Skip to main content

Peoples Temple Collection; Box 28, Virtual Item 31, Q1059-Pt.1- San Francisco sermon

 Digital Record
Identifier: ms-0183_28.31


  • Digitized: Spring 1973


Summary Note

"For some unexplained set of reasons, I happened to be selected to be God." This sermon by Jim Jones opens with this sentence, and returns to the theme throughout, with some of the most detailed articulation of his perceptions of his powers as God. As examples: o "I have to tell you, that the universe would not run without me." o He details some of the miracles he has performed for members of the church, and later in the sermon when some newcomers apparently tire of him and leave, warn that people who leave the church will not have his protection. In addition, he warns of the evil that will befall his enemies, including those he knows are in the audience that night. o He expands upon that theme to claim credit for other miracles they don't know about. "[Y]ou may not believe, but I'll tell you, there was never a miracle done in the world, 'less I did it." o Taking his power through his personification as the "Principle [of] Divine Socialism," he says: "Someway I am intrinsically involved with every good person's wishes, with every hope and ambition, whether it'd be in the Irish Republic for freedom, whether it'd be in Biafra for freedom, whether it'd be over in Vietnam or Wounded Knee, wherever there's people struggling for justice and righteousness, there I am, and there I am involved." Later he says he has saved people who didn't know who did it or how it happened, including three criminals slated for execution and the Indians at Wounded Knee; he also promises that his power will keep Daniel Ellsberg out of jail. o He questions the goodness of a Skygod who would let children starve and evil prevail. "If I was out there... if I had all the power you say he's got," he says, he would prevent all the floods, earthquakes and natural disasters that kill poor people; he would've stopped the bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He later criticizes a God that requires people to have faith in Him. In contrast, he says, "I don't care whether you got any faith in me or not, I want to help you." He returns to that point later on, as he promises that his followers will have his powers if they think like him. As opposed to "a God that you gotta pray to, a God that you gotta worship... [y]ou don't need to worship me. All I want from you is to do right. Feed my children. Do something about the misery around you." o Even as he criticizes those who follow the Skygod, he puts his own power in Christian terms. "I happen to know I'm the Messiah," he says. Then, to counter those who might say he is delusional, he continues: "It's only a complex when you're confused. It's only a complex when you have some kind of neurotic compulsions... Honey, I don't have any conflict about it whatsoever. I'm not in conflict at all. I know ... that I am God the Messiah." At another point, his discussion of Jesus switches in mid-sentences from the third person to the first person. Jones says there is no logical explanation for his powers -- it is a matter of faith -- and chastises those who would try to define him in intellectual terms. "You can't explain Father Jones, so there's no way an intellectual can deal with me." Although he chastises intellectuals several times, he also praises those who are "not afraid to get up and lose [their] intellectualism." Full summary of the recording available at Alternative Considerations of Jonestown website, along with the tape transcript.

Rights Statement Note

The copyright interests in these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creators of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of historical archival and manuscript collections is such that copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine.  Requests for permission to publish must be submitted to the Head of Special Collections, San Diego State University, Library and Information Access. When granted, permission is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder(s), which must also be obtained in order to publish. Materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials.

Physical Description Note

Original audio cassette tape recording digitized and made available as .mp3 audio file.

Publisher Note

Publisher: The Jonestown Institute

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections & University Archives Repository

5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego CA 92182-8050 US