Jonestown Massacre: The 9/11 of the War on Alternative Spirituality

So what does it all mean?

After the CIA sounded its “mass suicide” alert, the rest is history. Anti-cult “experts” appeared on cue explaining the deaths were caused by “mass suicide” due to one individual’s inexplicably sophisticated mind control methods. These claims were made by people who had not visited the crime scene, and before any real investigation had taken place, while Guyanese medical reports attributing murder were ignored. The “mass suicide” story hit the media and books were published pushing this narrative before the dead were even buried. The narrative has been parroted and stuck, and the anti-cult movement became a powerful force by hawking it.

Ultimately, the sensational brainwashing claims pushed by the anti-cult movement fell out of favour in legal and medical circles, as did the controversial practice of deprograming. If the legal establishment were to accept the CIA’s claims of mind control failure, they could not simultaneously accept the incredible brainwashing powers ascribed to marginal religious groups by Margaret Singer and her allies.

But the propaganda and perceptions about the threat posed by alternative religious movements continued. It has never been dispelled. The caricature of “cults” who brainwash people and “drink Kool-Aid” remains in the public consciousness, and is reinforced by media stereotypes of alternative spirituality modelled on the media-constructed Jonestown archetype. And even as the anti-cult movement’s extreme claims have been discredited, they continue to find support in the corporate media. Since Jonestown, the way alternative spirituality has been perceived in the West has never been the same. It sparked off an enduring era of hostility towards alternative spirituality, associating the very idea of gathering in some kind of non-mainstream group as somehow sinister.

But was the Jonestown tragedy really the cause of a lone “sociopath” in a fringe group beholden only to himself, or were their deeper forces at work in the affair? What is to be made of the strange connections and confluences between Jim Jones, the CIA, MK-ULTRA, mind control researchers and the anti-cult movement? Was the tragedy merely cynically exploited by anti-cult entrepreneurs and a media hungry for a dramatic horror story with a clearly defined “bad guy”? Or was there a darker and deliberate agenda to precipitate a disaster that would change the spiritual landscape forever?

A range of alternative explanations exist about what really may have happened in that remote jungle camp, and who else was responsible for the disaster that unfolded.

Some people, like Ryan’s aide Joseph Holsinger and researcher John Judge, pin the blame on the US government, asserting that not only was Jonestown a MK-ULTRA government experiment, but that the government was directly involved in the deaths. In the words of John Judge:

It seemed the first reports were true, 400 had died, and 700 had fled to the jungle. The American authorities claimed to have searched for people who had escaped, but found no evidence of any in the surrounding area. At least a hundred Guyanese troops were among the first to arrive, and they were ordered to search the jungle for survivors. In the area, at the same time, British Black Watch troops were on “training exercises,” with nearly 600 of their best-trained commandos. Soon, American Green Berets were on site as well. The presence of these soldiers, specially trained in covert killing operations, may explain the increasing numbers of bodies that appeared.

Most of the photographs show the bodies in neat rows, face down. There are few exceptions. Close shots indicate drag marks, as though the bodies were positioned by someone after death. Is it possible that the 700 who fled were rounded up by these troops, brought back to Jonestown and added to the body count?

A similar point of view is found in Freedom magazine, which quotes an Air Force Colonel who believes the entire affair has “the kinds of earmarks that define the hand of American intelligence” and showed signs of pre-planning:

A very real possibility is that by making the assassination [of Leo Ryan] part of an even larger catastrophe, the central drama itself—that of a courageous individual blocked from probing reports of illegal, unconstitutional, government-sponsored psychiatric “mind-control” activities—was obscured.

Colonel Prouty noted evidence of the involvement of a larger force in the operation: “The Joint Chiefs of Staff had prepared air shipments of hundreds of body bags. They didn’t normally keep that many in any one place. Within hours, they began to shuttle them down to Georgetown, the main city. They couldn’t possibly have done that without prior knowledge that it was going to happen. It shows that there was prior planning.”

Opinions differ as to whether Leo Ryan’s assassination and the subsequent massacre was carried out as a panicked response to his investigation that risked uncovering an alleged covert government medical program in Jonestown, or whether Leo Ryan was actually lured to the destination on purpose to eliminate an enemy of the CIA and obscure it with a pre-planned massacre.

