- Jun 2014
- Cleveland, Ohio
The Jonestown massacre and how 918 people followed a cult leader to Guyana and died in a single day*Snip*
Now, forty years on, a new documentary recalls what would culminate in the largest loss of American lives in a single event until 9/11.
Named after their leader, the Reverend Jim Jones, founder of the Peoples Temple of the Disciples of Christ, Jonestown was envisaged as a “rainbow family” of all ages and races, working towards the utopia the preacher had promised them: “Divine principles. Total equality. A society where people own all things in common, where there is no rich or poor, where there are no races.”
Here, good old-fashioned Pentecostal preaching would be fused with the revolutionary ideals of the Sixties and Seventies.
Here, the walls would be daubed with signs proclaiming: “Love one another.”
When they finally counted the bodies after what would become known as the Jonestown massacre of 18 November 1978, the total came to 918, of whom 304 were children. They had been persuaded to “drink the Kool-Aid”.
Jones’s legacy, you might think, is just an expression about drinking the Kool-Aid, deriding – not celebrating – a failure to question mass delusion.
But now the airing of a new documentary about the massacre has raised questions about whether it could all happen again.
Leslie Wagner-Wilson, a survivor who contributed to the A&E documentary Jonestown: The Women Behind the Massacre, has warned: “I think Peoples Temple rose from a social political environment that’s similar to what we’re facing now.”
Ms Wagner-Wilson, now a 61-year-old grandmother, told Fox News: “There’s a need. People want to be a part of something. They want to feel safe; they want to feel a sense of community.
Jonestown is not the only recorded mass suicide.
Every Mass Suicide In World History
It's unique, though, for the huge number of victims and child victims. Jonestown also is unique for exploiting the high level of discontent in America to recruit members and later, persuade them that there was no hope left for lives worth living.
So.....are these same conditions present in modern America, IYO? Could it happen again?