History of Mormonism & Rastafarianism
Mormonism and the Church of Latter Day Saints'Mormonism is a term used to describe the religious, ideological, and cultural elements of certain branches of the Latter Day Saint movement, and specifically, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The term derives from the word Mormon, which was originally used as a pejorative term to describe those who believe in the Book of Mormon, a sacred text that adherents believe to be "another testament of Jesus Christ" and testifies of the Bible as part of the religion's canon. Today, Mormonism is used in reference to the Utah-based LDS Church, including cultural Mormons, several smaller denominations, and sects of Mormon fundamentalism whose adherents embrace the term despite opposition by the LDS Church. Most other Latter Day Saint movement denominations oppose use of the term in reference to their faith, and such usage is now rare even though that is what they have been called until modern usage.'
The Book of Mormon can be read on line at the link below.
Joseph Smith, the founder of the LDS, produced a work in 1835 called The Book of Abraham. This he claimed was based on his divine gift for translation, whereby he translated an Egyptian scroll, which he claimed was 'a translation of some ancient records ... purporting to be the writings of Abraham, while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus'. The scroll itself when properly translated was of course nothing of the sort. It would appear that Joseph Smith had gotten a little carried away with his religious zeal and had started to exhibit slightly psychotic behaviour - where it is not uncommon to believe that one has superpowers. It is possible that he was lying of course but I favour the former explanation.
Mormonism does not have a concept of the Trinity, but instead has an Arianist view of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, as separate Gods. Mormonism is regarded as Polytheistic by many Christians, which although acknowledged by Mormons, only one God is actually worshipped. Please see the Monotheism page for more information about different versions of the Trinity and Arianism.
'The relationship between Freemasonry and the Latter Day Saint movement began early in the history of Mormonism. Mormonism began during the wave of Anti-Masonry that struck the United States in the 1830s and 1840s. Despite this, Joseph Smith, Jr. and many of the Church founders were Freemasons, and started a lodge in Nauvoo, Illinois in March of 1842. There are some similarities between Mormon temple worship and symbolism and the stories and symbols of Freemasonry, though there are also many unique aspects to both that are also worth considering. In modern times, the LDS Church holds no position for or against the compatibility of Masonry with LDS doctrine.'
Mormonism can be seen as an all American Christianity, compared with other types of Christianity that were imported from Europe. This differs from the imported variants and denominations as it views the (native?) American people as being the lost tribe of Israel, descended from the Prophet Lehi, that migrated to the Americas in 600 B.C. There is no historical record to justify these claims. There is no archeological evidence to back this up. Except for the Book of Mormon, the final section written by Mormon in approximately 400 A.D., which Chronicles the history of this lost tribe of Israel between 600 B.C. and 400 A.D, and the revelation of Jesus Christ to this 'people' after his death and until 400 A.D. As the Old Testament, this book is deemed to have been written directly by 'prophets'. There was only one copy apparently in existence which was scribed onto Gold Plates by Moroni, the son of Mormon, and buried in 421 A.D. on a hill in New York state, to be 'discovered' by the child Joseph Smith in 1827. Joseph Smith claimed to have been informed of their existence in 1823 by the 'angel Moroni', but not permitted to find them until 1827. The Book of Mormon was written in 'reformed Egyptian' and was translated by Joseph Smith reputedly with divine assistance and in record time, verbally giving the translation over to scribes to record. The angel Moroni took back the plates in 1828, as he felt that Joseph had given them over to the hands of the wicked. He gave the plates back to Joseph though, allowing him to complete the translation before 'giving them back to the angel'. There is therefore no evidence of the plates nor of this lost tribe of Israel but for Joseph Smith's dictation. The testimony of a small handful of witnesses to attest that the plates were real does exist, but Jospeh was very secretive and did not wish to show them to many people at all, to keep them from the 'hands of the wicked'. Is this story credible? Or was it an attempt by Joseph Smith to create an all American type of Christianity, that gave America a Biblical significance and ethnic religious identity, and direct lineage to the ancient Israel, which it lacked as a recent European colony and displacement of Native Americans in the New World, with little history or tradition beyond the modern.
