1978 | Jonestown

Father Knows Best

A family that forms a cult together...

Jim Jones: Free at last. [crowd clapping] Please, keep your emotions down, keep your emotions down…Children, it will not hurt if you will be, if you’ll be quiet, if you’ll be quiet. [children crying in background, humming, music] It’s never been done before you say? It’s been done by every tribe in history, every tribe facing annihilation. All the Indians in the Amazon are doing it now. They refuse to bring any babies into the world. They kill every child that comes into the world, because they don’t want to live in this kind of a world. So be patient, be patient…death is…I tell you I don’t care how many screams you hear, I don’t care how many anguished cries…Death is a million times preferable to ten more days of this life. If you knew what was ahead of you, if you knew what was ahead of you, you’d be glad to be stepping over tonight. Death, death, death is common to people…And the Eskimos, they take death in their stride. Let’s, let’s be dignified. If you’ll quit telling them they’re dying, if you adults will stop some of this nonsense…Adults, adults, adults, I call on you to stop this nonsense. I call on you to quit exciting your children when all they’re doing is going to a quiet rest.

Man: All I’d like to say is that my so-called parents are filled with so much hate. 

Man: I think you people out here should think about how your relatives was and be glad that the children are being put to rest, and all I can say is that I thank Dad for making me strong to stand with it all and make me ready for it. Thank you.

Jones: All that’s, let me—all they’re doing is taking a drink, that takes, to go to sleep…That’s what death is, sleep…I know, but I’m tired of it all.

Woman #1: …loving thing we could have ever done, the most loving thing all of us could have done and it’s been a pleasure walking with all of you in this revolutionary struggle. No other way I would rather go than to give my life for socialism, communism, and I thank Dad very, very much.

Woman #2: That, that Dad’s love and mercy, goodness and kindness and bring us to this land of freedom, his love, his mother was the advanced, the advanced guide to socialism and his love, his mercy will go on forever, unto the…

Jones: Where’s the vat, the vat, the vat? Where’s the vat with the green C thing? CN…The vat, with the green CN please. Bring it here so the adults can begin…beg you, don’t, don’t, fail to follow my advice, you’ll be sorry…You’ll be sorry…[unintelligible word]…that we’ll do it than that they do it.

Voices in the background: That’s right, that’s right.

Jones: …Must trust, you have to step across…We used to sing, “This world, this world’s not our home.” Well, it sure isn’t…We were saying it sure wasn’t…really doesn’t want, you’re telling me. All he’s doing is what we’ll tell him. Assure these…Can some people assure these children of the relaxation of stepping over to the next plane? That’d set an example for others. You set one thousand people who say, “We don’t like the way the world is…”

Crowd: That’s right, that’s right.

Jones: Take our life from us, we laid it down, we got tired. We didn’t commit suicide. We committed an act of revolutionary suicide protesting the conditions of an inhumane world.

About This Text

From an FBI transcript. Jones opened Indiana’s first biracial church in 1954 and a year later changed its name to the People’s Temple, with himself as its sole leader. The church became increasingly cultish over the next two decades, leasing 3,842 acres from Guyana’s socialist government in 1974 to create the “Promised Land” of Jonestown. When a U.S. congressman arrived to investigate tales of corruption and abuse in 1978, Jones ordered a mass “revolutionary suicide” via cyanide-laced punch. The death toll reached 913, including Jones and 276 children.