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Jonestown survivor Deborah Layton.similarities between People's Temple & Scientology

Discussion in 'Cults in General' started by Smurf, Jun 19, 2014.

  1. Smurf

    Smurf Gold Meritorious SP

    Deborah Layton was one of several family members that joined the People's Temple & were coerced to follow the pack to Jonestown. She managed to escape. Her brother, Larry, a Jones' loyalist pretended to be a defector & later shot several defectors on a plane trying to flee from a nearby airstrip. Larry Layton served 18 years in federal prison.

    Recently, Deborah started a thread on 'Reddit' where she answered many questions about the cult mentality in People's Temple, some facts about life in Jonestown & how the cult mentality in People's Temple is very similar to that in Scientology. In fact, Jim Jones had read L. Ron Hubbard's books.

    I'am A Jonestown survivor/whistle blower. I was a trusted aide to Jim Jones and am the author of Seductive Poison

    I'm Deborah Layton. At just eighteen years old, and home from boarding school, I innocently joined the Peoples Temple and moved into their campus dormitory in Northern California. By the age of 21 I was a trusted aide to Jim Jones, and the signatory for millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts. At the age of 24, and believing I was heading to the organization's tropical paradise, I realized I had just entered a concentration camp.

    Within weeks of my escape from Jonestown, I wrote an affidavit to the US government requesting their help for the 900+ people being held against their will in Jones' encampment. It became front page news across the country. Six months later and just four days before the tragedy, I was in Washington D.C. giving testimony before State Department officials requesting help.

    After 18 years of keeping who I was a secret, I wrote my memoir Seductive Poison. This month Random House released the audio book, now on Audible. I wrote Seductive Poison in the hopes that my experiences might safeguard the life of another

    A friend of mine said this is an amazing forum, so I'm looking forward to spending the afternoon with you. Visit me at

    Peoples Temple was a celibate organization. Having said that, Jones did rape men and women against their will -- for the purpose of breaking down their sense of self and soul.

    No one joins a cult. No one joins something they think will hurt or kill them. People join political movements, social organizations attend off-campus dinner socials believing they are mingling with like-minded people. It is often too late when one realizes they've been deceived.

    Although my experience is extreme, I saw this tendency again when I worked on the trading floor of an investment banking firm -- where invisible boundaries are crossed believing the end justifies the means. When you believe in something and think there will be a great payout, whether in spiritual points or money it is often hard to take a closer look and walk away from so much.

    At some point in all our lives we have been entrapped and did not know how to extricate ourselves. The less extreme and most common are abusive relationships.

    Someone asked: Would you consider Jim Jones’ movement similar to that of the Church of Scientology?

    Deborah: I don't know, but Jones studied L. Ron Hubbard's books. Some cults call themselves churches, however, if joining means turning your back on everything you've known -- your family, friends who are not in the organization -- you are in danger.

    I escaped from Jonestown, which was an encampment secured by armed guards. Those who spoke honestly about wanting to leave were medicated and put in the feared medical unit from where they never returned.

    People were desperately afraid in Jonestown. Many took a stand against Jones and became examples of what not to do for they were punished severely and often did not return the same as before.

    Question: Are you related to the infamous Larry Layton? For those who don't know, Larry Layton was a Jones’ loyalist who pretended to be a Jonestown defector and asked to leave Jonestown with Congressman Leo J. Ryan and the NBC News crew, and Layton opened fire on the plane that was supposed to carry defectors from the airstrip where Ryan & NBC staff were murdered.

    Deborah: Yes, he is my older brother. He served over twenty years in prison for crimes a thousand of us committed -- the only person held responsible for the massacre. Had I been in Jonestown when Leo Ryan came, I am sorry to say that I, too, would have believed he was there to hurt us, and might have shot him believing I was protecting my fellow prisoners. I wanted to leave desperately, but would never have left with him.

    We were so defeated and indoctrinated that the world the rest of you lived in was foreign to us. Larry believed that he was saving his wife, their unborn child and all of the other residents of the encampment by sacrificing his own life.