Where did these people live, how did they live and where are the remnants of their ancient towns and cities? Where are their traditions to be found (pre 1800s)? This would imply that American WASPs are a mixture of European settlers from the last few hundred years, and Jews who had been there concurrently with native Americans since 600 B.C. No record of discovering non-Native Americans in North America by the European immigrants exists. Jesus is deemed to have appeared to both the aspostles in Israel and also to the 'lost tribe of Israel' in America. Jesus is often depicted in Mormon art as looking all American (WASP) in appearance, and very smart. The figure of Jesus is seen to be re-interpreted and appropriated by each culture that adopts Christianity. Is this realistic? Polygyny is a form of Polygamy, whereby a man is allowed to take multiple wives or sexual partners concurrently (as opposed to a woman being allowed to take multiple male partners or husbands).
Polygyny was a core practice by the early LSD church. Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormonism, himself had 34 wives. This practice continues to this day within Fundamentalist Mormonism. LDS Polygyny is defined and discussed at the links below.
One example of Polygyny is the Mormon fundamentalist hamlet of Centennial Park in Arizona, where most of the 1500 inhabitants live a polygynist lifestyle.
A Mormon web site justifying polygyny is found below.
'Christian' web sites examining polygyny are found below.
A fringe mormon brewery company outside of Salt Lake City has 'amusingly' created its own Polygamy Porter beer!
Many inverted pentagrams have been carved onto both the exterior and interior of the Mormon temple in Nauvoo, Illinois. Several are located on the perimeter of the temple and as many as 138 inverted stars can be found in the assembly room. Representations of the sun could be compared with contemporary usage of the Sun God and Illuminist representations of Ancient Egyptian Mysticism.
This is discussed at the link below. Mormons state that this symbol has had a positive, non-occult connotation for a long time, and only recently been appropriated by Satanists. However, Mormonism began in the 19th Century, and the occult use of the pentagram in witchcraft long predates this. The inverted pengram as a symbol of Satanism has probably only existed for the last couple of hundred years. Anyone care to clarify?
As can be seen in the section above, the pentagram was in use by both Christians, Jews and pagans prior to the adoption of it by the Mormons. However, the Mormons adopted the inverted pentagram, which was used by the Jews in and around 400 BC, but which was mainly used as a magical symbol from the 16th Century onwards. Christianity never used an inverted pentagram to represent the wounds of Christ.
A common argument used by Mormons is that the Swastika was a symbol of the Sun God or 'good luck' in Tibet and India, but was appropriated by the Nazi Party of German in the 1930s and had a negative connotation ever since. Whilst partially correct, this does not take into account that the Nazis actually changed the Swastika symbol, but turning it through 45 degrees and dispensing with the four dots. Adolf Hitler and other senior Nazis had a fascination with the occult and occult symobls. One could also argue from a Christian perspective that the 'Sun God' is perhaps the same as 'Satan' in any case, although this is of course open to debate by those of other faiths.
Haile Selassie I and Rastafarianism
Haile Selassie I lived from 1892 to 1975. Born with the name Tafari Makonnen, he was Ethiopia's regent from 1916 to 1930 and Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. He was also head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. He was instrumental in the formation of the African Union and was regarded generally as a masterful statesman, within Ethiopia and indeed in Africa. He resisted modernisation and was regarded by some as keeping Ethiopia in the dark ages. His fall from Grace began probably in 1972, when a severe famine broke out, mostly in Wollo, northeastern Ethiopia, as well as in some parts of Tigray, which has been estimated to have killed 40,000 to 80,000 Ethiopians between 1972-74. In 1974 he was deposed in a Soviet-backed Communist revolution and he died in 1975.
He was seen by Rastafarians as being the God incarnate (as being the return of the Messiah (the Second Coming and part of the trinity), despite having mortal parents and never actually stating that he was God - and there not having been a Final Judgement and the End of the World as prophecised in the Book of Revelation (which was supposed to follow the return of Jesus the Messiah). Rastafarians are the only Christian sect of significance that believe the Second Coming has already taken place, and that we are already in Judgement Time (i.e. the Last Judgement). This is not quite how the New Testament describes the return of Christ and the end of days, as both events happen together. Christians and Moslems on the other hand are still waiting for the return of Jesus from Heaven.
