The isolation in Guyana prevented critical reflection on the process of audience corruption; nonetheless the pattern of congregational elevation of the pastor, the cult of personality) continues to exist in the twenty-first century in black churches in the San Francisco Bay Area, and indeed in many churches throughout the nation. African American culture and idiosyncratic understandings of the Christian faith— as well as distinctive worship practices— influenced not only Jones himself but the entire Peoples Temple movement, from the roles played by ministers and other church personnel to an emphasis on social justice and humanitarian efforts— ^what Lincoln and Mamiya describe as "this-worldly activism" (Battle 391-393).
It is suggested that charismatic expressions of the faith, in particular, show a strong African-American influence on the Peoples Temple. Smith goes so far as to suggest that the Peoples Temple presented a prophetic critique of Bay Area African-American Christianity in general. He notes that "the 1970s were a dark age for the Black Church in San Francisco. Most churches had become little more than social clubs, where chicken dinners and raffle dockets were the only activities on the agenda" (Baker-Fletcher B353).
Harrison writes that "Jones learned to speak the symbolic and religious language of black Americans quite fluency and made that language an integral part of the worship experience" (Andrews A53). Harrison also reminds the reader that the "Exodus to the Promised Land" mode generated by Slave-era Blacks— and referring to a psychological or physical location where they might find freedom— helped support the decision made by the Peoples Temple leadership to migrate southward to Jonestown. Under the leadership of Forbes Burnham, the nation of Guyana was itself trying to create better relationships among a variety of ethnic groups.
Jonestown appeared to fit this model. Some doubt remains in this writer's mind with regard to the extent of the transformation of the Peoples Temple into a Black cultural/religious entity. The strong charismatic influence of Jones, regardless of theological and cultural transfigurations, does bear a suspicious resemblance to the old image of Blacks "betrayed by a white leader" (Zhuk 457), the thesis that is, in fact, proposed in a chapter by Lincoln and Mamiya (written in 1980). This reader is also somewhat confused by the editors to contend that "New African American religious movements come into existence for different reasons than [sic] new white religious movements", which, although essentially true, implies that all new white religious movements are one and the same.
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