Category: Peoples Temple
Of all the comebacks on Capitol Hill, Rep. Jackie Speier’s ranks among the most unexpected. Her first stint here, 30 years ago, nearly killed her.
In November 1978, Speier, then a 28-year-old legal aide to Rep. Leo J. Ryan (D-Calif.), accompanied the maverick lawmaker, a handful of reporters and concerned family members into the jungles of Guyana to investigate the People’s Temple cult. Cult members attacked and killed Ryan and several members of the entourage.
Speier was shot five times and left for dead, and more than 900 cult members committed mass suicide at the urging of their leader, Jim Jones.
Jackie Speier, who as a Congressional aide nearly 30 years ago was shot and left for dead on a Guyana airstrip, won a special election Tuesday for the House seat once held by her former boss
The question has been asked more than once of Rob Jones by well-meaning but obviously history-challenged inquirers. Essentially, it is: Where were you when family patron Jim Jones led more than 900 of his cult followers in the infamous mass suicide by drinking cyanide-laced Flavor Aid at Jonestown, Guyana?
Tragedy struck the Moore family in 1978 in the form of Peoples Temple, a religious group whose hundreds of members killed themselves at their jungle commune called Jonestown.
The Rev. Jim Jones’ journey to the Promised Land turned out to be a dead end – a mass murder/suicide in Guyana that took more than 900 lives. Although Jones’ sick tale is familiar, filmmakers Stanley Nelson, Marcia Smith and Noland Walker have produced a riveting documentary about it.
Stephan Jones hasn’t seen – nor does he plan on seeing – Jonestown: Paradise Lost, a harrowing docudrama recounting the last days of the People’s Temple in the jungles of Guyana in November 1978. He lived through it. Jones is the son of infamous cult leader Jim Jones, the mastermind behind one of the grimmest chapters of the last century.
It has been 29 years, but the archival images of those hundreds of corpses, lying just as they fell, scattered across an eerily silent Jonestown compound, are no less shocking or horrific. The tragic saga of Rev. Jim Jones and his followers still has something relevant to say about abused power, unconditional influence and extremist faith.
“Nobody joins a cult,” insists the former Peoples Temple member Deborah Layton in Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple. “You join a religious organization. You join a political movement. You join with people you really like.”
The People’s Temple, the cult that expired in the mass suicide and murder organized by Jim Jones, is often regarded as a cancer that 1960s utopianism wrought, a disease of idealism splintered and sent off course.
Mass suicide, or was it mass murder? More than 900 dead — new research and new details, a terrifying look at what turned Jonestown into a killing ground.