Amun-Ra : Were We Always Christian?

Amun-Ra

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Although most western texts mention African slaves being taught Christianity, few make mention of the religion they brought with them, and when it is mentioned African religions are often labeled as primitive and superstitious. Most African religions were more complex than whites realized at the time and actually had many similarities with Western religions including one God and a host of saints known as orishas.

In addition to the indigenous religions brought from Africa, it is also clear that just as Christianity spread from Israel as far north as Spain, Islam spread to the east and west and finally south into sub-Saharan Africa and the slaves represented a blend of religious backgrounds.

Yoruba was the primary religion practiced in the area where the majority of slaves were captured by African and Arab tribes and then sold to European traders. The area now known as Nigeria, Benin and Togo is populated by the Bantu people where the Yoruba religion is still practiced today although it is beginning to fade as Christianity and Islam overtake it. Ironically, Yoruba is experiencing a rebirth in the United States and other places around the world.

Orisha worship was spread to the new world through the slave trade. In order to preserve their religious traditions against Catholic subjugation, the African slaves substituted Christian saints for the gods or Orishas.

This hybrid religion took deep hold in African communities in Brazil and Cuba. Following the Cuban revolution of 1959, the religion spread to Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the United States, especially in New York City and Florida. Curiously, the Yoruba religion is beginning to grow in the United States just as it is being replaced by Christianity and Islam in Africa.

Numerous texts by pre-twentieth century white authors belittled African religion calling it nothing more than childish and primitive despite the long and complex history of African religious practices. Hollywood was particularly potent in distorting and debasing African religion on film making it seem superstitious, savage and ignorant. However, the religion that was practiced by the slaves who were brought to the United States is still practiced and is just as complex and rich as Christianity.

Santeria or Regla de Ocha as it is also known is an indigenous form of Yoruba that has absorbed aspects or Roman Catholicism while maintaining Yoruba traditions. This blending or melding of religious ideas and ceremonies is called syncretization. There are nearly 3 million adherents of the religion in Cuba where it was once outlawed by the Communist government.

In Brazil, this syncretized religion is known as Candomble. Although Candomble and Santeria share roots in traditional Yoruba religion, Candomble has adopted some rituals and ideas from the indigenous Indians of South America while also blending in strains of Catholicism.

Voudon or Voodoo as it is commonly known also originated from the same area and the name Voudon can actually be traced to an African word meaning “spirit.” Hollywood moviemakers during the mid 1900’s gave Americans, including African Americans, a distorted image of Voodoo, concentrating on voodoo dolls and zombies, but there is more to Voudon than Hollywood ever knew. It is another syncretized religion that the French outlawed in Haiti where it still flourishes.

Voodoo is probably the best known example of African religion although it is generally misunderstood. It is an Afro-Caribbean fusion of different religious beliefs and practices taken from the practices of the Fon, the Nago, the Ibos, Dahomeans, Congos, Senegalese, Haussars, Caplaous, Mondungues, Mandinge, Angolese, Libyans, Ethiopians, and the Malgaches. The name is traceable to an African word for "spirit". It can also be directly traced to the West African Yoruba people with its roots may go back 6,000 years in Africa in today's Togo, Benin and Nigeria.

What the Europeans didn't understand, they were quick to label as superstition, but studies since those colonial have revealed that African religions were just as sophisticated if not more so than the European models to which they were compared. While there is no question that superstition was part of the African psyche of colonial times, it was also a clear element for all races during that particular time in world history and no one race had the superstition market cornered.

Slaves were baptized into the Roman Catholic Church upon their arrival in Haiti and other West Indian islands, but with little Christian authority to maintain the faith, the slaves followed their original native faith, which they practiced in secret. Although ancient religion such as these may seem remote, they are still being practiced by groups of African American, especially in large cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, which are capable of supporting a variety of religious beliefs and congregations. Vodoun was actively suppressed during colonial times. Today over 60 million people practice Vodoun worldwide.


:cool:
 

Destee

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Thank you for this one Amun-Ra! :)

Yes, I do agree it is growing, evidenced by the many web sites that come up if you do a search on Orisha. To hear that it is blended with so many other faiths is somewhat disappointing. I was hoping that there was something "pure" about it. I suppose there are very few "pure" things left in this world, things untainted by man.

Amun-Ra, if you went to a psychic or voodoo (voudon) person, would you give much credence to what they told you?

Just wondering ... :)

Also, is it okay if I copy this thread to the Religion / Faith forum (it will remain here as well)? I don't want anyone to miss this.

Thanks.
 

Amun-Ra

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Posted on Psychics

I don't put any stock in psychics and faith healers. Although many people believe them to be real, I find almost impossible to believe any thing one of them claims. The art of "cold reading" and "hot reading" are well documented where ther psychic is actually allowing the participant to supply the information. Most are nothing more than clever con artists who prey upon people's insecurities and fears. Interstingly, they seem to be quite blind about things concerning themselves as witnessed by Miss Cleo who was hit with lawsuit in Missouri for fraud. She didn't see that one coming. Of course, Miss Cleo is a Florida corporation hidden behind the Jamaican patois spouting Miss Cleo.

As for faith healers? When I see one make an amputees arm grow back, I MIGHT think they have some connection, but most only cure diseases that can't be seen and usually can't verified. Too many people die each year going to these charlatans when immediate medical attention might have saved their lives. Of course, there are those who need to be cured over and over again, they always show up at the same places Benny Hinn happens to be. Last night, John Stossel did a whole hour on "Exorcism." I watched in amazement as people laid on hands, the victim moaned and screamed and then later was pronounced "demon" free. Unfortunately for the man, evidently the demons came back again and again.

It is all quite a show but I suspect that it is nothing more than men and women at their worst taking the hopeful and unsuspecting for a ride. You might want to read my piece on "Prosperity Preaching." That one should piss-off a bunch of people.


Ra :heart: :heart:
 

Destee

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I'm rather skeptical too Amun-Ra. I've never gone to such a person (though I've been invited to do so). I'm scared of the whole process. It would be my luck they'll tell me something devasting is going to happen in my life, and I'll believe it! :eeek:

Nooooo ... I'll take life as it presents itself to me, one day at a time. It is challenging enough to deal with on a daily basis, let alone trying to find out about tomorrow or next week!

I've not read "Prosperity Preaching," but am headed there now. I'm sure it will be good!
 

Amun-Ra

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Never Fear

I know that in this world there is much uncertainty and wondering, but for me magical thinking has not been a help. Life is life. We live it to the best of our capability, stand up for what is right, enjoy the moments we have, love each other, avoid doing harm and most all getting the most out of the time we have here.

We are all products of our birth. Most peopple have little choice in what they will believe because by the time they are old enough to cognitively make such a decision--it has all ready been made for them. For instance, people are born atheists. They come into this world with no beliefs. However, depending upon where one is born and who one's parents happen to be will have a signiicant impact on what one believes.

There is a good chance that anyone born in Saudia Arabia would be a Muslim, just as the chance is just as good that anyone born in East Germany would be an atheist, or someone born in Mexico would be a Catholic Christian. There is so much that is out of our control because as children we are under the direct influence of our parents who will teach us what they think is right and true. By the time we reach the age of reason we have all ready been trained to react a certain way and breaking away from that early training is difficult if not impossible to do.

There are more than 6 million African American Muslims and I am sure that a majority of them started out in another faith. To make that type of change is difficult but it can be done. However, few of us ever get to make that choice. If our parents are Baptists--then we are Baptists. If our parents are Catholic--then we are Catholic etc.


Don't worry. What wil happen will happen--that's the way of the world.

Ra



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