Nation of Yahweh
|Black Hebrew Israelites|
|Subgroups and organizations|
Black Hebrews proper
|Practices and beliefs|
The Nation of Yahweh is a predominantly African American group that is the most controversial offshoot of the Black Hebrew Israelites line of thought. It has often been labeled as a hate group and was founded in 1979 in Miami by Hulon Mitchell Jr., who went by the name Yahweh ben Yahweh. Its goal is to return African Americans, whom they see as the original Israelites, to Israel. The group departs from mainstream Christianity and Judaism by accepting Yahweh ben Yahweh as the Son of God. In this way, its beliefs are unique and distinct from that of other known Black Hebrew Israelite groups. The group has engendered controversy due to legal issues of its founder and has also faced accusations of being a black supremacist cult by the Southern Poverty Law Center and The Miami Herald.
History, beliefs, and teachings
On the website yahwehbenyahweh.com, the groups' history, beliefs, and teachings are stated as follows "In 1979, Yahweh Ben Yahweh came to Miami and became the Spiritual Leader and Founder of The Nation of Yahweh. Although He took a vow of poverty, in seven years He guided The Nation to amass a $250,000,000 empire. Under His direction, The Nation has grown to encompass disciples, followers, and supporters in over 1,300 cities within the U.S. and 16 foreign countries. The Nation of Yahweh believes that there is one God, Yahweh, the Father of all men. That the Holy Bible and Yahweh Ben Yahweh are the great light and the rule and guide for faith and practice of the laws, statutes, judgments, and commandments of Yahweh, and those who believe in Him and His name are immortal. Character, integrity, and morality determine destiny. The love of moral men is next to love of Yahweh and His Son, Yahweh ben Yahweh, man's first duty. That prayer and communion of man with Yahweh is helpful. Yahweh ben Yahweh teaches His disciples and followers to "Practice charity and benevolence, to protect chastity, to respect the ties of blood and friendship, to adopt the principles and revere the laws of Yahweh, to assist the feeble, guide and open the eyes of the blind, heal the ears of the deaf, raise up the oppressed and downtrodden, shelter the widow and the orphan, guard the altar of Yahweh, support the government of Yahweh, inculcate morality, promote learning, love moral men, fear Yahweh, implore His mercy, work for happiness, and be industrious."
The SPLC has criticized the beliefs of the Nation of Yahweh as racist, stating that the group believed blacks are the true Israelites and that whites were devils. The SPLC also claims that the group believed Yahweh ben Yahweh had a Messianic mission to vanquish whites and that it held views similar to the Christian Identity movement. The SPLC quotes Tom Metzger of White Aryan Resistance as saying, "[Groups like the Nation of Yahweh are] the Black counterpart of us."
The Anti-Defamation League has criticized the Nation of Yahweh and some other Black Hebrew sects, stating, "In 1987, ADL reported on Black sects holding these views [arguing that today's Jews are not the "chosen people" described in the Bible, ... instead that the label applies to people of African descent], such as the Yahwehs and the Original African Hebrew Israelite Nation of Jerusalem. Today, this form of Black supremacy is promoted on the Web by the 12 Tribes of Israel site, which cites hundreds of Biblical passages to prove that Blacks are the children of Israel and whites the Satanic offspring of Esau."
While some have criticized the Nation of Yahweh for racism, others have argued that "Racism is the systematic discrimination, denial of rights and benefits by whites against non-whites in all areas of human activity. (economics, education, labor, law, politics, religion, sex and war)." (Trojan Horse: Death of a Dark Nation) The notion that African American groups can participate in the system of power to the extent that their prejudice transforms into systemic, institutional, and social privilege and power- in the same way that caucasian Americans can- has been debated.
Despite the death of their leader Yahweh ben Yahweh in 2007, the Nation of Yahweh is still active. Its members also claim to have abandoned their past racism and the leader's daughter has apparently stated that all people are children of God. An attorney and member of the group, Wendelyn Rush, insists their current war with the U.S. government is a non-violent verbal battle. The group is currently spread throughout the US and is no longer concentrated in one location (formerly Miami-Dade County, Florida, USA). They claim that their present literature downplays and has nearly erased all past racism.
The Nation of Yahweh is perhaps best known nationally for its purchase of infomercial time. The Nation airs a weekly half-hour program on stations across the United States, usually on weekends during little-watched early morning hours, that combines Biblical study along with discussion of the Nation itself.
The Yahweh ben Yahweh group appeared in the news again in 2012 after "Michael the Black Man" (real name Maurice Woodside), a former member of the group who is now a conservative activist, was invited to speak at a rally for Rick Santorum's campaign during which he said that Democrats were akin to Nazis. Woodside has been accused of several murders and other violent crimes over the years but has never been convicted.
- Robert Rozier, murderer associated with the Nation of Yahweh
- Gallagher, Eugene V. (2004). The New Religious Movements Experience in America. Greenwood Press. p. 149. ISBN 0-313-32807-2.
- "Rebirth of A Nation". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 2008-01-20.
- Potok, Mark (Fall 2007). "Margins to the Mainstream". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 2008-01-20.
- Miami Herald article
- SPLC report
- "African-American Anti-Semitism". Anti-Defamation League. Retrieved 2007-10-18.
- "Rick Santorum Invites Ex-Yahweh Member Michael The Black Man To Open Rally".