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Amid the confusion and horror, the escalating body-count provoked suspicions, though explanations abounded.
It was said, for example, that the count was consistently low because the bodies of children lay unseen beneath the corpses of adults.
It was then, as the congressman and his company were preparing to depart, that Ryan was suddenly, freakishly, attacked by a knife-wielding man.
Though the scuffle was quickly broken up, and Ryan uninjured, the provocation put an end to the uneasy truce that both sides had cultivated.
The affair is inherently mysterious, and conspiracy theories abound—the most prominent among them that “Jonestown” was a CIA mind-control experiment.
The view has been put forward in a number of venues.
An American-based political organization that used the trappings of religion to attract members and avoid taxes, the Temple was a controversial institution—a personality cult that put itself forward as a vehicle of “apostolic socialism.” Though its membership was predominantly black, the group was run by a white matriarchy that was, in turn, under the spell of a Bible-hating, charismatic sadist named Jim Jones.
To suggest that hundreds of members of the Peoples Temple murdered their children and killed themselves is, in this writer’s view, a blood libel on those who died there.Revisions to the toll were continual, and sickening: 363, 405, 775, 800, 869, 910, 912, 918…