neutralize evil at all, but you don't become paranoid about it either."

While Jonestown may raise questions about upbeat liberal theologies, it also raises a classic problem for orthodox belief, one as old as the Book of Job or as current as next week's list of senseless murders: Why does evil exist at all? If God is benevolent, and if he is all powerful, why does he not prevent evil? If evil exists, so the argument runs, then either God's love or his power must be limited.

The classic Christian answer to this quandary is the free will theory formulated by St. Augustine. As the Rev. Stephen Duffy of New Orleans' Loyola University summarized it last week: "God freely decided to limit his own freedom and put no limit on ours. We certainly are capable of making a botch of it." If God had programmed all human beings to be good, he explains, there might be no evil, but there would be no virtue either. God chose to let man choose.

Philosopher Alvin C. Plantinga of Michigan's Calvin College offers an intricate, logical refinement of Augustine's theory in God, Freedom and Evil (1974, reissued in 1977 by Eerdmans). He contends that it is unreasonable to argue that an omnipotent God could have created a world in which moral evil is nonexistent and, at the same time, man's spirit is free. Plantinga concludes that the existence of evil does not render the existence of God improbable, much less preclude it. But he grants that this does not solve the problem of "theodicy," the effort, in John Milton's phrase, "to justify the ways of God to man."

The tendency in modern liberal Christianity has been to solve the problem of theodicy by trimming God's omnipotence. For instance, in God and Human Anguish (Abingdon, 1977), the Rev. S. Paul Schilling, former chairman of theological studies at Boston University, proposes that eternal limits may be built into God's power, even though his love is unlimited. "If so, his creative activity involves costly travail over long periods of time, and human beings are exposed to ills that he does not choose, but works ceaselessly to remove and prevent."

Over the centuries, speculation about evil focused mainly on the imponderables of nature, the so-called acts of God. But in the 20th century, the scale of man-made evil has become so vast that it too raises doubts about the very existence of God. Why did God not prevent mankind from carrying out the Holocaust? This is a continuing issue in Jewish theology, which has produced no more conclusive an answer than the vow of Canadian Philosopher Emil Fackenheim, who is Jewish, to maintain his faith in the face of everything. Otherwise, says Fackenheim, Judaism is in danger of withering away and Hitler will have won a "posthumous victory" after all.

Compared with the epochal events of a century that has produced both Hitler and Stalin, the Guyana tragedy raises no novel theological issues. To the Rev. J. Philip Wogaman of Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., Jonestown offered a wholesale example of a problem that humanity faces on a "retail basis" each day: a despair and lack of hope in God so deep as to lead to suicide.

Traditional theology ascribes human evil, as well as evil in nature, to the work of Satan and his legions or to the ravages of original sin—"the one Christian doctrine," quips Catholic Theologian David Tracy, "that is empirically verifiable."

The horror in Jonestown appears to undermine basic elements of modern popular religion: that social sin matters and not personal evil; that it does not matter what one believes so long as the belief is sincere; that such acts as suicide are not intrinsically wrong.

Yale's Hargrove agrees. "People are re-xamining some of the assumptions of both liberal religion and liberal education about the notion of the evil being in social institutions, the idea that if we just got rid of them, all the little flowers would be free to bloom. In Guyana, people who separated themselves from the evil institutions of our capitalist-industrial economy and went out to start Eden all over again ended up, not in the perfect life, but in death."

Since Jonestown occurred in a supposedly religious framework, it raises special questions. "Nothing is as bad as bad religion," remarks Canadian Protestant Theologian Alan Davies. Says Chicago's Ricoeur, author of The Symbolism of Evil (1967): "What I fear is that everyone will try to disconnect themselves from Jonestown. 'We are the good people. This cannot happen to us.' " It can happen to anyone, insists Ricoeur, the classic example being the "good Germans" of the Nazi era. Of course, it was those solid citizens who, in the late Hannah Arendt's famous phrase, exemplified the "banality of evil" —not its absence.
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December 18, 1978, Time Magazine, Books: The Quickie Phenomenon, 762 words


