Monday, October 14, 2013

Can I have some Moorish?

According to the Washington Post, 28 year old Lamont Butler, like any other new home owner, recently invited friends over to show off his new home;  he was especially eager considering his new digs in Bethesda, MD consisted of 12 bedroom, 6 kitchen adorned with imported marble.  The home hosted a number pivotal political gatherings during the Clinton campaign, and Al Gore planted a number of trees that are growing in the back yard.  All is seemingly normal, until it is revealed that the home actually does not belong to Mr. Butler, but rather he broke in, and deemed the home his own.  Mr. Butler claimed that the house belonged to him because he is Moorish.  


The Moorish Science Temple of America was founded in 1913 by a man named Timothy Drew, who later proclaimed himself the as Prophet Noble Drew Ali.  The Moorish Science Temple of America is considered a sect of Islam, and is also a compilation of Buddhism, Christianity, Freemansonry, Gnosticism, and Taoism.  It is a divine national movement thats purpose is to teach its people what is necessary to become "better citizens, how to obey the law, and to not use any confusion to over thrown the laws of the said government but to obey herby."  Additionally the Moorish faith teaches its people about their "nationality, the divine creed of Moorish Americans, birthrights, to love instead of hate, and that they are part and partial of the said government and must live the life accordingly."

In an recent NPR transcript, radio host Melissa Block speaks with assistant professor of religious studies, Spencer Dew, at the Centenary College of Louisiana regarding the Moorish Science.  Block starts off the show introducing the Washington Post article regarding Mr. Butler from afore mentioned.  Apparently, Mr. Butler believe that he was not breaking and entering simply because he is a Moorish American, therefore he is a sovereign citizen and is not subject to federal and state laws.  According to Dew, this is part of a growing trend of Moorish Americans- this idea that they are exempt from US law.  One of the majors doctrines in the Moorish Science Temple is the belief that African-Americans are of 'Moorish' decent (specifically from Morocco) so because it is associated with Africa, is is also a religion that is associated with dark-skinned people.  Additionally, it is associated with social respectability and elite status.  Furthermore, Dew claims that the creation of this religious movement at the time was an attempt to trace out a scared history for those that would have otherwise just been considered 'Negros'.     

According to the radio transcript, as of 2013, there is still a growing number of self-described Moorish Americans that continue to claim properties as their own, who additionally interpret national laws however they deem appropriate.  For example, is has been reported that some Moorish Americans have claimed that they do not need a drivers license, license plate, and that they are exempt from paying taxes.  Additionally, Chicago police have reported incidences of Moorish Americans who do not stop at traffic lights, make and use homemade passports, and claim that they have diplomatic immunity.  They claim that "we are Moors, and therefore, we're not American citizens.  We're not subject to your American laws."  Further, a woman in Connecticut claimed that her home was no longer part of the United States because it seceded the Union.  

I found this case to be interesting due to its extra-ordinary nature.  Similar to my first blog post, I think in the case of the Moorish Science Temple of America, the legitimacy of the religion is relevant, in addition, who is privy to religious exemption? Does the legitimacy or popularity of a religion increase the favorability or likelihood of exemption from the law?  For example, the Obama administration made separate accommodations for religious groups regarding their insurance plans, and we have read Supreme Court cases in class that have affirmed religious exemptions.  If exemptions are given by the Federal Government for specific situations and certain religious groups, where is the line drawn?  I personally think that religious exemptions of any kind are a slippery slope, opening the door for a number of different requests, preference of religion over non-religion, or even religion over religion.   Would inhibiting Moorish Americans be a violation of their Free Exercise Clause?  In addition, why shouldn't Moors be granted religious exemption since claiming sovereignty seems to be a component of their religious practice?  

Personally, I think that breaking the law is breaking the law, but this case is difficult to determine what is right and what is wrong do to religious expression.  I know that I do not want to be the person to tell people that they are wrongly expressing their religious beliefs.  Who's to say who is right and who is wrong?  I do think that breaking and entering, fraudulent passports and drivers licenses are a direct violation of the Federal Law, and that they should be penalized for their actions, but I know there is definitely room for interpretation.   

21 comments:

Sayeh B said...

