918 Americans (304 aged 17 or younger) – members of a San Francisco-based religious group called the Peoples Temple – died after drinking poison at the urging of their leader, the Reverend Jim Jones, in a secluded South American jungle settlement.
I decided, how can I demonstrate my Marxism? The thought was, infiltrate the church. So I consciously made a decision to look into that prospect.
Jones had previously witnessed a faith healing service at the Seventh Day Baptist Church, and concluded that such healings could attract people, and generate income, helping to accomplish his social goals. Jones and Temple members knowingly faked healings because they found that the increased faith generated financial resources to help the poor and finance the church. These "healings" involved chicken livers and other animal tissue, claimed by Jones (and confederate Temple members) to be cancerous tissues removed from the body.
The Temple used ten to fifteen Greyhound-type bus cruisers to transport members up and down California freeways each week for recruitment and fundraising.Jones always rode bus number seven, which contained armed guards and a special section lined with protective metal plates. He told members that the Temple would not bother scheduling a trip unless it could net $100,000, and the Temple's goal for annual net income from bus trips was $1 million
Jone's church organized conventions that drew as many as 11,000 attendees, as Jones and the other preachers conducted "healings" and impressed attendees by revealing private information—usually numbers, such as addresses, phone numbers, or Social Security numbers, which private detectives could easily discover beforehand.
In 1961, Jones claimed he had had a vision of Chicago coming under a nuclear attack. He claimed that Indianapolis would also be destroyed, convincing aides that the Temple needed to look for a new location. A 1962 Esquire magazine article listed the nine safest places to be in a nuclear war, so Jimmy set out to find a safe place to preach. Jones preached that his healing power demonstrated that he was a special manifestation of "Christ the Revolution.
"Jim said that all of us were homosexuals," Joyce Houston, an ex-Temple follower, said in the Jonestown documentary. "Everyone except [him]. He was the only heterosexual on the planet, and that the women were all lesbians; the guys were all gay. And so anyone who showed in interest in sex was just compensating."
During Ryan's visit in Jonestown, a few settlers told the congressman that they wanted to return to the States, an act that Jones saw as a betrayal. Afterwards when Ryan, the defectors, and the journalists were waiting at the Port Kaituma airstrip for planes to take them home, a truck arrived carrying Temple gunmen who then opened fire.
Jones then made his speech to his followers in the Jonestown pavilion. He commanded his followers to drink cyanide-laced punch, starting with the children first. Long before the actual event, Jones had his followers drink what they initially believed was poison as a test of loyalty to him, which was a rehearsal for the event he had planned. There were armed guards with guns and crossbows to ensure that nobody was getting out alive. Then gave the order to kill the children first.
Jim Jones, who was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head. There is credible speculation that the person shot in the side of the head was not actually Jim Jones.