Important aspects of Jim Jones and three primary sources related to his following
Mania revolving around messianic prophets has shaped the national consciousness dating back to the American Revolution. From virulent anti-capitalist and civil war veteran, Cyrus Teed to the dapper and overemphasized civil right founder father divine, to megalomaniacal Jim Jones. These people have been continuously conceptualized as hysterical outliers and dangerous. Adam Morris explains that messiahs are not just the usual trope of our culture nationally; their ideas are important for knowing the American history (Morris, 1936). As Morris asserts, it is captivating; if flawed, maybe prophets pursued to enrich and depict deep social problems, such as racial injustice, gender conformity, and income inequalities. This paper will be describing the most significant aspects of Jim Jones’s leadership that make him unique from the other prophets in the book.
Born in 1931, in Indiana, Jim Jones was a notorious leader of a cult. As a self-declared messiah of the people temple religious cult, Jones assured his congregants utopia if they followed him. In November 1978, in what came to be known as the Jonestown killing, under the leadership of Jones more than 900 children, women and men died in a mass suicide through drinking poison, depicting him to be eviler than the others (Morris, 1936). Jones is also seen to be racial compared to the other prophets after he did announce that he was joining the ministry in 1952. He secured a job as a trainee pastor at the Somerset Methodist Church in a deprived, mostly White district in Indianapolis. By the next year, Jones was creating a name for himself in the area as an evangelist and healer. He was concerned about holding racially joined mass, but his church did not like this notion. Jones would later walk out and single-handedly established another wing of deliverance church in 1955. The church would soon come to be known as People’s Temple (Morris, 1936). To aid in building his following, he regularly secured time on a local AM radio station to broadcast his sermons.
In the mid-1960s, Jones relocated his church to northern California. More than 100 members followed him to California. They settled in the interior parts of Redwood and Ukiah valley. By the beginning of the 1970s, Jones had extended his recruitment efforts. He began preaching in San Francisco, creating up a division of his church there, it brought a unique character of aggressiveness. With his trademark slicked-back black hair, suits, and dark glasses, jones was a smart and impressive person at the altar (Morris, 1936). His remarkable and fiery rhetoric healings continued to attract new followers into the church. Not only did they like his talk of a good life, many submitted whatever little thing they had to Jones. In what they did whole-heartedly but later ended up being pocketed by Jones depicting him as an entrepreneur.
As part of his preaching, Jones dispirited romantic relationships and sex. Through this, Jones has a character of a double standard, unlike the other prophets; he preached water while he took wine. After discouraging sex and romantic affairs, Jones had numerous adulterous relationships, including a love affair with one of the administrators in the church called Carolyn Layton, with whom he impregnated and later gave birth to a baby boy (Morris, 1936). Jones proclaimed to be the father of Grace Stoen’s son named John Victor. Jones also sought to spoil marital unions, while presenting himself as the father of all.
Jones is also development-oriented, from being employed as a junior pastor to establishing his church. In 1974, Jones acquired a parcel of land in Guyana, where he constructed a home for his followers and himself. He had become progressively disturbed and paranoid by this period and later shifted to the People’s Temple compound with close to 1000 followers. The compound was called Jonestown, and it was not any sultry city. Jones managed the compound like a detention camp (Morris, 1936). His congregants received rationed meals and were not permitted to leave, depicting him as a bully. Armed security guards were always at the compound’s perimeter looking after any intruders and anyone who tried to escape.
Jones was also a doubtful character. Unlike his fellow prophets, Jones often used loudspeakers systems to preach at Jonestown because he was fearful of a plan against him; he began conducting suicide rehearsals. He would wake his followers up at midnight, give them a cup of red liquid that they were told to be having poison to drink. A few minutes later, Jones would say to them that they would not die and only administering a loyalty test (Singer, 2003). Jones is also depicted as a schemer; in 1977, Jones used his followers as human shields. He threatened mass killings to compel the Guyanese regime from instituting an action against him. Grace Stoen, a People’s Temple defector, had petitioned the government to assist her in getting the custody of her son John victor.
Indeed, Jonestown should be an alarm to the social psychology society in what can take place when the guiding principles are misused by leaders in an institution. Jones, who was a man of God of the People’s Temple, keenly studied system of mind control by Orwell, as asserted in 1984. He composed a song that his followers were to sing at Jonestown concerning their 1984 advent, as Zimbardo got (Singer, 2003). Jones applied, ‘big brother is watching you’ method of manipulation to his followers. Jones used this notion to make them submissive, he demanded followers to spy each other and blasted communications from the loudspeakers so that his voice was continuously had while they ate, worked and slept.
Self-incrimination was also a parallel method that Jones used. He always demands a written explanation of followers’ mistakes and fears from time to time or at any time an offense was committed. If there was no written explanation, he used the mistake to mock and humiliate the offender to their worst fears in public gatherings. Jones also used Suicide drills as a parallel method to control his followers. He made them kill before they got to the actual killing day (Hassan, 2000). Jones made his followers rehearse suicide drills through to the actual mass killing event. By distorting people’s perceptions, Jones blurred the union between reality and words. For example, by demanding his followers to present unto him daily thanks to good work and food; while the same followers were working six and a half hours a week and starving.
Jones mastered useful mind-controlling techniques. Hence, he was capable of gaining his followers’ loyalty and obedience. Jim jones a very charismatic cult leader in present times with regards to his sex appeal, personal appeal, his sheer dynamic, oratory, and his full participation in the manipulation of every individual in his congregation. From the character and ability of Jim Jones, it is therefore clear that the psychological impact of the brain controls methods, are always used by cults to retain and recruit members.