I mostly agree with Kaela's assessment of this case. In the specific case of Lamont Butler, he was blatantly breaking and entering and "claimed" the house to be his, which I really don't think is legal at all (perhaps there's some background not given that might make this okay, but I feel like there probably isn't given the Moorish beliefs). As for the rest of the article, I have personally never really heard of/been exposed to the Moorish religion, but even so I don't think people should be granted exemptions from getting real passports, drivers licenses, or properly buying/owning a home. It is not the Court's job to assess the legitimacy of a person's religion, but it is their job to assess if those religious beliefs conflict with federal laws. In this case they do and I think the government has a significant state interest to violate these people's rights to freely exercise their religion. There is a difference between belief and action: the government can't and won't tell these people what they can believe, but I think it is in the government's power to tell them when their beliefs put into action are harmful to society as a whole.

Maddie C. said...

Disregarding the fact whether the Moorish Science Temple of America is a legitimate religion or not, all people living in the United States are subject to the laws held by the government. Just because your religion may contain the belief that its rules are superior to American laws, does not mean that the laws can be disregarded because it is a part of your religion. By that logic, anyone could make this claim, which I think would end in a slippery slope, allowing any laws to be broken. The members of the Moorish religion can still be entitled to their beliefs, but should not be given exemptions that basically just allow them to break the law.

Mike Spear said...

Kaela, I appreciate your use of extra ordinary circumstances. I felt this case was not only interesting, but it was also educational. Although I feel that the Moorish community does deserve public attention in order to legitimize their beliefs, I feel that the law was broken with malicious intent. It is difficult to judge an individual's legitimacy, however it is important to protect both public and private property. In other words, there is a compelling state interest to ensure that events like this do not spread like wildfire (slight exaggeration). I must maintain my stance that law and order must be maintained, and in this particular circumstance it was.

Maggie S. said...

I'm confused about their religious creed that states Moorish religion will teach them to be "better citizens, how to obey the law, and to not use any confusion to over throw the laws of the said government but to obey herby." Is this is relation to the US government, if so, then their actions don't make sense. If not, and this is in regard to the law and government of their ancestry, then this is a problem. The United States is a melting pot of religions and cultures and I think we should all be able to exercise those freedoms until it starts to infringe upon others. Running a red light is clearly dangerous and someone could be killed...is this still free exercise? I agree with Maddie that people in the United States are subject the laws. I agree with Kaela that the slippery slope can be tricky but I think in certain ways allowing them to disregard American laws could lead to endangering other citizens.

Tyler J said...

This is a clear example of an action versus belief case. The Moorish Science Temple of America and its followers should be allowed to believe in whatever they wish to believe in, but they cannot act upon their beliefs in this situation. Actions such as running traffic lights can pose a serious endangerment to society and therefore cannot be given an exemption to practice.
I agree with Kaela - breaking the law is breaking the law. There are many times when I would agree with allowing groups to have exceptions and be allowed to practice their religions, but this is not one of those cases. As Mike put it, the law seems to have been broken with malicious intent. Anyone living as a United States citizen has, in essence, entered into a contract with the state, agreeing to follow its laws and use its passports. This is no special case.

Jelani Khalfani Bey said...

Greetings, first and foremost, it should be understood that the actions of these individual have nothing to do with the teachings of the Prophet Noble Drew Ali. So let me give you some facts of law because ignorance of the law is no excuse to target a people’s religious beliefs and practices. Hopefully after this demonstration you will wonder if these people in the new are even real Moorish Americans.
We are a theocracy which is a GOVERNMENT whose laws are derived from their God (Whom we call Allah Father of the Universe), an earthly representative (Prophet Noble Drew Ali) and a priesthood of council to assist in interpreting those laws.
The Free Exercise Clause or the 1st Amendment to the Organic U.S. Constitution states; Congress shall make NO laws with respect to the establishment of religion or the practice thereof.
Act 1 of our governments Divine Constitution and By laws state that the Grand Sheik and the Chairman are in power to MAKE THE LAW AND TO ENFORCE THE LAW of the Moorish Holy Temple of Science of the World/Moorish Science Temple of America, with the assistance of the Prophet and the Grand Body (in a similar fashion as each state, city or town has a council). The Assistant Grand Sheik is to assist the Grand Sheik as long as he lives in accordance with Love Truth Peace Freedom and Justice and it is known by all of the Members of the Moorish Holy Temple of Science of the World/Moorish Science Temple of America.

This ends part one of my rebuttal

Jelani Khalfani Bey said...


