Jim Jones -- Jonestown

Jim Jones was the leader of a small religious group in California. In the 70s he took his followers to South America where they lived in a commune called Jonestown. He went crazy and got his followers to commit suicide by drinking poisoned kool-aid. Anti-Moon people always focus on Jonestown to frighten everyone about all small religious groups. There is always a bad apple in every barrel.

In 1978 Jim Jones took his followers from California to a remote South American jungle and built a commune in Guyana. A congressman from his district in California came to visit to investigate accusations that the people were mistreated in what they called the People's temple. When his plane landed at a nearby airport some of Jones' followers murdered him. Jones then ordered everyone to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. He then killed himself. Nine Hundred and fourteen people died.

The book, Seductive Poison, gives a sympathetic history of Jonestown. A reviewer wrote, "She recounts the fear and suspicion engendered in those who came to Jonestown, Guyana, looking for a multiracial, socialist paradise under the leadership of an egomaniacal madman."

These mass suicides stigmatized all small religious groups who people felt existed only because weak minded people were blindly following a charismatic leader who abused his power. All non-conformist groups were seen as being potentially dangerous.

It is sad that there are bad leaders in all areas of life. But it is wrong to use a broad brush to paint any type of organization or people on the tragic behavior of a tiny minority. Just as there is extreme evil from Hitler to Jim Jones, there is extreme good from George Washington to Sun Myung Moon.

Out of the many small groups in America, an infantecimally small number are dangerous. In the 1990s a strange group called Heaven's Gate committed suicide in their commune. They were into some kind of weird belief about aliens. Anti-cult, anti-Moon people warn that Rev. Moon will do the same. This is ridiculous. Don't listen to the Cain side.

Listen to the Abel side. Professor Jeffrey Hadden, is an expert in New Religious Movements at the University of Virginia. He says, "The notion that somehow new religions are seductively slurping people into their orbit on the streets or through the Internet is absolutely bizarre. We constantly have new religions appear on the scene. Most don't make headlines. They come and - after a short while - they go."


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