Religion Is Like Heroine

Categories: ChurchCultureReligion

When I think of the 70’s I picture glamourous moments in fashion with bell bottom jeans and raging disco music. However, the 1970’s was a time of tremendous change in US culture. It was a time when blacks, women, and gays were still a target of abuse and American was big on protesting for a better way of life. President Nixon was in office and folks were starting to lose faith in the Federal Government due to the Vietnam War. Racial inequality was still at an all-time high due to the beginning of the civil right movement in 1950’s.

Religious practices were also on the uprising. As the family structure starts to shift; Children are beginning to leaving behind their parents’ religion and seeking their own. With the rise of feminism and the birth control pill sex was being viewed different as well. All of these aspects had something to with why people were so hungry for new religious answers to their problems and there stood Jim Jones.

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He comes up with this idea to build an agricultural center with racial integration at the core of his mission.

People’s temple first started in Indiana under the leadership of this very disturbed man. Jones related to blacks in a way they felt they were accepted and part owner of peoples temple. He would often refer to his congregation as the nation of oppressed. People trusted Jones because he appear to be a pure soul trying to help out the community. He took care of the elderly and the poor.

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Jones himself had suffered a devastating childhood and knew the struggle of oppression. The 70 original followers in his congregation were well taking care of and they would spread the word to others about this great man who combined Christianity with communist elements. The congregation was from all walks of life, but mainly struggling low income people. There were many families living in the community of Jonestown. Many of which sold all their belonging and their assets and joined Jonestown to give all their money to the church. Jones was creating a religious establishment the was free from the injustice of the world and people liked the way that felt.

Eventually the following became bigger and bigger moving to California and then eventually to Guyana in the 70’s. Guyana was a remote location in South America where the agricultural project could flourish without the influence of the government. When in Guyana people were already starting to see a flaw in jones plan. Often times they were sleep deprived making it difficult for them to think clearly. The conditions in Guyana were described as a paradise while others described it as a prison. Although there were mixed feelings about wanting to flee Jonestown, it was not an easy escape. Most people invested all they had in people’s temple and most felt it was too late to turn back. As jones began to grow increasingly paranoid due to the drugs and drinking he messages became more frantic and people were getting increasingly worried. Jones failing healthy and addiction to amphetamine may have played a role in his decision off his whole congregation. Jones coins the term “revolutionary Suicide,” in one of his tapes as a warning against freedom from harassment. On Nov, 1978 would be the highlight of his career when he convinces over 900 followers of people’s temple to voluntarily take their own lives and die with pride. Several aspects led to the deaths of so many children and their families.

The honest truth of what really happened that day in Guyana is still a mystery today. Was it suicide, was it murder, or was it brainwashing. It is hard to believe mothers would intentionally give poison to their children and lay with them as they die. I don’t want to believe it was suicide I think of it as a tragic ending to a wonderful story. Were the people forced against their will to drink the koolaid or were they convinced it was the only way. Although previously temple members had been practicing the suicide attempt before by pretending they were ingesting poison so the mental preparation must have already been there. There are many different scenarios of what really took place that day between the visit from the congressman and the several people who wanted to leave peoples temple. Jones may have felt he couldn’t sustain any longer and his wonderful plan was crashing due to the critics of the outside world. Whatever the reason may be Jones felt betrayed and he was compelled to end what he created and go out with a bang. He convinces mothers to quiet their children as they drink their concoction of poison making the reference of drinking the koolaid.

Peoples’ Temple becomes part of the religious cultural trend of the 1970s by giving an exit from traditional ways of the other religious movements at that time. Most religions were dominated by white well educated middle class people. People’s temple did not see color or race or denomination. It specialized in social reform as a new way of life for those who have been marginalized for so long. It provided a large range of social services to help out its poor community members. However, when society rejected their beliefs they were forced to find alternate means to accommodate their growing congregation and belief system. In today’s society Christianity is still one of the main religions in America. Nearly a century later the prominence of the presence of god in people lives remain important in society even though it has changed drastically. In the last 50 years or so more and more people are becoming religiously unaffiliated. Yet spirituality is becoming stronger. Americans today feel much better admitting they aren’t religious than their grandparent were in the 60’s. Church attendance has declined as more people feel a spiritual connection with the world then with the church. In the 70’s it was segregation that kept everyone flocking to some religious denomination. However the shifting landscape over the years has paved a way for a new religious group called apatheist.

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Religion Is Like Heroine. (2022, Jun 06). Retrieved from

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