So as you can see we are totally in line with the Free Exercise Clause which acknowledges our autonomy. I have also demonstrated that we have our own state constitution to govern our affairs and protect our own Citizens pre-existing religious rights.
Therefore from 1913 to 1928 we existed primarily as a Theocracy just like the Amish, Mormons, Medinites, the Jewish, who for the most part govern the affairs of their society.
In 1928, in order to engage in business and commerce with other corporations our Prophet thought it proper to establish the addition of a religious corporation.
Therefore, so that you people understand what the Moorish Science Temple is we will give the definition of a religious corporation;
Religious Corporation-A religious corporation is a type of religious non-profit organization, which has been incorporated under the law (Constitutionally). Often these types of corporations are recognized under the law on a subnational level, for instance by a state or province government. ...
For further clarity, within the definition of religious corporation is the phrase sub national so let us look at that definition;
Sub national- Administrative divisions which are divisions of a political divisions. In other words, they are designated portions of a country. They are also called subnational entities. They are each granted a certain degree of autonomy, and are required to manage themselves through their own local governments. ... Forming a subdivision of a nation; contained entirely within a nation.

This is the end of part two of rebuttal.

Jelani Khalfani Bey said...

So by the definition of the U.S. legislature we are required to organize our own local government and considered a nation entirely within a nation. But it is the media that will make the general public think we think we do not have to obey the laws of the U.S. (which is under the jurisdiction of congress pursuant to art 1 sec 8 clause 17) when the law acknowledges that we are to obey the laws of our religious society and no other. We obey the laws of our book of moral teachings The Koran Circle Seven,which order us in ch. 47:13 to obey and preserve these divine laws (meaning our religious laws) in the same fashion as our Divine Constitution and by laws Act 4 and 5 are speaking of the laws of our society. There is no state constitution that speak of another state within it's constitution (Conn. constitution does not mention Miss. inside it's constitution) right???
Therefore act 4 and 5 are speaking exclusively of our religious society, state and government;
The Divine Constitution and By- Laws act 4 and 5
Act 4 – All members must preserve these Holy and divine laws, and all members must obey the laws of the government, because by being a Moorish American, you are a part and parcel of the government, and must live the life accordingly.
Act 5 – This organization of the Moorish Science Temple of America is not to cause any confusion or to overthrow the laws and constitution of the said government but to obey hereby.

End of part Three of rebuttal

Jelani Khalfani Bey said...

So you see we have our own laws we abide by just like any other Theocracy and or Ecclesiastic Jurist government in this country.
When you see the word America it means state Citizen or constitutional citizen. Those subject to the District of Columbia or the U.S. are considered subject to that district. fact.
Our Prophet in 1925 gave the Citizen of our body politic a Nationality and Identification Card and that is what we are supposed to have to identify us a member/citizens of a diverse body politic the a city or state jurisdiction, a separation of church and state.
Our Prophet simply brought us back to the Constitutional fold of Government through our religion.
The Supreme Courts have made decisions that address these media based slanders pursuant to the following.
U.S. v. Ballard (1944)
The Court found that neither the courts nor the government have the right to evaluate the religious beliefs of a citizen or group.
These articles that being written are not asking we Moorish American leaders, they are publicizing their feelings and speculations thus violating the law of the land and here are other case laws that were decided and once decided they cannot be interpreted or reinterpreted because it has already been determine as THE LAW OF THE LAND.

Jelani Khalfani Bey said...

Watson v. Jones, 80 U.S. (13 Wall.)
Courts may not interfere in matters of church doctrine, discipline, or policy.
This of course is another area where law enforcement has totally disregarded our religious beliefs and practices. Falsely accusing us as being black or making us assume the former identity we converted from in order to prosecute us under the state’s statutes, codes and ordinances which amounts to the crime of peonage;
Peonage
A condition of enforced servitude by which a person is restrained of his or her liberty and compelled to labor in payment of some debt or obligation.

[T]he First Amendment rests upon the premise that both religion and government can best work to achieve their lofty aims if each is left free from the other within its respective sphere. — Justice Hugo Black (McCollum v. Bd. of Educ., 333 U.S. 203, 212 (1948))
Simply acknowledging the separation of the two jurisdictions, church and state.
‎[The First Amendment] acknowledges the existence of an arena of discourse, activity, commitment, and organization for the ordering of life over which the state has no authority. It is a remarkable thing in human history when the authority governing coercive power limits itself. — Max L. Stackhouse (Max L. Stackhouse, Religion, Rights, and the Constitution, in AN UNSETTLED ARENA: RELIGION AND THE BILL OF RIGHTS 92, 111 (Ronald C. White, Jr. & Albright G. Zimmerman eds., 1990))
In the case of United States v. R James 328 F3d 953, a Circuit Judge recognized the Moors rights to don their RELIGIOUS headdress, to wit, their fezzes in the courtroom when it was cited:

“Obeisance differs from respect; to demand the former in the name of the latter is self-defeating. It is difficult for us to see any reason why a Jew may not wear his yarmulke in court, a Sikh his turban, a Muslim woman her chador, or a Moor his fez.”
There has been numerous cases where bailiff’s, law enforcement and correction officers who have violently pulled turbans off of our women’s heads or knock our Fezzes off our men’s head ordering them to take it off while in their courts.

End of section 5

Jelani Khalfani Bey said...

There has been numerous cases where bailiff’s, law enforcement and correction officers who have violently pulled turbans off of our women’s heads or knock our Fezzes off our men’s head ordering them to take it off while in their courts.

Our religion does not teach our citizens to squat on someone else's property. If we wish to acquire property, there are more diplomatic ways to do that.
We do not think we don't have to obey your laws because your legislature of all the 50 states acknowledges we have our own jurisdiction which is why that have the religious freedom act in most states which states;
The State of South Carolina for example in SC Codes 1-32-10 states;
The General Assembly passed legislature that prevented any Official of the State or Subdivision of the state from burdening the religious beliefs and practices of a person or people. I will cite the most pertinent and straight to the point codes that deal with the subject matter of this code.
SECTION 1-32-20. Definitions.
In this chapter:
(1) "Demonstrates" means meets the burdens of going forward with the evidence and of persuasion.
(2) "Exercise of religion" means the exercise of religion under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or Article I, Section 2 of the State Constitution.
(3) "Person" includes, but is not limited to, an individual, corporation, firm, partnership, association, or organization.
(4) "State" means the State of South Carolina and any political subdivision of the State and includes a branch, department, agency, board, commission, instrumentality, entity, or officer, employee, official of the State or a political subdivision of the State, or any other person acting under color of law.
Color of Law – noun. A mere semblance of legal right; something done with the apparent authority of law but actually incontravention of law.

End of section 6

Jelani Khalfani Bey said...

So those who have read without adding or subtracting to this explanation can see that we true Moorish American are not acting out of law, it is the state corporate governments and media like this article that are committing genocide on our society, making people think we are lawless. Anyone can simply download our Moorish Koran Circle Seven, Divine Constitution and By-laws along with our Doctrine. This way ones can determine for themselves whether these people are Black people posing as Moorish American to get what they think are automatic benefits or attempts to find loop holes in the law when they break them, or real Moorish American who respect the laws of the United States Corporation’s Federal, State and local County and Municipal governments. Needed people to understand that we have always lived within the constitutional fold of government as is quoted in our doctrine (for the last 100 years), only wanting the understanding from the officials of the state and sub divisions of the state that we are fully obligated to obey the laws given to us by our God and his Prophet and the 1st Amendment protects that right.

Jelani Khalfani Bey said...

We are not anti-government, we are another type of government that is acknowledge by the government in which you live. Meanwhile we obey the law of the government in the society in which we live.
Since this negative propaganda, our people have been persecuted, forced to return to names and principals that delude to slavery. There are no Chinese people named Pedro Gonzalez so why would Moorish Americans have European names when historically they are neither Christians or nor European which was one of the issues in the Dred Scott case. Our law teach us we must proclaim the free national descent name of our fore Fathers for by honoring our Mothers and Fathers our days may be long in the earthland.
We are threatened and beaten by law enforcement, taken from our families, falsely imprisoned simply because of our religious conversion from the Christian Society (respectfully) to the Moorish Society which does not necessarily mean we are Muslim. We are taught to learn and study all of the Prophets of the most high. Those Moors who are Christians were historically called “Moriscos”. They strip us of our Nationality and make us against our will accept the title “black”, they openly deny us our religion and that is just the tip of the ice berg. No matter how much we demonstrate our religious law then label us BLACK SOVEREIGN CITIZENS. THIS IS GENOCIDE, RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION AND DENATIONALIZATION.