Opinions also differ as to whether the religious community was a front for a covert program, with Jim Jones being a witting or unwitting government stooge, or whether it was infiltrated by intelligence operatives whose influence was more subtle.


A shooter disembarking the tractor. Image credit: NBC. Source: wiki commons

In the latter vein, former Temple member Laurie Kahalas, author of “Snake Dance: Unravelling the Mysteries of Jonestown,” believes the Peoples Temple was a genuine community with Jim Jones a troubled true believer in its cause. The tragedy was caused by government-planted agent provocateurs who became members solely to discredit the organisation by leaving it and spreading damaging stories in the media, and lure Ryan to Guyana. She believes Ryan’s killers, who have never been identified, could not have been Temple members, citing video footage filmed from under his airplane allegedly showing the killers forming a sophisticated military “diamond” squad formation, which she believes the members of Jonestown lacked the necessary military training to execute. She believes the airstrip shooting was a CIA false flag attack that framed the community for Ryan’s murder, which was designed to eliminate Ryan, a known enemy of the agency, and tip the unstable Jim Jones over the edge, precipitating his “revolutionary suicide” response and thwarting the community’s plans to defect to the Soviet Union. In this view, the events of Jonestown were more the result of a COINTELPRO-style operation designed to discredit and destroy subversive groups, and she rejects claims about the community’s links to MK-ULTRA.


Mark Lane

The attorney Mark Lane, author of The Strongest Poison, believes US intelligence was monitoring the group and had infiltrated it. Famous for his investigations critiquing the official story of the Kennedy assassination, and for representing Martin Luther King who had been targeted by COINTELPRO, Lane had been hired by the Peoples Temple to expose a government conspiracy the community believed was directed against them. He was present on the day of the tragedy and was allowed to leave by the armed guards. Like other survivors, he heard gunshots coming from Jonestown when he fled to the jungle and believes people were murdered. He believes Jim Jones and the armed guards were responsible for many of the murders, but also believes US forces may have eliminated the survivors. He also believes the US government knew the dangers the Congressman would face in Guyana and failed to warn him, and aggravated the situation in Jonestown with agent provocateurs.

Investigative reporter Jim Hougan suggests that Jim Jones may have ordered the “revolutionary suicides” out of fear of being disgraced in the eyes of the community if his links to US intelligence were exposed, whilst the intelligence community feared embarrassment if they were linked to Jim Jones. He also believes people were murdered, not by government forces, but by the armed guards who likely forced people to die.

It would be comforting to be able to dismiss these theories. Unfortunately, the record of US intelligence running clandestine medical experiments on unwitting subjects in various institutions, and infiltrating political organisations with the aim of destroying them, means their involvement is not beyond the realm of possibility.

But I don’t claim to know the full story. Nor do I excuse in any way the actions of Jim Jones, who clearly committed evil by calling for “revolutionary suicide”, whether he was acting alone or not.

Whatever may have happened, the fact that the tragedy was exploited and portrayed with a deceptive “mass suicide” narrative despite evidence to the contrary, is indisputable. This narrative has been used to fuel suspicion, fear and paranoia against alternative spiritual groups. The fallacy of the popular narrative is summed up in these words by former member and survivor Tim Carter:

Jonestown has become a punch line, a catch phrase, an icon for “mindless or blind loyalty.” Ironically, what Jonestown has come to represent in popular culture is a parody of itself: The general public is “drinking the Kool-Aid” in its unquestioned acceptance of what happened in Jonestown as “mass suicide.”

Carter escaped Jonestown, and accompanied authorities to the scene in the aftermath. He also saw evidence that people were forcibly injected with poison and supports Dr Mootoo’s conclusion that the majority of people were murdered.


So what really happened in Jonestown? This much can be said for certain: people were murdered, and there is a lot more to what transpired than what is generally understood and portrayed in mass media narratives. Questions remain about the extent to which Jim Jones acted alone, and to what extent outside forces may have influenced his actions and what unfolded. But between the disappearances of clinical evidence, the torching of records in Guyana, the lack of autopsies, de-identification and destruction of bodies, the purging of Jim Jones’ CIA file and the mystery surrounding his background – and the continuing suppression of files held by the US government on Jonestown – we may never know the full story.

