This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Peoples Temple’s mass murder/suicide in the jungle of Guyana, South America. It was the single greatest loss of American civilian life ever recorded in a non-natural disaster — not counting the attacks of 9/11. And although the events of November 1978 offer a cautionary tale about religious fervor and the mad demands of false messiahs, it’s also true that Jim Jones, the evil genius in question, was a deconverted Christian who had come to embrace marxism and atheism.
On the demand of the Indiana-born cult leader, 908 people — including more than 300 children — ended their lives by gulping down a poisoned drink (an act that may have given rise to the phrase “drinking the Kool-Aid”). Some of Jones’s followers imbibed the fatal beverage willingly, hoping to “step into another plane,” as their leader put it. Others were forced at gunpoint. Temple members hunted down and killed a visiting U.S. Congressman and members of the American press. Jones, a few hours after ordering and overseeing the carnage, ended his own life with a single bullet to the head.
The next day, this was the scene from the air:
An early remembrance of sorts comes to us via the website Dangerous Minds, which yesterday posted a mind-bending fly-on-the wall video of a San Francisco Peoples Temple gathering from around 1975, three years before the bizarre tragedy in Guyana.
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