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The Bible and Suicide

People's Temple
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The People's Temple was a Christian group established by Jim Jones (1931-1978) in the 1970s. Jones, a faith healer and ordained minister with the Disciples of Christ, preached a message of brotherhood and taught that, one day, humans would see a new age of "Apostolic Socialism," where true racial and economic equality would be achieved.

He began to attract some negative public attention, however, when he was accused of abusing followers. As a result of these problems and his growing suspicions about the government and the media, he and several hundred members of his group moved to Guyana and established the "Jonestown" community in the jungle. Here he had a very similar motivation as the early Puritans: to establish a "City on the Hill," a beacon of hope for religious purity and moral righteousness.

Reports of abuse and brainwashing continued to plague his movement, and as a result there was some official inquiry from American politicians. Congressman Leo Ryan visited Jonestown in 1978 to see for himself what was going on, but he was shot dead. Shortly thereafter, over 900 bodies - Jones and nearly all of his followers - were found at the Jonestown site. Many had committed suicide by drinking poisoned Kool-Aid, but many more were murdered.

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