Based primarily upon the writings that
make up the New Testament in the Bible, Christians profess their
faith in Jesus, a Jew from Roman-occupied Israel, is the son of God, both human and divine. Christians believe that Jesus, crucified
and killed by the Romans, rose from the dead to become Christ,
or the anointed one. Central to Christian faith is the belief
in an afterlife for human souls, typically described in terms
of heaven and hell. Christians believe that actions against religious
or moral laws during this life will prevent a soul from entering
heaven unless one repents to Jesus Christ, who has the power to
forgive sins. Early Christians were converted Jews who saw Jesus
as the messiah who fulfilled prophesies of the Hebrew Scriptures.
When Jesus was rejected by the Jewish Sanhedrin as one of many
false messiahs, early Christians began to allow non-Jews into
their religion, spreading Christianity all over the world. Hundreds
of sects of Christianity exist to this day.
Haile Selassie I was the Emperor of Ethiopia, the only original African kingdom still free from colonial domination. Born Ras Tafari, Haile Selassie traced his lineage back to Menelik I, founder of Solomonic Dynasty. Menelik was the son of Solomon and Sheba, Queen of Ethiopia. Solomon was the son of David. Thus Ras Tafari was the root of David. In his youth, Ras Tafari had been rumored to communicate with animals and possessed an uncanny knowledge of sacred Biblical texts kept hidden by priests of the Ethiopian Coptic Church. He said that the information came to him at the moment of his baptism.
Ras Tafari had risen to power against great odds and had become even more of a world figure when he and Ethiopia stood against the forces of Fascism as Italy invaded with tanks, airplanes and poison gas at the beginning of World War II. He was so benevolent, that many defeated Italians chose to stay in Ethiopia after the war.
The appearance of the Rastafari was a shock to Jamaica. Where people would attempt to straighten their hair to emulate the white man, the Rasta let their hair grow naturally into knotty strands, known as Dreadlocks. Rastas became known as dreads. The movement crystallized in the commune known as the Pinnacle, located on an old estate outside Spanish Town. Founded by Leonard Howell, one of the original Rastas, Pinnacle was similar to the Maroon communities , accessible only by foot and hidden from the public. At Pinnacle, the Rasta bredren lived peacefully in accordance with their interpretation of the Bible. They planted crops that included Indian hemp, or ganja (marijuana), which had been used for generations in Jamaica as a remedy for a large number of ailments and was often made into tea. The Rastas developed the practice of smoking it to aid in their meditations.
In 1941, the police raided Pinnacle and Howell served two years in prison. Ganja was, and still is, illegal in Jamaica! Howell and the Rastas were viewed as a threat to the status quo, preaching that the King of England was not the King of the Africa - that could only be His Imperial Majesty, Haile Selassie I! Howell returned to Pinnacle after prison. The police raided Pinnacle again in 1958, this time destroying it for a second time. If they sought to eliminate the Rastafari, the police actions had the opposite effect, the movement grew.
The Rastafari know ganja as the wisdom weed that grew from
the grave of Solomon. Many credit its use with helping them perceive
the wickedness of the Babylon system. The Rastas smoke the herb
while reasoning with their bredren. Father Joseph Owens, a Catholic
priest who spent much time with the Rastas, attested in his book,
Dread, that the use of the herb does not lead to the same degeneration
of conversation found among users of alcohol.