Yahweh ben Yahweh
Hulon Mitchell Jr.
October 27, 1935
|Died||May 7, 2007 (aged 71)|
Miami, Florida, U.S.
|Occupation||Leader of Nation of Yahweh and Yahweh University|
|Black Hebrew Israelites|
|Subgroups and denominations|
Yahweh ben Yahweh (born Hulon Mitchell Jr.; October 27, 1935 – May 7, 2007) was an American cult leader who in 1979 founded and led the Nation of Yahweh, a new religious movement headquartered in Florida that had thousands of black American devotees at its peak. Yahweh was later indicted on three counts of federal racketeering and extortion charges, of which he was found not guilty. However, he was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder.
Yahweh ben Yahweh was born Hulon Mitchell Jr. on October 27, 1935, one of 15 children born to Hulon Mitchell Sr., the minister of the Antioch Church of God in Christ in Enid, Oklahoma, and Pearl Mitchell, pianist for the same congregation.
After leaving Oklahoma, Mitchell joined the military and then attended law school. He moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where in the 1960s he joined the Nation of Islam (NOI) and took the name Hulon X. After leaving the NOI in the late '60s, he became a faith healing Christian preacher and named himself Father Mitchell, fashioning himself after Father Divine and Samuel "Father Jehovia" Morris, two African-American ministers and self-proclaimed divine connections to God who were active during the early 20th century. Mitchell arrived in Miami, Florida in 1978, where he gathered members of the city's Black Hebrew Israelite congregations and founded 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 that blacks would gain the knowledge of their true history through Mitchell himself.
He also characterized whites and Jews as infidels and oppressors. Mitchell 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, Xavier Suárez, declared "Yahweh ben Yahweh Day" on October 7, 1990, a month before his indictment for alleged crimes.
Although Mitchell's followers remained devoted to him, he was in trouble with the law by the 1990s. Between 1990 and 2001, he served eleven years of an eighteen-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 of these murders.
Mitchell faced conviction only for conspiracy to murder. A primary component of the prosecution's case was Rozier, who testified in return for a lighter sentence. Rozier later entered the Witness Protection Program, but returned to prison on a sentence of 25 years to life under California's three strikes law, following a check kiting conviction. Mitchell 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 ensure this, he was restricted from any form of speech by Internet, telephone, computer, radio or television that could place him in contact with any Nation of Yahweh members.
In 2006, as he became increasingly ill with prostate cancer, Mitchell's attorney, Jayne Weintraub, petitioned the U.S. District Court for his release from parole to permit him to "die with dignity".
Mitchell died 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 (Season 2, Episode1).
A 2018 episode of People Magazine - Cults entitled "Yahweh Nation," also on Investigation Discovery, tells the story of Hulon Mitchell Jr.
One of Mitchell's siblings is his younger sister, Leona Mitchell, a soprano who sang at the Metropolitan Opera.