Rastafari and Religion
By Baba Ras Marcus
December 09, 2004
Be at peace with the Creator who ever you conceive him to be, for the Creator is in Ethiopia, but he is also in every single part of the earth, sea, and sky at the same time, he is in humanity and also in all living creatures at the same time, the Creator is everywhere, and there are no limits that can be placed on him or her geographically speaking.
The birds and other creatures do sing their praise in their own unique ways, and they are truly living closer to the laws of Mother Nature and Father Time, more than any human being upon the face of this earth including myself.
There are some very serious lessons to be learned and we should widen our internal mental and spiritual faculties, and learn as much as we can. We can believe as much as we want to believe, but when we know, that is when we achieve knowledge. We must be very careful, that we are not teaching things to our people which we cannot prove; religion is a very dangerous weapon of minds destruction. Let your yes be yes and your no be no, words are very important, but the actions which we take are much more important than the words which we speak.
To be very truthful, many of our people who became Rastafari people were originally members of the European religion, which was forced upon our people by the slave masters, who deliberately tried to rid us of every inch of African culture and heritage which they could. They, who invented the slave trading practices against African people, were prominent in the European religion. They went to church on Sundays; they read their bible and considered themselves, to be good decent people, while having many shackled slaves on their plantations, who they whipped when they feel that it was necessary; since we were considered to be merchandise property which they own. They also forced their religion on us, and if we refused then we would be punished, like they did to Kunta Kinte. They boasted that it was a good thing that they had kidnapped us, since it was helpful in Christianizing us as a race of people.
So when most of us were children, our parents had these European picture of Jesus Christ in their houses, and were also members of the various European churches, they were the Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Church of God, Revival, Pocominia, the Salvation Army and all the various kinds of religions, which were based on the teachings of the Europeans, and there Christian teachings. As children our parents would take us along with them to these churches on Sundays, and other days when ever there were some kind of church activities. My parents were members of the Salvation Army, and they would keep meetings on the street corners, and I can remember them singing this song, the Lion of Judah shall break every chain and give us a victory again and again, I was a very small boy then and was trying to play that big drum which they had at that time.
The point which I am trying to make here is that, people who became Rastafari people, had already been through the European's religious doctrines and churches, since their parents made sure that they were always going to church with them, since this was a family thing to do. But when Marcus Garvey and other advocates of African heritage and legacy started to teach that there is an African way of life for us as a people, this became a very fertile ground for consciousness, but it became more so, when he spoke about the Great African King to be Crowned in Ethiopia. That is to say that since Rastafari people have already been through European Christianity and churches, it became quite amazing that the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which should be really in touch with the ideology and teachings of the Rastafari movement, were asking Rastafari people to cut their locks, and was also preaching the same doctrine of Christianity, which they have already gone through, and were at that time, living as close to nature as they could.
Ras Iyly was one of the young Priest, who helped to conduct the funeral rights of Bob Marley, he was a dreadlock brother who was a member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Jamaica, this brother was very close to me in that he respected me as an Elder, and also we were able to reason on a weekly basis, since my immediate neighbor was also a member of that church and so Ras Iyly would visit on a weekly basis, sometimes twice weekly since they had to take the bus from Spanish Town to go to the church in Kingston, this church was at the top of Maxfield Avenue in Kingston Jamaica.
Ras Iyly was so involved in the church, that he decided to become a priest, and he did become a priest, but to become a priest he had to cut his locks, as a result he was able to assist in the funeral rights of Bob Marley's funeral. When the Ethiopian Orthodox Church came to Jamaica, internally it was welcomed by the Rastafari people, as a direct hopeful connection to Ethiopia and Ethiopians, but when it was discovered that it was in contradiction of the teachings of the Rastafari Movement, much fire was cast verbally upon the church, and true Rastafari people who have been fighting against the teachings of Babylon religion, completely despised the church and it's teachings.
At the same time there were those who believed in the church but could not hold any official position, unless they cut their dreadlocks and take the oath in the name of Jesus Christ. There has been much division in that church, and I think there was a big split in leadership and members, which even led to a lawsuit so as to prove legally, who was the rightful leader or bishop or whatever the titles may be. I do think that the split still remains where some members favor one leader and some favor the other, as is normally done in all of these religious groups.
Some of the things which we teach and preach in the early days as Rastafari people, needs to be reviewed, and to be reformed to a higher level of realization, so that our African people, can follow clearly our direction and good intentions. We have been preaching Ethiopia for the Ethiopians those at home and those abroad for all these years. We have proudly told the world that we are not Jamaicans, Americans, Trinidadians, Barbadians or whatever, we are Africans abroad, and yet today, there are Rastafari people who have managed to reach Ethiopia the land of our fathers, and are living on that land Shashamane, which was given in 1948, to Africans in the western world by Ras Tafari Makonen, to be inhabited and be developed by pioneers, with a promise that more land would be granted from time to time as the need arises.
I have grown up with some of the Rastafari people who are now living on that land, but they were not allowed to call themselves Ethiopian officially, they had to form a movement which is called, the Jamaican Rastafari Community Development, which is indeed a great contradiction to what we teach, we teach that we were not Jamaicans we were Africans who were born in Jamaica, as A RESULT OF SLAVE TRADING ACTIVITIES. Therefore, there are some lessons to be learnt.
African leaders have not yet reached that conscious stage of mental advancement, where they say with conviction that Africans abroad, have the right to come home to Africa, and be accepted and be recognized as citizens of the continent of Mama Africa. They have not yet reached that state of mind where they can empower themselves, to change the constitution of their Governments, and also change their immigration laws, to facilitate the noble welcome home of African patriots and liberators, who have been struggling for the United States of African people for so many years.
Certainly too much time is being wasted arguing about who is the Creator or who is not the Creator, the Creator is who he or she is and nobody can change that regardless of which book or books they may read and believe in. The Creator is really that universal internal power which exists in all living things upon the face of this earth. The Creator is called by different names in various languages, therefore there is no need to be in contention about who the Creator his, or who he is not, because the Creator remain the Creator regardless of the opinions of individuals. Since the Creator will bring different experiences to different people at different times, each person should just try to be at peace with his or herself whoever or whatever he or she may conceive the Creator to be.
Let the birds worship and praise the Creator in their own way, let all creatures praise the Creator in their own way for their experience of the Creator is quite different from ours as humanity. There is still much for us to learn, let us just humble ourselves and do just that.
Again I send many oceans of blessings and self-determination to African people everywhere
ONE BLACK LOVE ONE BLACK HEART
Baba Ras Marcus