Monday, Dec. 18, 1978

Books: The Quickie Phenomenon




Written in captivity, printed in a hurry

"All books are divisible into two classes," noted John Ruskin in 1865, "the books of the hour, and the books of all time." He would have been surprised to find his declaration taken literally. Only eleven days after the ghastly events in Guyana had been disclosed to the world, two paperbacks with $2.50 price tags hit the stands: Bantam's The Suicide Cult and Berkley's Guyana Massacre. Produced by teams of journalists, the "instant" books, as they are known in the trade, feature photographs, background chapters on the Peoples Temple and firsthand accounts by reporters who had accompanied Representative Leo Ryan on his fatal journey.

For Bantam, the production of a paperback original in just over a week was nothing new; The Suicide Cult was its 64th extra (among others: The Pentagon Papers, 90 Minutes at Entebbe, The Pope's Journey to the United States). No sooner had a Bantam senior editor learned of the murderous assault on Ryan and his party, via a 2 a.m. phone call from Bantam's publicity representative in San Francisco, than the wheels were set in motion. By Monday, Bantam's Editor in Chief Marc Jaffe was on the phone with San Francisco Chronicle Managing Editor William German, even then beginning to piece together the eyewitness story described by Chronicle Correspondent Ron Javers, who was wounded at the scene.

Javers had filed his initial report to the Chronicle from San Juan, P.R. A day later, while he was recovering from surgery at the Andrews Air Force Base hospital outside Washington, a Bantam editor was on the phone proposing a deal. Within hours, the Chronicle had assembled a team of 15 reporters to work with Javers and Co-Author Marshall Kilduff, who had been investigating Peoples Temple activities in California for two years.

In New York, meanwhile, at least two dozen staffers were collecting photographs and readying the machinery of production. The book was written in roughly four days, arrived in New York by courier on a Sunday, was copy-edited and flown to a Nashville plant to be set, and then rushed to Chicago, where the first 650,000 bound copies rolled off the presses at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. Said Co-Author Javers: "It was like writing a book by remote control."

Charles A. Krause, the Washington Post's South American correspondent who had escaped from the Port Kai-tuma ambush with a superficial bullet wound, managed to join the pool of reporters that returned to the Jonestown site with Guyanese authorities. He was filing from his hotel room in Georgetown when Post Executive Editor Benjamin C. Bradlee recalled him to Washington. There Krause holed up in a suite at the Madison Hotel and began working. "It was sort of like Georgetown," Krause recalled. "I was being held captive." At first dictating his recollections and later doing his own typing, Krause assembled his account in five days, while Post Editors Laurence Stern and Richard Harwood filled in the background. Their book went on sale the same day as Bantam's.

The question remains: Are these "quickies" merely commercial ventures for publishers, or do they represent responsible efforts to record and interpret dramatic world events? Profits, it so happens, are likely to be marginal, given the extra shipping, printing and overtime costs that result from speeding up production. In the case of Bantam's Guyana special, these costs amounted to a high five figures. A majority of instant books break even, but some—notably The President's Trip to China and The White House Transcripts—were financial failures, with returns as high as 60%. The Pentagon Papers was their biggest success, with 1.66 million in print. "It is a high-risk venture," admits Stuart Applebaum, Bantam's publicity manager. Rena Wolner of Berkley is more blunt. Says she: "It's crap shooting."

Nor does money appear to be the main incentive for authors—though CBS has already made a deal with the Washington Post team. Advances are modest by paperback standards; Krause received some $40,000 up front, to be divided among three collaborators.

