Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ

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The Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ (ICGJC, also Israelite Church-God & Jesus[citation needed]), formerly known as the Israeli Church of Universal Practical Knowledge, is an American organization of Black Hebrew Israelites.[1] Its headquarters are in New York City, and in 2008 had churches in cities in 10 US states.[2][3][4] 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.

Its leader (known as "Chief High Priest") until his death in April 2020[5] was Tazadaqyah.[2][6] The Church has also been described as openly racist, sexist and homophobic.[7][8][9][10]


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 Church 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[11] 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.[2] The Church 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.[2]

Poster outlining the Black Hebrew Israelite identification of the Twelve Tribes of Israel with modern peoples of color


Ranking system[edit]

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. However, 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.[citation needed]

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 endorse only the Hebrew/Greek and AKJV versions of the Bible), and the notion that Caucasians are Edomites.[12]


Lawsuit over plastic figures[edit]

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.[6]

Perceived enemies[edit]

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 the Church 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".[2]

Allegations of black supremacy and racism[edit]

In late 2008, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) described the Church 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".[2] In 2017, they listed the group as a black nationalist hate group.[13]

The Black Hebrew groups characterized as black supremacist by the SPLC include the Nation of Yahweh[14] and the Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ.[2] 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.[15]

Fraud and tax evasion charges and death of Tazadaqyah[edit]

In April 2018, the leader of the Church Jermaine Grant, known as Tazadaqyah, and the Church 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."[16] 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 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.[17] Before he was to report to prison, Grant died on April 1, 2020, from a brief illness.[18] Some former church members described Grant as a cult leader who had gained complete influence of his follower’s lives through manipulation and belittlement.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Andone, Dakin (17 August 2017). "Here are all the active hate groups where you live". CNN. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Racist Black Hebrew Israelites Becoming More Militant". Southern Poverty Law Center. August 29, 2008. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  3. ^ Zurowski, Cory (20 May 2015). "Minnesota's Eight Active Hate Groups Are Struggling". City Pages. Retrieved 6 August 2015.[dead link]
  4. ^ "Israelite Church-God & Jesus, 1 W 125th St New York, NY 10027". Retrieved 6 August 2015.[dead link]
  5. ^ Greene, Loenard (April 9, 2020). "Coronavirus suspected in death of Harlem 'cult' leader whose church required 20% tithes". New York Daily News. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  6. ^ a b Ross, Barbara; Siemaszko, Corky (25 April 2013). "Harlem church sues toymaker Emil Vicale after talking doll in leader's likeness is not black enough". New York Daily News. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  7. ^ "'Antisemitic preachers' revealed to be Black Hebrew-inspired group". The JC. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  8. ^ Dakin Andone, CNN Design: Will Mullery. "Southern Poverty Law Center's list of hate groups". CNN. Retrieved 2019-09-18.
  9. ^ "Racist Black Hebrew Israelites Becoming More Militant". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 2019-09-18.
  10. ^ Rugh, Peter. "The Black Israelites Think Whites Are Possessed by the Devil". Vice.
  11. ^ Welch, Ben (11 Sep 2019). "'Antisemitic preachers' revealed to be Black Hebrew-inspired group". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  12. ^ Black Hebrew Israelites (BHI) - Religious Tolerance. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Potok, Mark (Winter 2001). "Popularity and Populism". Intelligence Report. Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  15. ^ "Poisoning the Web: African-American Anti-Semitism". Anti-Defamation League. 2001. Archived from the original on 21 September 2002. Retrieved 22 November 2008.
  16. ^ "Two New Jersey Men Arrested For Evading Taxes On $5.3 Million Taken From New York Religious Organization". United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey. 2018. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  17. ^ "Teaneck Church Treasurer, Preacher Headed To Fed Pen For Taking $5.3M From Religious Hate Group". Daily Voice. January 28, 2020.
  18. ^ Coronavirus suspected in death of Harlem 'cult’ leader whose church required 20% tithes
  19. ^, Joe Atmonavage | NJ Advance Media for (2020-04-13). "Controversial leader of Hebrew Israelite movement from N.J. dies of coronavirus, church says". nj. Retrieved 2021-01-28.

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