Whether or not the intelligence forces really did have a hand in it, it seems clear that the Jonestown massacre deflected attention from controversial government mind control programs by shifting concerns about brainwashing onto so-called “cults”, perhaps enabling government mind control programs – which some believe have not ended – to continue unabated in the background, while giving impetus to the anti-cult movement and the war on alternative spirituality. The deceptive “Kool-Aid/mass suicide” narrative engineered after the tragedy became the basis for the propaganda which fuelled this ongoing anti-spiritual war.

Whatever may have happened in the jungles of Guyana on November 18, 1978, this much is clear: like 9/11, the Jonestown massacre had a profound impact on society, changed people’s perceptions of the world, and set in motion a war that still has not ended.



Jack Anderson:

John Judge:

Jim Hougan:

All articles available here and here

Freedom Magazine

Jonathan Vankin and John Whalen

Robert Sterling – R.J.E.

Rebecca Moore

Tim Carter

Laurie Efrein-Kahalas:

Christopher Knight-Griffin

Henry K. Lee:

About Matthew Osmund

Matthew Osmund is a freelance writer with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, an open mind and a keen interest in defending personal freedom and uncovering the truth. He's been exploring spirituality and consciousness for 10 years and writes at The Conscious Reporter about issues that affect and suppress human potential, consciousness, alternative beliefs, and the right to free expression of spirituality in the world.


  1. What a stomach-turning read, I’m baffled by the story here and the terrible events that happened at Jonestown. I did not know much about this event before reading your article, neither of the MK-Ultra and Cointelpro operations. How the cult word came into public awareness and nowadays is so loaded with fear is much clearer to me. You really sum it up well in the following lines.

    “Since Jonestown, the way alternative spirituality has been perceived in the West has never been the same. It sparked off an enduring era of hostility towards alternative spirituality, associating the very idea of gathering in some kind of non-mainstream group as somehow sinister.”

    Society unfortunately takes mainstream information regarding cults at face value which only strengths the anti-cult movement and reinforces current beliefs. Hopefully information like this reaches people and poses a different view of spiritual groups out there.

    Yesterday RT posted the following article wherein a dangerous cult is highlighted and that there is the need for legislation to be put in place. According to the article the memo should contain, how to determine a dangerous cult and who to address to in case of any problems. (Source: )

    It immediately makes me question if this is yet another setup to further crack down on cults and religious groups, now through even further measures.

  2. If all these happen around 60’s I was wondering how these agendas must have been developed by now 50years after… Could make me doubt for everything and be sceptical towards any kind of project mass media are promoting.

  3. Jim Jones was a satanist, spook, and fraud. As do many others of satan’s breed, he infiltrated Christendom to destroy it. Dr. Stan Monteith (RIP) was in medical practice and treated someone very close to Jim Jones, who told him about the satanism. I cannot recall the exact relationship, but sells its old programs, so you might call them; or ask Constance Cumbey, cited below. Here book is free at too.

    Jim Jones was an excellent case in point. Prior to the Guyana suicide/murder fiasco, the New Agers were most proud to claim him as their own….Of course, once Jones lost his sanity and his favorable public image, the rest of the New Agers never mentioned him again, except to point to him as an example of the dangers of religious fundamentalism.

    The beauty of the particular form of organization they have adopted is that whenever an organization or individual becomes embarrassing to them — as did Jim Jones — they can quickly close up their fish-net-type structure to exclude that person of organization as though he or it had never been a part.

    Constance Cumbey, “The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow,” pp. 59-60 and p. 114

    The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the medieval temple of the Episcopalian Archdiocese of New York, has become the mother institution of the New Age movement in the United States, whose goal is to eclipse the Age of Pisces (Christianity) with an Age of Aquarius (Lucifer).

    The presiding bishop of the cathedral, Bishop Paul Moore, whose family is heir to the Nabisco company fortune, has been in the forefront of creating this Satanic “new world order,” since at least the late 1950s, when, as a priest in Indianapolis, Indiana, he gave the “People’s Temple” cult of Jim Jones its start.

