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The Peoples Temple and Branch Davidians

Write a 7-10 page essay on each essay question. Papers are expected to incorporate relevant assigned readings, lectures, films, and discussion. Make sure you address the questions asked.

Format Requirements: typed, double-spaced, in 11 or 12 size type face and 1 inch margins. No late papers are accepted. Style and content are inseparable, so please pay attention to matters of organization, grammatical usage, spelling, etc.

Essay # 1
The Peoples Temple and Branch Davidians

In most people’s minds, the Peoples Temple and Branch Davidians represent quintessential cults: crazed leaders with a band of brainwashed followers. Your readings and the documentaries revise this perspective. In your essay, consider the following questions: (1) Was there a turning point or a series of turning points in Jim Jones and David Koresh and their followers that eventually led to the mass murders/suicides (Peoples Temple) and deaths (Branch Davidians)? (2) Were the earlier goals and ideals of the movements maintained throughout their history or were they revised or discarded? (3) There are plenty of cases where people give their lives for a cause, even to the point to risking death. Are the Peoples Temple and Branch Davidian deaths any different? (4) In what ways do Jim Jones and David Koresh fit the profile of a “charismatic prophet”? (5) What role did the media play in contributing to the public’s understanding of these groups?

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