Yahweh ben Yahweh,
born and legally named Hulon Mitchell Jr. (October 27, 1935 - May 7,
2007), was the leader of the religious sect Nation of Yahweh.
Before the Nation
Hulon Mitchell Jr. was born the first of fifteen
children in Kingfisher, Oklahoma. His father was a Pentecostal minister
who emphasized the Book of Exodus in his preachings. His childhood was
one of relative poverty made worse by marginalization caused by Jim Crow
After a period of military service and a period as a
psychology major at an Enid, Oklahoma university, he became interested
in spiritual movements. He also became interested in the Civil Rights
movement organizing sit-ins in Oklahoma. Although he quickly grew
disillusioned with this and as "Yahweh ben Yahweh" he denounced Martin
Luther King Jr. as "that dead dog preacher."
This led to a growing interest in black nationalism
and some study of the Nation of Islam. He later studied other groups as
well and by the late 1970s pronounced himself "Yahweh ben Yahweh",
meaning "the LORD Son of the LORD," Yahweh being related to the
Tetragrammaton, or the name for God in the Hebrew Bible. He was married
and had four children, and was divorced by the time his religious sect
Leader of Nation of Yahweh
The religious sect set up its headquarters in Liberty
City, Florida. As Yahweh ben Yahweh he emphasized a mixture of racial
supremacy and violent separatism.
God was black and blacks would become powerful
through him. He also emphasized whites and particularly Jews as infidels
and oppressors. Lastly he increasingly emphasized loyalty to himself. He
ultimately cultivated a loyalty extreme enough that members apparently
pledged to kill his enemies.
To become a member of the inner circle of his
organization, applicants had to kill a "white devil" and bring Mitchell
a body part - an ear, nose or finger - as proof of the kill. Between
April and October 1986, according to court papers, Mitchell's "Death
Angels" descended on Miami frequently to kill random white people.
His group took over a series of buildings in Miami.
These buildings allowed for the level of black separatism he encouraged.
He became the living messianic ruler in this culture. As ruler he is
said to have been absolute and theocratic. Those who dissented could
face beatings or, allegedly, death.
Still at the time his business and charity efforts
earned him respect in the community. The mayor of Miami, Florida
declared October 7, 1990, "Yahweh ben Yahweh Day." This occurred a month
before his indictment for his crimes.
Crimes and aftermath
Although his followers remained devoted to him, by
the 1990s he was in trouble with the law. From 1990 until his release on
September 26, 2001, he served 11 years of an 18-year sentence on a RICO
conviction after he and several other Nation of Yahweh members were
convicted of conspiracy in more than a dozen murders. He was acquitted
of first degree murder charges in 1992.
A court document description states the following:
Racketeering Act 5: Homicide of Leonard Dupree.
Because Dupree was known to be a karate expert, Yahweh openly challenged
him to fight Lightburn, the Yahwehs' resident martial-arts expert. The
two men squared off in front of about 30-60 Yahweh onlookers. Dupree
quickly knocked Lightburn down, at which point Yahweh ordered all
present, including Ingraham and Maurice, to attack Dupree. Ingraham
struck Dupree in the face with a tire jack. Dupree was literally beaten
to death. During the struggle, Gaines locked the doors of the Temple at
Yahweh's request. Yahweh allowed no one to leave and made everyone,
including women and children, strike and kick Dupree's lifeless body.
Dupree's body has never been found.
Yahweh Ben Yahweh was released on parole in 2001 and
returned to Miami, but his activities were strongly restricted until a
few months before his death. He was prohibited from reconnecting with
his old congregation. To assure this he was restricted from any form of
speech by telephone, computer, radio or television that could place him
in contact with any congrgational members.
In 2006, as he became increasingly ill with prostate
cancer, his attorney Jayne Weintraub petitioned the U.S. District Court
for his release from parole in order to permit him to "die with dignity".
A ruling on a failed appeal, U.S. v. Yahweh Ben
Yahweh (792 F. Supp. 104) starts:
Violent crime cases are the exception in federal
courts. The instant case is arguably the most violent case ever tried in
a federal court: the indictment charges the sixteen defendants on trial
with 14 murders by means such as beheading, stabbing, occasionally by
pistol shots, plus severing of body parts such as ears to prove the
worthiness of the killer. They were also charged with arson of a
slumbering neighborhood using molotov cocktails. The perpetrators were
ordered to wait outside the innocent victims' homes wearing ski masks
and brandishing machetes to deter the victims from fleeing the flames.
However, his lawyers’ attempt to end the conditions
for his parole eventually succeeded.
Yahweh ben Yahweh only faced conviction for
conspiracy. The testimony of Robert Rozier played a key role in that. Mr.
Rozier is a former NFL player, who admitted to several of the murders
and testified against Hulon Mitchell Jr., in return for a lighter
sentence. Rozier is currently serving a 25-to-life sentence under
California's three strikes law as he was later charged (after the Nation
of Yahweh ordeal) with writing bad checks.
