Jeff Guinn's latest book is The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple. From the transcript of his interview with Fresh Air's Terry Gross:
GROSS: Like some other demagogues, Jim Jones became very obsessed with sex. And it's a kind of interesting revealing part of the story that I want to talk with you about. His wife, Marceline, had severe back problems which were worsened by pregnancy and childbirth. And so she could not participate in a full sexual life. And he used that as an opportunity to take on a mistress, a member of the cult. And then after that, more mistresses and eventually kind of whatever women he wanted, you know, in the cult. What did he use to justify that to himself and to the women?--Marshal Zeringue
GUINN: It's sad. And it's wrong. But it's also true that throughout history, and certainly up to the modern day, men in positions of power take advantage of women who need their support in some way or another. Jones convinced himself about the same time that he and Marceline couldn't have regular sexual relations anymore that it was vital for the cause that Jim Jones be fulfilled in every way possible, and that includes sexually.
He would swear to followers who knew what he was doing that he's not doing it for himself. He's doing it for the cause, that if it makes him feel better, healthier, more energetic, that's important. He would also claim sometimes he was having sex with these women to help raise them up out of themselves, that they didn't have enough self-respect that lying with Father would make them feel that they were special. And in at least one or two cases, it actually had that effect.
He also had sex occasionally with men within the organization. And when this would happen, he would often say he was...[read on]