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Why is the Jonestown Massarce of 1978 significant?

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The Jonestown Massacre in 1978 focused the news media's attention on the practices of the Reverend Jim Jones and his People's Temple. Hundreds died from drinking cyanide-laced Kool-aid with Jones's urging because he believed that the U.S. government would attack his religious compound. The Jonestown Massacre is historically significant because...

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The Jonestown Massacre in 1978 focused the news media's attention on the practices of the Reverend Jim Jones and his People's Temple. Hundreds died from drinking cyanide-laced Kool-aid with Jones's urging because he believed that the U.S. government would attack his religious compound. The Jonestown Massacre is historically significant because it opened people's eyes to the power and destructive nature of cults. Whenever there is a disaster involving a cult, whether it be a mass suicide or death due to federal intervention, the Jonestown Massacre is always brought back to the public's consciousness. The Jonestown Massacre was mentioned during the stand-off with David Koresh's Branch Davidian sect in 1993 as well as the death of the Heaven's Gate cult in 1997. The Jonestown Massacre brought the word "cult" into the public vocabulary, and people now look for signs that their loved ones may belong to a cult.

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The Jonestown Massacre is still the largest mass suicide in world history, and it was the greatest single non-military group death of U. S. citizens in American history prior to the terrorist bombings of September 11, 2001. Of the 918 people who died on November 18, 1978 at the rural People's Temple in Guyana and at two other locations, 907 died from drinking cyanide-laced Flavor Aid (similar to Kool Aid). The poisoning-suicide of the religious cult was ordered by the head of the People's Temple, the Reverend Jim Jones, who later committed suicide by handgun. Additionally, Jones apparently ordered the murder of a group of American observers at a nearby airstrip, including California Congressman Leo Ryan, "the first member of Congress assassinated in the line of duty in the history of the United States." Several other cult members were also murdered on Jones' orders, and several other members committed suicide in the nation's capital, Georgetown. Jones ordered the suicides after falsely believing that Congressman Ryan's report would call for the closing of the temple.

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