    Mrs. Jim Jones told The New York Times in 1977 that her husband had decided when he was 21 years old that the way to achieve his Marxist goals was to mobilize people through religion. “Jim used religion to try to get some people out of the opiate of religion,” she said, adding that he had once slammed a Bible on the table and said, “I’ve got to destroy this paper idol!” (New York Times, 11/26/78, p. 20.)

    On page 584, Col. Gritz outlines the true story of the Jonestown, Guyana, camp massacre, and how Jonestown was actually a tightly-run concentration camp, complete with medical and psychiatric experimentation, run with the assistance of the CIA. The people who died didn’t drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid, as reported; half of them were cold-bloodedly murdered by hypodermic injection in the camp, and the other half who fled into the jungle were deliberately hunted down and shot in cold blood by British and American Special Forces troops. Col. Gritz spoke to an embittered SF Sergeant who’d taken part in the operation, and who subsequently wrote a book on the experience, entitled, “All The Niggers Are Dead!” When Col. Gritz asked him to explain the crudeness of that name, he replied, “Sir, that’s what they were. Both blacks and whites were niggers; that’s what any slave is; that’s what they were. That was our final radio message when the job we were assigned was finished. ” (From the book CALLED TO SERVE, by Special Forces Lt.Colonel “Bo” Gritz, 1991, p. 524.)

    Jon Lodeesen was Jim Jones’ CIA handler. In 1961, Lodeesen sent Jones on an urgent assignment in Hawaii. Jones’s whereabouts from 10/61 until 4/62 is unknown and his U.S. Passport for that period is conveniently unaccounted for. Jones’ U.S. Passport #0111788 is accounted for, but it was issued in his name at Indianapolis on January 30, 1962 well after and during his presence in Cuba and Hawaii.[26]

    From October 6, 1961 to April 1962, Jim Jones whereabouts is secret, which covers Obama Sr.’s sensitive presence at UH, and within days of Stanley Ann Dunham suddenly resurfacing at the University of Washington in Seattle. In fact, how Stanley Ann and Obama II got to Seattle, WA in August 1961 is an absolute mystery.[27]

    At least one source placed Jim Jones in Hawaii in October 1961 most likely at the University of Hawaii (UH) with Barrack Obama, Sr., “On what would become a two-year sojourn, Jones made his first stop in Honolulu, where he explored a job as a university chaplain…”[28] At least one other source place both Lodeesen and Jones in Hawaii from 1961 to 1962 working with the CIA station in Honolulu.[29]

    By Lodeesen being established as one of Jim Jones’ primary CIA handlers, we get a clear understanding of what his mission would have been in Hawaii- that is psychological subversive intelligence activity. Jim Jones would have clandestinely moved about UH closely monitoring rumors and gossip about Obama, Sr., Stanley Ann and Obama II.

    • Interesting. Thank you Author K, for your quotes. I was wondering if you had any information on the influences upon Leo Ryan’s wife? As the activities before and after Leo’s Ryan’s death seem peculiar, particularly her involvement with CAN and its involvement in the subsequent WACO massacre?

      • I think you might mean the Congressman’s daughter, Patricia Ryan, who was a director of CAN during the WACO siege and encouraged the use of force.

        Her strange change of face is discussed in this article, but her motives are still not clear:

        Oddly, while one daughter was in CAN, another joined the Rajneesh movement, a group which CAN certainly would have been against.

  4. Thanks Matthew for highlighting all the discrepancies in the official story of Jonestown. The ramifications of all of this for harmless alternative spiritual groups and indeed society at large are very serious.

  5. Quite terrifying all the questions raised here. Can’t really put into words what to say. Scary. Great work for researching and sharing all this and putting it out there.

  6. Thanks for drawing all this together Matthew. Jonestown really is like the 9/11 for alternative spirituality when you look at it that way. The majority will go with the mass-media sponsored version, however the evidence is there for those who wish to see beyond the facade.

