What is often forgotten about the cult leader Jim Jones is that before his name became synonymous in 1978 with poisoned koolaid and an alarming mass suicide, he was better known as someone who helped poor families find housing. He was friends with the political elite of California, and named by mayor George Moscone as the chair to the San Francisco Housing Authority Commission and publicly attended events with First Lady Rosalynn Carter. When Jones left San Francisco, where he had centered his People’s Temple, he took with him hundreds of families, and left a gapping hole, not to mention confusion about the line between charisma and crazy.
In this week’s feature, our reporter Erin Rook tracks down a story about a cult that has used a similar appeal, promoting a virtuous life to recruit teenagers from across the country, including Eugene and whose members were recently spotted in Bend. It is both a scary and a heartfelt story, and one that touches on Oregon’s troubled history with cults, and the ghosts they leave in our lives.
Over the next two months, the Source is dedicated to provide Central Oregon’s most comprehensive election coverage. Ultimately, yes, we will provide an endorsement issue with our choices for candidates and ballot measures. But as we move towards those choices, we are simply gathering information, and hope to share an unfettered vantage point to the candidates’ policies and thoughts. This week we present a Q&A with Aelea Christofferson, a candidate for U.S. Congress. We are sorry that Rep. Greg Walden did not respond to our requests for an interview.
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