Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ
|The Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ|
The Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ (ICGJC, also Israelite Church-God & Jesus), formerly known as the Israeli Church of Universal Practical Knowledge, is an organization of Black Hebrew Israelites. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the ICGJC as an active hate group.
The ICGJC teaches that the descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes and true biblical Jews are the Black Americans, West Indians, and Native Americans of North and South America and those scattered throughout the whole planet, but not the Jewish people or the Africans. The group claims that the "Black Israelites" have divine favor and inspiration and are superior to "Edomites" (white people) and all other non-Israelite people. They also hold strong apocalyptic views regarding the end of the world. The ICGJC believes that Yahawashi (Jesus) is God's divine Son and Messiah, and the redeemer for the sins of the Israelites and no other nation, that the Old and New Testament and Apocrypha are inspired Scripture, but the group does not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the group's leaders are "obsessed with hatred for Edomites", and in 2008 had churches in cities in 10 US states. Its headquarters are in New York City. Its leader (known as "Chief High Priest ") until his death in April 2020 was Tazadaqyah.
The Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ is the second largest Black Hebrew Israelite organization in the United States, the first being the Nation of Yahweh. While "most Hebrew Israelites are neither explicitly racist nor antisemitic and do not advocate violence", the ICGJC is and does.
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The group formerly had its headquarters at One West 125th Street in Harlem, then known as the Israeli School of Universal Practical Knowledge, and its wider movement is known as the One West Camp, including offshoots such as the modern Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge.
The 12 tribes of Israel
Unlike the majority of Black Hebrew Israelite groups which generally identify the biblical Israel with the continent of Africa, the Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ and its offshoots believe this only applies to African Americans and the African diaspora in the Americas, as well as to Native American and Latino peoples of the Western Hemisphere. According to the beliefs of the Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ and its offshoots on the popular "12 tribes chart", the twelve tribes of Israel have their order listing along with their respective national identities shown below:
- Judah: Negroes (African Americans)
- Benjamin: West Indian Blacks
- Levi: Haitians
- Simeon: Dominicans
- Zebulon: Guatemala to Panama
- Ephraim: Puerto Ricans
- Manasses: Cubans
- Gad: Native-American Indians
- Reuben: Seminole Indians
- Asher: Colombia to Uruguay
- Naphtali: Argentina/Chile
- Issachar: Mexicans
This Hebrew Israelite group and most others teach that some of the twelve tribes of Israel are made up of lighter non-Spaniard Latin Americans and Native American Indians conquered and enslaved years ago; they are the northern Kingdom of Israel that migrated "over the waters" [they believe this means to the Americas] during the reign of Cyrus the Great according to 2 Esdras 13:40-45 and Deuteronomy 33:17. Some have mixed themselves among their captors which explains the lighter complexion and hair texture difference according to Hosea 7:8 "Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned." The Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ claims that blacks who were enslaved in 1619 are the southern Kingdom of Judah according to Joel 3:1-7. They base the list shown below on Genesis 49 and Deuteronomy 33.
Positions in the Israelite church which may only be filled by a high priest at the higher orders include Bishop, Chief Priest, Apostle, and/or Holy Apostle. These leaders are primarily responsible for the spiritual welfare of the members and the administration of local church units. But they have also subservient positions that are filled by other men when they are "elevated" by the "spirit". These are 13 shield generals, all the way down to 1 shield generals. Captains of 10,000 to Captains of 1,000. Top Officers of 5,000 down to Top Officers of 500. Officers of 100, and recruits.
Perhaps the most prominent leader of the church was Tazadaqyah (Jermaine Grant), who rose in to power of the church in the late 1990s. Tazadaqyah was proclaimed by many of his followers to be the God-sent "Comforter" of the Nation of Israel.
The Israelite Church and its various splinter groups can be loosely grouped together as sects, which advocate a Hebrew and Authorized King James Version-only approach to the Bible (i.e. they only endorse the Hebrew/Greek and AKJV versions of the Bible), and the notion that Caucasians are Edomites.
