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Jim Jones Coaches Jonestown Residents to Respond to Reporters

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Q049-1: Jim Jones Coaches Jonestown Residents to Respond to Reporters
In this undated - and non-contextual - tape, Jim Jones holds a meeting of the Jonestown community during which he prepares them for the arrival of a few unnamed reporters, by posing random questions to random (almost all unidentified) members and passing or revising the answers he hears. While Jones coaches the people to improve their answers, the tone is generally light-hearted, and there are numerous moments of levity.
Jones often offers suggestions to people on what to emphasize: "I would say about the weather that we always have some sunshine every day"; "You might say, before I came into this church, I was wasting my life on drugs and that sort of thing, [but I] haven't had any need for drugs, and haven't committed a crime of any kind since I got in the church, 'cause my life is fulfilled"; "I'd say it's a community. That's what I was after. Jonestown's a community."
But just as often, he cautions people about what not to say. He asks the people not to call him "Dad," but the habit is engrained, so when one man slips up, Jones' reminder is quiet: "'Thank you,' just say 'thank you.' Stop the 'Dad' now. Let's practice." When another man answers a question about the health of people in Jonestown by saying a number of people have lost weight, Jones reminds him that their critics have charged that the Jonestown diet is insufficient, so "[b]e sure to preface [your comment] by saying, a lot of our people back [in the States] were terribly overweight." The access to Jonestown in a "front entrance," not a gate. He also tells them not to talk about guards, about fences - "which obviously we don't have" - or about discipline. He counsels them on what to say about people going in and out of Jonestown, and admonishes them not to talk about anyone wanting to leave. He discourages talk about healings or cancers, because "[t]hey won't understand it. They'll only make mockery of it." He urges them not to call each other "comrade" or to refer to each other by revolutionary names - "we're not gonna call anybody Che. Nobody making that mistake" - or to do anything else "that shows our red." In one string of reminders of their beliefs, he interjects, "We don't believe in suicide."
Jonestown Institute
  • Spirit Lab: New Religious Thought in the Golden State
6.98 MB
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