It is funny how some of Bro. Branham’s critics accuse him of committing hoaxes to fool people, when they themselves are hypocrites who are fabricating evidence to try and create a hoax themselves. This is truly among the most outrageous of the accusations leveled against Bro. Branham. Collins is taking advantage of people’s lack of knowledge of the facts. Let’s examine the the truth.
What do the reliable sources say?
There is a wealth of books available on Jim Jones and his life, and also on Bro. Branham and his life. In our review of all of those books, we have found only one book that makes mention of any connection between Jim Jones and William Branham. Collins uses this one source as the foundation of all his allegations. Collins does not, however, provide the full text of these sources, but uses them selectively to make Bro. Branham appear as nefarious as possible. Here is a full except of the only known publication to connect Bro. Branham to Jim Jones: the 1989 book Raven: The Untold Story of Rev. Jim Jones and His People, by Tom Reiterman. Reiterman is clear that Jones was merely using Bro. Branham to advance himself, and that Bro. Branham was taken advantage of.
Creating an image meant creating publicity, and that mean a bold move. Soon after the move to his new church, he [Jim Jones] organized a mammoth religious convention to take place June 11 through 15, 1956, in a cavernous Indianapolis hall called Cadle Tabernacle. To draw the crowds, Jim needed a religious headliner, and so he arranged to share the pulpit with Rev. William Branham, a healing evangelist and religious author as highly revered by some as Oral Roberts or Billy Graham.
As a prelude to the event, the Herald of Faith, a Christian newsletter out of Chicago, provided Jones a forum in its May 1956 issue. In his eloquent and almost biblical prose, Jones disguised his agnosticism – or his atheism – and hid the fact that he was using religion for social goals. But he subtly revealed the role of religion in his own escape from poverty.
Some eleven thousand Christians attended the opening day of the convention, to see Branham and twenty-five-year-old Jim Jones. Blacks constituted about a fifth of the congregation that day. Many came to see Jim Jones in the afternoon preliminary service, and then stayed around for the climactic nighttime session with the great healer Branham, a quietly charismatic, balding man in his forties.
Though Jones was much more boisterous in his delivery and prayers than Branham, both preachers followed much the same Pentecostal procedure, relying heavily on numbers.
By evangelical standards, the more people who “fell out,” the better. Branham not only enjoyed one of the best averages around, but he also could get people to fall out of their seats when he was on stage; he could reach them without touching them. And sometimes virtually everyone on whom he placed his hands dropped over. Jim Jones the novice could not rival Branham’s percentages.
The exposure proved invaluable to Jones. One person introduced to the Peoples Temple pastor by the event was a lanky black man in his mid-forties named Archie Ijames. Ijames had come to hear William Branham, but he was just the man Jim Jones needed. Jones had been experiencing difficulty making blacks believe he was sincere about racial brotherhood. Ijames could help bring them into the fold.Reiterman, Tom; Jacobs, John (1982). Raven: The Untold Story of Rev. Jim Jones and His People. Dutton. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 50-52
A second passage in the same book follows, these are the only two mentions in any publication known to connect William Branham and Jim Jones. Here Reiterman explains that what Jones learned from Bro. Branham was how to win converts, not a doctrine or set or religious beliefs.
The Temple [Jones Church] spread like ivy, through the families in Ukiah and beyond, putting down roots wherever it touched ground. In the space of just a couple of years in the early 1970s, Temple membership and assets multiples several times over as the church combined its old recruiting patterns among poor, blacks, and the uneducated with the assistance from an elite and college educated, middle class whites. In collecting people and money coast to coast, Jones dictated the formula with the master’s touch of a traveling evangelist. His past experience – from the religious convention shared with William Branham to the door-to-door recruiting of blacks in Indiana – had taught him essential steps in the recruitment process. Follow-up was as important as an impressive initial contact; then it was necessary to get potential recruits involved at once.Reiterman, Tom; Jacobs, John (1982). Raven: The Untold Story of Rev. Jim Jones and His People. Dutton. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 132
Reiterman’s presentation of Jones is honest and truthful. He presents Jones as a man who was not even a Christian who was using and copying Bro. Branham to boost his own popularity. Keep in mind, having reviewed over thirty books on Bro. Branham and Jim Jones, this is the only one we found mentioning the connection at all. Here is an excerpt from a second source, Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, which explains Jones’ true beliefs and motivations.
Jones ultimately rejected all of Christianity as “fly away religion”, rejected the Bible as being a tool to oppress women and non-whites, and denounced the Christian God as a “Sky God” who was “no God at all”. Historian Catherine Wessinger concludes Jones used Christianity as a vehicle to covertly advance his personal ideologyhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_M._Branham
Reliable sources are in agreement. Jim Jones was either an athiest or agnostic. He was using Christianity, and Bro. Branham, to advance his own personal ideology. Jones single time of contact with William Branham occurred over twenty years before the Jonestown Massacre happened. Bro. Branham could have had no idea that Jones would end up murdering hundreds of people at the time of their religious convention. Jones was a young man just starting out with no track record to even judge him by.
Many people copied Bro. Branham and his style. Oral Roberts and O.L. Jaggers among others.1 Jim Jones is just one more person who copied Bro. Branham’s style during the healing revival. But unlike Oral Roberts and others, he did it with wicked motives. Jim Jones is responsible for his own actions.
John Collins is completely misrepresenting Tom Reiterman by leaving out his assessment that Jones was misleading Bro. Branham and using him. Why is Collins leaving out such an important fact? Because what he is engaged in is a smear campaign.
