Jones relocated to California in the 1960s, opening up several different Peoples Temple branches. His beliefs were centered in socialist politics and racial equality, and in time moved away from scripture, and centered on Jones as its central Christ-like figure. Constituents were asked to spend holidays with the church instead of their family, and worked together as mini-communities. Jones was influenced by men like Fidel Castro and Karl Marx, and used Marxist lingo like, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” in his doctrine. He urged followers not to participate in sex and romance, although he had several affairs.
In 1974, Jones bought land in the South American nation Guyana, and moved a large number of his followers there to establish a new community named Jonestown. Though conceived as a tropical paradise, it was anything but. Followers could not leave the compound, were given very little food, and were watched over by armed guards. An increasingly paranoid Jones made them practice suicide drills, in the event that they were ever discovered. The drills would prove fateful. On November 18, 1978, Leo J. Ryan, a congressman from California, came to Guyana to investigate Jonestown after reports of abuse and inhumane treatment on the compound. Upon his visit, he invited anyone who wished to leave to come with him. At the Port Kaituma airstrip, Ryan and four others were shot and killed on Jones’s orders.