    I cannot defend what my brother did except to say that he believed he was saving the lives of 900 people by taking the lives of the "traitors." He had no idea Leo Ryan was going to be killed.

    At his parole hearing it was the 'defector' he shot that came to the hearing and asked for leniency. He also said that it could have been him. The Chief Judge, who sat for both of my brother's trials said Larry was only a small cog in a big machine. Many jurors begged for leniency however his sentence was mandatory life. I actually explain this much better and thoroughly in my memoir. It is too hard in this short a forum to explain, defend all of our actions.

    I see my brother regularly. I only wish my father had lived to see his youngest son released from prison.

    “Drinking the Kool Aid” to describe cult membership is a complete misnomer, because in fact 140 babies, parents and senior citizens in Jonestown were coerced and murdered. Babies do no commit revolutionary suicide. Jones had it planned. We innocents had no idea.

    We innocents' refers to all those who went to Jonestown believing it was the paradise Jones talked about, sent lovely movies from on his visits there. However in those days only 30 members occupied the clearing in the middle of the jungle. Jonestown was a failing agricultural community--it could not have ever supported 900 more. People were stored in warehouse cabins on bunk beds--including 70 & 80 year olds.

    On recruitment: He went after well to do idealistic college students-- through whom he could siphon money from their parents; he targeted poor, black seniors--then siphoned their SS checks. More joined because of the positive press he received. Most believed they were only pitching-in to help an organization with good deeds. No one thought they would be forbidden from leaving. Some who left were found, brought back, then punished, one man was killed. Jones used his political clout to procure more politicians then used those associations to intimate his parishioners.

    Jones often met with new visitors, wooing them with the amount of attention he gave them, telling them how he needed their qualities in his organization, that together he and they could change the wrong in the world,--racism, classism....

    Besides being written about in the newspaper, and seen with dignitaries at lunches and dinners, he was also the head of the Human Rights Commission and the SF Housing Authority. We believed he was honest, benign, and a good minister. If you're interested, in my memoir, I take you with me as I meet Jones, am seduced into his organization and far too late, realize my error.

    It's also worth noting that the politicians who celebrated and made excuses for Jim Jones (Dianne Feinstein, Harvey Milk, Walter Mondale, California Gov. Jerry Brown) all managed to keep their careers.

    On Congressman Leo Ryan: He was a good kind man who got caught in a vastly more dangerous situation than he imagined. Although he had read my affidavit -- "Affidavit of Deborah Layton Blakey, Re: the Threat and Possibility of Mass Suicide by Members of the Peoples Temple"

    I believe it was too unfathomable for him to get his mind around. Remember, in many ways Jonestown coined the definition of a cult.

    Question: What was it that made you realize you had entered a "concentration camp?"

    Deborah: Everyone in Jonestown knew. There were armed guards; for those who didn't abide--they were put on the Learning Crew (fashioned after Mao cultural revolution and indoctrination).

    The second we pulled into Jonestown-- 24 hours over the ocean, 9 hours up a river and 2 more hours by flat bed truck into the middle of nowhere--I knew we had all been wholly deceived. Then, our passports were confiscated “for safekeeping”.

    Early in my indoctrination, my inner voice called up to me that something wasn't right. However, at a young age I was taught not to listen to this all knowing voice. Part of my story is also about well intentioned secrets-- handed down from my mother to me. Innocent deceit my mother believed would protect me from her shameful history. My mother was 23 when she escaped Nazi Germany. On her arrival in America she decided no on needed to know about her Jewish heritage. She wanted to safeguard her future families assent into American society--if it could happen in Europe, why not here? I believe it is because of these secrets - when my youthful questions were batted away- that I stopped listening to my inner voice and instead began to look for black and white answers outside my family. Jones had all the answers so it seemed. In terms of manipulation, he was on-par with Hitler, Mao and Castro.

    On the mentality of members in Jonestown:

    It was not unlike the thousands of Jews imprisoned in Auschwitz -- there were far many more of them than the guards. However, when you are given only rice, water, soup for sustenance, work 12 hours a day under intense sun you become weak. We also were kept in meetings throughout the night getting only 4 hours of sleep.

