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Jermaine Grant

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Jermaine Grant is the head of the Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ. Grant rose from the lower levels of the organization to become its top leader in 2000. This was after Christ failed to return to earth to slay or enslave all Edomites, as had been long prophesied by Grant's predecessor, Ahrayah, the movement's founding "godfather."

It was a period of great tumult within the extremist Israelite world. Many of Ahrayah's high-ranking followers split off to form their own new factions, while inside the Israelite Church organization, Grant's star ascended just as rapidly as Ahrayah's fell. A former rap music label owner and restaurateur, Grant is a highly charismatic figure. Although his "Hebrew" name is Tazadaqyah, his title is "Chief High Priest"; he is also sometimes referred to by followers as the Holy Spirit made flesh. Today, he can be seen in numerous YouTube videos preaching to gatherings of hundreds and typically dressed in shiny silk robes and headwraps rendered in blues and purples. He's often pictured in stretch limos or tour buses emblazoned with his portrait and his nickname — "The Comforter."

Since 2001, Grant has produced the Arch Angel Awards, a version of the Grammys for musical artists who are avowed loyalists of the Israelite Church. The most famous of them is Wanya Morris, the lead singer of Boys II Men, a popular R&B group that's won four real Grammys and sold over 60 million records.

According to former members of the church, Grant has instituted mandatory tithes and general offerings from his followers. Also, during his 2006 "I Will Not Leave You Comfortless Tour," in which he toured six East Coast states in eight weeks, Grant reportedly demanded an additional $25 per attendee in the form of an additional "High Priest offering." (Another "world tour" is planned later this year.)

Grant, who did not reply to a request for an interview for this article, is an energetic man. Under his leadership, the Israelite Church has expanded rapidly, and its "Hidden Truth" television programming can be seen on public access channels around the country. Meanwhile, the tone of the extremist Hebrew Israelite grows ever more apocalyptic, with its followers feverishly searching for signs of a bloodthirsty black Yahawah's impending return.

This summer, Grant boldly predicted that a hellish earthquake would soon herald the return of Christ and the beginning of Hebrew Israelite rule. He didn't set a date, but his prophecy still heightened the mood of eager anticipation for the coming doom of all enemies of the true Israelites. That, coupled with the increasing militance and numbers of his movement, is what is so worrying.

The vision of Grant and his fellow Hebrew Israelite hard-liners — an imminent and bloody demise for whites and other enemies at the hands of a vengeful returning Christ — is well captured in a scene from a 2007 documentary. In one scene from "The Gods of Times Square," an extremist Hebrew Israelite preacher delivers a sermon with his foot planted on the back of a white man laying flat on the sidewalk, arms splayed at his sides. A second preacher approaches the camera.

"White boy, you're next," he warns. "All you white people get ready for war. We're coming for you, white boys. Negroes are the real Jews. Get ready for war!"

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