Jonestown Tragedy - Reading Comprehension

Read the passage below and answer the questions that follow;


On November 18, 1978, the greatest mass suicide in United States history occurred.  It happened in a place called ‘The People’s Temple Agricultural Project’ but most people referred to it as ‘Jonestown’ after its founder and leader, Jim Jones. On that day in November 1978 909 of Jones’s followers committed suicide under the order and supervision of Jim Jones and another 9 people were shot to death, bringing the total number of dead to 918.

In order to understand the how and why this occurred we have to go back to the mid 1950’s in Indianapolis in which a preacher by the name of Jim Jones created the ‘People’s Temple’. As well as being religious, Jones was also a social activist and advocated racial equality and helping the poor and disadvantaged. He later moved to California and created a large following there, thereby obtaining some political influence.  As a result, in 1975 San Francisco mayor George Moscone appointed him as Chairman of Housing Authority Commission. Because of Jones’s work in helping the poor and his political connections, he was regarded as a ‘good guy’ in the eyes of the public, but the way Jones ran the Peoples Temple was another story. Stories started to surface from people who had left his organization that he was a tyrant who worked those under him to exhaustion and beat them publically for any and all significant or insignificant errors. Some of these stories reached the newspapers and Jones, who was extremely paranoid, felt that he had to leave the country. In 1973, Jones used the money he had gathered from his followers to buy land in Guyana, a small country in South America. He sent some of his followers there to build what he called “a socialist utopia” and 1976 he went there himself fearing that the stories in the newspaper articles would eventually lead to him being prosecuted.

When Jones reached the compound in Guyana and took control there, things got much worse for his followers. Punishments became worse, he dissolved all marriages and claimed all the women and children as his own and declared all males as homosexuals. He also made men and women live in separate quarters and he had armed guards patrol the area so that no one could escape from Jonestown. Meanwhile, back in the United States some relatives of the people in Jonestown asked their congressman Leo Ryan to investigate what was going on in Jonestown because they were worried about the welfare of their relatives there. Ryan agreed to this so he went there with his aids and a television crew to see if the people in Jonestown were being held there against their will. Ryan indeed saw that things were not right in Jonestown and asked anyone there if they would like to return with him to the United States. Before Ryan could turn this plan into action, Jones had his armed guards shoot and kill Ryan, his aids and TV crew.  Jones realized that this would lead to reprisals so he gathered all his followers together and had them all drink a mixture of poison, barbiturates and fruit juice.  He told them the CIA would be coming soon and that the CIA would torture them and their children so it would be better for them to commit what he referred to as “revolutionary suicide”. Jones supervised the procedure and his armed guards made sure no tried to escape. All the people who drank the mixture died within 5 minutes. Jones didn’t drink the poison, he shot himself instead.