- Jones, Jim
orig. James Warren Jonesborn May 13, 1931, near Lynn, Ind., U.S.died Nov. 18, 1978, Jonestown, GuyanaU.S. leader of a New Religous Movement.He became a preacher in Indianapolis. He established the People's Temple, which was affiliated with the Disciples of Christ and opposed racism and poverty. The group moved to San Francisco in 1971. Accused of defrauding church members, Jones led his group to Guyana in 1977 and set up the agricultural commune of Jonestown, using threats and force to control his followers. In 1978 U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan went to Jonestown to investigate allegations against Jones. Ryan and four others were killed when they reached the airport to return to the U.S. In the aftermath, most of the Jonestown residents, in a mass rite of murder-suicide, were shot or poisoned; Jones died of a gunshot wound. The death toll was 913, including many children.
* * *▪ American cult leaderbyname of James Warren Jonesborn May 13, 1931, near Lynn, Ind., U.S.died Nov. 18, 1978, Jonestown, GuyanaAmerican cult leader who promised his followers a utopia in the jungles of South America after proclaiming himself messiah of the Peoples Temple, a San Francisco-based evangelist group. He ultimately led his followers into a mass suicide, which came to be known as the Jonestown Massacre (Nov. 18, 1978).In the 1950s and '60s in Indianapolis, Ind., Jones gained a reputation as a charismatic churchman, and, after moving his headquarters to northern California in 1965 (first settling near Ukiah and then in San Francisco in 1971), he apparently became obsessed with the exercise of power. In the face of mounting accusations by journalists and defectors from the cult that he was illegally diverting the income of cult members to his own use, Jones and hundreds of his followers emigrated to Guyana and set up an agricultural commune called Jonestown (1977). As ruler of the sect, Jones confiscated passports and millions of dollars and manipulated his followers with threats of blackmail, beatings, and probable death. He also staged bizarre rehearsals for a ritual mass suicide.On Nov. 14, 1978, U.S. Rep. Leo Ryan of California arrived in Guyana with a group of newsmen and relatives of cultists to conduct an unofficial investigation of alleged abuses. Four days later, as Ryan's party and 14 defectors from the cult prepared to leave from an airstrip near Jonestown, Jones ordered the group assassinated. When he learned that only Ryan and four others (including three newsmen) had been killed and that those that had escaped might bring in authorities, Jones activated his suicide plan. On November 18, he commanded his followers to drink cyanide-adulterated punch, an order that the vast majority of them passively and inexplicably obeyed. Jones himself died of a gunshot wound in the head, possibly self-inflicted. Guyanese troops reached Jonestown the next day, and the death toll of cultists was eventually placed at 913 (including 276 children).
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