  7. Gosh. Hard to know what to even say to all of this. It’s just awful.

    Strangely enough I learned about the jim jones story in religion class in high school. There was a whole chapter section about dangerous religious cults. They definitely weren’t giving it a well rounded and objective view of what took place with jonestown or any of the other larger stories that shaped the collective perception of alternative spiritual groups. So right from an early age, learning about these things in school, you’re taught to fear small religious groups, especially if they are in rural areas. Which is a pretty disturbing perception to have, especially when there is so much more to the story as you’ve explored here. The power of media outlets is extremely sickening.

  8. Thanks very much for bringing the forgotten side of this story to light Matthew. I was also only aware of vague details about it all, so it’s definitely been eye-opening to see how much of a role clandestine interests played in the whole event.

    I was actually only recently reading about a woman called Gail Kastner, who had been a victim of MKULTRA experiments carried out in Montreal. She had been a bright nursing student at McGIll University who approached the director of the psychiatry institute at the university hospital due to some issues she had with feelings of anxiety.
    The director was actually being funded by the CIA and Canadian government to investigate de-programming and mind control. Because of the level of consent granted to medical staff in mental health treatment, conducting the experiments on patients in the psychiatry ward allowed the research to be conducted immune to any ethics commissions. The ‘treatment’ itself was horrific. The inventors of the machine used to administer the electrotherapy, for example, had stated that humans should not receive more than 26 ‘shocks’ from it. As the experiments went on people were being given 133.
    In regards to Gail Kastner, the result of the experiment was leaving her with no memories of life before she was 20 and with multiple fractures to her spine, as well as some extreme psychological trauma. She actually had been left with no memories of the experiments until much later in her life when she heard others speak out against it, and after investigating came across her medical files at the psychiatry unit.
    The Canadian government eventually compensated her for what happened:

    It’s so tragic that things like this can be forgotten about so easily in society and yet only a fragmented, uncritical understanding of things like Jonestown can live on. It’s definitely influenced the public narrative regarding alternative spiritual groups.
    I remember a few years ago seeing one of those crime dramas on tv where the story was obviously based on what happened in Jonestown and Heaven’s Gate. The story centred on a small, fictional religious movement that was based on extraterrestrials and involved its mostly young, female adherents taking their own lives so as to ascend to a higher plane.

    It goes through the usually process of debunking the group based on cult criteria and setting it at odds with the safety and normality of the mainstream. It’s a common myth that’s unfortunately been propagated a lot in society. I’m glad articles like this exist though to show that there’s more to a story than a simplistic retelling can show, and that very often when it comes to real tragedies it’s often the underhanded actions of hidden forces that really lead the way.

  9. Thanks Matthew for an in depth article of a topic that I was woefully ill-informed of. I was unaware of the “Kool Aid” reference to this tragedy.

    While reading your article, I was reminded of the work of one Derren Brown, and his episode called “The Heist”, which reminded me very much of tangible proofs of how MK-ULTRA should not be constrained to the domain of “conspiracy theorists”, but that such tactics are real… and demonstrable.
    In “The Heist”, Derren Brown asks for ordinary people to “volunteer” for an experiment. By the end, with a few well-timed triggers, these same ordinary people, using a fake gun, “spontaneously” hold up an armoured car and run off with the loot: 100000 pounds. Thankfully, everyone BUT the volunteers are actors. Derren Brown then “deprograms” them. This is the show:

    This is all quite shocking and disgusting stuff.

    Derren Brown even lists “how to”/source material for his “experiments”.

    Thanks again for a great article. It’s very thought provoking stuff!

    • Very interesting share Craig.

      I had not seen the things Derren Brown has done it the last few years. It is disturbing how he is now using hypnosis, suggestion and other techniques to influence people to the degree which he does. Certainly it seems he’s breaking laws on free will. Supposedly to help them and show people the power of the human mind etc.

      But actually he is controlling people in a rather dark way, using his mind tricks and knowledge of psychology to seemingly disprove the existence of divinity, while serving his own mystical pride by impressing people, all in making an entertaining show.

      Like this show for example

      He does it in a way that a lot can be learned from it though. But this is something that perhaps is worth its own study/article. And I don’t want to go off topic of this important subject of Jonestown.

