Peoples Temple and Black Religion in America

Peoples Temple and Black Religion in America

Edited by Rebecca Moore, Anthony B Pinn and Mary R Sawyer
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 03/11/2004
Format: Paperback 10 b&w photos, 3 figures, 1 index
ISBN: 978-0-253-21655-7
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The Peoples Temple movement ended on November 18, 1978, when more than 900 men, women, and children died in a ritual of murder and suicide in their utopianist community of Jonestown, Guyana. Only a handful lived to tell their story. As is well known, Jim Jones, the leader of Peoples Temple, was white, but most of his followers were black. Despite that, little has been written about Peoples Temple in the context of black religion in America. In 10 essays, writers from various disciplines address this gap in the scholarship. Twenty-five years after the tragedy at Jonestown, they assess the impact of the black religious experience on Peoples Temple.

Author Bio

Rebecca Moore, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at San Diego State University, has published widely on Peoples Temple and Jonestown and maintains a website on Peoples Temple.

Anthony B. Pinn is the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University, and is the author of Varieties of African American Religious Experience.

Mary R. Sawyer is Professor of Religious Studies at Iowa State University, and the author of Black Ecumenism: Implementing the Demands of Justice.


“…Peoples Temple and Black Religion in America is an insightful, provocative and useful assemblage of essays, a vital contribution to the literature in its own right. One hopes that, in addition, the book will have the happy effect of generating still more scholarship and—not least of all—making way for the voices of more survivors, especially African Americans, to find their way into print.”
 — The North Star: A Journal of African American Religious History

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Table of Contents

1. Peoples Temple as Black Religion: Re-Imagining the Contours of Black Religious Studies Anthony B. Pinn
2. Daddy Jones and Father Divine: The Cult as Political Religion C. Eric Lincoln and Lawrence Mamiya
3. An Interpretation of the Peoples Temple and Jonestown: Implications for the Black Church Archie Smith, Jr.
4. Demographics and the Black Religious Culture of People Temple Rebecca Moore
5. Peoples Temple and Housing Politics in San Francisco Tanya M. Hollis
6. To Die for the Peoples Temple: Religion and Revolution after Black Power Duchess Harris and Adam John Waterman
7. Jim Jones and Black Worship Traditions Milmon Harrison
8. Breaking the Silence: Reflections of a Black Pastor J. Alfred Smith
9. America Was Not Hard to Find Muhammed Isaiah Kenyatta
10. The Church in Peoples Temple Mary R. Sawyer