A religious organization asserting the African American and Latino communities as the true descendants of the Biblical Israelites.
Denomination: Black Hebrew Israelites
Location: United States
The Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ (ICGJC) is a religious group that is part of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement. Founded in the late 20th century in the United States, the ICGJC teaches that African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans are the true descendants of the biblical Israelites. The church is known for its distinct interpretation of the Bible, emphasis on racial identity, and adherence to certain Old Testament laws.
Origins and Development
The ICGJC emerged from the earlier Black Hebrew Israelite movements that began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These movements collectively held the belief that certain groups of African Americans are the direct descendants of the ancient Israelites. The ICGJC was officially established in the 1990s and was initially known as the Israeli Church of Universal Practical Knowledge, but the organization rebranded itself as the Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ after the year 2000, when a prophecy of their church did not come to pass.
Beliefs and Teachings
The core belief of the ICGJC is that African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans are the true descendants of the twelve tribes of Israel. The church’s teachings are based on a literal interpretation of the Bible, with a particular emphasis on the Old Testament.
Key aspects of their doctrine include:
- The belief that Jesus Christ, whom they refer to by the Hebrew name Yahawashi, was a black man.
- Adherence to certain Old Testament laws, including dietary restrictions and observance of the Sabbath.
- The idea that their members will gain salvation and reclaim their supposed heritage as God’s chosen people.
Practices and Community Life
The Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ places a strong emphasis on community and adherence to their interpretation of biblical laws. Members are encouraged to live according to these principles, which include specific dress codes, dietary laws, and moral guidelines.
The church is also known for its active street ministry and public preaching, where they share their beliefs and often engage in debates with passersby or members of other religious groups.
Expansion and Influence
The ICGJC has expanded its presence in various cities across the United States. It has attracted attention for its vocal public ministry and its emphasis on African American and Latino cultural identity.
Controversies and Challenges
The Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ has been the subject of controversy. The church’s teachings on race have been criticized as being exclusionary and divisive. Additionally, the ICGJC has faced legal and financial challenges, including allegations of financial mismanagement.