Jonestown in American Religious Life -- Sightings (Rebecca Moore)
It is the day after Thanksgiving, and all through the land, people are out shopping for great deals. So, maybe this isn't the time to share a story of an infamous anniversary. It is now 40 years since the murder-suicides of the members of the People's Temple community in Guyana. Because Jim Jones and the People's Temple were affiliated with my denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) it is an anniversary that rocks our consciences. I remember the President of my college reading a statement trying to distance the college and the denomination from the event. In the aftermath Disciple' regions began to tighten requirements for ordination and affiliation. But what about the people who died? In this Sightings essay Rebecca Moore, a religious studies professor and sister of one of the members and thus participant/victim of that event invites us to consider the humanity of the people of People's Temple and not just the tragedy of Jonestown. She notes that 40 years later there is increased scholarly interest that transcends Jonestown to the vision of Peoples Temple, what drew people together across racial/ethnic lines. Take a read and consider the questions raised by People's Temple.