    Many inhabitants were broken, others of us were trying to figure a way out. When in extreme danger one tries to think as their captor. We are not always successful.

    One of the very evil and clever things Jones did nightly was to say he was sending someone he trusted out to pretend they wanted to leave. It was a test of loyalty. Be sure to report them. A father told his 12 year old son he had an idea for an escape, his innocent son, believing it was a loyalty test, reported his father who was then used as an example and had the Boa Constrictor wrapped around his neck.

    Jones used fear, intimidation and heinous other punishments to keep us afraid, silent and seemingly compliant. Believe me, many of us were afraid and wanted out. Several of us were brave enough to take a stand -- as I said before, 'we who have been back know the best of us did not return.'

    On the night of the massacre autopsy reports show people were shot, had syringes filled with cyanide injected into their backs. The reason the initial counts came back that only 400 had died, then 600, then 800 then 900 was because families ran to be with other family members and they died together many on top of loved ones already killed.

    Jonestown ended with through coercion and mayhem. Do not be deceived, no one willingly drank the poison.
    In a 1998 interview, Deborah talks of the Learning Crew (a punishment regime not unlike the RPF):
  2. Re: Jonestown survivor Deborah Layton.similarities between People's Temple & Scientol

    similarities can and should be pointed out but the differences are many. not even hemet, the closest approximation of a concentration camp is anywhere near being a sufficiently closed system to engineer a mass suicide...
  3. La La Lou Lou

    La La Lou Lou Crusader

    Re: Jonestown survivor Deborah Layton.similarities between People's Temple & Scientol

    You are forgetting the last sentence.

    It wasn't mass suicide, ''Jonestown ended with th(o)rough coercion and mayhem. Do not be deceived, no one willingly drank the poison.'' (I put the 'o; in it seems to have been dropped,)
  4. Re: Jonestown survivor Deborah Layton.similarities between People's Temple & Scientol

    there were armed guards there LLLL and there was probably mayhem at the last but most of those people walked through the line and drank the koolaid

    as they had previously rehearsed. and the rehearsal was a necessary prelude which is one of the reasons it can't happen at hemet because there's no way to keep a rehearsal secret. jonestown was isolated. there's much traffic in and out of hemet. they'd never be able to maintain security...
  5. La La Lou Lou

    La La Lou Lou Crusader

    Re: Jonestown survivor Deborah Layton.similarities between People's Temple & Scientol

    True, I have not seen anything that would make me think this was a policy or plan. But when nutters like DM get cornered they can get desperate. I wouldn't like to see what he does the day he is removed from office. It could get messy. He won't go quietly. It does need to happen.
  6. FoTi

    FoTi Crusader

    Re: Jonestown survivor Deborah Layton.similarities between People's Temple & Scientol

    Maybe DM will just drink himself to death and whoever is left will wake up, see this as their opportunity to escape, and get the hell out of there.
  7. Kookaburra

    Kookaburra Gold Meritorious Patron

    Re: Jonestown survivor Deborah Layton.similarities between People's Temple & Scientol

    I can tell from these posts that you have never been to the Int base. It is a completely closed system. It is surrounded by big nasty fence with inward pointing spikes, motion detectors, floodlights. The guards are armed. You don't just waltz in and out of there at will. You are not warned of what is there before you go. You find out when you arrive. It is a prison. And it is not likely that you will get any help from the local authorities. They are PRd and woo'd to be friends of the guards that are keeping the staff imprisoned. It is a crazy situation. I can see just such a mass suicide/murder occuring if DM is pushed into a corner. Or maybe even if he just has one of his nasty musical chairs type moments.
  8. Boson Wog Stark

    Boson Wog Stark Patron Meritorious

    Re: Jonestown survivor Deborah Layton.similarities between People's Temple & Scientol

    I read Layton's book.

