6 Nov 2008

Temples of Doom: When Faith Turns Fatal

Vision TV - Canada

November 18 – 20, 2008 is Cult Week on VisionTV

When faith turns fatal: VisionTV marks Jonestown anniversary with specials
on the dangerous power of religious cults

Jonestown. Waco. Heaven’s Gate. The Solar Temple.

In our cultural shorthand, these names have become synonymous with the most troubling of modern religious phenomena: a cult of believers under the sway of a charismatic leader whose apocalyptic brand of faith culminates in mass deaths.

What draws people into the embrace of religious cults? And how can cult leaders induce ordinary men and women to take part in acts of mass suicide and murder?

Nov. 18 marks the 30th anniversary of the Jonestown tragedy, in which more than 900 members of the Peoples Temple cult perished – the single largest loss of American civilian lives at human hands prior to 9/11. Canada’s VisionTV commemorates the events at Jonestown with a series of special broadcasts that ask why religious cults exercise such power – and why that power can turn so deadly.

Highlights include the Canadian television premiere of the acclaimed documentary Join Us, and an encore presentation of the award-winning docudrama Jonestown: Paradise Lost.

Docudrama – Jonestown: Paradise Lost
Tuesday, Nov. 18, 10 pm ET / 7 pm PT

On November 18, 1978, more than 900 members of the Peoples Temple lost their lives at Jonestown, the cult’s isolated compound in the jungles of northern Guyana. Almost 300 children were among the dead. It was an unfathomable act of mass murder and suicide, ordered by their messianic leader, Jim Jones. This feature-length docudrama chronicles the tragic final days of the Peoples Temple and struggles to answer the heart-rending question: Why? Informed by eyewitness accounts and material recently made public by the U.S. government, the film follows the fateful journey of Congressman Leo Ryan, who traveled to Jonestown on a mission to investigate the Peoples Temple, only to pay with his life. The film features rarely seen archival footage and exhaustively researched dramatic re-creations, as well as interviews with survivors and key witnesses, including Stephan Jones, son of Jim Jones. Canadian actor Rick Roberts (This is Wonderland) plays Jim Jones in the dramatic re-creations.
Winner of the Best Canadian Program Award at the Banff World Television Festival, 2007.

Movie – In the Line of Duty; Ambush in Waco
Wednesday, Nov. 19, 10 pm ET / 7 pm PT

In February 1993, officers from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) raided the Waco, Texas compound of the Branch Davidian religious sect, triggering a furious gun battle that left four ATF agents and six cult members dead. A 51-day siege of the compound followed, ending on April 19 in a fire that claimed the lives of more than 80 Davidians, including 22 children. This compelling made-for-TV movie traces the events leading up to the disastrous ATF firefight. Tim Daly (Private Practice, The Sopranos) stars as David Koresh, the charismatic cult leader who held followers in thrall to his religious megalomania and sexual appetites. As the Davidians stockpile weapons in anticipation of the apocalypse, the ATF and other authorities begin to probe the cult’s activities, setting the stage for a violent and tragic confrontation. Neal McDonough (Desperate Housewives), Jeri Ryan (Shark), Debra Jo Rupp (That ’70s Show), Gordon Clapp (NYPD Blue), Dan Lauria (The Wonder Years) and James Marsden (Enchanted) also star.

Documentary – Join Us
Thursday, Nov. 20, 9 pm ET / 6 pm PT

There are more than 5,000 religious cults in North America today. How do they attract such devout followers – and why do members find it so hard to leave? This critically acclaimed documentary by filmmaker Ondi Timoner recounts the experiences of four families attempting to rebuild their lives after leaving a South Carolina cult in which their children were violently abused. The feature-length film takes viewers inside a residential treatment facility for cult victims, and follows the families as they return to South Carolina in the hope of exacting justice against their former pastor.

Documentary – Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple
Thursday, Nov. 20, 11 pm ET / 8 pm PT

Originally produced for the PBS series American Experience, this critically acclaimed documentary reveals the tragic truth behind enigmatic preacher Jim Jones and his promise of a world of economic and racial equality – a utopian vision that ultimately led to the largest mass murder-suicide in history. The film tells the story of the men and women who joined Jones’s Peoples Temple, following him from Indiana to California and ultimately to their deaths in Guyana in November 1978. The Life and Death of Peoples Temple features first-hand recollections of former cult members, including some who narrowly escaped death in those frantic, final days in the South American jungle. And it includes never-before-seen footage shot inside the Peoples Temple, affording a rare glimpse of Jones's passionate preaching and emotional healing services.

These scheduling announcements were found at:


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