As founder and leader of the People’s Temple, Reverend James Warren “Jim” Jones had so much power over his followers that he once urged his church’s members to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid as a sign of loyalty during a New Year’s Eve service.
“He had this in mind all along,” Jonestown survivor Kathy Barbour said in the new National Enquirer Investigates series, Murder Made Me Famous: Jim Jones.
Known for his extreme beliefs and socialist politics, Jones became infamous for the mass murder-suicide involving 900 of his followers — including 303 of them being children — in Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978.
The mass suicide went down in history as the greatest single loss of American civilian life in a non-natural disaster until the September 11 attacks.
As previously reported, Jones first gained notoriety in San Francisco in the 1960s and ’70s where he voiced his “Apostolic Socialism” concept.
“If you’re born in capitalist America, racist America, fascist America, then you’re born in sin,” he preached. “But if you’re born in socialism, you’re not born in sin.” It wasn’t long after he moved the cult to Guyana, claiming it was a sanctuary from media scrutiny.
Nearly four decades later, the National Enquirer Investigates is hearing stories from Jonestown survivors, and how he brainwashed the cult into committing such a tragic act.
Tune into National Enquirer Investigates: Murder Made Me Famous: Jim Jones on May 6 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Reelz.