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Black…And Jewish – Hebrew Israelites

Black folks can be Jewish. Some claim black folks from Ethiopia were one of the original tribes. This fascinating history is about the formation of what was probably the first black Jewish Congregation in America.

Hebrew Israelite congregants sing during Sabbath worship services, with elders and community leaders nearest the pulpit.

When Passover Is About American Slavery

A plantation houseboy grew up to be a prophet—and inspired a religious movement.

More than 1,000 men and women gathered this past week in coastal Virginia to celebrate Passover and retell the ancient story of how Moses led the Israelites from bondage to freedom. They were observing holiday traditions that Jews all across the world observe—only these celebrants were not Jews.

Their memories of slavery and liberation concerned not a distant past in Egypt, but a story set in the United States. Their prophet was an African American man born into slavery. He preached to a Christian audience, telling them to incorporate Hebraic practices into their faith out of a desire to return to the true Church as he envisioned it, and based his new Church on both Old and New Testaments. Their Promised Land was a plot in Virginia where descendants of black men and women could gather and be safe from the scourge of white supremacy.

Temple Beth El in Belleville is the headquarters of the Church of God and Saints of Christ, the largest and oldest organization of Hebrew Israelites in the country. Hebrew Israelites are people of color, mostly African American, who identify as descendants of the biblical Israelites. Passover is among the holiest weeks on this group’s calendar. Members travel from across the country and abroad to spend days in near-constant worship in a place they call Canaan Land, after the land promised by God to Abraham in the book of Genesis.

“Just as Israelites of the Bible had their Land of Canaan filled with milk and honey, this is our land of milk and honey,” said Melvin Smith, 46, a fourth-generation congregant from nearby Portsmouth, Virginia. “This is our refuge.”

The group remains little known outside its own ranks, despite over a century of history, tens of thousands of members, and outposts that fan across America, Africa, and the Caribbean. Religion scholars are given scarce, if any, access to the organization’s archives. Leadership guards the legacy of the group closely. Photography is rarely permitted inside sanctuaries. Internal materials, like the group’s unique hymnal, are not to be reproduced or shared with outsiders.

“The Church of God and Saints of Christ is one of the most important religious bodies in America that few people have ever heard of,” said Jacob Dorman, professor of history at the University of Kansas and author of Chosen People: The Rise of American Black Israelite Religions.

At an evening service last week, hundreds of congregants filed into pews. The sanctuary, opened only on special holidays, was filled nearly to capacity. Saints, as members call themselves, were dressed in the formal garb that has been part of their tradition for generations. The men wore sashes across their shoulders, long-tailed suit jackets, black kippahs, and white gloves. Some wore thin white prayer shawls, or tallits, on their necks. The women were dressed in sashes, brown pleated skirts, and brightly colored headdresses fixed with glittering brooches.

At the center of the room was a large Torah ark decorated with a fabric banner that read “Shalom” in Hebrew, flanked by two seven-pronged menorahs. The chief rabbi, a retired math professor named Phillip E. McNeil, stood behind the pulpit. At 75, he exudes a quiet authority. He spoke lightly into a microphone and the crowd hushed. They had been worshipping together for a week straight. “Are you tired yet?” McNeil joked. “There’s nothing like worshiping the God of Israel, is there?”

A younger evangelist followed McNeil onto the stage and picked up the Passover theme, which ran through almost every sermon. “I’m here to remember that day we came out of Egypt,” Frank Johnson said. “In every age, He’s still passing over, still executing judgment, still demanding that the oppressed go free.”

A choir of hundreds broke into song, complex four-part a capella sung by heart. The lyrics of the songs are composed by congregants and delivered to them, it’s said, through divine dreams. This evening’s choir master pumped his fists in the air, readjusting the kippah on his head as music filled the sanctuary.

Collin McGhie, from North Carolina, sang along, shifting his weight from right to left and clapping. McGhie was raised a Seventh-day Adventist and joined this organization six years ago. “I come here for a spiritual recharge,” McGhie said.

This past week, it seemed that not only McGhie but the entire congregation had come to spiritually recharge and regain its balance. Last year, the group’s leader, Chief Rabbi Jehu August Crowdy, died suddenly just before Passover. He was only 46. The organization reeled. McNeil was quickly selected to take his place. This Passover marked a year since McNeil assumed the position.

