Church used by Amer­i­can death cult leader Jim Jones to re­open in Guyana

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL -

The his­toric Catholic church once used by Amer­i­can cult leader and mass mur­derer Jim Jones will re­open for wor­ship next month, nearly 11 years af­ter be­ing dev­as­tated by fire.

In­di­ana-born Jones used the Sa­cred Heart Church to launch his Peo­ples Tem­ple cult in Guyana, but the group was sub­se­quently barred from the build­ing af­ter Catholic church of­fi­cials dis­cov­ered that chicken blood and parts were be­ing used there in so-called heal­ing ser­vices.

In 1974 Jones re­lo­cated to the pri­vacy of the jun­gle, hav­ing paid US $1 mil­lion for 27,000 acres of land near Port Kai­tuma. There he founded the in­fa­mous Jon­estown com­mune, funded by the life sav­ings of about 900 of his mostly Amer­i­can fol­low­ers, who soon found them­selves vir­tu­ally im­pris­oned and en­slaved un­der his twisted, tyran­ni­cal rule.

It was claimed that the bi­sex­ual Jones sex­u­ally abused his flock, forced them to un­der­take gru­elling man­ual labour in ap­palling con­di­tions, dis­ci­plined them by means of hu­mil­i­at­ing rit­u­als, and made es­cape vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble.

Word of the tor­ment en­dured at Jon­estown even­tu­ally found its way back to the US, where Con­gress­man Leo Ryan de­cided to in­ves­ti­gate the Peo­ples Tem­ple’s set­tle­ment in Guyana.

Ryan and sev­eral mem­bers of his en­tourage were shot dead dur­ing the 1978 trip, while over 900 mem­bers of the cult were forced to drink a deadly cock­tail of cyanide-laced KoolAid. The body of Jim Jones was found with a bul­let through the head.

Mean­while, the Sa­cred Heart Church, where Jones had first gained a foothold in Guyana, was later de­stroyed in an elec­tri­cal fire.

Catholic Bishop Fran­cis Al­leyne said on Satur­day that the re­built church would re­open next month af­ter a US$600,000 in­vest­ment. It was orig­i­nally built by Por­tuguese set­tlers in 1861.

Ac­cord­ing to the Catholic Stan­dard, the Sa­cred Heart Catholic com­mu­nity will of­fi­cially and per­ma­nently oc­cupy the re­built fa­cil­i­ties on Main Street.

The Catholic Stan­dard re­port said that a spe­cial Mass will be said on De­cem­ber 6. At present, the new con­crete church and care­taker’s quar­ters are said to be over 90 per­cent com­plete.

The Sa­cred Heart Church in Guyana.

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