Sins of the Father

Friday Fictioneers 05-16

Photo Copyright – Sandra Crook

The empty church was stuffy. I squirmed in the pew as my bladder griped. I nervously gnawed on a hangnail.

Father appeared looking flushed. He sat beside me and took my hands. He smelled like Mrs. Newton’s perfume.

“Beulah, has your mother ever shared her feelings about me to church outsiders?”

I hesitated. His grip tightened. A tousled Mrs. Newton appeared and left without a glance.

“I won’t lead you astray.” He held out a candy bar. “Good kids tell me when their parents sin. Do you want to be good like the other kids?”

I guiltily took the bait. “Yes, Father.”

I’m sure most of you know the story of Jim Jones and The People’s Temple. Allegedly, one of the ways Jones controlled his followers was to coerce them to inform on each other. He used the children to inform on their parents and in return rewarded them. It’s said that he also made sexual advances to members. You can read more about it at

My story is a work of fiction and in no way portrays any actual persons, living or dead, or events. I merely used the history of Jim Jones and The People’s Temple as inspiration.

Be sure to read the other stories for the Friday Fictioneers photo prompt. Thanks to Rochelle for being such a tireless host. (P.S. I’m two words over the 100-word limit. So sorry!)


35 thoughts on “Sins of the Father

  1. Dear Lisa, This sent chills up my spine! Very well done! I remember vividly, Jim Jones and his mass suicide followers – he was so creepy – where in the world is the hole that these people crawl out of? Creepy – but well written! Nan 🙂

    • Thanks, Nan. I don’t know how people get so wrapped up in situations like that. The desperate need to fit in, at all costs, maybe. It’s sad to let someone like that control you so fully. But with a child, it’s different. They want to trust and should expect the people that supposedly care about them to protect them, not use them.

  2. This made my skin crawl (that’s a good thing!). I was telling my children recently about a priest in my parish who used to give Easter Eggs to children who attended daily Mass during Lent. We would all have to sit in the front rows on display for everyone to see how devoted we were – the older Mass-goers didn’t about the chocolate! Fortunately for us that was as far as it went with this particular priest – not everyone was so lucky. Too many people in Ireland have ended up with a lifetime of guilt because of sexual abuse within the church.and even now the victims are often made feel guilty for tarnishing the reputation of the church.

    • Thanks, Siobhan. It’s scary how much abuse is out there in the one place that people should feel safe. It angers me that the victim is often blamed for tarnishing the church’s reputation. Just appalling!

    • Thanks, Patrick. The link is just a PBS timeline of the history of Jim Jones. It’s mostly what we all have heard many times, but I didn’t remember reading about him using children to spy and gather info on possible defectors before this article. I don’t blame you for not reading it.

    • Thanks, Rochelle. I remembered your story before I wrote this one. I tried to write about a different subject so I didn’t just end up rewriting your story. I read several articles about people similar to Jim Jones, but when I read about using the children as a way to spy, I knew that was my story. I agree about the reference to “father.” I think that gives it a really creepy feel.

  3. Lisa, There are always vulnerable people to be taken advantage of, especially children. I warned my children when they were young to be careful and report to me if anyone tried to do something that made them uncomfortable. My mother had warned me also. These sick and perverted people have a way of getting into positions where they’re near the vulnerable. Good, well-written story. 🙂 —Susan

    • Thanks so much, Susan. It is scary to think how easily one could fall into a situation like that, unable to make the right decision. I like to think that I would not fall prey to a person like that, but the truth is we are all vulnerable at some point in our life. Children in particular are easy targets because they are so eager to please.

    • Thanks, Amy. I thought of the old warning to not taking candy from strangers, but no one ever tells a child not to take candy from a supposed “friend.” Can you ever really prepare a child for a situation like that? It is awful.

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