The late Crowdy was the great-grandson of a man named William Saunders Crowdy, who founded the Church of God and Saints of Christ in 1896. He was born in Maryland in 1847 and spent his childhood as an enslaved houseboy on a plantation where his mother was a cook. As a free adult, Crowdy was one of a generation of spiritual leaders who taught that African Americans were descended from the Israelites of the bible—and that they should return to this ancient way of life….Read More About This Fascinating Group Here

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in Black History, Giant Negros

 

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Native Americans Pray for the Rivers

Native Americans involved in the Environment. The Potomac River was a full on cesspool up until the early 1970’s. So bad, then President Richard Nixon ordered a cleanup, as the river would be a national embarrassment during he 1976 Bicentennial celebrations in Washington, DC. Between 1970 and 1976 substantial cleanup efforts resulted in a vastly improved river system, and gradually the native fisheries recovered….Until President Raygun loosened the laws on cleaning up sewage being dumped into the river by treatment plants. Which resulted in green algae blooms covering the water from shore to shore, Fortunately residents raising hell caused Congress to act.  Most of the river is cleaner than it’s been for over 100 years now, and all but a few sections are safe to swim in. Water from the river tapped above the city is tapped to provide drinking water.

‘Do it for the water’: Native Americans carry Potomac water on prayerful, 400-mile journey

It’s noon on a Thursday, and Reyna Davila-Day would ordinarily be sitting in her AP Human Geography class, memorizing the rivers of the globe.

Instead she’s stumbling in and out of a gully alongside a busy road, ignoring the cars and trucks that whiz past, walking as fast as her 14-year-old legs can carry her. Instead of memorizing the world’s most important rivers, she’s walking one of them: The mighty Potomac, 405 miles from its source in West Virginia to the Chesapeake Bay.

In a 13-day relay, Davila-Day and dozens of fellow participants in a Native American ritual are walking the entire length of the Potomac, praying for its return to unpolluted health. They will speak to the water, sing to the water, and pray for the water.

And now, on a Thursday afternoon half a continent away from her Human Geography class, Davila-Day is carrying the water.

“It’s us showing that the water needs to be cared for, and that we care about the water,” she says, beads clinking against the copper vessel full of a few precious pints of the river. “At school, they ask why I do it. I tell them that the water has a spirit. They’re like, ‘It does?’”

The Potomac River Water Walk began with a water ceremony — a tradition in the Ojibwe tribe — at Fairfax Stone, the 18th-century marker now located in a West Virginia state park that marks the source of the Potomac River. Participants took water from the clear pool at the start of the river and filled the copper vessel. Starting on Oct. 7, a band of Native Americans and supporters began walking that vessel all the way from the river’s clean source to its significantly more polluted end.

“We want the water to have a taste of itself. This is how you began, and this is how we want you to be again,” explained Sharon Day, the organizer of the walk and Reyna’s great-aunt.

The walkers made plans to pass through the District on Saturday — walking right past the White House — and to reach the Chesapeake Bay on Wednesday, Oct. 19. There, they’ll pour the clean water into the polluted bay.

People tend to ask Day if the walkers’ goal is to raise awareness about water pollution. Sure, awareness is nice, she responds — but that’s a paltry goal. The intent of this walk is to speak to the water’s spirit, not to a human audience.

“All the while, we’re speaking to that water. We’re telling the water how much we care about her,” Day said. “We really do support the work of other environmental groups. We believe what’s missing from most of this work is the idea that the water has a spirit, and we as spiritual people need to speak to that spirit.”…Read the rest Here

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2016 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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Alabama Chief Justice Learns 11th Commandment

Thou shall not screw with the law of the land!

This guy has been trying to jam his religion down everyone’s throat since he was selected to office. Long past time for him to go.

Image result for Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

Anti-Gay Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore Suspended for Gross Judicial Misconduct

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was suspended without pay from the state supreme court on Friday—a suspension that will last through the remainder of his term, which ends in 2018. The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Committee found that Moore violated ethics laws and judicial canons by repeatedly attempting to block same-sex marriage in Alabama long after the federal judiciary required it.

Moore’s misconduct regarding same-sex marriage litigation was sweeping and extensive. In January of 2015, a federal judge invalidated the state’s same-sex marriage ban. Moore promptly wrote letters to probate judges insisting that they remained legally prohibited from marrying gay people—in effect, demanding that they violate a federal court order. In May of that year, the judge explicitly held that probate judges must issue marriage licenses to all couples, same-sex or opposite-sex. The next month, the Supreme Court held that same-sex marriage bans violate the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Yet in January of 2016, Moore issued yet another letter ordering probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Then, in March, Moore penned a bizarre opinion calling the Supreme Court’s decision “immoral,” “tyrannical,” and “unconstitutional.” He declared that he would refuse to follow it and urged all other state judges to follow suit. In response to Moore’s repeated defiance of federal court orders, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a judicial ethics complaint against him. Moore secured Mat Staver, Kim Davis’ attorney, to defend him.

