Brotherhood of the Cross and Star

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Bethel in Elephant and Castle, London

The Brotherhood of the Cross and Star is a Nigeria-based new religious movement, founded in Calabar, Nigeria in 1956. It differs from orthodox Christianity in that followers believe its founder, Olumba Olumba Obu, is the Holy Spirit personified in human form, giving him the attributes of both God and Christ. BCS incorporates into Christian teaching ideas of reincarnation and traditional African religions.[1] In the 1990s it was a millenarian religion.

Beliefs[edit]

Central belief: Love and respect towards all men, the brotherhood, God and authorities.[2]

God: God is biospiritually interconnected with all things in nature, is male and female, and good and evil.[3]

Jesus: Jesus did not have time to fully communicate his beliefs before crucifixion, and Obu’s role has been to explain, expand upon and add to his teaching. This is why a part of Brotherhood teaching has no counterpart in either the Old or the New Testament.[4] His son, Rowland, continues to add to the teachings. BCS followers suggest that Obu’s achievements have been superior to that of Jesus.[5]

Reincarnation: Because of a belief in the transmigration of souls between humans and animals, BCS members practice vegetarianism and veganism.[6] (They are also teetotal.)

Medicine: The BCS website expressly says that “BCS do not believe in medicine of any form”.[7]

Olumba Olumba Obu: In official BCS literature, it is suggested that Obu has the attributes of God,[8] although Obu has gone on record as saying "I am not Jesus Christ or God.".[9] BCS believes that calamity will come if the world does not worship Obu as God.[10]

Leader Olumba Olumba Obu (Founder)[edit]

Obu was born in 1918 in Biakpan, a village near Calabar in Cross River State, Eastern Nigeria.[11] There are various stories about his early life told by the Brotherhood, and claims for miracles for which he is meant to be responsible. The religion was officially founded by him in 1956.[12] There have always been disagreements and schism within the Brotherhood (in 1977 there was violence and bethels destroyed in Calabar.[13]) However, Obu appears to have held on to his position until 1999. Effective control since 2000 has rested with his son, also called Olumba Olumba Obu (although known previously as Rowland). Obu Sr, has not been seen in public for several years, leading to speculation that he died in December 2003,[14] but the BCS denies this.

His Holiness Olumba Olumba Obu (Rowland)[edit]

Obu’s son, previously known as Rowland, now teaches in the place of his father. Since his succession there have been arguments,[15] and even court cases.[16] BCS call him “King of Kings”.[17] There is now some confusion between the father and son as a result of the succession.

Millenarianism[edit]

In the 1990s BCS espoused millenarianism, originally believing that the world would terminate in apocalypse at the year 2000,[18] and when that failed to happen, the date was changed to 2001. Subsequently, it has been explained by the BCS that this was a misunderstanding of the teachings of Obu. It is now understood by BCS members as having been a Spiritual statement indicating the unconditional reign and rulership of God's will over man.[19]

National Politics[edit]

BCS are involved in Nigerian politics, with Obu/Rowland commenting on who should and should not be elected.[20] They also receive donations from Political candidates.[21]

International aspirations[edit]

BCS has bethels (churches) in several countries other than Nigeria, and has recently formed a “Government”, sending ambassadors to different countries.[22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ A New Typology for Africa’s New Religious Movements by Friday M. Mbon
  2. ^ What is Brotherhood Of the Cross and Star
  3. ^ "Olumba Olumba Obu and African Traditional Culture" by Friday M. Mbon, 1985
  4. ^ "Brotherhood for Beginners" by Sister R.Goring
  5. ^ "Olumba Olumba Obu and African Traditional Culture" by Friday M. Mbon, 1985
  6. ^ Some Doctrines of BCS
  7. ^ Some Doctrines of BCS
  8. ^ Some Doctrines of BCS
  9. ^ I am Not God but Olumba Olumba Obu
  10. ^ A Divine Message
  11. ^ Who is Olumba Olumba Obu?
  12. ^ Offiong, Essien A (1987). "Schism and Religious Independency in Nigeria: The Case of the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star". In Hackett, Rosalind I. J. New Religious Movements in Nigeria. New York: Edwin Mellen Press. pp. 179–190
  13. ^ Encyclopedia of New Religious Movements, edited by Peter Clarke, p.81
  14. ^ Pastor Lovina Amangala Iburene of The Truth Ministry/The True Lovers of Christ World Charity Ministry, Lagos, reported in News Express, 22/11/2012.
  15. ^ "Is the Holy Spirit Really Walking Around in Human Form Today in Africa?" by Aida and William Spencer
  16. ^ "Distant Spat Plays Out in L.A. Courts", Los Angeles Times, June 7, 2006
  17. ^ The King of Kings
  18. ^ The Reign of Love by 2000AD
  19. ^ The Reign of Love by 2000AD
  20. ^ BCS Press Release
  21. ^ Akpabio: A governor on spending spree
  22. ^ Religious leader sets up alternate govt; appoints ambassadors

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]