  10. I never knew much about this atrocity, except for the media’s take on it as a ‘cult suicide’, so thanks so much for your research and explaining it in its real context, both for what took place then and its dire ramifications on spirituality now.

    Firstly I just feel very sad for all those people who lost their lives in such a horrific manner and all they had gone through, its just shocking to know the suffering and fear they would have experienced being hunted down and used as psychological guinea pigs.

    I remember watching a video of Jones town where Jim Jones was talking to the crowd of people at the time they wanted to escape and there was a woman who seemed quite alert and astute questioning Jones about what he was telling the people to do. I noticed the other people looking somewhat spaced out, while this woman was making a lot of sense. It left me with an odd impression that Jones was leading them to their death for a reason that didn’t seem spiritual at all but as if he was trying to convince them to do it. Reading this article helped me to put what I saw into context because it seemed to me he was pushing them into something they didn’t want as though he was going along with a bigger plan and they had to do it.

    Thinking about the whole fear drum roll about this horrific event and how it has caused people to fear alternative spirituality, when in fact its deeply linked to a covert secret govt operation, makes me wonder how many more tragic events have occurred in the same vein and where lives are sacrificed for an evil agenda under the false flag of ‘cult’?

    Thank you for this opportunity to step back and look at this event from a clearer perspective and to see it for what it was and its part in the war on consciousness.

  11. The fact that CIA is involved into all this and not just a fanatic group of anti-cult advocates shows that there is great focus from very high ranks of society to stamp down the free practice of spirituality.

    I wonder how many other popular alternative groups, that with their criminal actions contributed to the bigoted word cult and the war on spirituality, were also a set up. Fake cases where CIA and the media used to attack honest spiritual groups.

    I’ve read a bit about cases from Waco, to AUM Shinrikiyo and even Manson being connected to different governments.

  12. I had not looked that much into the Jonestown tragedy, but have still felt its indelible influence shaping society, in the way that people get concerned about small groups committed to spiritual ideals, gathering in country/rural areas, etc. I remember growing up that “running away and joining a cult” seemed to be a genuine concern for parents of rebellious teenagers; even a local soap opera I think had this storyline.

    This expose into the discrepancies of the official story and disturbing hidden agendas of the government show just how easily and successfully society and people’s thinking can be shaped to suit the accepted narrative. It also shows how important it is to search for the truth rather than simply accept whatever we are told uncritically. Thanks for this research and educating us on this extremely significant event in history.

  13. I had no idea about the full extent of this issue! Through other research into the anti-cult movement and the representation of spirituality in the media, the tragedy at Jonestown sparked off massive bias against alternative spirituality – there have been more than 200,000 instances of the word “cult” used to describe alternative groups in the media since then, and barely any at all before the tragedy.

    The link between the anti-cult activists and mind control experiments is really telling.

    I also wonder if Jim Jones was somehow exposed to MK ULTRA, and was in a way a type of Manchurian candidate himself. Why would they destroy his CIA file once his “handler” who was known for violent torture passed away?

  14. You digging into this has brought forth virtually unknown facts on this issue, which are so important, as they tell a very different story to the one everyone has been told by the mainstream media and society at large.
    This is so very sick and disturbing on so many different levels. It is very disturbing that this horrible deceptive event gave birth to the anti-cult movement. That says a lot. Thank you Matthew for your research and incredible work on this issue. It’s so important that deceptions like this get revealed.

  15. How appropriate. Sydney under siege by one man, maybe more, no one knows. Oh the telegraph does!
    ‘Death Cult CBD Attack’

    • Another good example of what to really expect from most media outlets…

      You can just sense how happy they must have been to jump at the opportunity to make a buck with that “special 2pm edition”: “Death”, “Cult”, “Attack”, “The instant we changed forever” >>> “quick buy this paper now to get your sensationalist fix while the story is hot!” >>> Nevermind what’s really going on — we’ll figure it out later (maybe)…

    • Apparently it’s now come out that guy was not part of IS and was acting on his own, that the flag was not even an IS flag as claimed in the Telegraph article. Seeing this unfold in Australia, I got the nasty feeling that this incident, which is a tragedy in itself and has ended with three people dead, will somehow be used to further remove people’s freedoms.