One may perhaps view Rastafarianism from the Judaic perspective, in that God cannot become man, and man cannot become God, and in this sense, Rastafarianism displays elements of Paganism. Until his visit to Jamaica in 1966, he had never confirmed nor denied that he was divine. During his visit he specifically declined to refute the Rastafari belief that he was God. He no doubt liked the veneration and attention. After his return to Ethiopia, he dispatched Archbishop Abuna Yesehaq Mandefro to the Caribbean to help draw Rastafarians and other West Indians to the Ethiopian church and, according to some sources, denied his divinity. Rastafarians by large denied that the bones that were buried at his funeral in 1975 (attended by Rita Marley) were actually his, and some deny that he actually died at all.
Haile Selassie I claimed a lineage from King Solomon and also the House of David.
Haile Selassie's wife is reputed to be a descendent of Muhammed.
Rastafarians use Biblical names such as "Lord of Lords", "King of Kings" and "Conquering Lion of the tribe of Judah" for Haile Selassie I. These terms had been used throughout history to describe Ethiopian Emperors, but with the crowning of Haile Selassie I they were seen as evidence that supported his divine status.
The Wollo region had regular famines, but none were as severe as that which struck in 1972-1974. One might argue that someone who is 'God' would have been 'all seeing' and more aware of what was going on in his own country. In addition, one could argue that someone who had luxurious feasts and a high standard of living whilst 80,000 people starved to death cannot really be representative of a caring God or in any sense Divine. This was going on during other famines also. Whilst he enjoyed much success in his earlier career as a politican and leader, he was by no means perfect and perhaps prevented infrastructure development from taking place that might have averted all the aforementioned famines.
Except for the Wollo Famine, he was regarded very highly by 'black' Africans and Jamaicans, as a figure of African unity (the famine is conveniently forgotten by Rastafarians). It is likely that his lineage and role in African politics held him in high regard as figure of 'black'/Afro-Caribbean political and social influence.
Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr., National Hero of Jamaica (1887-1940), was a publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, Black nationalist, orator, and founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League. He promoted independent 'black' commerce and industry, and the emigration of 'blacks' to Africa. He also held that 'whites' were an inferior race and that God was 'black'. He was arrested in 1922 for mail fruad and deported to Jamaica. Marcus Garvey was also regarded as a key figure in the 'black' struggle, and is regarded by Rastafarianism as being a prophet (along with Bob Marley). Garvey is also highly regarded by the Nation of Islam.
A discussion on 'black' ideology and the use and inspiration of 'black' power amongst 'black' people in the last two centuries in helping to boost the self-image of Afro-Caribbeans and Afro-Americans, and counter many of the negative psychological consequences of the legacy of slavery and a lack of economic power, but also perpetuating racial tension and racism on both sides (i.e. exploring both positive and negative aspects), and how it relates to Anthropological theories on 'race' and 'ethnicity', can be found in the Psychology section under Identity and Difference. Clearly, 'black' consciousness has considerably evolved and there is no arguably no need for such racialist/racist ideologies any longer, with a number of positive 'black' role models in a variety of careers for the youth to aspire to (although arguably not quite enough!)
Whilst many of us may well enjoy Reggae and some aspects of the attitude and spirituality of Rastafarians, I find it personally difficult to take the belief in Haile Selassie I being God seriously and finds the use of marijuana by Rastafarians rather dubious, although in many senses its use is much more psychologically healthy than its use by non-Rastafarians who use it as a drug to 'get high'. I also take issue with the racial exclusivity of Rastafarianism, which is not a sign of a worthwhile religion in his opinion. It could also be argued that Haile Selassie never listened to Reggae music, was an Orthodox Christian and did not smoke marijuana, and liked to drink wine and eat Swedish meatballs in moderation. Why should the religion that was inspired by him preach what he never actually practised himself? Perhaps Rastafarians should just consider becoming Orthodox Christians! Perhaps Rastafarians see their religion as just an 'add on' to Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity that does not conflict with this base belief. Or perhaps not.
