People’s Temple, Branch Davidians, Heaven’s Gate

899 Words4 Pages
People’s Temple, Branch Davidians, Heaven’s Gate The task of comparing and contrasting different religions is difficult because it seems like it can be done without endless quantifiers. In some ways People’s Temple, Branch Davidians, and Heaven’s Gate can be compared, they all had charismatic leaders and resulted in multiple deaths. They can all be grouped under the category of “cult” but treating all cults the same is a mistake. The People’s Temple, Branch Davidians and Heaven’s Gate had different agendas and methods and each needs to be evaluated on its own merits. The People’s Temple founded in Indianapolis, Indiana in the 1950s by Jim Jones was a reaction to the racism and prejudice that Jones experienced growing up in poverty. It was a socialist movement that transformed overtime to become a cult that lives in infamy. The People’s Temple provided employment, childcare, healthcare and drug and alcohol rehabilitation, they did a lot of good. However, they used violent methods of keeping their members in line, public beatings and humiliation. They left Indiana to move to California after Jones had a vision of a nuclear bomb. They left California and moved to Guyana, to a commune they created called Jonestown, famous for the murder/suicide of nine hundred and nine of its members as well as the deaths of five people, including Congressman Leo Ryan on its airstrip, in 1978. While it is true that the murders on the airstrip would have serious repercussions it was hardly the images Jones was portraying of the slaughter of infants and concentration camps. There is no video footage but there was a forty-five minute long audio of the murder/suicide in which Jones can be heard saying, "Don't be afraid to die," that death is "just stepping over into another plane" and that it's "a friend." At the end of the tape, Jones concludes: "We didn't commit suicide; we committed an
Open Document