Kinsolving Series in the San Francisco Examiner

The earliest negative media exposure for Jim Jones and Peoples Temple occurred in the form of a series of front page articles written by Lester Kinsolving for the San Francisco Examiner. The series of four articles ran from Sunday, September 17, 1972 through Wednesday, September 20, 1972. Four additional articles were never published, partially due to their unsubstantiated claims.

Lester Kinsolving (b. 1927) worked as the religion columnist for the San Francisco Examiner in the 1970s when he began investigating the Peoples Temple. Kinsolving was a nationally known columnist who often wrote about religion, leading a profile in Time Magazine (“Irreverent Reverend” Monday, January 11,1971) to conclude that he was an “ecclesiastical curmudgeon.” Through a series of site visits to the Redwood Valley Temple and interviews with a handful of recent defectors, he compiled a narrative about Jones and Peoples Temple that went counter to the perceptions of many in the Bay area. The charismatic style of Peoples Temple and the progressive political theology of Jones clashed with Kinsolving’s Anglican commitments and conservative political leanings.

The articles did impact Jones and the Peoples Temple, which responded to the claims in the media and began to carefully surveil the audience attending Peoples Temple services. These articles contributed to the increasing suspicion of defectors by Jones that would haunt him even after the move to Guyana.

The following transcripts are derived from the Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple. Transcripts can also be found at a site maintained by Tom Kinsolving. PDFs of originals have not been located.

“The Prophet Who Raises the Dead.” September 17, 1972 – Annotated Transcript || Alternative Considerations

“‘Healing Prophet’ Hailed as God as SF Revival.” September 18, 1972 – Annotated Transcript || Alternative Consideration

“D.A. Aide Officiates for Minor Bride.” September 19, 1972 – Annotated Transcript || Alternative Considerations

“Probe Asked of People’s Temple.” September 20, 1972 – Annotated Transcript || Alternative Considerations

Annotation team members: Sarah Adams, Hayley LeBlanc, Jon Lueth

Unpublished articles from the Kinsolving Series

“The People’s Temple and Maxine Harpe.” Unpublished – Annotated Transcript || Alternative Considerations
“The Reincarnation of Jesus Christ – in Ukiah.” Unpublished – Annotated Transcript || Alternative Considerations
“Jim Jones Defames a Black Pastor.” Unpublished – Annotated Transcript || Alternative Considerations
“Sex, Socialism, and Child Torture with Rev. Jim Jones.” Unpublished – Annotated Transcript || Alternative Considerations