Yahweh ben Yahweh died May 7th, 2007 from prostate
The Nation of Yahweh
is a predominantly African American religious
group that is the most controversial offshoot of
the Black Hebrew Israelites line of thought.
They were founded in 1979 in Miami by Hulon
Mitchell, Jr., who went by the name Yahweh ben
Their goal is to return
African Americans, whom they see as the original
Israelites, to Israel. The group departs from
mainstream Christianity and Judaism by accepting
Yahweh ben Yahweh as the son of god. In this way,
their beliefs are unique and distinct from that
of other known Black Hebrew Israelite groups.
The group has engendered
controversy due to legal issues of its founder
and has also faced accusations of being a black
supremacist cult by the Southern Poverty Law
Center and The Miami Herald.
The SPLC has criticized the
beliefs of the Nation of Yahweh as racist,
stating that the group believed blacks are "the
true Jews" and that whites were "white devils."
They also claim the group believed Yahweh ben
Yahweh had a Messianic mission to vanquish
whites and that they held views similar to the
Christian Identity movement. They quote Tom
Metzger of White Aryan Resistance as saying
groups like theirs are "the black counterpart of
The Anti-Defamation League
has criticized the Nation of Yahweh and some
other Black Hebrew sects, stating, "In 1987, ADL
reported on Black sects holding these views [arguing
that today's Jews are not the "chosen people"
described in the Bible, ... instead that the
label applies to people of African descent],
such as the Yahwehs and the Original African
Hebrew Israelite Nation of Jerusalem.
Today, this form of Black
supremacy is promoted on the Web by the 12
Tribes of Israel site, which cites hundreds
of Biblical passages to prove that Blacks are
the children of Israel and whites the Satanic
offspring of Esau."
Despite the recent death of
their leader the Nation of Yahweh is still
active. Its members also claim to have abandoned
their past racism and the leader's daughter has
apparently stated that all people are children
An attorney and member of the
group, Wendelyn Rush, insists their current war
with the U.S. government is a non-violent verbal
battle. The group is currently spread throughout
the US and is no longer concentrated in one
location (formerly Miami-Dade County, Florida,
USA). They claim that their present literature
downplays and has nearly erased all past racism.
However, the Southern Poverty
Law Center quotes an instructor at Christopher
Newport University who disagrees: "They're still
distributing all their original tracts, so I
don't know how they're going to get away from
the hate message."
The Nation of Yahweh is
perhaps best known nationally for its purchase
of infomercial time. The Nation airs a weekly
half-hour program on stations across the United
States, usually on weekends during little-watched
early morning hours, that combines Biblical
study along with discussion of the Nation itself.
Yahweh Ben Yahweh, former cult leader
linked to over 20 gruesome killings, dead at 71
International Herald Tribune - IHT.com
May 8, 2007
Former cult leader Yahweh Ben Yahweh, who was linked to nearly
two dozen gruesome killings in the 1980s and said to have
ordered victims' ears cut off as proof they were killed, has
died, his attorney said Tuesday. He was 71.
Yahweh, who had
been fighting prostate cancer, died in his sleep Monday night,
attorney Jayne Weintraub said.
"Black Messiah" founded the Nation of Yahweh and preached
religious separatism for blacks. At the group's height, it
claimed thousands of followers in Miami and elsewhere.
The group was
praised for its rehabilitation of Miami neighborhoods, promotion
of family values and stance against drugs. But Yahweh was later
accused of sending close followers to kill "white devils" and
bring back body parts as proof.
He served 11
years of an 18-year federal prison sentence for a racketeering
conspiracy conviction stemming from his role in up to 23
killings and was released from prison in September 2001. He was
never convicted on murder charges.
Yahweh will always be remembered for the many charitable
contributions he made ... as exemplified when he received a key
to the city of Miami," Weintraub said in a statement. "Yahweh
will be remembered and mourned by the millions of people that he
touched through prayer and teachings."
born Hulon Mitchell Jr. in Oklahoma. The eldest of 15 children,
he became a preacher in Oklahoma, Weintraub said. He married and
had four children but divorced before moving to Miami in the
late 1970s, she said.
In Miami he
changed his name to the Hebrew words for "God, son of God." He
also opened a headquarters, the Temple of Love, in the Liberty
City area as well as a nearby education center, and his
followers often dressed completely in white.
his group built a modest empire of businesses — motels,
restaurants, homes and stores — said at the time to be worth $8
million (€5.9 million). They became known for cleaning up
blighted areas, Yahweh was honored for his work. Miami's mayor
declared a Yahweh Ben Yahweh Day in 1990.
authorities said they uncovered another, violent side to the
who resisted the group's 1986 takeover of a drug-infested
apartment complex were allegedly shot. Ex-members turned up dead,
and a Delray Beach neighborhood was bombed after residents and
Yahweh's followers butted heads during a recruiting effort there.
said Yahweh also had an inner circle of group members called "The
Brotherhood" or "death angels" that had to killed someone to
join the group. He was indicted with other Yahweh members in
1990, shortly after the day honoring him.
five-month trial in 1992, Yahweh dressed in white robes and a
turban and often quoted the Bible. His sister and nephew
testified that he ordered men, women and children to join in the
beating death of sect member. An ex-member testified he ordered
another follower executed for gossiping but spared his life
after drawing blood with a machete.
officers, however, were among those who testified in his defense,
Weintraub said. Ultimately, Yahweh and six others were convicted
in the case.
