Thursday, May 15, 2008

Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple


Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple is a digital archive sponsored by San Diego State University’s Department of Religious Studies.

Jonestown was a site in Guyana settled by Peoples Temple. Jonestown, and its leader Jim Jones, became notorious in 1978 when over 900 people, many of whom were children, died in a mass murder-suicide. The event was triggered after cult members killed US Congressman Leo Ryan and others after they visited to investigate abuse allegations.

Unfortunately, many people are unfamiliar with the tragedy beyond the well-known image above or the phrase, “drinking the Kool-Aid,” meaning to become a firm believer in something blindly. (Some say Peoples Temple members actually drank cyanide-laced Flav-R-Aid, but either way, the expression trivializes the horror of the event.)

From Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple:

[The archive] is designed to give personal and scholarly perspectives on a major religious event in recent U.S. history. Its primary purpose is to present information about Peoples Temple as accurately and objectively as possible. Being objective means offering as many diverse views and opinions about the Temple and the events in Jonestown as possible…

What is unique about this website are three main features:

1. Memorialization of those who died and those who survived the tragedy of 18 November 1978 in order to remember their lives and humanize their deaths.
2. Documentation of the numerous government investigations into Peoples Temple and Jonestown through materials released under the Freedom of Information Act.
3. Presentation of Peoples Temple and its members in their own words: through articles, tapes, letters, photographs and other items. These materials let readers make their own judgments about the group and its end.

Visit the Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple.

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