Jonestown – 30 years on
On the 30th anniversary of the Jonestown massacre in Guyana, the media are running anniversary pieces. Such bizarre behaviour as mass suicide is usually attributed to “fundamentalists”, but in this case it was actually group from a “mainstream” Protestant denomination.
Jones was a minister in good standing of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), an absolutely normal denomination at the heart of the liberal Protestant ecumenical establishment. He was an idealist on the left and, as everyone knows, this kind of theocratic, cultish behavior is supposed to take place on the theological right, not the left. That’s where the wackos reside. Correct?
Thus, there has always been a tendency to avoid in-depth discussions of what Jones believed, what he preached and how his idealistic, progressive congregation — one committed to racial equality, free health care and social justice — evolved into an armed camp of suicidal killers lined up at a vat of cyanide and fake fruit juice.