In 1954, Jim Jones started a church in Indianapolis called the Community Unity Church. He subscribed to an egalitarian Marxist ideology, horribly anathema in the mid-fifties United States, which he used his congregation to propagate. As membership grew, Jones winnowed his message of “religious communalism”, where members donated their material possessions to the church so common needs could be met.
But the ideology didn’t take with the starchy mid-western members, so Jim Jones adopted his “apostolic socialism,” where he replaced “Jesus” with “socialism” in traditional Christian rhetoric. Religion was the opiate of the masses, according to his church, and socialism was salvation. Capitalist America was fascist America, and fascist America was racist America, all of which were condemnably sinful. The only way ‘home’ was to accept Socialism.
This rhetoric appealed to black Americans, many of whom were frustrated with Jim Crow laws. Jim Jones, although white himself, also specifically addressed them because he deplored their condition. Indiana was surprisingly racist at mid-century. In 1974, the church (by then Peoples Church) moved to Guyana so that the black members could “live in peace” in a socialist, predominantly black, and English-speaking country.
Unfortunately, not long afterwards, Jim Jones’ sinister agenda was revealed. In 1978, California congressman Leo Ryan came to Guyana to investigate claims of abuse within the church. When he left, several members of the congregation tried to follow him. They were intercepted at the airfield by church guards who opened gunfire. The next day, Jones ordered his congregation to drink Flavor-Aid (same thing as Kool-Aid) laced with poison in what became known as the Jonestown Massacre. 918 people died, the single largest loss of American life in a deliberate act until 9/11.
Although some cults are simply kooky, like the cult of Norma in Orange is the New Black, some are actually quite insidious. If you’re curious about which celebrities could have been in Jonestown “drinking the Kool-Aid” that day, stayed tuned, and find out which ten celebrities were raised in cults.
10 Joaquin and River Phoenix
9 Glenn Close
8 Winona Ryder
7 David and Patricia Arquette
6 Michelle Pfeiffer
5 Rose McGowan
4 Susan Cagle
3 Christopher Owens
2 Suri Cruise
1 Angel Haze
Angel Haze is an up-and-coming rapper, shocking people not with her abrasiveness like many rappers and entertainers, in general, but rather with her mix of wit and raw emotion. In her song “Cleaning Out My Closet”, a nod to Eminem, she tackles the abuse she endured between ages seven and ten. A lot of people think that she shouldn’t have been signed, because she didn’t have enough knowledge of the industry, having only started listening to music four years earlier, at fifteen, which is when she escaped from the cult Pentecostal Greater Apostolic Faith, which banned music. About it, she’s said: "You weren't allowed to talk to anyone outside of that, you weren't allowed to wear jewelry, listen to music, to eat certain things, to date people… you weren't allowed to do pretty much anything. Church was on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. When they did revivals it was everyday."
Sources: EOnline, UsMagazine, The Independent, DailyMail, TheGuardian
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