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Controversial New Religions$
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James R. Lewis and Jesper Aa. Petersen

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199315314

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199315314.001.0001

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The Controversies about Peoples Temple and Jonestown

The Controversies about Peoples Temple and Jonestown

(p.53) 3 The Controversies about Peoples Temple and Jonestown
Controversial New Religions

Rebecca Moore

Oxford University Press

Of the many issues and questions that emerge from the study of Peoples Temple, several appear again and again: What was the level of violence in the organization? Was Jonestown a concentration camp? Was Jim Jones, the group's leader, insane? Were the deaths in Jonestown suicide or murder? Were the deaths in Jonestown the result of a conspiracy? What are the lessons of Jonestown? This chapter treats these issues of controversy and provides information about the group's beliefs, leadership, and history. It also examines each question in detail, presenting a variety of viewpoints by describing the positive elements that built the movement as well as the negative factors that contributed to the final tragedy at Jonestown.

Keywords:   Peoples Temple, religious movement, Jonestown, Jim Jones, mass murder-suicide

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