I’ll be honest, having to read through Judith Weisenfeild just ended up making my skin crawl. It went from a platform that seemed to make some sense, to something that sounded like it should have been re-created into an R-rated Hollywood film. Out of all three different followings that came from Harlem, the one that seemed to make the most sense to me in the beginning was Nobel Drew Ali of the Moorish Science Temple. This was the one that made the most sense to me and followed the most logic. The other two that follow this just get “squishy”, but in some really creepy and hypercritical ways. I will say my first criticism with as much care as possible, but seeing as this course is African American Religions is the course, race does have to be thoroughly considered and defined throughout numerous situations. One of my biggest issues that I had when reading about Fuad was actually his race. When I was able to see the photograph that Weisfield used in her text, it is pretty clear to me that Fard was what we would consider by today’s standards to be very mixed. But the thing that bothered me a lot was an observation that the author had made herself about how gifted Fard actually thought himself to be. The platform of his demonization was that the white race was the Devil’s race, and that the pure race was African Americas. However, a comment is made that Fard believed himself to be favored by God. That despite his complexion that would have many thinking that he too was of the “inferior race”, God had his blessing, and this was why Fard was able to be the people’s chosen disciple despite his very light skin tone. I find that rationalization freakishly convenient.. Also, the fact that Weisenfeild had to go into such detail to explain the beginnings of Fard himself (we don’t even know for 100% what his birth-name may have actually been) a bit shady. And why did he feel the need to change what country he was born in so much?
Father Devine honestly just made me really uneasy. My reasoning for this comes from something that I am sure not many of you have heard about before. Nicknamed “The Ten Commandments Cult” this bore a lot of resemblance to me to the House of Joy and Faith. Like this following, the “Ten Commandments” was marketed for the poor society of African Americas in Uganda. Founded by Joseph Kibwetere, this religion stated that he had a vision that the world was going to end. Because culturally this was what many people feared in Africa, Kivwetere made his faith almost an out to this doom. If you wanted to be a member of this faith, you had to give up all your possessions and cut ties with family members. In exchange, Kibwetere promised safety, meals, and healing. This parallelism is also seen in Father Devine, although the end isn’t as tragic as Kibwetere’s. The thing that really got to my core was that these followers literally made me think of the word “cult”. I mean, they had psychologist investigating that proved the cramped living spaces and atmosphere in general was causing people to become depressed and present with psychotic behavior… Furthermore, just the concept of Devine almost brainwashing his followers into associating him as the reincarnation of God brought to earth was just deeply unsetting to me. This reading for me really highlights a lot of my own beliefs of how religion and… delusion can really go hand-in-hand sometimes.