It should be noted that the Biblical Jesus (fact or fiction) never lived in a Palace, and did not live a luxurious lifestyle. Is it befitting for an 'incarnation of God' to live in such a luxurious manner when his fellow citizens are starving? And can religion and politics ever really co-exist comfortably in this sense? Can the 'incarnation of God' really be a stateman, diplomat and husband? If God actually ruled your country, then you would expect perfection in some sense, as God is perfection and all knowing. Perhaps the weakest link might be the civil servants employed by 'God', but then 'God' would not probably need very many, being all knowing, and would know which ones were worth keeping. Being all knowing would surely make being an Emperor much easier and more effective. Does Haile Selassie's performance as an Emperor really suggest his actually being 'God'? Or was he just put on a pedestal as he was down to earth, had 'good breeding', and did a great deal for Africa as a whole (largely), despite his obvious errors, faults and arguably his cowardice (during the Fascist invasion). Black people, especially Afro-Caribbeans, at that time were clearly looking for a spiritual leader and perhaps he fitted the bill.
Haile Selassie was an honorary member of a large number of Orders of Knighthood from a large number of countries around the world. A full list can be found on Wikipedia. These connections did not however bring Ethiopia any assistance from the League of Nations nor from Europe during the Italian Fascist invasion of Ethiopia from 1935-36. Haile Selassie even fled the country for French Somaliland on 2 May 1936, during the Italian invasion, which was resented by many Ethiopians, who were expecting their emperor to be a warrior. It was only when Italy entered WWII on the side of Nazi Germany in 1940 that support from the British arrived. The Fascists were eventually completely driven out in 1941. It should be noted that Haile Selassie fled the country
Portuguese Military Order of Christ, formed in 1318, was the heritage of the Knights Templar, after the Knights Templars were suppressed in 1312. The Order of Christ and the Knights Templar had a history in Abyssinia (Ethiopia). Both secret/private societies are said to have been precursors to Freemasonry.
The Knights Templar had a base in Ethiopia under Emperor Lalibela, who later expelled them. While in Ethiopia, the Templars were said to have borrowed heavily from the traditions of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. For example, the Templar Cross pattee is that of the Ethiopian Church. Templars also wore a cord around their necks in imitation of the religious cord owrn by Ethiopian Christians, known as the Matab. Ethiopian Christians believe that as St Peter was baptising in the River Jordan, he would cut a string from his prayer shawl to tie around the newly baptised person's neck. Coptic tradition is still to give out such cords at baptisms, and it is also popular in Slavic Orthodox Churches to wear Crosses on string cords, rather than chains. Perhaps their long white robes were reminiscent of the prayer shawls worn by Coptic Ethiopian Christians. The Templars bought back to Europe the riches and traditions from Africa, including chess and various medical practices.
It can thus be said that Ethiopia as a whole had 'pre-masonic' connections to the Knights Templar, the precursor to Freemasonry.
A history of religion in Ethiopia can be found at the links below.
Was Haile Selassie I a Freemason? There is no real evidence to suggest that he was. There is a Masonic Lodge called the House of Haile Selassie. It was reputed to have adopted this name because of the relationship between Haile Selassie and King Solomon. A spokesperson for the lodge has stated that Haile Selassie I was never a member of any Freemason movement with the western concept of a lodge. Does this imply that he was in a African context? Or does it imply that he was never a Freemason of any kind?
According to Gregory Stephens in his book On Racial Frontiers, on page 164, Jospeh N. Hibbert, born in 1894, emigrated from Jamaica to Costa Rica at the age of 17. There was a large contingent of Jamaicans in Central America, and it was here that he became a member of the Masonic Lodge, The Anicent (Mystic) Order of Ethiopia. He returned to Jamaica in 1931 to preach the divinity of Haile Selassie. He was a key figure in the Rastafari movement. Joseph N. Hibbert has his roots in the Ethiopian Baptist Church, which was founded by George Lisle in the 18th Century. Ironically then Hibbert was brought up as an Ethiopian Baptist and not Ethiopian Orthodox, Haile Selassie having been the head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
In his book 'Dread Jesus', William David Spencer proposes that Archibald Dunkley and Joseph Nathaniel Hibbert were among the preachers that inspired the Rastafari movement, and that both were members of the "Ancient Mystic Order of Ethiopia", a fraternal order derived from Prince Hall Freemasonry. Spencer believes that several key elements of the Rastafari movement derive from this practices in this lodge, including the name "Jah", from the word 'Jah-Bul-On'.
