World Religions


Rasta, or the Rastafari movement, is a religious movement that accepts Haile Selassie I, the former emperor of Ethiopia, as Jah (the Rastafari name for God incarnate, from a shortened form of Jehovah found in Psalms 68:4 in the King James Version of the Bible), and part of the Holy Trinity as the messiah promised to return in the Bible. The name Rastafari comes from Ras (Duke) Tafari Makonnen, the pre-coronation name of Haile Selassie I. The movement emerged in Jamaica among working-class and peasant black people in the early 1930s, arising from an interpretation of Biblical prophecy partly based on Selassie's status as the only African monarch of a fully independent state, and his titles of King of Kings, Lord of Lords and Conquering Lion of Judah (Rev. 5:5). Other factors leading to its rise include black social and political aspirations, and the teachings of Jamaican black publicist and organiser Marcus Garvey, often regarded as a prophet, whose political and cultural vision helped inspire a new world view. The movement is sometimes called "Rastafarianism", although this is considered improper and offensive by Rastas.
The Rastafari movement has spread throughout much of the world, largely through immigration and interest generated through Nyahbinghi and reggae music—most notably, that of Bob Marley. By 2000, there were more than one million Rastafari worldwide. About five to ten percent of Jamaicans identify themselves as Rastafari. Most Rastafarians are vegetarian, or only eat limited types of meat, living by the dietary Laws of Leviticus and Deuteronomy in the Old Testament.

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