Lawsuit over plastic figures
In 2013, the Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ ordered action figures cast in the image of their leader (Chief High Priest Tazadaqyah) from a toymaker. When they received the dolls they sued the toymaker (Vicale Corp) because they did not like the dolls. The church complained that the dolls did not look like Tazadaqyah and were not black enough, that the Connecticut toymaker put "pointed noses and faces" dolls. The church also complained that half of them "were light brown" instead of "dark brown," according to the court papers.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the group lists among its enemies white people, "who they preach are descended from a race of red, hairy beings, known as Edomites, who were spawned by Esau, the twin brother of Jacob" (later known as Israel) in the Old Testament. "Equally hated" are "fraudulent" Jews (i.e., the people known to the world today as Jews), "the synagogue of Satan," Asians, promiscuous black women, abortionists, continental Africans (who, according to ICGJC and other extremist Israelites, "sold the lost tribes of Israel, who were black, to European slave traders"), and gay people, who "according to extremist Israelites should all be put to death".
Allegations of black supremacy and racism
In late 2008, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) described the ICGJC and other black supremacist Hebrew Israelite groups as "the extremist fringe" of the movement. It wrote that the members of such groups "believe that Jews are devilish impostors and ... openly condemn whites as evil personified, deserving only death or slavery". The SPLC also said that "most Hebrew Israelites are neither explicitly racist nor anti-Semitic and do not advocate violence". In 2017, they listed the group as a black nationalist hate group.
The Black Hebrew groups characterized as black supremacist by the SPLC include the Nation of Yahweh and the Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ. Also, the Anti-Defamation League has written that the "12 Tribes of Israel" website, maintained by a Black Hebrew group, promotes hatred and black supremacy.
Fraud and tax evasion charges
In April 2018, the leader of ICGJC Jermaine Grant, known as Tazadaqyah and ICGJC treasurer Lincoln Warrington were arrested on fraud and tax charges. The United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey alleged the men "used their positions to divert millions of dollars for Grant’s personal use and benefit." Grant and Warrington pleaded guilty to evading tax after using an entertainment company to divert funds from the church members for their own benefit, spending 5.3 million dollars on a lavish lifestyle without declaring the money to the government.
In January of 2020, Grant was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison while Warrington was sentenced to 12 months and a day. They were also to be under three years of supervised release. The federal prison system has no offer of parole. Before he was to report to prison, Grant died on April 1, 2020, from a brief illness.
2019 Jersey City shooting
On December 10, 2019, two ICGJC members, David N. Anderson (age 47) and his girlfriend Francine Graham (age 50), killed four people and wounded three others in a mass shooting targeting law enforcement and a kosher grocery store in Jersey City, New Jersey before being killed by the police.
On December 10, 2019, a police officer approached two persons at the Bayview Cemetery in regards to an investigation that he was conducting. It is believed that he approached the suspects, who were in a U-Haul van that was related to a murder the previous weekend in nearby Bayonne. The police officer was shot and killed. His body was discovered and reported.
The suspects then fled in the stolen vehicle and drove about one mile to a grocery store, where they fatally shot three civilians and exchanged gunfire with the police for over an hour until they were shot and killed. The vehicle was later found to contain a live pipe bomb.
Presence in the United Kingdom
In September 2019 The Jewish Chronicle reported that a YouTube video showed demonstrators thought to be from the church outside a supermarket in Stamford Hill, London verbally attacking local Jews, referring to them "as "Amalekites", "Edomites" and "devils" - as well as "Slavic, German, Yiddish-speaking abominations" who "own all the media"."
Death of Tazadaqyah
- African-American – Jewish relations#Black Hebrew Israelites
- Afro-American religion
- Alliance of Black Jews
- Groups claiming an affiliation with the ancient Israelites
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- The Comforter