Jim Jones’ “sect was doomed to failure for it was founded on the lie that religious Socialism can save men,” wrote late Catholic priest and commentator Vincent P. Miceli in his 1981 book, The Antichrist: The Final Campaign Against the Savior. Recently republished by Sophia Institute Press, this volume’s previously examined incisive analysis of leftist evils contains provocative thoughts about Jones’ cult, which shocked the world in 1978 with a mass suicide.
With mad conspiracy theories, Jones incited his Peoples Temple cult members to kill themselves and each other on November 18, 1978, in the cult’s self-contained community of Jonestown, deep in the South American backcountry of Guyana. While he and some other cultists met their ends through gunshots, most of Jonestown’s inhabitants drank cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. This beverage has since become a byword for fanaticism, and exemplified for Miceli another example of modern tyranny, what he termed a “Moloch state.” “When they had all drained the chalice of cyanide, the Peoples’ Temple became a Church of the dead. The modern Moloch state was left a city of suicides-murders, a city of 911 rotting corpses,” he wrote.
Leftists commonly ascribe rationality to themselves and dismiss conservatives as fanatics, but Miceli, writing so soon after Jones’ demise, noted that this crazed man was thoroughly of the Left. Often forgotten in the intervening decades, Jones’ utopian and socialist obsessions found expression in his advocacy of what he called “Apostolic Socialism.” As Miceli wrote,
Jones himself was always a liberal, or rather, a zealous Communist posing as a liberal; to keep up appearances he preached the gospel of social salvation camouflaging it with a thin veneer of Christianity; his faith was a false and cruel caricature of Christianity.
Jones exhibited the pitfalls of the Social Gospel, a collectivist, secularist distortion of Christianity that megachurch pastor Rick Warren, himself no conservative, has denounced as “Marxism in Christian clothing.” As Miceli wrote, ultimately a “church of naïve, hoodwinked, simple folk was led astray by an evil, militant Communist, posing as a God-man liberal do-gooder.” Indeed, after the Jonestown slaughter letters appeared “testifying that the cult leaders were planning to bequeath more than 7 million dollars to the Communist Party that rules the Moloch state known as the Soviet Union.”
Yet Jones, “while doling out liberally social goodies…claimed to be the reincarnation of Jesus,” Miceli astonishingly observed. In Guyana’s jungles, this false prophet to the last “demanded the service of adoration from his faithful,” Miceli added. “Jonestown, the Marxist-liberal-socialist caricature of a Christian Church, conferred on its faithful but one sacrament—the sacrament of death, of suicide.”
Over four decades after Jonestown’s horrors, Miceli’s reflections remain pertinent for an age of rising atheism:
What were the spiritual influences that unleashed the floodgates and fostered the mass suicides and murders in Jonestown? By way of preparing the social milieu for the creation of the Peoples’ Temple, one of the most basic causes must be the massive apostasy by Christians in the West from faith in the Judeo-Christian God of revelation.
With words no less relevant today, Miceli concluded with a
warning and somber lesson to be learned from the carnage exacted by the modern Moloch state, whether that takes place in the jungle of Jonestown or in the abortion mills of Western cities. The warning is that established forms of Christian religions have lost their hold on and power to attract most people—especially the educated middle class and even the masses of the poor. Why is this so? Because such religions have secularized the Christian message. They teach in favor of the Christ of Karl Marx instead of the Christ of the Gospels.
Thus, Jones stands on a smaller scale amidst history’s Marxist mass murderers such as Joseph Stalin or Mao Zedong, who counted victims in the millions. Jones is yet another precedent of how ruthless wolves in sheep’s clothing exploit the vain search for salvation in this world, or even the next, in socialism. However, this ideology does not exhaust modern madness, as Miceli studied, for interrelated with this fanatical fool’s errand is also a distorted understanding of the male and female sexes, as a forthcoming article will examine.
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