First a primer, “Messianic Jews” are usually extreme Fundamentalist Christians, often affiliated with Baptist Churches. These groups claim to have gone back to the “Hebrew Roots” of Christianity. Usually they just introduce some Hebrew words, kill a goat on an altar or practice ridiculous rituals they themselves invented such as “Davidic Dancing”.
Many of these groups are basically cults, created to promote the extreme beliefs of their leaders and sponsored by more mainstream Fundamentalist Christian churches in order to convert Jews.
The most famously violent Messianic Jewish group was the Branch Davidians led by David Koresh, who claimed to be a prophet. Such Messianic cult phenomena are not unusual, as Christian Messianic groups attract leaders who think that cloaking themselves behind Judaism, will legitimize their polygamy. Others are outright con artists who fleece their flocks and then head for the hills.
But Scott Roeder, who murdered Dr. George Tiller, not only self-identified as a “Messianic Jew” but was a member of a similar cult.
As the investigation continues into whether Roeder acted alone in Tiller’s May 31 death, members of the Bible study group have found themselves in the spotlight, showing up on the witness list for the prosecution and being interviewed by the FBI.
Those attending the Bible study describe themselves as Messianic Jews who, unlike mainstream Jews, believe that Jesus was the Messiah. Some people who call themselves Messianic Jews, such as Roeder, are not Jewish.
Messianic Jews differ from most Christian churches by observing many Jewish customs, including dietary laws and holidays.
In a recent interview, Roeder said he “had become a believer” around 1992.
“I converted, born again to Christianity,” he said. “I guess you could say Messianic, or turned to Jesus, Yeshua, as my Savior.” He said Messianic believers such as himself had gone “back to our Hebrew roots.”
So while Scott Roeder’s splinter group proved too extreme even for a Messianic Church, but the Or Ha Olam church falsely claims to be a Jewish synagogue and describes itself as a “theocracy” ruled through the “Rabbi (Christian Minister) and his advisers”. The Or Ha Olam site tries to detach its use of theocracy from that of the Taliban, but there’s an obvious reason why normal houses of worship don’t describe their leadership as theocratic.
The Vision Statement further insists that “An effective leadership is not possible unless loyalty to the leader is more important to the workers than loyalty to the organization.” Creepy much? But it gets better.
The Or Ha Olam church’s leader, a “Rabbi Shmuel Wolkenfeld”, real name unknown, reels off a biography that sounds perfect for a cult leader, claiming to have toyed with “Marxist ideology, Eastern Religious Ideas, philosophical meditation under the influence of psychedelic drugs”.
Of course right now the splinter group is disavowing Scott Roeder’s actions while claiming that it was all probably a government conspiracy. Or HaOlam is disavowing the splinter group. But the rising danger from Messianic Jew fundamentalist cults continues to rise.
David Koresh and Scott Roeder are only two examples of the extremes to which these fundamentalist groups are willing to go. And Israel is now dealing with its own problem from some of these imports like Edwin Beckford, an African-American Christian, self-proclaimed “Messianic Jew”, who has violently assaulted Jews in Israel, and whose adherents post anti-semitic videos to YouTube with titles such as “This is Why Everyone Hates Jews”.
Many people are confused by hearing the term “Messianic Jew”, not realizing that it’s a name used by various extremist Christian cults with dangerous beliefs. There are those Jews who call on Jews to “accept them” and Christians who campaign for their rights in Israel, little realizing that their children as the likeliest to be sucked into such cults.