Considering the journalistic haste with which they were assembled, Guyana Massacre and The Suicide Cult are solid documentaries. "It isn't War and Peace," admits Harwood, co-author of the Berkley book. Krause and his co-authors offer more sophisticated speculation about the psychological motives for Jonestown. One of the chapters is entitled "Scoop," a reference to Evelyn Waugh's satiric novel about journalists who cover an elusive crisis in a backward country. "A friend told me I would never write a book without a gun to my head," said Krause. Perhaps more editors and publishers should arm themselves.
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December 18, 1978, Time Magazine, Nation: Eerie Echoes, Missing Money, 613 words,


Monday, Dec. 18, 1978

Nation: Eerie Echoes, Missing Money


Jonestown's lingering ghosts

"Mothers, you must keep your children under control! They must die with dignity!" Over the shrieks of the young and the sound of gunshots boomed the baritone voice of Jim Jones, exhorting his followers to spray cyanide deep into the throats of infants and any adults who resisted his order to die. This haunting echo of the Jonestown horror was discovered last week on one of hundreds of tape recordings discovered by the FBI and Guyanese officials at the Peoples Temple compound in Guyana. The tape was on a recording machine that had apparently been turned on just as the mass suicides began, to provide a grisly final accounting for the cult of death.

The officials also found several cartons of memos, directives, letters and other documents that detail the community's history, and as much as $2.5 million in U.S. and Guyanese currency. The cash is part of a tantalizing mystery: How much money did the Peoples Temple have, where is it all, and who has rights to it?

Timothy Stoen, who was chief legal adviser to the cult until shortly before Jones moved to Guyana, told TIME that money in Peoples Temple bank accounts around the world could total $20 million. Stoen himself set up two dummy corporations in 1975 for the Peoples Temple in Panama. One of them, called Briget, S.A., now has $2.5 million in a secret account, according to an American investigator. Said Stoen: "Jones wanted funds close by in case he had to quickly leave Guyana." U.S. investigators say Stoen and other top Jones aides also set up many personal accounts, and that the ones opened by Stoen totaled more than $500,000.

According to Stoen, the key to the mystery of the money is Terri Buford, a former mistress of Jones' who left Jonestown and returned to the U.S. about three weeks before the suicides. Buford has been kept in hiding by her attorney, Conspiracy Theorist Mark Lane. Former cult members say that Jones frequently sent Buford overseas to set up dummy corporations and bank accounts. Buford is negotiating with the U.S. Attorney's office in San Francisco for immunity from prosecution in return for information on the foreign bank accounts. Lane denies that he too is negotiating for immunity.

The ex-cultists report that the temple's income last year averaged $250,000 a month, including $60,000 from elderly adherents' Social Security checks. Before Jones and his followers went to Guyana, he had elderly members bused each month to a bank in San Francisco that at his request opened at 7 a.m. to receive the checks. In addition, San Francisco real estate records show that many members transferred ownership of their houses to the cult, which then sold them when it needed cash.

Attorney Charles Garry, who has represented Jones and the temple since last year, filed papers in San Francisco Superior Court last week to dissolve the temple so that its assets could be used to bury the 911 victims. By Lane's account, however, all of the temple's cash may never be recovered. He told the New York Times that before Buford left Guyana, the bank accounts were transferred to the name of an unidentified elderly woman who later died in the mass suicide.

The House International Relations Committee meanwhile began looking into the possibility that the Government can be reimbursed from the cult's assets for the cost of flying the victims' bodies back to the U.S. and preparing them for burial. In an attempt to determine roughly how much money is at stake, the U.S. Attorney's office in San Francisco has subpoenaed bank records and summoned 17 Peoples Temple survivors for questioning by a grand jury.
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December 18, 1978, Time Magazine, Religion: The Quandary of the Cults, 765 words


Monday, Dec. 18, 1978

Religion: The Quandary of the Cults


Main-line U.S. churches are unsure how to confront them

Why has main-line religion been so ineffectual in confronting the bizarre cults that were proliferating in the U.S. long before tragedy struck at Jonestown? The Evangelical Protestants and the Fundamentalists have been waging ideological hand-to-hand combat with them, as have Jewish groups (which are fending off Christian evangelists at the same time). But Roman Catholicism and the more liberal Protestant denominations have settled for polite discourse, though they, too, mistrust the cults.