Timothy White, in his book Catch a Fire: The Life of Bob Marley, on page 12, asserts that both Archibald Dunkley and Joseph Hibbert were members of the 'ulta-secret Egyptian Masonic Order known as the Great Ancient Brotherhood of Silence.
Jahbulon or Jabulon is a word which was first used in some of the rituals of Royal Arch Masonry in the 1700s. In addition, according to Francis X. King, the word is used in rituals of the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), a Thelemic Order created by the Freemason and Occultist Aleister Crowley in 1904.
According to the author Stephen Knight, following Walton Hannah, the word is a compound of three gods worshipped in the ancient Middle East, Jah (= Yahweh), Ba'al and On, a name in Genesis in the Bible (in "Potiphar priest of On"), the Hebrew form of the Ancient Egyptian name of the city of Heliopolis.
Rastafarians claim that 'Jah' is a shortened version of Jahweh, the Latin spelling for the Hebew Yahweh or YHWH. Of course, whether the use of 'Jah' is a shortened version of Jahweh or Jahbulon is a matter of debate, and would could perhaps argue it is a shortened version of other words beginning with 'Jah' based on circumstantial evidence.
There are allegations of racism in Freemasonry and attempts to discourage 'black lodges'. It is likely that certain elements within clandestine 'black' freemasonry lodges wished to 'deify' the 'black' race to some degree, to have a black deity-type figure, to promote black consciousness in opposite to the dominant white economic and social culture of the day.
The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is the official name of the largest Christian church in Egypt. Egypt is named as the place in the New Testament that the Holy family sought refuge after fleeing from Judea. The Egyptian Church is more than 19 centuries old. Egypt is frequently referenced in the Old Testament.
The first Christians in Egypt were mostly Alexandrian Jews (e.g. Theophilus). The church was founded by Saint Mark the Evangelist, believed to be the apostle, the author of the Gospel of Mark, and a companion of Saint Peter. He is believed to have been the first Bishop of Alexandria and the first Pope of Alexandria. He is regarded as the founder of African Christianity and his evangelistic symbol is the lion.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is an Oriental Orthodox church in Ethiopia, that was formerly part of the Coptic Orthodox church until 1959, which it was granted its own Patriarch. It is one of the few pre-colonial churches of Sub-Saharan Africa, and is the largest of all Oriental Orthodox churches. It is thought to have been formed in 346 AD.
Some have observed that the Ethiopian Church is a shining example of Christianity working with the traditions of Judaism. The Ethiopian Church regards the Old Testament as as sacred as the New Testament, if not more so. Ethiopian Orthodox Christians observe many Jewish customs such as dietary customs and indeed circumcision, and some believe that Jewish practices and culture in the area predate Christ, which is not unfeasible or that unlikely given the history of the Jewish people. Perhaps the Jewish people should take note that it is possible to embrace both Judaism and Christianity together in a number of forms.
'The [Ethiopian Orthodox] Tewahedo Church Canon contains 81 books. This canon contains the books accepted by other Orthodox Christians.
- The Narrower Canon also contains Enoch, Jubilees, and three books of the Meqabyan
- The Broader Canon includes all of the books found in the Narrower Canon, as well as the two Books of the Covenant, four Books of Sinodos, A Book of Clement, and Didascalia.
There have been no printings of the Broader Canon since the beginning of the twentieth century. The Haile Selassie Version of the Bible, which was published in 1962, contains the Narrower Canon.'
Many Afro-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans regard Ethiopia and Egyptian churches as an inspiration, as Africans choosing Christianity and not having it thrust upon them; and indeed Ethiopia which was the only nation to stand up to colonial invasion until the 2nd world war.