Tag Archives: Cults

Black Hebrew Israelites: Are Their Claims True?


Joe Butta

Christian Messianic Analysis and Apologetics

Who are the Black Hebrew Israelites? Within the past year I have had encounters with two adherents to this faith. Both boldly proclaim they have the truth and that Christianity as understood by most is a satanic deception.  For informational purposes I’d like to shed some light on this subject to disclose the group’s origins and beliefs.

Church of the Living God, the Pillar Ground of Truth for All Nations founded by F. S. Cherry in 1886 in Tennessee. Cherry’s flock incorporated many Jewish practices and prohibitions along with some Christian traditions.

Church of God and Saints of Christ founded in Kansas by William Crowdy in 1896. Both claimed that they had revelations in which they believed that God told them that African Americans are descendants of the ancient Hebrews. During the ensuing decades, many more Black Hebrew congregations were established, and some of them had no connection to the Christian Church. In Harlem alone, at least eight such groups were founded from 1919 to 1931.

Commandment Keepers were founded in New York by Wentworth Arthur Matthew in 1919 who was influenced by Marcus Garvey who used Biblical Jews in exile as a metaphor for Black Folks in North America. They are noted for their adherence to traditional Judaism. Mr. Matthew taught that all genuine Jews are Black. Other groups include The Law Keepers, House of Judah, and the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem.

 African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem were established in 1966 in Chicago by Ben-Ammi Ben-Israel. These Black Hebrews believe the descendants of American slaves and the indigenous peoples of the Americas make up the 12 tribes of Israel. That belief sprang from a vision that Ben Ammi says he had in 1966 when he was a Chicago foundry worker named Ben Carter. In a dream the Archangel Gabriel told him that many African Americans were descendants of the tribe of Judah. Adherents reject black Africans, who are usually seen as “traitors” who sold their black brethren into slavery. In 1986, Ben Israel and his aide, Prince Asiel Ben Israel were convicted of trafficking stolen passports and securities and forging checks and saving bonds.

Nation of Yahweh established in the 1980’s by Yahweh Ben Yahweh aka Hulon Mitchell, Jr. (1935-2007). This sect is an offshoot of African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem. Some of its members were accused of conspiring to commit RICO (Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization) violations. Yahweh was sentenced to serving an eighteen-year sentence for another crime.

RESPONSE: Similar to the beginnings of Islam and Mormonism there were angelic visitations with the founders of the BHI’s claiming that the original Israelites were black and the current Jews are usurpers. This necessitated them to ignore the suffering of the descendents of modern day Israel and those that escaped Europe and the Islamic world and focus on themselves as the truly chosen and favored among all people.

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                Rev. Sun Myoung Moon was born in Korea around 1920 and he was raised a Presbyterian. He claimed he was visited by Jesus on Easter in the year 1935, in what is today North Korea, and was chosen by Jesus to finish the task Jesus was unable to finish. Later he also claimed to have communed with Buddha, Krishna and Moses. Apparently Jesus failed to save and redeem the world so Moon was chosen to have sex with 70 virgins, 70 married women and 70 widows so that he might procreate the Kingdom of God on earth. In 1946 he was arrested by North Korean communists and later released. The Presbyterian Church excommunicated him in 1948. In 1954 he formed the Unification Church and in 1957 published the Divine Principle which is his interpretation of the Bible.

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The Hope of some for one united faith

                Freemasonry’s roots go back to 16th century France. It was being practiced in England by the 18th Century. It was a secret fraternal order binding together professional men and master tradesmen [and, later, government officers and commercial men] who were Deist Rationalists, and who were opposed to the existence of established churches, mandatory church attendance, and any sort of monarchial or nobility-based political order. What follows is generally true concerning Freemasonry however there are variations of how it is practiced in the United States.

When folks consider becoming a Mason they must begin in the Blue Lodge. If a person persists they will attain the Entered Apprentice Degree then the Fellowcraft Degree and finally the Master Mason Degree. At this point the Mason has the choice to stay in the Blue Lodge or seek advanced degrees in the Scottish or York rite. The Scottish rite has the 4th through 32nd degrees. The York rite has 13 degrees. Once the 32nd degree is attained the Mason can petition to join the Shriners.  Those who have mastered the advanced rites of Freemasonry and are accepted join The Ancient and Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.

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Do these practices replace a personal relationship with the God of the Bible?

In previous posts we have displayed how people with no belief in God or people with no real foundational belief do gravitate to believe in something. Sometimes that belief or practice may be seemingly benign Cults or the New Age Movement. These can appear to be trendy but do, upon closer examination, include aspects that may lead to something sinister.

On the surface most folks understand that the term Satan stands for the embodiment of evil and the occult perhaps relates to cults or is something not to be taken seriously. Satanism is very much an outgrowth of pre-Christian Celtic Druid beliefs [remember the Celts were one of the dominant people groups throughout western Europe, including Iberia and the British Isles, before the Latin and Germanic peoples conquered them and assimilated them].   Who then are the types of people more prone to be lured into the hidden realm? These folks can be those who have had a bad experience in church; those alienated from society; those who prefer to live in a fantasy world; the lonely and powerless and those who need to feel elite. The gateway to indoctrination can start with psychotropic drug use, yoga and transcendental meditation where the person’s psychology begins to be altered. This can lead to interests in divination, magic and ghosts without one wondering where the force behind the magic comes from or how the ghosts came into being.

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Do these modes of belief and thought represent THE truth?

                For those who were not raised in a faith-based family or became disenchanted with traditional religion or were influenced into agnosticism, atheism, anti-theism and evolution by our education system any number of cults or the new age movement may appeal to them as a new form of enlightenment. Some folks while claiming to be Christian also dab in cultic practices and belief. One thing all cults have in common is a variant point of view on the person of Jesus as described in the Bible. This does not include Judaism since Christians and Jews claim the same book as Holy Writ but differ in its interpretation. Below are some of the cult’s views on Jesus.

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