With “Snoop Dogg” changing his name to “Snoop Lion”, a lot of curiosity is building over the Rastafarian culture, their spirituality, and their way of life. When Rastafarianism is talked about, what readily comes into the mind of many people are things like dreadlocks, reggae music, and marijuana. To this end, an attempt shall be made this week to help the youth understand what is meant by Rastafarianism, their culture and spirituality, and their belief systems and draw some lessons for the contemporary Christian youth.

Rastafarianism began with a pro-African movement in Jamaica in the early part of the 20th century. Two leaders, in particular, helped shape what would become Rastafarianism: Leonard Howell and Marcus Garvey. Leonard Howell taught about the superiority of African peoples and hatred for Europeans, and he encouraged people to return to their motherlands in Africa. Many of Howell›s teachings were abandoned, but they helped to form the early spirit of pro-African movements.

Another leader to shape the movement which would eventually be called Rastafarianism was Marcus Garvey. Garvey taught that Africans were the lost tribe of the Israelites and that Christ would be born again on Earth, this time as a king in Africa. Because of his prediction, Rastafarians see Garvey as the return of John the Baptist, citing that his prophecy came true with the coronation of Haile Selassie as Emperor of Ethiopia.

Rastafarianism takes its name from its worship of Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia as the return of Christ. Before his coronation, the emperor went by the name Ras Tafari Makonnen. Besides Garvey›s prediction of Christ›s return as an African king, the traditional royal titles for Ethiopian leaders helped support the worship of the emperor. These titles included calling him the ‹›Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah›› and ‘’Elect of God and King of the Kings of Ethiopia.’’ Even the name he took at his coronation, Haile Selassie, held the religious meaning of ‘’Might of the Trinity’’.

Jesus, in His eschatological sermon on Mount Olives, stressed that we are to take heed that no one deceives us for many will come in his name saying they are the Christ. (Matthew 24:4-5). This was the first sign that Jesus gave to the disciples. As we can see, this prophetic message has been fulfilled in the Rastafarianism religion and other religious leaders who also claim that they are the Christ. Therefore, we are to take heed lest someone takes us captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the world’s elemental spirits, and not according to Christ.