It was thirty years ago today - November 18th, 1978 - that the Jonestown Massacre occurred at the People's Temple Agricultural Project near Kaituma, Guyana. Following an ambush at a nearby airstrip (which took the life of United States Representative Leo Ryan), People's Temple founder and leader Jim Jones told his followers that their enemies were coming to destroy them and that the only option left to them that afforded any "dignity" was to commit "revolutionary suicide".
Jones then ordered his faithful to drink cyanide-laced fruit drink. Many families used syringes to squirt the deadly poison into the mouths of infants, before they themselves ingested the fatal fluid. All told, 909 people - including Jones, who was later found with an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head - killed themselves in the largest non-natural loss of American life up 'til the September 11th, 2001 attacks. Four more of Jones' followers took part in a smaller mass suicide not long afterward in Georgetown. The final death toll was 918 people.
If anyone's been wondering why I think loons like local cult leader Johnny Robertson and his self-proclaimed "Church of Christ" need to be countered, this is a big reason why. If left unchecked, God only knows what a hate-filled man like Robertson might do to others. Could you at all trust a man who accuses a congregation of child pornography, regularly harasses other churches, tries to break up families and has a "bomb threat" painted on the side of his own building? I hate to say this but I'm hard-pressed to believe that a mind like Robertson's is at all far removed from the mentality of Jim Jones. Maybe if some folks in San Francisco back in the day had stood up to Jones, the Jonestown tragedy would never have happened.
When authorities arrived at "Jonestown" they found a 45-minute long audio tape that was recorded during the cult's act of suicide. Here is a transcript and if you feel so inclined, here is the audio courtesy of the Internet Archive...
There is plenty more material - including some primary source evidence - at the Jonestown Institute website.