Jelani Khalfani Bey said...

dWe are not anti-government, we are another type of government that is acknowledge by the government in which you live. Meanwhile we obey the law of the government in the society in which we live.
Since this negative propaganda, our people have been persecuted, forced to return to names and principals that delude to slavery. There are no Chinese people named Pedro Gonzalez so why would Moorish Americans have European names when historically they are neither Christians or nor European which was one of the issues in the Dred Scott case. Our law teach us we must proclaim the free national descent name of our fore Fathers for by honoring our Mothers and Fathers our days may be long in the earthland.
We are threatened and beaten by law enforcement, taken from our families, falsely imprisoned simply because of our religious conversion from the Christian Society (respectfully) to the Moorish Society which does not necessarily mean we are Muslim. We are taught to learn and study all of the Prophets of the most high. Those Moors who are Christians were historically called “Moriscos”. They strip us of our Nationality and make us against our will accept the title “black”, they openly deny us our religion and that is just the tip of the ice berg. No matter how much we demonstrate our religious law then label us BLACK SOVEREIGN CITIZENS. THIS IS GENOCIDE, RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION AND DENATIONALIZATION.

Jelani Khalfani Bey said...

Our Divine Constitution teaches us in Act 6 that;
Act 6. With us all members must proclaim their nationality and we are teaching our people their nationality and their divine creed that they may know that they are a part and a partial of this said government, and know that they are not Negroes, Colored Folks, Black People, or Ethiopians, because these names were given to slaves by slave holders in 1779 and lasted until 1865 during the time of slavery, but this is a new era of time now, and all men now must proclaim their free national name to be recognized by the government in which they live and the nations of the earth, this is the reason why Allah the great God of the universe ordained Noble Drew Ali, the Prophet to redeem his people from their sinful ways. The Moorish Americans are the descendants of the ancient Moabites who inhabited the North Western and South Western shores of Africa.
These are just some of our beliefs and practices. I will also address this driver’s license situation in a separate post. I close respectfully, feel free to contact me for more questions, I only wish to do my part to stop the slander against my religion and Prophet. My people are being persecuted on a regular bases day in and out.


Jelani D. A. Khalfani Bey
National Grand Sheik, Divine Minister,
National Grand Sheik Justice,
Supreme Grand Sheik Moabite Knight Commander General,
Ministry of Land Transport and Navigations,
Moorish Holy Temple of Science of the World,
Free and Sundry
Moorish Science Temple of America,
Noble Drew Ali (Memorial) Supreme Moorish Customary Court
Ancient Al Moroccan Theocratic Order of the Moabite Knight High Counsel
Email address: nationalgrandsheik.khalfanibey@gmail.com
Bus Ph.: 803-297-5503
10120 Two Notch Road Suite 2-408
Columbia, South Carolina. 29223

Jelani Khalfani Bey said...

O YEH!!! AMERICAN LAW MEANS CONSTITUTIONAL WHILE THE CORPORATE PUBLIC POLICY OF THE STATE CORPORATIONS AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ARE SUGGESTIONS TO LAW AND MUST BE IN HARNONY WITH U.S. CONSTITUTION OR THEY ARE NULL AND VOID.

Cloria Roberts said...

There are no governmet it's just an Allusion to keep people believing the Government giving them something. There is no Federal Reserve,all of this madness is a well thought out plans that includes you and me.

Cloria Roberts said...

First of all you have to study and know the Real Truthing about who people are instead of who you have been told they are, I mean as to me I do not subscribe to any ReLi(god)ion. I have done my history back to the 1700 and none of us was brought here by no Gentiles on no BOAT,furthermore when they started Infesting our Land and us,we own this Land ,the Constitution is Ours therefore they Violate everyone of Our Rights.if you know anything about,your strawman,or the fact that all courts,so called officials are called defacto. This land does not belong to the Gentiles,they stole it and now wants to charge us when by all rights if anyone should be payed it should be us. They had destroyed the LandAirWater, which is LAW.

Hallow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hallow said...

Your arguments make little sense to me. A couple of citations dont do much to explain how you visiting the non-religious part of this country makes you exempt to US laws once you journey outside of your sovergien lands. Im really trying to understand this.

Dr. Temeaka said...

The Moorish Science Temple of America does not condone such activities. There many Moors that are claiming to be members of the Moorish Science Temple of America when they are not. They are also honest Moors who are not members of the Moorish Science Temple of America but are members of other Moorish organizations. There are many groups that claim to focus on the teachings of Noble Drew Ali but many are loose interpretations. According the his teachings members are to obey the law of the government where they reside. The activities of this gentleman and other like him are in direct contrast with the teachings but they garner more attention than the actual teachings and actions of actual members due to their outlandish and often unlawful nature.