Jim Jones, Joseph Smith, and David Koreshby Rit Nosotro
Compare some notorious religious deceivers in the USA like Jim Jones, Joseph Smith, and David Koresh.
In history there have been many so-called religious deceivers. The Jews even thought Jesus was blasphemous for claiming to be Messiah. Of course, Christ was not a deceiver because He spoke the truth about who He was. In contrast, cult leaders of the twentieth century such as Jim Jones and David Koresh falsely claimed to be the promised Messiah. In the nineteenth century, Joseph Smith founded the religion of Mormonism based on supposed visions. Still, these three men had more things in common than just being founders of religious movements.
Jones Forces Suicides by Poison
Jim Jones was born James Warren Jones in 1931 in Indiana. He grew up as part of the Christian Church/Disciples of Christ denomination1, but in the 1950's established his own church known as the People's Temple. Then, he preached that the world would soon end due to a nuclear war and he claimed to be God. On December 30, 1973, Jim Jones was arrested for soliciting sex from an undercover, male police officer. Even so, he had the gall to proclaim to his congregation that he was "the only true heterosexual"2. In fact, several accounts exist that Jones sodomized members of the congregation to prove their homosexuality! In the mid-1970's, suspicion was raised that Jones abused children, and even adults who desired to leave the congregation. In light of these allegations Jones moved the People's Temple to a city he created, Jonestown, Guyana.
By this time there were over one-thousand members in his cult whom Jones put to work, basically as slaves, to build up the city into his socialist promised land. Upon his arrival, Jones also drastically changed his doctrine. He rejected the Bible because he considered it contradictory3 and instead sought out the Pravda and other works to base his theology on4. One doctrine created by the leader stated that if he and his congregation all died together they would move to another planet where they could live in bliss. Thus members began practicing mass suicides where everyone pretended to drink poison and fall out of their chairs. Rumors of illegal abuse escalated at the same time. When Jones' right-hand man escaped the group he even claimed that Jonestown was similar to a concentration camp. Due to this, Congressman Leo Ryan visited the city in November, 1978. When Ryan arrived, some followers decided that they wanted to leave with him. This angered other members and they shot those "traitors" as well as Ryan and his companions, eight being killed and eleven wounded. The Temple knew punishment would come swiftly. So, they all decided to perform the mass suicide they had practiced. Many inserted cyanide into some sort of fruit drink, possibly Kool-Aid, to kill themselves. Whoever refused was immediately either injected with the poison or shot. Jones was himself shot in the head. 638 adults and 276 children died that November 18, 1978.
Koresh Forces Suicides by Fire
David Koresh is another leader of a destructive cult. Like Jones, Koresh also was born with a name which he is not usually called, Vernon Wayne Howell. His birth came in 1959 by a teenage mother, although Howell was raised by his grandparents. A dyslexic, Howell dropped out of high school and failed to make it as a rock musician. He joined the Branch Davidians in Waco, a split of Seventh-Day Adventists, in 1981. The elderly leader at the time, Lois Roden, and Howell became sexually involved. After Roden died, Howell became leader, although he had to fight a while for the position. Then, Howell changed his name to David Koresh in 1990. This signified his claim to deity and Messiah-ship. One of the first things he did as leader was to begin trading in arms, often illegally. After this, Koresh strongly supported polygamy, especially for himself. He claimed he was owed 140 wives, and eventually became father to twelve children. Some of his encounters occurred with girls as young as twelve5, sparking rumors of child abuse, just like Jim Jones. Koresh also forced socialism upon the Branch Davidians by requiring them to give everything they had to him, and then he would redistribute it6.
Also uncannily similar to Jones was how the government put the wheels in motion to end Koresh's sect and life. Officials stormed the Davidians' compound in Waco on February 28, 1993, officially because of failed tax payments, but obviously the government was influenced by memories of Jonestown. Four government agents and five Davidians died that day. Much worse, for fifty-one days a standoff occurred in which Koresh and many followers barricaded themselves inside the compound. FBI negotiators were brought in, so Koresh made up excuses to stall for time as he finished his doctrinal writings. Finally, Janet Reno ordered an assault of the compound. The raid ended with the building catching on fire (by Davidians as was later learned in an audio tape), and seventy-five of Koresh's followers, being unable to escape, burning to death. Koresh also died in the fire7.
Smith Forces Militant Uprising Against U.S. Government
Joseph Smith was born December 23, 1805 in Sharon, Vermont. Besides his money-digging and "folk magic", Smith had a rather average childhood. However, like Koresh, Smith was not very educated and could barely write8. In 1827 he married Emma Hale. He then went on to write the Book of Mormon and establish the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon Church, in 1830. Later in 1833, Smith had a supposed revelation that commanded him to incorporate polygamy into Mormonism. Although historians debate the exact number of wives Smith had, it is obvious that he was engaged in "sexual union" with many women even without his wife's consent. Most of his first dozen "wives" were legally married to other men, except for the 14 year old girl, at the time of their seduction. Also much like Jim Jones and David Koresh, Smith established a socialist commune while he lived in Kirtland, Ohio from 1831-18389. Next, Smith and his Mormon followers arrived in Commerce, Illinois in 1839 and renamed their city Nauvoo. There Smith formed a 5,000-man paramilitary much like David Koresh's, although much bigger. His paramilitary did not show up when Smith needed it most, though. When Smith was arrested in Nauvoo, a mob of two-hundred men invaded his jail, which was in a house. He was shot three times when trying to escape from the window, and then fell out of the window.
The Mormon's fled west where their new leader, Bringham Young, was able to continue violating US laws. President James Buchanan became concerned that the territories dictatorial governor, Brigham Young, intended to form a theocracy (which would justify his having 27 wives). The federal government sent 2,500 US Army troops under General Johnston in 1857 to remove Young as governor. While the army held up for the winter in Fort Bridger, Wyoming, Governor Young's Danites (a paramilitary force of "Avenging Angels" that beheaded those not loyal to Young) prepared for their Battle of Armageddon.
Passing into this same spirit of violence and fear that was later seen in Jones and Koresh, rode the Fancher-Baker party. Mormon's arranged for Paiute Indians to attack the wagon train in Mountain Meadows, Utah (1857). The Mormon's then falsely befriended the settlers only to disarm them and massacre over 120 men, women, and children. The US Army officers had to track down the killers without any offer of help from Bringham Young who in fact, paid off the Paiutes with a $3527.43 voucher just three weeks after their attack.10
It is not surprising that these deceivers had so many things in common. All three were sexually immoral and violent, especially with children (see also Mohammad). Koresh and Smith had many biological children, while Jones adopted many into his "Rainbow Family". All three claimed to be the Messiah, or at least, God's voice. But unlike Jesus Christ, the true Messiah, these deceivers lived by violence and sexual lusts. Smith and Jones had claimed to be "Christians" even though they had rejected the Bible. 2 Corinthians 11:14 says that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Perhaps this is why they deceived thousands. What can be learned from studying these three men is the importance of staying grounded in Christ and His Word. If one is on the Rock that is Christ, it will be much easier to distinguish truth from lie, and not be ".tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,"11 as the followers of Jim Jones, David Koresh, and Joseph Smith were so deceived.
up11Apostle Paul. Ephesians
4:14. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyrightę 1982 by Thomas
Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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