    Although many people consider it offensive, I like that "drinking the Kool-Aid" (yes, I know it was really Flavor Aid) became an expression to mean holding unquestioned beliefs, with no critical examination, and I think that fits Scientologists well. It's an expression that helps some people think about their beliefs and the beliefs of others more critically.

    Instead of thinking or claiming, with certainty, they are the only ones with "all the answers," most people who are now Scientologists would have done very well to be more critical of these proposed answers, but also to have read and understood how something like Jonestown can happen. It happened to people who were full of good intentions, and wanted to make society better.

    The lesson is also about how important it is to undertake the serious study of all biographical information that is known about the leader/founder of such a group, before ANY involvement in the way of indoctrination or contributing financially to that organization, or working for them.

    Pre-Internet, I understand how difficult or inconvenient this would have been to do, but now, it's really inexcusable for a person not to. You don't have to book your trip to Guyana/paradise to see for yourself. You can read about the experiences of others. You can read about Hubbard's life on wiki.

    It's kind of absurd that a lot of people would spend more time reading reviews of a hotel they were going to book for a vacation, than a lot of people would spend researching Scientology before taking courses or getting involved.

    Still, Scientology will target people who like adventure and doing, rather than thinking or researching, and even some people who find the controversy exciting -- the idea of doing something a lot of people say is a scam or trap. They can target people who buy into their fantasy of exploring past lives.

    What happened in Jonestown is not only important because of the tragic end, but also what led up to it, and what led up to it is a lot like Scientology, and especially the control Miscavige currently has at places like Int base. It is not only Miscavige himself, but the power he has over his underlings, to get them to do things. This could heat up during the end times of Scientology.
  9. Smurf

    Smurf Gold Meritorious SP

    Re: Jonestown survivor Deborah Layton.similarities between People's Temple & Scientol

    Your speculation/opinion is not back on facts. I suggest you listen to the FBI tapes that recorded the events of the murder/suicide. Like LRH, Jim Jones recorded every spoken word.
  10. Smurf

    Smurf Gold Meritorious SP

    Re: Jonestown survivor Deborah Layton.similarities between People's Temple & Scientol

    WTF??? Clearly, you have not been to Gold Base nor know anything about it. It is nowhere near downtown Hemet.

    It's a desert compound surrounded by barbed wire fences, inward-facing spikes, ground sensors & security guards.
  11. Enthetan

    Enthetan Master of Disaster

    Re: Jonestown survivor Deborah Layton.similarities between People's Temple & Scientol

    All DM needs to kill everybody at Int Base is a large meeting room with all exits but one locked securely.

    Announce a mandatory meeting, every body on base to attend. Put his podium by the door. When everyone is seated, DM enters with an AK-47 and sprays the room. Or he just has a large plastic container in the room, which contains several gallons of gasoline. He enters, pulls out a gun, puts some bullets into the container, rupturing the container and igniting the gasoline. Then leave and lock the door.
  12. DeeAnna

    DeeAnna Patron Meritorious

    Re: Jonestown survivor Deborah Layton.similarities between People's Temple & Scientol

    Yes, somewhere on youtube is an audio tape of the mass suicide. It is absolutely awful. A slurring Jim Jones urging parents to keep their children under control. Babies wailing. Adults yelling. Sadly, it does not sound like people are being forced, although out of 900 surely some were. Perhaps many.
  13. La La Lou Lou

    La La Lou Lou Crusader

    Re: Jonestown survivor Deborah Layton.similarities between People's Temple & Scientol

    No he'd just bore people to death with dramatic false unprecedented statistics of amazing expansion.
  14. Sidney18511

    Sidney18511 Patron with Honors

    Re: Jonestown survivor Deborah Layton.similarities between People's Temple & Scientol

    Personally I believe that DM will bow out like Hubbard did. He will say he is stepping down and removing himself from the day to day operations. He will install a puppet pope who's strings he will pull from an undisclosed location. He will have lots if money to keep him company. Maybe Lou also. is possible if he feels trapped and knows the Feds are comming he could go another way. His mind could crack
    He could say that scientologists should move on to target 2 and wait until this prison planet destroys itself and then come back. That they are ahead of their time. The government, in fear of their knowledge and power will destroy them or lock them away. For the future of all mankind, they must drop their bodies and regroup. It's what LRH would want them to do.