      In newspapers in Melbourne, there were comments, even before the siege became fatal, about how we should expect more of these attacks from lone wolf terrorists. It’s a very similar story to the way all alternative spirituality is demonised because of a miniscule number of dangerous groups. When articles like this show that there is more to the official story than meets the eye, you can’t help but get suspicious about the motives behind it all.

    • On twitter, Rupert Murdoch came out praising the Telegraph’s coverage of this issue too.

  16. Hey Matt, thanks for writing this, very interesting. I never knew about the origin of that kool-aid comment before reading this. I had previously heard it jokingly used in spiritual groups I have been a part of. It’s right what you say that people who don’t even really know what went on (I guess only a select few know the whole story) still use the mass media version of events as a bias for how they view spiritual groups. People are very skeptical as a starting point and can very easily label a very innocent gathering of people with similar interests as a “cult”. I recently watched a documentary on the Waco incident and seems like a lot of shady things happened there too.

  17. Wow. Matthew. What an important article. It is crazy how much the fear of cults/small religious groups in our society has been manufactured. I thought that these anti-cult activists were blowing things out of proportion highlighting extreme cases like this supposed mass suicide and bunching them together with all other small groups making all small cults or non-mainstream groups seem dangerous. But your article has really opened my eyes. It’s worse than I thought. This doesn’t surprise me one bit, but I am really saddened to see what you have brought to light here. Thanks for doing this. I hope people can find your article and attempt to think for themselves rather than just believe everything they are spoon-fed by the media.

    I really like this line and follow your logic….things that make you go hmmmmmmmmm……..

    “…How could leaders of small religious groups have the power and sophistication to perform mind control when the US government supposedly could not?…”

    Good Point.

  18. It makes my skin crawl every time people make the casual “don’t drink the kool-aid” joke … It actually makes me shudder, reminding me how blinded we are as a society because of the conditioning we’ve been exposed to via the media and these government agencies (and whoever is their mouthpiece of the day) such that most people know nothing about these terrible crimes committed and covered up by the very people we “elect” to manage our affairs, and instead the masses are only able to perpetuate the whole “dangerous cult” narrative and spread mass hysteria around anything unfamiliar or new in the realm of alternative spiritual beliefs.

    Thank you for the well put together research on this, Matthew — hopefully it will help more people come to critically evaluate these age old myths and stereotypes, and open their eyes to the fact that religion or spirituality had very little to do with the terrible events at Jonestown, and that the real danger is much closer to home than we think. Instead, we should really examine the actions and motives of those in power (and especially those with an interest of covering up the murder of 900 people in the span of a few days…).

    I think you hit the nail on the head with this:

    “Why was the threat of being brainwashed by religious “cults” being hyped by people directly involved in government mind control research? … if the CIA’s story is taken at face value – that the agency was unable to control people’s minds when it had virtually unlimited funds, secrecy, top scientists, drugs, sophisticated technology, and electroshock “therapy” at its disposal – how was it plausible to also claim that leaders of small, poorly resourced, spiritual groups with no scientific expertise were able to? How could leaders of small religious groups have the power and sophistication to perform mind control when the US government supposedly could not?”

    • This is the kind of results you get from that conditioning, where people even go as far as making fun of a tragedy like this, and people who see the sign (who aren’t appalled by it) are probably like ‘yeah, all those crazy religious / spiritual people that killed themselves”

      • Oh that’s terrible… How can people make fun of a massacre like this…?

        Thanks David for bringing this one to the surface.. That’s really, really disturbing.

      • 0_O ?!? That’s just not right…

      • The loss of nearly 1000 lives in such a horrific tragedy gives this company the slogan they need to sell their drink, now that is a tragedy of tragedies.

        Its like the people who were made out to be a cult scapegoat lost their lives and their human-ness to the rest of the world, who sees them less human and unworthy of dignity. I don’t think people really realise how much the anti -cult movement dehumanises people and how we as people of this earth lose our humanity because of it.

        Very sad.

  19. Jonestown and drinking the kool-aid have become etched in our collective consciousness as symbols of sinister fringe cults. I think most people using the “kool-aid” expression probably don’t even know where it comes from.

