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People's Temple

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People's Temple was a cult founded by Jim Jones in 1955. Originally it was a widely respected group known for charitable acts helping the homeless, the poor, and regularly fighting for civil rights. The leader Jim Jones and his wife Marceline were even the first white couple to adopt a black child in Indiana history.

Jones also staged fake faith healings to attract followers and combined his belief in communism and Christianity to create the basic doctrines he taught. Jones eventually came to believe the world would end in a nuclear holocaust and began searching for a new place for his followers to live.

Thecult members moved to San Francisco and later to the South American country of Guyana. There Jones founded an agricultural commune called Jonestown. Life in Jonestown was very unpleasant though as people were not used to living in a jungle setting or having to farm their own food. Many people became sick. Jim Jones was also becoming mentally unstable due to addiction to painkillers and had guards keep people from getting in or out of Jonestown.

A Congressman named Leo Ryan took two planes and an NBC newscrew to Jonestown to investigate alleged abuse of church members. At first everything seemed fine, but it became clear that people were only pretending to be happy in Jonestown. Twenty people came forward expressing a desire to leave with Ryan. Jones had some of his followers kill Ryan and others attempting to escape Jonestown. Fortunately some did manage to escape on one of the planes. Jones, fearing what the escapees would reveal, had his remaining followers commit mass suicide. The total deaths being nine hundred and nine.

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