Ezra1 writes about Als report of a church simulating Jonestown's cordial drinking:
]"I am still trying to imagine why this particular church would think it was a good idea to compare their set-up scenario with Jonestown. On top of that, to make it seem like people are really "laying down their lives" by swallowing some concoction. To me, and I could be totally alone in saying this, it seems like one of those overly emotional experiences that get people to believe they would really be willing to lose their life for God, when in fact, when looking directly at what Jesus TOLD his followers to do, I wonder if this same congregation would take those things as "seriously" as drinking the solution. The things Jesus told us COULD lead us to our premature deaths are things that we have to work on day in and day out, and witness with our whole lives, not some once and for all show of supposed courage.
It just seems too easy to use gimmicks like this to get people to falsely believe just how spiritual they are."
The People's Temple did a whole lot more than just drink cordial. They forsook all, ran a youth centre, lived a communal lifestyle and did all kinds of "exciting" things, and worked hard on a daily basis to build their jungle compound. As Dave goes on to comment, there were many sincere people involved in that movement, but I am applying my own experience to the scenario here when I say they probably started off "winking" at some of the extreme things that their leader did, believing that the good outweighed the bad, and no doubt many felt in the final stages they really had no alternative.
Some probably saw the "White Nights" (when Jim Jones called on people to prove their faith by drinking Kool-Aid that he said was poisoned, with the promise that their fate was in God's hands) as a theatrical stunt and complied knowing that they were not really drinking poison. But the point was they were. Once a critical mass complied with the hair brained schemes of a man on the edge, they empowered him to push the envelope further, and inch by inch everyone moved closer to mass suicide.
Dave does similarly trying to "break people's bottles". People soon learn it is better to comply and smash your pride, bark like a dog when he says bark, expel when he says expel, shun when he says shun, whip when Dave says whip, because if you question or oppose, it will result in a trust deficit that could involve a long grievance meeting, being demoted, or in some way having your universe unsettled. The end result of unquestioned loyalty is increased autonomy (that is why Roland is left to run things in the UK), so people suspend their normal judgment, believing it will be in their interests in the long term, but also equating such conformity with an act of faith, i.e. trusting God means trusting the experiences of the 'anointed apostle' who can discern things you can't. I am sure that Jim Jones was surrounded by the same mixed sense of pragmatic and gullible conformity. In time the phenomenon of a group endorsing what you first resisted, results in a euphoric sense that it must be OK to suspend your own judgment because everyone else is doing it and it seems to be OK
Dave responds by suggesting that those who resisted the poison died pointlessly for Jim Jones.
"Obviously in Jonestown there were a lot who were murdered, and those who died, did so for Jim Jones, because he had been doing some very dishonest things and was about to get caught. People often commit suicide when caught out breaking the law, but in this case, he took them with him.
But he endorses the message that "we need to be prepared to die for what we believe in"
"I do think that in God's way of judging things, there may be some people there who would still be seen as sincere, but they were definitely misled."
No doubt, sincere people were misled, but its is dangerous to begin commending the conformists as true believers, when it was the individuals who resisted Jim Jones' narcissism and the inertia of the group who should be praised as the standard to emulate. If there is any merit in "dying for what you believe in", it will be found in standing in opposition to the group who envelopes you, isolates you and directs you to do things that undermine your own judgment of what is right and wrong.
Dave had dismissed the shame that JCers expressed when an outsider they were trying to win over responded empathetically to an old woman falling, suggesting that she was complying to a "social conscience" while they had more important things to do in selling his literature. Dave's upside down logic, praises the searing of one's own natural conscience and the elevation of complying to outside logic as a virtue, such that his followers lose any sense of internal orientation. Your head begins to hurt if you try to comply Dave with your own conscience. Just trust Dave, guys, he will work it out for you! (sarcasm)