Religion of the Rastafarians
The Rastafarian Movement began in Jamaica in the 1920’s by a man named Marcus Garvey. His philosophical ideologies led to the establishment of the Rastafarian religion in 1930. Rastafarians began to identify themselves as a religious group. Rasta is should be considered a religion because it carries all the major components of religion, which include myth, doctrine, morality, personal experience, ritual, and community.
The Rastafarian Movement was a powerful social force beginning in the 1920’s. Marcus Garvey was the spokesman for the Back-to-Africa movement. He declared that “the redemption of the people would come from a future black African king” (“Rastafarian Forum”). His prediction was surprisingly correct. A few years later, on November 20th, 1930, Ras Tafari Makonnen became Ethiopia’s king and claimed himself as “Emperor of the Power of the Trinity”. Thus, the Rasta Movement began. Beginning in the slums of Jamaica, the Rastafarian religion now has over “700,000 members worldwide” with official branches in the U.S., England, Canada, and the Caribbean Islands (“Rastafarian Forum”). Even “fifty years after independence, Rasta remains the most dynamic social and even political movement” (Jamaica Observer).
Myth is considered one of the most important components of religion. Myth helps to relate fictional stories or fables with realistic ideals and values. The Rastafarians believe that they are the reincarnation of the ancient tribes of Israel who had been enslaved and kept in exile by their white oppressors. They also believe that God revealed himself in Moses, who in the Bible is the first savior. Elijah is the second and Jesus Christ is the third. The advent of Rastafari is the climax of God’s revelation and they teach that Jesus predicted the coming of Haile Selassie or the Ras Tafari. These are biblical myths and stories that relate to their own beliefs.
Although the Rasta’s have no official church building or leader,...
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