Jim Jones was good at fooling people
President Jimmy Carter, the Urban League, the NAACP, the Apostolic Herald, and hundreds of other religious and secular leaders were fooled into trusting Jim Jones. Bro. Branham was just one of many people Jones misled and used. President Carter publicly praised Jim Jones for his work. The NAACP gave Jim Jones the Martin Luther King Jr. award in 1977, only a few short months before the Jonestown Massacre.
It is unfair to single out Bro. Branham as somehow being uniquely guilty as an influencer or enabler of Jim Jones. Did Bro. Branham do more to legitimize and enable Jim Jones than President Carter? Did Bro. Branham do more to legitimize and enable Jim Jones than the NAACP? Jones is almost universally agreed by historians to not even be a Christian, so how can anyone say Bro. Branham influenced him when he clearly rejected all the key tenants of Bro. Branham’s faith?
Did Bro. Branham’s prediction of a 1977 rapture cause Jim Jones and his followers to commit suicide?
Critics go on to allege that Bro. Branham’s teachings played a part in the Jonestown Massacre. This is truly a sick accusation and says alot about anyone who would make it. Did you know that there was a Congressional investigation into the Jonestown Massacre? The Jonestown Massacre was exhaustively investigated by the FBI, the military, the American new media, and the United States Congress. Their reports are publicly available.
If you do not have time to read it all, we will give you a quick summary.
In November 1978, family members of people in Jones’s cult reported that their loved ones were being held against their will in South America. Congressman Leo Ryan flew to the Jonestown Compound in South America to investigate the allegations. Believing that Ryan was going to take a bad report back to the United States, Jones ordered his followers to attack and kill Ryan and his party as they were leaving. They murdered Congressman Ryan and four other people in party. Eleven others were wounded but escaped. Jones had intended to kill them all to prevent any report from returning to the United States.
Knowing that it was only a matter of time before the United States sent a large force to arrest them, Jones led the entire community to commit mass suicide.
Nowhere in any report or investigation did anyone find or even mention the possibility that they committed suicide because they thought they had missed the rapture in 1977, or for any reason connected to Bro. Branham. No, Jones led the mass suicide because he did not want to go to jail following the murder he had ordered of five people.
Collins and BelieveTheSign have this allegation on their respective websites, and they are listed here. Shame on them.
There are dozens of books and detailed investigations into the Jonestown Massacre. The allegations made on these attack websites fly in the face of every single investigation. How can these critics claim to be looking for the truth when they are ignoring every authoritative source on this topic?
In the simplest terms, it is because they do not fact check or peer review the material they allow to be published in their periodical entitled “Alternative Considerations of Jonestown”. John Collins has taken advantage of this and been able to publish several articles attempting to establish that there was a deep connection between Bro. Branham and Jim Jones. The editor of this website reached out to San Diego University and received a verbal statement that they do not endorse or accept any opinion published in the periodical (including Collin’s), nor do they peer review or fact check the articles. It is a shame they have allowed their university to be used as a tool for deception. Universities are supposed to be places that educate people, but they are allowing themselves to be a tool to delude people.
John Collins has created a circular web of sources to try and make it appear that his theory is legitimate and accepted, when in fact he is behind all the so called source material and is actually citing himself! It is a true case of circular sourcing.
So called evidence
One handwritten note created by Jim Jones exists that mentions “the message”. This single document is is presented as the smoking gun that Jones was a follower of Bro. Branham. However, this flies in the face of every historian who almost universally agree that Jones was only pretending to be a Christian. Jones openly rejected all of Christianity, and this letter is just another one of his lies, an effort to draw in victims.
Jones’ church in Indianapolis was about a two hour drive from Bro. Branham’s church in Jeffersonville. Jones never visited, he never attended any of Bro. Branham’s meetings anywhere, and had no affiliation with any church which was associated with Bro. Branham and his message. The followers of Bro. Branham’s message in those days were a small community, and if Jones was part of it, it would surely have been known. We can assure you, he was never in fellowship with us, nor were we in fellowship with him.
In one of Collins own articles he reports the following
In describing Branham’s 1965 fatal car accident, Jones scoffed at the evangelist’s prediction that he would “be around, while you [Jones] will be in trouble.” Evangelists like Branham were not truthful, Jones added, because the Bible was “the greatest money train they’ve ever been on.”~Satan
Collins discovered the Jones openly rejected Bro. Branham and considered him a liar, yet he continues to try and say the two men are connected in beliefs! How could Jones be profoundly influenced by Bro. Branham, but think Bro. Branham was a liar? Doesn’t that sound contradictory? Of course it does!
Holes in the allegations
Did Jim Jones even know about Bro. Branham’s predictions for 1977? The critics allegations are based on a massive pile of assumptions, some of which are demonstrably wrong. There is no direct evidence that Jones even heard of Bro. Branham’s predictions for 1977. There are taped recordings of Bro. Branham’s sermons at the meetings he held with Jim Jones. 1977 is never mentioned in those recordings. There are only three known occasions on which Bro. Branham made his 1977 predictions prior to the 1956 meetings at Cadle Tabernacle. Jim Jones was not known to be at any of those meetings wherein Bro. Branham made his predictions. There is no known publication, either by tape or tract, of the Bro. Branham’s 1977 prediction prior to his death outside of those three meetings.
While it is plausible Jones had heard of the prediction, it is ultimately just conjecture. There is no evidence.
Besides the few days of meetings in June 1956, did Jones have any additional contact with Bro. Branham? It seems unlikely, and there is no evidence of it at all. How could Jones, who spent at most a few hours of his life with Bro. Branham and his teachings, and thought Bro. Branham was a liar, and who was not even a Christian, be so influenced by Bro. Branham’s teachings to lead hundreds of people to their death? Any reasonable person can see these things do not add up. This says something about the critics making the allegation.