Kilduff, Marshall: Peoples Temple


Marshall Kilduff: I tried writing news stories. I got nowhere. I finally met up with some ex-members who said Jones was a bad guy and here are the reasons: he takes everybody’s money, he beats people up in public settings to enforce discipline, he pressures women to have relations. He’s not a good guy. He’s nothing like what he seems. And he’s, from time to time, a little unhinged. He’s hard to understand or predict. This guy’s getting away with a kind of double life; this bad side that we’re telling you about now, but the good side is all anyone sees. The whole thing got stranger as I went along. Faith-healings. He would fake faith-healings to win-over members. He would take them on this bus rides up and down the state where he’d stuff the busses way overcapacity just to bring his flock with him. People were required to work really long hours. I mean like twenty hour days to justify their existence in the Temple which took care of their every need. You never really left, saw your family outside, friends, any of that stuff. The whole thing became kind of a low-grade cult built around conventional politics that I was seeing when I first got interested, and this do-gooder social image that he put forward. So that was the story I eventually came up with, and finally got a chance to write, and the church hit the roof. They called in all their friends like then Mayor Moscone and others to defend them saying “Look at what fine things these guys have done. They’re not a bad guy church at all.” But at the same time, the church was beginning to leave San Francisco for Guyana, and a year later is when the Guyana killings occurred.


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The Moscone oral history interviews are part of the George Moscone Collection, MSS 328.

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Holt-Atherton Special Collections and Archives, University of the Pacific Library

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