Yahweh ben Yahweh
Hulon Mitchell Jr.
October 27, 1935
|Died||May 7, 2007 (aged 71)|
|Occupation||Leader of Nation of Yahweh|
|Subgroups and denominations|
Yahweh ben Yahweh (born Hulon Mitchell Jr.; October 27, 1935 – May 7, 2007) was an American man who in 1979 founded and led the Nation of Yahweh, a new religious movement headquartered in Florida that had thousands of African-American devotees at its peak. Yahweh was later indicted on three counts of federal racketeering and extortion charges, to which he was found not guilty. However, he was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder. 
Born into a family affiliated with the Antioch Church of God in Christ in Enid, Oklahoma, his father, Reverend Dr. Hulon Mitchell Sr., was the minister and his mother, Dr. Pearl Mitchell, was the pianist. After leaving Oklahoma, Mitchell joined the military then attended law school. Mitchell moved to Atlanta and in the 1960s and joined the Nation of Islam, where he took the name of Hulon X. He left the Nation of Islam in the late '60s. Mitchell then became a faith healing preacher named Father Mitchell. Mitchell fashioned himself after the character of Father Divine and Samuel "Father Jehovia" Morris, African-American ministers of the early 20th century who preached themselves as divine connections to God. Mitchell arrived in Miami in 1978. Once there, he gathered congregants from the city's Black Hebrew Israelite faith, and declared himself a black messiah, starting up the Nation of Yahweh. 
The Nation of Yahweh set up its headquarters in Liberty City, Florida in 1979. Broadly classified as a branch of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, Mitchell's doctrine emphasized the belief that God and all of the prophets of the Bible were black and blacks would gain the knowledge of their true history through him. He also characterized whites and Jews as infidels and oppressors. Lastly, he emphasized loyalty to himself as the son of God, Yahweh.
Mitchell's business and charity efforts earned him respect in the community. The mayor of Miami, Florida Xavier Suárez, declared "Yahweh ben Yahweh Day" on October 7, 1990, a month before his indictment for alleged crimes.
Although his followers remained devoted to him, by the 1990s, he was in trouble with the law. From 1990 until his release on September 26, 2001, he served 11 years of an 18-year sentence on a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) conviction after he and several other Nation of Yahweh members were convicted of conspiracy for their role in more than a dozen murders. Robert Rozier, a former NFL player and a devotee of Mitchell, confessed to seven murders.
The indictment charged 18 specific instances of racketeering, including 14 killings, two attempted killings, extortion and arson. He was acquitted of first degree murder charges in 1992.
A ruling on a failed appeal, U.S. v. Yahweh Ben Yahweh (792 F. Supp. 104) starts:
Violent crime cases are the exception in federal courts. The instant case is arguably the most violent case ever tried in a federal court: the indictment charges the sixteen defendants on trial with 14 murders by means such as beheading, stabbing, occasionally by pistol shots, plus severing of body parts such as ears to prove the worthiness of the killer. They were also charged with arson of a slumbering neighborhood using molotov cocktails. The perpetrators were ordered to wait outside the innocent victims' homes wearing ski masks and brandishing machetes to deter the victims from fleeing the flames.
Yahweh ben Yahweh faced conviction only for conspiracy to murder. A primary component of the prosecution's case was the testimony of Robert Rozier, a former NFL player and Yahweh ben Yahweh follower, who admitted to several of the murders and testified in return for a lighter sentence. Rozier later entered the Witness Protection Program, but returned to prison after being given a 25 years to life sentence under California's three strikes law, following a check kiting conviction. Yahweh had the Federal Bureau of Prisons ID# 22031-034.
Mitchell was released on parole in 2001, and returned to Miami, but his activities were strongly restricted until a few months before his death. He was prohibited from reconnecting with his old congregation. To assure this, he was restricted from any form of speech by telephone, computer, radio or television that could place him in contact with any congregational members. In 2006, as he became increasingly ill with prostate cancer, his attorney, Jayne Weintraub, petitioned the U.S. District Court for his release from parole to permit him to "die with dignity". Yahweh ben Yahweh died of prostate cancer on May 7, 2007 at the age of 71.
The story of the police investigation and prosecution of Yahweh ben Yahweh is the subject of an episode of The FBI Files entitled "Temple of Fear" (Season 3, Episode 10) as well as an Investigation Discovery Channel episode of Most Infamous. On November 2, 2016 MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show featured an exposé of Yahweh Ben Yahweh and his followers' connection to the 2016 Donald Trump presidential campaign. A 2018 episode of People Magazine - Cults entitled "Yahweh Nation," also on Investigation Discovery, tells the story of Hulon Mitchell Jr.