In 1992 he
was also indicted and tried in state court on first-degree
murder charges, of which he was acquitted.
released early from parole supervision earlier this year.
said at the time that he had advanced cancer and wanted to die
with dignity, and his doctor wrote that he was unable to walk as
a result of the disease. Prosecutors had argued that even though
he was ailing he was still a threat.
Yahweh Ben Yahweh; Led Violent Cult
By Matt Schudel - The Washington Post
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Yahweh Ben Yahweh, who
had a following of thousands as the leader
of a violent black supremacist sect in Miami
and who later spent years in prison for
conspiracy to commit murder, died May 7 of
prostate cancer at his home in Opa-Locka,
Fla. He was 71.
Mr. Yahweh, a charismatic
speaker known for his flowing white robes
and jeweled turbans, explored various
religious fringe groups before forming his
sect in Miami in 1979. He controlled a
multimillion-dollar business empire that
included schools, grocery stores and real
estate and once claimed to have 20,000
followers in 45 cities.
Calling himself the
"Original Jew," Mr.
Yahweh adopted a name
that means "God, the son
of God" in Hebrew. He
said he and his
disciples were the true
descendants of a long-lost
tribe of Israel.
the beginning, however,
Mr. Yahweh's group was
associated with an
intimidating style that
often crossed into
violence and murder. He
railed against "white
devils" and proclaimed
himself the messiah: "All
who receive me shall be
saved from immorality
he managed to cultivate
an image as a well-meaning,
if eccentric, community
builder. Mr. Yahweh
helped clean up blighted
neighborhoods and, at
least among his
followers, restored a
sense of order to a
studied Hebrew and
recited the names of
chemical elements and
spoke to crowds of
thousands around the
country and received the
blessings of Nation of
Islam leader Louis
Farrakhan. In 1987, the
Miami Urban League gave
Mr. Yahweh its highest
humanitarian award, and
its president pronounced
him "an inspiration to
the entire community."
lacking in confidence or
self-esteem, Mr. Yahweh
once addressed a group
of Miami business
leaders: "Egypt has her
pyramids. India has her
Taj Mahal. France has
her Eiffel Tower. Miami
has the son of Yahweh.
The world's greatest
attraction is in your
midst. I'm here."
October 1990, Miami
Mayor Xavier L. Suarez
declared a Yahweh Ben
Yahweh Day. A month
later, Mr. Yahweh was
indicted on federal
conspiracy charges. He
was linked to 14
killings, two attempted
slayings and the
of an entire block in
Delray Beach, Fla.,
where residents had
roughed up some of his
Mr. Yahweh went to trial
in 1992, he was defended
by former federal judge
and current U.S. Rep.
Alcee L. Hastings (D-Fla.).
During the trial, lurid
details of life in the
other things, Mr. Yahweh
controlled the clothing,
food and sex lives of
the people in his group.
Twice married and
divorced earlier in life,
he took many of his
young female followers
to his bed.
may be rabbis and nuns
here," he told the New
York Times with a wide
smile, "but we don't
believe in celibacy."
Yahweh was surrounded by
a group of bodyguards
called the Circle of 10,
each armed with a six-foot
wooden staff. Members of
an inner circle called
the Brotherhood were,
according to the federal
indictment, required to
kill a white person and
deliver a severed head
or ear to Mr. Yahweh as
football player Robert
Rozier, a close
associate who confessed
to killing seven people,
testified for the
prosecution. Mr. Yahweh
was convicted of
conspiracy to commit
murder and acquitted of
He was sentenced to 18
years in federal prison
and was released on
parole in 2001 after
serving nine. By court
order, he could have no
communication with any
of his onetime disciples.
Mr. Yahweh, whose given
name was Hulon Mitchell
Jr., was born in
Kingfisher, Okla., the
oldest of 13 children. A
sister, Leona Mitchell,
went on to become a
renowned soprano with
New York's Metropolitan
Opera. In interviews,
she has not discussed
Yahweh graduated from
Phillips University in
Enid, Okla., served in
the Air Force and
studied law at the
University of Oklahoma.
He later moved to
Chicago, where as Hulon
Shah, he became involved
with the Nation of
received a master's
degree in economics from
Atlanta University and
began preaching as "Father
Michel." Moving to
Orlando, he styled
himself as "Brother Love"
before settling in Miami
and adopting his new
1987, Mr. Yahweh's
father, a Pentecostal
preacher, spoke to a
reporter from the St.
Petersburg Times in
was there when he was
born, holding his mama's
hand," he said. "You
can't get closer than
that, and he is not the
son of God."
Yahweh had four children
and at least six
grandchildren. After his
release from prison, he
lived alone, working as