James Warren Jones (May 13, 1931 – November 18, 1978) was an American cult leader, political activist, preacher and faith healer who led the Peoples Temple, a new religious organization which existed between 1955 and 1978. Jones and his inner circle orchestrated a mass murder–suicide in his remote jungle commune at Jonestown, Guyana, on November 18, 1978.

Jones founded the organization that would become the Peoples Temple in Indianapolis, in 1955. Jones distinguished himself with his civil rights activism, founding the Temple as a fully integrated congregation. In 1965, he moved the Temple to California, where the group established its headquarters in San Francisco and became heavily involved in left-wing politics through the 1970s. Jones then left the United States and established Jonestown in Guyana, compelling many of his followers to live there with him.

By 1978, media reports had surfaced of human rights abuses at Jonestown. Deciding to investigate these reports, U.S. Representative Leo Ryan led a delegation to the commune in November of that year. While boarding a return flight with some former Temple members who had wished to leave, Ryan and four others were murdered by gunmen dispatched from Jonestown. Jones then ordered and likely coerced a mass murder-suicide that claimed the lives of 918 commune members, 304 of them children, almost all by drinking Flavor Aid laced with cyanide.

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