Other than words, of course, the churches have no weapons under the American system of free conscience and do not want them. In Catholic countries, political coercion of belief had largely died out long before the Second Vatican Council adopted its Declaration on Religious Freedom. That has led, in turn, to a more relaxed, benign stance toward rivals, even the most macabre of them. Says the Rev. Stephen Duffy, chairman of the theology and religion department of New Orleans' Loyola University: "The Catholic Church has learned a certain tolerance, a wisdom in biding your time and hoping people will regain their senses." The same is true of many Protestant churches. Jonestown also intensifies these groups' embarrassment over the failure of traditional religions to spread their message.

Commitment to the principle of rights for rival faiths is the major reason for reticence, but in addition some fear that to speak out against any "church," even one clearly unworthy of the name, would be to risk controls on all churches. That concern is not entirely without foundation. Vigilantes have engaged in kidnaping and "deprogramming" U.S. members of oddball religious groups for years. A number of newspapers are demanding that Congress hold hearings on cults. Of course, even the worst actions ascribed to, say, the Moonies, the Scientologists or the Hare Krishnas do not remotely resemble the insanities of Jonesism.

The Rev. Glenn Igleheart, the "interfaith witness" director of the nation's largest Protestant group, the Southern Baptist Convention, warns against "overreaction" by parents of cult members or by the government. He urges fellow Christians to support "free religious expression" at the same time that they carefully scrutinize new faiths and "speak out against deviant beliefs and abuses against persons." Every new group should be examined carefully, he advises, and measured by such beliefs and practices as "the unquestioned lordship of Jesus Christ, the unimpeded right of each believer to communicate with God and use of the Bible as the norm against which all doctrines and practices should be verified."

If cults pose a problem for main-line churches in general, the Rev. Jim Jones posed a particularly difficult one for Indianapolis' Kenneth L. Teegarden, president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a respectable denomination of 1.3 million members. Until his death Jones, for all his aberrations, was a clergyman in good standing in that church. What is more, he took care to join the Guyana Council of Churches.

Under the Disciples' tradition of local autonomy, says Teegarden, "it is not possible nor has it been desirable to conduct investigations of the activities or ministries of local congregations. We have stood firmly for a variety of styles and approaches to Christian mission." He adds that because of the "tenuous relations" between headquarters and local churches, he had only a "bare knowledge" of Jones' operation. That is remarkable, given the fact that Jones' Peoples Temple branches were two of the five largest congregations in the church and for a decade he had stirred more press controversy than any other clergyman in the denomination. An investigation by the Christian Church in California went nowhere. Officials are now trying to decide whether to alter cherished laissez-faire traditions and establish a procedure for throwing out unfit ministers or congregations.

But no amount of procedural change is likely to resolve the basic problem. According to the Rev. J. Gordon Melton, a Methodist who heads the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Evanston, Ill., cults are a natural outgrowth of the religious climate in urban areas. "In a city no one cares what his neighbor does for religion," says he. "You can always sell a few people on every weird idea that comes along." By his reckoning, 10% of America's urban population is touched in one way or another by the new cults. As Melton sees it, that figure may well keep growing right up to the year 2000. "A lot of people will be coming along expecting the end of the world, just the way they did at the end of the first millennium," he warns. "You haven't seen anything yet."
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December 25, 1978, Time Magazine, Letters, Dec. 25, 1978, 880 words

Letters

Guyana Horror

To the Editors:

Never has a magazine cover had such an impact upon me. That single photograph of the dead in Guyana [Dec.4] brought the entire Boschian horror into focus. The scene will be forever engraved in my memory.

Michael Swartz Alexandria, Va.

You offend me. I ripped off the cover and all interior photographs, in living color, of the massacre. They reflect the same loss of human dignity that the events in Guyana themselves represent

Nancy C. Warmbrod Huntsville, Ala.

The Rev. Jones, Guyana—my God! It is a stunning, numbing thing. One can only wonder what social errors permit such horrors to occur, all in the face of history, all in the name of God.

Sylvia R. Morovitz Lynnfield, Mass.

Whenever final loyalty or trust rests in humanity or a human being— whether guru or general, seer or scientist, priest, president or pop pschologist—then dreams will be shattered and hopes destroyed, and the agony of alienation or the despair of death will seem to be the only alternatives.

