He skillfully mined the language of social justice, racial equality and anti-sexism in an era in which disillusion with the possibility of freedom from institutional oppression ran high. He touted a liberation theology ethos (which he dubbed apostolic socialism) which married the “best” parts of the Christian social gospel with a vision of communalism and egalitarianism that more closely aligned with his inherent atheism. Initially this rhetoric was actualized in an array of social welfare programs (such as free community meals, housing and health care) for church members. It would be perverted through a systematic pattern of paranoia, abuse and persecution fueled by Jones and his inner circle
As many survivors have stated, Peoples Temple was initially an uplifting experience because of its ability to unify members around the common cause of social justice. Its message of racial harmony and cultural diversity resonated with white counterculture folk, aging white radicals, progressive Christians looking for an alternative to the insularity of mainstream traditions like the Black Church and people of color from all walks of life. (…)
In many regards, Jones became the charismatic white Jesus father figure that so many black women are besotted with today.