08/28/2008

Intelligence Report: Angry Black Supremacist Religious Movement is on the Rise

Thousands of black men and women who believe Jesus Christ is returning soon to kill or enslave white people, Jews, LGBT people and others have joined the racist fringe of the black Hebrew Israelite movement, according to the latest issue of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report, released today.

These black supremacist groups are growing more visible and militant, partly due to a magnetic young leader. In recent years, the movement, previously concentrated in inner-city neighborhoods on the East Coast, has spread to cities in Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Oregon.

"These groups have used bizarre interpretations of the Bible to justify their racist beliefs in much the same way that white supremacist groups have," said Mark Potok, editor of the Intelligence Report, a quarterly investigative journal that monitors the radical right and racial extremism. "What is most worrying is that their talk has grown increasingly militant in recent years, with predictions of a bloody demise for white people and a whole host of other enemies."

Most black Hebrew Israelites, while seeing themselves as the descendants of the Hebrews of the Bible, are neither explicitly racist nor anti-Semitic and do not advocate violence. However, videos posted on the Internet show preachers from the extremist fringe of the movement engaging in what one former adherent describes as "evangelical terrorizing" — a form of street preaching that involves verbally violent confrontations with whites and Jews. "Every white person who doesn't get killed by Christ when he returns is going into slavery!" General Mayakaahla Ka, an Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge preacher, says in one video.

Also, in the Fall 2008 issue of the Intelligence Report:

  • "'Arming' for Armageddon" examines the apocalyptic movement Joel's Army. Numbering in the tens of thousands, members of this movement are breaking away in droves from mainline Pentecostal churches and embracing an ideology of theocratic takeover. The approach is so militant that one Christian ministry worries it may soon produce "real warfare with actual warriors."
  • "Anti-Semitism Goes to School" reports on anti-Semitism on university campuses, including strains that originate on the political left. Two examples — and extremist Muslims at a California campus and a once-"progressive" forum in Oregon — serve to illustrate this phenomenon.
  • "Silver Lining" describes how a surprising number of white supremacists believe Sen. Barack Obama becoming the first black president actually would be a boon to their cause, driving millions into their ranks and possibly sparking a race war. Others on the racist right disagree.
  • "Legionnaire's Disease" describes the American Legion's latest campaign against illegal immigration, which includes a booklet full of false and defamatory immigration data, baseless claims and nativist propaganda. Latino veterans groups have described the campaign as "absurd and ignorant" and a slap in the face to Latino legionnaires.