(The Rev.) R. Marcus Otterstad Waller, Texas

Almost as amazing as the events in Jonestown is the apparent willingness of the American people to foot the bill for this madness. That's carrying the concept of collective guilt too far.

Joseph King San Francisco

Jones saw the handwriting on the wall, and the words spelled nuclear war. So choosing to march to a different drum beat, Jones' disciples followed him into the jungle. Their humanistic dream: to build a better world. But, as it turned out, the handwriting was a forgery, the drummer was mad, the humanism bankrupt and the dream a nightmare.

Philip G. Wik Carol Stream, III.

The est Extravaganza

It is very appropriate that the articles concerning the est extravaganza and the events in Jonestown appeared in the same issue [Dec. 4]. I dedicated myself to est for 1½ years. Only when I moved to a place where there were no other est people around was I able to think clearly again.

Deborah King West Hartford, Conn.

quit knocking the human-potential movement. What is wrong with believing that people have immense potential, that they matter and that they can do a good deal to make this world a better place? What's wrong with love, health, integrity and happiness? The only way to develop human potential is to believe it exists in each of us.

Viki Stackig New York City
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Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008, Time Magazine,  Q&A: A Jonestown Survivor Remembers, by Andrea Sachs

No one knows more about the Jonestown massacre than journalist Tim Reiterman. He began investigating Reverend Jim Jones, the twisted leader of the Peoples Temple cult, for the San Francisco Chronicle 18 months before Jones burst on the world's stage 30 years ago. Reiterman's articles caught the attention of Congressman Leo Ryan, who was concerned about constituents who had joined the group. Reiterman was one of a handful of journalists who accompanied the Congressman on a fact-finding mission to Jonestown, Guyana. On November 18, 1978, after meeting with Jones and his followers, their small party was ambushed by Peoples Temple gunmen as they were leaving. Ryan and four others were killed; Reiterman himself was wounded. The shootings were just the beginning of the carnage. Later that day more than 900 members of the Peoples Temple died in a mass suicide ceremony, most after they lined up to drink poisoned Flavor Aid. (See pictures of Jonestown).

After recovering from his injuries, Reiterman spent the next four years researching and writing a comprehensive book about the tragedy, "Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People," which has just been reissued by Tarcher/Penguin. The 624-page book is an extraordinary act of scholarship, the definitive account of an event that continues to fascinate and mystify. TIME senior reporter Andrea Sachs spoke to Reiterman from San Francisco, where he is now the news editor for the Associated Press in northern California.

Hear the extended interview with Tim Reiterman here:See pictures of the cults that went wacko.

TIME: Was Jim Jones a bad person from the beginning, or did he grow into one?

Tim Reiterman: Good and evil coexisted in Jim Jones throughout his life. I really do believe, having gone back to his birthplace in Indiana and tracing his life, that the seeds of the madness that the world saw in November 1978 were there from his earliest years. He was somewhat neglected as a child. He was part of an unconventional family where his mother was the breadwinner and his father was a brooding man whose work life was cut short by mustard gas scarring from World War I on his lungs. Jones sought out acceptance and a sense of family through churches, but at the same time he had a tremendous need for power and control. He would conduct little church services up in the loft of a barn and lock his playmates in there; later he used a firearm to try to control his best friend. These early incidents, as well as some cruelty to animals, were harbingers for the sickness that grew in him over the years.

TIME: But throughout his whole life, Jones found followers. How?

Even as a kid, he was a really engaging speaker and character. He would go out and play minister. He would entertain people. He had a way of spinning words and a power to his voice. He drew people who were basically religious for the most part in the early years. They were hard-working people, and they were drawn initially to a rare thing in the Midwest, an integrated Christian congregation. When Jones brought his group to California, he started attracting a broader base of people, too. Not just people from the churches, especially the black churches, but also young, idealistic, many of them college-educated people, who wanted to belong to an organization that practiced what it preached and had a social and political component. He also built through the communal organizations that he set up within the Temple a sense of family. At the same time, however, he was breaking down the individual family units within the Temple, and he was getting a tighter and tighter grip on his followers, just as he locked up his playmates in a barn in Indiana. He found ways to take control of and isolate his members from their families and from the outside. One of the things that he did was press them to give up their belongings, sign over their houses in some cases, sign over custody of their children. One of the cruelest things, I thought, was that he had them sign false confessions that they had sexually molested their children—which, of course, left those members vulnerable and bound them in a perverse way to the church.