Alabama’s judicial ethics committee is not a beacon of progressivism. Its judgment in the Moore case begins with a declaration that many members of the committee do not “personally agree” with the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling or think it was “well reasoned.” But the committee unanimously concluded that Moore had abused his position, violated the integrity of the judiciary, failed to comply with the law and perform his duties impartially, and brought “the judicial office into disrepute.” In addition to suspending Moore, the committee ordered him to pay “the costs of this proceeding.”

Moore has already been removed from the bench once, in 2003, for refusing to comply with a federal court order to remove a massive granite monument of the Ten Commandments from the Alabama State Judicial Building. Alabama voters, however,reelected him in 2012. In response to the Moore proceedings, the Alabama Republican Party is attempting to diminish the ethics’ committee’s independence.

 

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Stupidty And Racism

One of my favorite saying is “Racism will make you stupid”…

Turns out it is the other way around.

Jeffrey Tindle defends his noose and Confederate flag (screen grab)

Does low intelligence make you prejudiced?

Humans may be prejudiced by nature, but a new study has found that who we choose to hate may depend on our overall intelligence. The finding reconfirms the idea that it may be human nature to dislike those who are different from us — including those who look and think differently.

According to the study, people of lower intelligence, as measured by cognitive ability, tend to be prejudiced against non-conventional or liberal groups, as well as groups that have little choice in their status, such as people defined by their race, gender, or sexual orientation. On the other hand, individuals of higher intelligence were likely to be prejudiced against groups considered conventional and groups perceived to have “high choice” in their associations, such as conservatives.

“People dislike people who are different from them,” study authors Mark Brandt and Jarret Crawford told Broadly. “Derogating people with different worldviews can help people maintain the validity of their own world view.”

The duo’s findings are based on the results of a questionnaire completed by 5,914 volunteers. Brandt and Jarrett measured the volunteers’ intelligence and then asked them whether or not they believed a specific stereotype about a group was justified.

The reason for these differences in stereotypes, however, is more complicated than simply not liking those who are different from you. For example, the researchers explained that less intelligent people often like to view other groups as being distinctly different from them as a way to help see them as distant and therefore less of a threat.

Sadly, people of both high and low intelligence showed the same amount of prejudice, just toward different groups. But all hope is not lost. Another recent study found that prejudice, particularly prejudice against transgender individuals, can be reduced with a simple 10-minute conversation with someone from the marginalized group.

 

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Ronald Reagan and Religion Billboard

Seems some clever folks have found a way to push back against the right wing extremist “Religious Freedom” laws being passed by Republican dominated legislatures around the country…

Reminding them of what their Saint Raygun said. One would have hoped many other organizations could have found the money, or cleverness to do the same to battle right wing facsism as will be on full display in the Chumph convention.

Freedom from Religion Foundation billboard (Photo via FFRF)

This Ronald Reagan billboard outside the Republican convention is going to infuriate conservatives

Former President Ronald Reagan’s son and namesake Ron Reagan is literally the poster-person against religion. While the younger Reagan has been doing ads on news channels for the Freedom from Religion Foundation, it will be his father’s words that will hover over the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio in July.

“We establish no religion in this country… Church and state are, and must remain, separate,” the billboard will read.

The quote is part of a longer statement Reagan made in 1984 to Temple Hillel and Community Leaders in Valley Stream. “We in the United States, above all, must remember that lesson, for we were founded as a nation of openness to people of all beliefs,” Reagan said. “And so we must remain. Our very unity has been strengthened by our pluralism. We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate. All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not, and those who believe are free, and should be free, to speak of and act on their belief.”
Co-President of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, Annie Laurie Gaylor, said in a statement that this particular message was important at this point in history.

“The RNC needs to be reminded that our nation is predicated on a godless and entirely secular Constitution,” she said. “The fate of our Establishment Clause hangs in the balance of the election. We’re not voting for the next president — we’re voting for the next Supreme Court justice.”

