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Many new-world religions, including Rastafarianism, Jehovah’s Witnessing and Christian Zionism, are millennarian, or focused on the doom of the corrupt world and the birth of a new and just one.
Those new-world faiths developed in the United States often include scientific and technological dimensions to their practices and beliefs, which to outsiders seem science fictional.
For instance, Scientology describes an ancient galactic battle whose result is the imprisonment on Earth of thetans, entities which today are the source of all mental illness.
Mormonism discusses an ancient universe filled with gods, and the promise that human beings can become gods if they perfect themselves; indeed, television producer Glen Larson used his faith as the foundation for his 1970s series Battlestar Galactica.
The Mormon community originally excluded Africans—alleged to be descendants of the cursed Ham and the fratricidal Cain—from their priesthood by saying that in the early universe, these proto-Africans had rebelled against the supreme god and thus were branded with dark skin.
Some members of the Nation of Gods and Earths share the Nation of Islam’s techno-millennarian perspective. The NOI was founded was Wallace Ford, known also as Fard and Master Farad Muhammad.
His most successful student was the Honourable Elijah Muhammad. They taught that the original god arose trillions of years ago, a universal Black man, from which all humanity comes.
According to the NOI/NGE creation story, six thousand years ago, in a civilisation of Black scientists, a corrupt eugenicist named Yacub began a selective breeding programme to engineer a race of colourless people who would ultimately enslave the Earth in a matrix of lies.
In the 20th Century, that empire was supposed to come crashing down, destroyed by an avenging Black military whose airforce included a gigantic bomber called the Mother Plane. Over time, that aircraft became known as the Mother Ship and was re-envisaged as an orbital vehicle of enormous destructive capacity.
While outsiders may mock such beliefs, it’s worthwhile to remember that to non-believers, all religious perspectives are irrational and devoid of proof. Imagine a superficial, outsider-only perspective on Christianity, the planet’s most successful religion. That faith could seem to be based on the idea that a Palestinian carpenter executed two thousand years ago today controls the universe while plotting to torture much if not most of humanity forever.
Obviously, any insider knows there’s much more to Christianity than that, and figures such as Mother Theresa, Archbishops Tutu and Romero, and Dr. Martin Luther King have used Christianity as a powerful mechanism for justice and love. And millions of people and families have experienced Christianity in nuanced and diverse ways that no hostile out-grouper could bother to know.
But what about the racial vision of the Nation of Gods and Earths? It’s also helpful to remember how many religious communities brand their own members as elect, chosen, or otherwise superior to the rest of humanity made up of unbelievers, pagans, reprobates, or infidels.
Yet believers in those communities vary widely in their gut-level acceptance of such condemnations. Some believe them deeply, and act upon them. Others regard such perspectives as flexible, symbolic, or even wrong. They remain members for the personal and social good they can derive, and leave the parts they don’t like on the shelf.
Like all religions, cultures and philosophies, the Nation of Gods and Earths draws upon a broad range of predecessors. Just as Judaism, Christianity and Islam evolved in a Mediterranean milieu of Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian and Greek influence, the NGE emerged from the Nation of Islam.
The NOI itself grew from the remnants of Marcus Garvey’s two-million member United Negro Improvement Association. It also arose from the US-based Moorish Science Temple, a previous New World religion which drew up the Islam of Mecca and the mystery tradition of Freemasonry, especially the African-American version, Prince Hall Freemasonry.
Although I’ve been discussing the Nation of Gods and Earths as a religion, members strictly reject such a description. But so would Freemasons, whose ethical system and fraternity also demands belief in a supreme being, and whose members meet in lodges designed to resemble Christian churches.
And despite the fiery pronouncements of some in the NOI-NGE traditions, many others adopt a more encompassing approach, stressing peace, the human family and non-racialism.
Discussing the NGE belief system on The Terrordome tonight:
- Lord Jamar of Brand Nubian
- Author Michael Muhammad Knight
- Dumar Wade Allah, a national spokesman for the NGE
- Author and blogger C’BS Alife Allah
- Born Magnetic Allah
Download the show using the Terrordome Archive link under the Minister Faust Audio section, or click here.