    Even just as an example of media manipulation and demonization of alternative spiritual groups, this terrible story would be worthy of study. When you add in the possibilities of CIA infiltration, MK-Ultra experimentation, and the sad potential of the assassination of Congressman Ryan (who sounds like a rare example of an honest politician) then the story takes on whole new dimensions.

    Although it seems like ultimately we don’t know for sure what was behind it, it seems we can be fairly certain that something terrible happened in Jonestown and that it wasn’t just the result of meekly brainwashed sheep drinking the kool-aid. Hopefully one day the full truth will be exposed.

    In the meantime, an enduring tragedy of the whole affair is the multitude of harmless spiritual groups and practitioners that face discrimination, prejudice, and fear because of the powerful Jonestown archetype.

  20. Thanks very much for putting all that together Matthew. I had heard and seen some of it before, but to see it all packaged together really hits that sad point home – yes, Jones himself seemed quite “off,” but at the same time, how anyone can’t see that there is something far deeper and more sinister to the whole thing is beyond me. It is such a shame that this tragedy has been used to shape the public’s view of and/or attack any alternative spiritual group for so many years, when really the heart of the issues had little if anything to do with that at all. Worse still is how, as you mentioned, these groups have absolutely nothing to do with this whatsoever, yet they get compared to and thought of in the same way. I like the quote you’ve got there from Tim Carter – that about sums it up very well doesn’t it.

  21. I just had a look at the picture of the MK-Ultra 10 years old at the beginning of the article.. She is just a child! How can anyone in the name of science make her go through torture to the point of losing her memory!?! These are despicable acts ordered and conducted by the US government. Whoever was behind this is just pure evil…

    Matthew, thank you SO MUCH for researching and documenting all this information. It would have been quite sickening to unravel. Per the reports 1,000 people were murdered, and only 2 committed suicide, yet all I had ever heard about was the so-called ‘mass suicide’. What i’m amazed too was the amount of psychedelics found there.. I know it was the 70’s but it had to come from somewhere, imported and supplied. And that may even be yet another clue to where it came from.

    How laughable indeed it is that the CIA claimed all these brainwashing horrors experiment did not work yet ‘they’ want you to believe that minority religious movements are capable of doing so!?! It just shows again how adamant that agenda against spirituality is but like it states in the article sadly the population is drinking the kool-aid by accepting what people behind the scenes are wanting people to accept..

    Seeing how the only too recent and highly redacted torture report came out (based on 6 million entries..) in the USA – it is horribly realistic to doubt the words of the CIA and FBI stating they are no longer conducting MK-Ultra or into placing people into organizatiinns to disrupt and provoke the outcome of such organizations.

    This reminds me of a protest I attended in San Francisco. It was all very peaceful, even though hundreds of thousands gathered and walked against the war in Iraq. As we passed next to The Chronicle (Newspaper office) I was shoved from behind and a man all dressed in black commando came out of nowhere and threw and lit a cocktail molotov at the lone cop (who was thankfully wearing a face shield and compact vest) standing at the entrance under the security camera. I tried to go and help out the cop but was pulled out by a friend who kept me and got me out of the scene. The man dressed in black had too much cool (he could not lit the cocktail right away), was too agile, too swift and obviously knew where the cop was. In one second he changed the peaceful protest into something murderous and evil by trying to set a man on fire. I always felt that this was no coincidence. his clothes were not normal clothes either of someone simply dressed in black. it had the whole feel of a military response. Of course I’l never know the truth about it, but I never believed it was simply an anarchist doing it either. I have been in other protests and seen anarchists before – nope that person was not ‘it’.

  22. Nasty. I’ve never heard about this before, but it sounds like something really fishy, with too many connections to the secret operations to be overlooked. I mean, if we just theoretically imagine Jim Jones was a part of the secret government/CIA plan, then it could have been something like this: To gather as many people there as possible, under the pretext of social justice and religious feelings, a lot of poor people too that maybe saw it as an escape from their conditions, and then sacrifice those people to fuel the agendas of “dangerous cults” and consequent war against alternative spirituality.

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