This morning I started to write this post about the Jonestown Massacre. Because, it was on this day (November 18), this atrocity occurred. Out of curiosity, I decided to search for other crazy religious things that happened today. Needless to say, there were dozens of articles about people committing crimes in the name of their god(s). I began to make a list, but decided the insanity of random individuals did not serve the purpose of this post. So, I want to highlight two things that happened on November 18 which had similar repercussions to what happened in Jonestown, Guyana. They both involve blind obedience, which thanks to Jim Jones has become know as “drinking the Kool-Aid.”
In 1302, Pope Boniface VIII declared the Bull “Unam Sanctam.” It proclaimed that there was only one true Church, and the Pope was its sole and absolute head. Also, blind obedience and submission to the Pope was a prerequisite of salvation.
In 1995, after a traffic accident, a woman by the name of Lisa McPherson, stripped off all of her clothes and frantically told the paramedics, “I need help. I need to talk to someone.” She was taken to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation. Soon thereafter, a group of her fellow Scientologists arrived and convinced her to sign out of the hospital. Doctors tried to convince her to stay, but she refused. McPherson was persuaded to blindly accept the teaching of the Church of Scientology that all psychiatry was evil. She was then taken to the church’s Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, Florida. It was here that she died under mysterious circumstances.
It was on this day, Novemeber 18, 1978, that the Reverend Jim Jones convinced his followers to drink fruit punch (believed to be Kool-Aid) laced with cyanide. Not everyone went willingly, but the total death count was 912 (276 were children). On this same day, Jones ordered the murder of the visiting United States Representative Leo Ryan, and four others in his entourage.
Let us not forget the potential price of choosing faith as a substitute for reason.