The local chapter director, Marni Huebner-Tiborsky, agreed that the message is an important one for Republican leaders to remember. “This billboard couldn’t be any more timely, and is definitely needed to remind our political leaders and the public that political campaigns should stick to a secular platform, where real change can happen,” she says.

Republican Party presidential nominee Donald Trump met with religious leaders last week and unveiled his evangelical advisory committee with former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). Trump does not have an extensive track record with religion other than to attack others for their beliefs. Though this was enough for evangelical James Dobson to call Trump a “baby Christian.”

 

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Ted Cruz Leads Racist Attack in Congress Against Ellison and Carson

Islamophobic and racist in charge Republican Ted Cruz entertained a bigot to speak before Congress, and attack the only two Muslim members. I think Cruz should be investigated for his ties to domestic terrorism.

Reps. Keith Ellison and Andre Carson, the two Muslim members of Congress, were accused by a witness at a Senate hearing of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Witness At Ted Cruz Hearing Accuses Congress’ Two Muslim Members Of Muslim Brotherhood Ties

In explosive testimony Tuesday, a witness before a Senate panel about Islamic terrorism accused the two Muslim members of Congress of having attended an event organized by the Muslim Brotherhood.

The charge was leveled by Chris Gaubatz, a “national security consultant” who has moonlighted as an undercover agitator of Muslim groups that he accuses of being terrorist outfits, and it was directed at Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and André Carson (D-Ind.). At the heart of his accusation is the attendance by those two members at a 2008 convention hosted by the Islamic Society of North America — a Muslim umbrella group, which Gaubatz claims is a front for the Muslim Brotherhood.

“I attended a convention in Columbus, Ohio, in 2008, organized by Muslim Brotherhood group, ISNA, and both the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Prisons had recruitment and outreach booths,” Gaubatz said in his testimony. “Both Congressman Keith Ellison, MN, and Andre Carson, IN, spoke at the Muslim Brotherhood event.”

Allegations that Ellison and Carson are secret Muslim agents with extremist leanings are usually found among fringe groups online, often discussed in dire tones on poorly designed websites. Rarely, if ever, do such sentiments get read into congressional testimony, with the imprimatur that offers.

Responsibility for this rare instance lies with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who oversaw the hearing as chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts and whose staff likely saw the testimonies of the witnesses.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) later addressed Tuesday’s hearing and defended Ellison.

“He is my congressman. He is a man of great patriotism,” she said, adding that he has advocated for additional funding for efforts to detect what attracts young people to join terrorist groups.

An aide to Ellison confirmed that he did attend the 2008 ISNA convention. He’s gone to a few of the group’s conventions, in fact. Carson’s office didn’t return a request for comment. But news reports show that both he and Carson led a discussion at the 2008 convention on how to mobilize Muslims politically. President Barack Obama has addressed the group as well, though only via a video recording.

Critics of ISNA have insisted that these politicians have either turned a blind eye to — or explicitly embraced — the group’s affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood, an affiliation that is based on ties some of the founding ISNA members have allegedly had to the hard-line religious organization. ISNA has long insisted that no such connection has ever existed.

“I can definitely tell you we are not Muslim Brotherhood. We are not affiliated with them at all and never were,” said Faryal Khatri, an official with ISNA. “That much I can reassure you.”

ISNA is not the only group targeted by Gaubatz. In 2009, he told Talking Points Memo that he obtained an internship with the Council on American-Islamic Relations as part of an effort to secretly collect evidence against the group to be used in a book written by his father. The book, “Muslim Mafia,” alleged that CAIR, a Muslim advocacy group that works to combat Islamophobia, was a front for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Cruz’s office did not respond to a request for comment on Gaubatz’s allegations against Ellison and Carson or whether it had given either member a chance to respond. But the senator has displayed a tolerance for these kinds of conspiracy theories in the past.

Before he suspended his presidential campaign, Cruz appointed known Islamophobe Frank Gaffney to his team of national security advisers. Gaffney, now head of the Center for Security Policy, has objected to Ellison and Carson serving on the House Intelligence Committee because he believes their Muslim faith could compel them to leak information to the Muslim Brotherhood. He has also accused Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, and conservative heavyweights Grover Norquist and Suhail Khan of being closeted Muslim Brotherhood members.

When asked about his controversial selection, Cruz defended Gaffney as a “serious thinker” focused on “fighting jihadism across the globe.”

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2016 in The Definition of Racism, The New Jim Crow

 

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RIP, The Greatest

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2016 in Giant Negros

 

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