This image is the cover for the book Salvation and Suicide, Religion in North America

Salvation and Suicide, Religion in North America

An “ambitious and courageous” examination of the Jonestown cult viewed through the lens of theology (Journal of the American Academy of Religion).

Re-issued in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the mass suicides at Jonestown, this revised edition of David Chidester’s groundbreaking book features a new prologue that considers the meaning of the tragedy for a post-Waco, post-9/11 world.

For Chidester, the murder-suicide of some 900 members of the Peoples Temple in Guyana recalls the American religious commitment to redemptive sacrifice, which for Jim Jones meant saving his followers from the evils of capitalist society. “Jonestown is ancient history,” writes Chidester, but it does provide us with an opportunity “to reflect upon the strangeness of familiar . . . promises of redemption through sacrifice.” His original conclusion that the Peoples Temple was a meaningful religious movement seems all the more prescient and astute today, when fundamentalism has raised the troubling spectre of violence and suicide all over the world.

David Chidester

Indiana University Press