Rituals and it’s Effects on People: A Quick Study of People’s Temple and Jonestown

How did People’s Temple leader Jim Jones convince his followers to commit mass suicide? In total over 900 people in that religious organization committed murder/ suicide in 1978 (Richardson 1980). Using sources I have gathered, I believe rituals have a deep effect on people’s lives. Ritual’s as defined by Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary as “done in accordance with social custom or normal protocol”(www.merriam-webster.com). It 1) usually has some significance to the ritual executers and/ or 2) it is done repeatedly. Jim Jones knew well that in rituals behavior exists or is of presence before belief (Richardson 1980). That is the action of the ritual is learned and that once learned they will not lose the ritual. The significance of the ritual comes second. For example, children were told not to bully others but to respect them instead. The children just did as told, and when they hear don’t be mean/ don’t bully they know not to and respect others. They lost the deep significance of why not to bully others. Rather, it became a drill. Jim Jones drilled his followers to drink liquids filled with poison over and over and when the time came to commit the real act. It seemed natural. 


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