Nation of Yahweh
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The Nation of Yahweh is a predominantly African American group that is the most controversial offshoot of the Black Hebrew Israelites religious movement. It has often been labeled 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 move 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 surrounding its founder and has also faced accusations of being a black supremacist cult by the Southern Poverty Law Center and The Miami Herald.
The organization describes itself as: "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 SPLC has criticized the beliefs of the Nation of Yahweh as racist, stating that the group believed that blacks are the true Israelites and that whites were devils. The SPLC also claims that the group believed that Yahweh ben Yahweh had a Messianic mission to vanquish whites and that it held views similar to those of the Christian Identity movement, which believes "Aryans" to be the true Israelites and that non-whites are devils. The SPLC quotes Tom Metzger of White Aryan Resistance as saying, "[Groups like the Nation of Yahweh are] the Black counterpart of us."[not in citation given]|
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 that whites are the Satanic offspring of Esau."
Mr. Yahweh controlled the clothing, food and sex lives of the people in his group. Twice married and divorced earlier in life, he took many of his young female followers to his bed.
"We may be rabbis and nuns here," he told the New York Times with a wide smile, "but we don't believe in celibacy."
Most followers were men, the main elders were men as well. Yahweh ben Yahweh’s wife, Linda Gianes (Judith Israel) became a significant helper and leader. Gaines collected money, handled finances and the possessions of full-time workers. She had a body guard and was high up in the following.
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 who is also a member of the group, Wendelyn Rush, insists that 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
- Yahweh ben Yahweh, leader of 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.
- Schudel, Matt (2007-05-10). "Yahweh Ben Yahweh; Led Violent Cult". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-02-22.
- "Top Yahweh Follower Gets 16-year Term In Conspiracy". tribunedigital-sunsentinel. Retrieved 2016-02-22.
- "FindLaw's United States Eleventh Circuit case and opinions.". Findlaw. Retrieved 2016-02-22.
- "Rick Santorum Invites Ex-Yahweh Member Michael The Black Man To Open Rally".