    Who really knows just how much crazy that little man has in him, especially if he feels that everyone is against him and he is backed in a corner. The man loves no one. Frightening.
  15. Smurf

    Smurf Gold Meritorious SP

    Re: Jonestown survivor Deborah Layton.similarities between People's Temple & Scientol

    In the final moments of the massacre, Jim Jones used the race card to rally the black members of the cult as the heroes of the world, noting that that most of the defectors were "white people". Yet, in video #5, he refers to black defector "Jim Cobb laying on the airfield dead.' (He, in fact. survived the shootings).

    Jones was, obviously, drugged in the final moments & was clearly angry at the crying, wailing & hysterics taking place after they forced the cyanide-laced drink into the children's mouths. Death by cyanide is very painful. The cries of the children is heart-breaking to hear.




    "What Dr. Mootoo did find was just as significant. About 80-90% of the victims had needle marks from a hypodermic syringe in their upper shoulder, as if administered from behind. Others had been shot or strangled. Many exhibited ligature marks or other signs of having been restrained just prior to their death. Several photographs clearly showed gun shot wounds. Who could have done this?"
  16. Boson Wog Stark

    Boson Wog Stark Patron Meritorious

    Re: Jonestown survivor Deborah Layton.similarities between People's Temple & Scientol

    And there are so many things that could push DM over the edge. What if Tom Cruise turned against the cult, or Travolta came out with a full disclosure of his life and how he was controlled, Lou blows and writes a tell-all, or a pod of whales turns on him.

    In his paranoia, he may feel betrayed by his legal team. There could be a lawsuit that goes high profile, and draws too much negative attention to him and the cult. Narconon could collapse and be embarrassing for the cult.

    When LRH ran and hid out, mostly because of the law and the fallout from Operation Snow White, he knew that his creation would survive him, and after all, he probably wasn't feeling well enough to be totally hands-on anyway, since he was falling apart and had done it all for decades already, from the beginning. He either knew it could run itself, or he didn't care.

    DM does care, and I suspect he thinks Scientology would be in danger of a swift collapse if he left. He's addicted to the power, and doesn't feel like anyone around him can keep milking money and keep the scam going like he can. He might be right about that.

    So, the question is, would he snap in a bad situation and do something Jim Jones-like to go out in a blaze. Even with a slow implosion as is happening now, will he be able to stand the pressure. I think it is an especially bad time to be at Int base or be in his immediate circle. If he could not control himself enough to stop grabbing and punching his underlings, it shows the potential for a much greater event where he loses it.
  17. Xenu's Boyfriend

    Xenu's Boyfriend Silver Meritorious Patron

    Re: Jonestown survivor Deborah Layton.similarities between People's Temple & Scientol

    Interesting that you would focus on that in this amazing interview, especially when you have a quote about drinking the koolaid as part of your signature. What is INT base if not a form of concentration camp? If it is not, why did Marc Headley, Marty Rathbun and others have to "escape" when they wanted to leave?
  18. Re: Jonestown survivor Deborah Layton.similarities between People's Temple & Scientol

    i'm glad i haven't been there. but it ain't crazy baby, i mean like crazy is a freewheelin' groove and we is gwine make hemet a crazy scene some sweet day...


    the bulk of staff is virtually imprisoned most of the time but even they go to the dentist or on leave and there are many people sent out on missions or coming in. they couldn't maintain security on a mass suicide rehearsal

    so far as i know...

    correct me if i'm wrong

    and of course it is constructed so it can be turned into a truly closed place in minutes
  19. Smurf

    Smurf Gold Meritorious SP

    Re: Jonestown survivor Deborah Layton.similarities between People's Temple & Scientol

    Again, you have no clue what you're talking about. I've been in and outside of Gold Base. It is, by all means, a concentration camp. Security around the compound is stifling. BTW, Gold Base is much closer to San Jacinto than it is to Hemet.