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TIME: Is it true that his followers were disenfranchised people, people outside of society?

The short answer is no. The people who were attracted to the Temple did, for the most part, have one common trait. They were altruistic. They wanted to be part of something larger than themselves. So in that sense they were seekers, but in the main they were hard-working, functioning individuals who had lives that were ordinary in most senses. They had a need to join an organization where they were doing something meaningful. Keep in mind that this was in the post-civil rights and post-Vietnam eras, and a lot of young people, in particular, and older ones, too, were looking for some outlet for their desire to do things for their fellow man.

TIME: What was your impression of Jones when you interviewed him in Guyana?

He did not appear to be well. His skin appeared sallow. His eyes were almost gelatinous. His handshake seemed rather weak, and when he spoke there was a constant undercurrent of paranoia. He even seemed to put a figurative gun in the hands of us journalists, saying we don't need to shoot him, that our words have that kind of effect. He was clearly viewing himself as a martyr and it was very bothersome to realize that over 900 lives were in the hands of this man.

TIME: When you and the Congressman's group got ready to leave Jonestown, what happened?

Fifteen people stepped forward [asking to leave], including one entire family, and much of another family, and both of these families were long-time followers of Jim Jones dating back to Indiana days. The mood of Jonestown grew darker as this day went on, and late in the afternoon the clouds turned black and there was this freakish wind that just tore through the pavilion as I was talking with Jones. Then there was this torrent of rain. He basically said that the Temple was being destroyed from within, and what he meant by that was that these defectors—were going to tell the world eventually what was really going on inside Jonestown, and that the end was drawing near. So it was a very ominous moment before we even left Jonestown.

TIME: What happened when you went to your plane?

During that boarding procedure, a Temple tractor and trailer full of gunmen raced towards us. They jumped out and they started firing. That's when I was hit by gunfire as I was trying to take cover behind one of the plane wheels. Fortunately I was only hit in the arm a couple of times and was able to jump up and sprint to the jungle and take cover. When I came out a few moments later, I saw that the Congressman had been killed, that three of the newsmen had been killed—including my partner on that trip, San Francisco Examiner photographer Greg Robinson—and one of the defectors also was killed.

TIME: Do you think that the 900 deaths that immediately followed were suicides, or were they murders?

I believe that this was a mass murder. First of all, there were over 200 children who could not have formed the intent to commit suicide. Second, Jim Jones had isolated his people and conditioned them through suicide rehearsals and mock sieges to accept death. Third, he orchestrated the events on that final day so that the outcome was never in doubt. He had gunmen go shoot the Congressman. Then he turned around to his followers, once he got news the Congressman was dead, and announced it. He said, now some among us have done something that's going to cause the army to come in here and nobody will be safe. Let's bring forward the potion and let's bring the children first. By having the children die first, he sealed the fate of their parents and other elders, because no one would have any reason to live. As this was all going on, the pavilion was surrounded with armed guards with guns and crossbows, so people were not going to go anywhere. Many appeared to have been injected with poison.

TIME: What happened to Jones himself?

Jim Jones was found with a single bullet wound to the head, pretty much a contact wound. I believe that he either shot himself or was shot by a close aide as he had planned.

TIME: Do you think about Jonestown now?

I think about it every day. I think about the people, the 900 people I saw who were young and old and vibrant and talented and performing on that first evening when I met them. I think about those images of their bodies in piles and final graves that have been used again and again and again. I think about what happened on the airstrip, too. I don't replay those events every day in full, but they cross my mind. When you're part of something like the events in Jonestown, they become part of you.



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