The Ethiopian Orthodox Church & Bob Marley's Baptism And The Church (Jamaica)




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The Ethiopian Orthodox Church & Bob Marley's Baptism And The Church

Published May 21, 2003

Rastafari And The Ethiopian Orthodox Church
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is one of the oldest organized churches (If not the oldest) in the world and dates back to biblical times (Read Acts 8:27-39 to learn more). Even though the church has made many statements on "heresy of Emperor worship" and "herbal sorcery" in regards to the Rastafarian, they also have been brought to the forefront by the Rastafari and have used it to branch outside of Ethiopia. The church in Jamaica was commissioned by Emperor Haile Selassie.

There are major differences between the sect and the church. The first being the worship of Emperor Haile Selassie as the Messiah/Savior. The church has stated many times that their commission from Emperor Haile Selassie was to lead Rastafarians away from worshiping him and turn to the worshipping of the God he worshipped. It is said that upon his return to Ethiopia from Jamaica, the Emperor spoke to Abuna Yesehaq, the Archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and declared "There is a problem in Jamaica.... Please, help these people. They are misunderstanding, they do not understand our culture.... They need a church to be established and you are chosen to go."

Initially many in the Rastafarian community welcomed the church however when it became clear that to be baptized in the church, a Rastafarian had to renounce the divinity of Haile Selassie, the problems started. The church today has continued to maintain the stance that it would only baptize in the name of Jesus Christ and not Haile Selassie.

The other big dispute is the Rastafarians way of taking a tradition, in this case the Ethiopian Solomonic Kings and the National Epic, the " Kebra Negast " and applying it to the Rastafarian cause. The "Kebra Negast" which literally translates to "Glory of the Kings" in Amharic, the Ethiopian national language, is the National Epic of the Ethiopia State. It is viewed by the church as historic record rather than Prohectic record which is the view held by Rastafarians.

Bob Marley's Baptism in Ethiopian Orthodox Church
The incident that probaly caused the major divide between many in the Rastafarian community and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church was the baptism of Bob Marley into the church before he died. He was baptized by the Head of the church Archbishop Abuna Yesehaq. What was most upsetting to the Rastafarian community was when this became public knowlegde and the statements (see media interviews) made by the church in regards to an "Orthodox conversion" by Bob Marley. His close friend, Tommy Cowan, has also has stated that Bob Marley converted to Christianity before he died.

No one really knows what this baptism meant but is has caused some controversy as both Rastafarian and Christians claim Bob Marley as their "own".

The Jamaican Church
Many of the early founders of Rastafari were from elders & preachers in the church, however there is distrust between Rastafarians and the church. The main opposition, which many would deem credible, is that the church today has strayed away from the teaching of Christ, which is to care for and be the voice of the downtrodden and oppressed. Rastafarians, through their music and life style, try to speak for and to the downtrodden, poor and oppressed.

Adding to the tension in the earlier 2000’s are songs by Capelton & Sizzla condemning what many perceive as the Jamaican church to burn with ‘fire’. There are some signs of reconciliation, as the upswing in spiritual reggae music has become a small bridge to this process.

Image source: African Studies WWW

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8 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.

Sep 17, 2010 2:43pm [ 1 ]

God bless you for teaching the true History of the Ethiopian Tewahedo orthodox church. Truley. Komos, abba ,Archimandriate , abba Aphraem1 HolyLand debreGaneteMariam, jerusaelm Israel. And Originally Priest at the HolyTrinity Cathedral Addis Abeba Ethiopia. from 1968-1972.

Oct 7, 2010 11:17am [ 2 ]

que relacion existe entre jesus y tafari makonen, en el rasta?cuales son las bases religiosas del rasta?

Feb 25, 2011 7:56am [ 3 ]


Mar 13, 2011 11:53am [ 4 ]

A major problem that exists between the Ethiopian Orthodox Tradition and the Rasta movement is that of interpretation of scripture. This interpretation is influenced by perspective, which inevitably will differ based upon circumstance, motive and purpose. Whilst in Ethiopia all scripture and prophesy pertaining to the Christ, the Messiah and humankind's salvation is referenced to the past and Jesus the Christ, where as Rasta's interpret the very same verses to indicate His Imperial Majesty, sometimes even disregarding the existance of Jesus totally. However if both were to try see things from each others point of view, maybe they would find that their is a need to and room for an interpretation that reveals the importance and relevance of both Jesus and HIM Haile Selassie I in the Divine Master Plan

ras zaka
Mar 15, 2011 7:03am [ 5 ]

People should get the first hand account from the Jamaican clergy and denounce media propaganda as we see alot today.The ethiopian church is highly respected in the Rastsfarian communities and gaining popularity as the jealous slave churches as anglican and catholis destroyed many lives for many years and Emperor HAILE SELASSIE healed the breaches with his generous gift and spreading of the teaching of of the true cross of ETHIOPIA.Can any thing good come out of Trench Town Nazareth?Come and see.!!

Jul 21, 2011 6:06pm [ 6 ]

I am in need of help from a Rastafarian chaplin, minister of pastor. You see my fiance' is Jamaican, he's a rasta, he is incarcerated in a U.S. prison. the prison do not respect his rastafarian beliefs, they will not serve him the food that he requests, he must not be put into a cell with a homosexual. and they will not respect this. he is not the only rastafarian that is incarcerated in the U.S. he not only seeks help for himself but other Rastas as well. what he needs is someone to call the prison chaplin and speak with him, and tell him about the foods that rastafarians eat and about the rastafarian way of life. If there is anyone who could help me, or give me names of ministers, chaplins, a pastor who would volunteer and do this, please contact my email address listed above. I will then give the phone number to the proper authority and name of the person to speak with at the prison. please help.

Krishna Manson
Nov 29, 2014 3:23pm [ 7 ]

Hi I am hoping you can help me I have had a very religious experience. My best friends became my worst enemys and I was thrown into the fire of isis but came out unscathed . Mr brown came at me and I found my only solace in Bob Marleys songs which saved me but also gave me a job to do . Pull down the veil

Dec 20, 2014 12:24am [ 8 ]

Christianity is the only religion that considers Jesus to be of importance even the Jews who call them selves the son of god do little to acknowledged him whats that about? I got into Rastafari, a few years back, and i enjoy the elevation of the herb which which reveals all knowledge, but i am not religious or any longer a christian, and worship no man. i seek a higher power of divinity,with the earth the only true element in which we are one. 1 greater love rastafari

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