A quick look at the Rastafari religion on Wikipedia may lead you to believe they consider themselves a kind of Christian.

Rastafari, also known as Rastafarianism, is an Abrahamic religion that developed in Jamaica during the 1930s. Scholars of religion and related fields have classified it as both a new religious movement and a social movement. There is no central authority in control of the movement and much diversity exists among practitioners, who are known as Rastafari, Rastafarians, or Rastas.

Rastas refer to their beliefs, which are based on a specific interpretation of the Bible, as "Rastalogy". Central is a monotheistic belief in a single God—referred to as Jah—who partially resides within each individual. Haile Selassie, the Emperor of Ethiopia between 1930 and 1974, is given central importance. Many Rastas regard him as an incarnation of Jah on Earth and as the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, another figure whom practitioners revere. Other Rastas regard Haile Selassie not as Jah incarnate but as a human prophet who fully recognized the inner divinity in every individual.

They certainly seem Christian inspired, however, are they "Christian" for purposes of this site? My understanding is that the bar is pretty low: "Christians" on this site are any of those groups that self-identify as Christian. So do they self-identify as Christian, and therefore their beliefs are on-topic?


Rastafari is certainly very interesting if you are a student of Christian theology. It doesn't take much study to quickly discover that Rastafari is entirely inspired by Christianity and merged with an Afro-centric social movement. If you're into theology and sociology, then it's quite interesting.

But do Rastas generally self-identify as Christian? I'm going to say rarely, if ever. From that same Wikipedia article:

Christianity is treated with suspicion out of the view that the oppressors and the oppressed cannot share the same God, with many Rastas taking the view that the God worshipped by most white Christians is actually the Devil.

But if you know other obscure Christian groups, this sentiment is not really that rare, and indeed, we see what I call the "real truth phenomenon" in most Christian groups. In other words, if pressed, Rastas may call Rastafari the "real Christianity". That's no different from so many other groups. They all claim to have the real truth and some of them are quite spiteful about the other "wrong" ones. With this in mind, I'm tending toward yes. Rastafari is on-topic.

What already exists on the site?: a handful of posts and a dedicated tag. They're good questions and answers and I think fit nicely with the others.

  • Given that StackOverflow Corporate is never going to greenlight another religion site with the Area51 rules being what they are, I'd welcome this – Peter Turner Mod Jun 21 '19 at 21:45
  • Unless they explicitly self-identify as "Christian" they're off-topic. – curiousdannii Mod Jun 21 '19 at 22:08
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    @curious Mormons and Catholics don't really call themselves Christian, though they will if asked. I think Rastafari is like that. – fгedsbend Jun 21 '19 at 22:10
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    @fredsbend They both absolutely do! Do you have quotes that Rastas do as well? Just because Jesus features prominently doesn't matter, or else Muslims would be Christians too. – curiousdannii Mod Jun 21 '19 at 22:11
  • @curious Christianity Today notes syncretism. Converts that remain rastas. – fгedsbend Jun 21 '19 at 22:32
  • Well in any case, to be safe I think questions about Rastas should be limited to those individuals and groups who do themselves self-identify as Christians. If a question doesn't convince me I'll be voting to close. – curiousdannii Mod Jun 21 '19 at 22:37
  • @curious Naturally. Part of the trouble here is that it's a very loose following with no central authority mixed with a social identity. A lot of things to unpack. An interesting thing: two quora answers of five, presumably from rastas, say what I've said here. – fгedsbend Jun 21 '19 at 22:43
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    I don't think getting good questions would be hard. Getting good answers would be the hard part. – fгedsbend Jun 21 '19 at 22:43
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    @fredsbend Yes we do. We Catholics do indeed refer to ourselves as Christians. – KorvinStarmast Aug 3 '19 at 20:28
  • @KorvinStarmast When asked your religion, you answer "Christian", not "catholic"? My experience has been the latter. – fгedsbend Aug 3 '19 at 20:33
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    @fredsbend Both, it depends on the context. You might want to recall that the apostles creed is shared by almost all trinitrian traditions, and that creed refers to the one holy catholic church (small)... In casual conversation, Catholic is a Denomination and that makes a lot of sense, since we have so many denominations here in the US and people tend to identify by sub group. Christian is the religion. When I say that I am Texan that that does not mean I am not American, which is what your assertion turns into. The one confirms the other by association. – KorvinStarmast Aug 3 '19 at 20:45
  • @fredsbend I can speak to this from having attended a Catholic school in Alabama, then travelled to and lived in several areas where Catholicism was the dominant belief. I feel linguistically that Catholicism would be a denomination of Christianity. However, colloquially, in Alabama, Catholics I met referred to themselves as a denomination, but in Italy, Quebec, and Louisiana, Catholics I met have referred to “the Catholic religion”. I don’t know if this comes from any real teaching, it’s just an observed difference. – Morgan Hart - LoveGod.Blog Sep 12 '19 at 0:31
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    @Morgan I think the strictest Catholics recognize all other Christians as apostates, since they reject the papacy and holy tradition. Then they're left with all these apostates calling themselves Christian. I'd think it's become a name they'd rather not use, though it's technically correct. The official name is The Catholic Church, hence "Catholics". – fгedsbend Sep 12 '19 at 0:54
  • The only reason Christians began to be called Catholics and the religion Catholic was because, katholikos being the Greek for 'universal,' (think of the 'Catholic' Epistles, written to no particular church, but to the whole church) it came to be necessary to distinguish the Church universal with its faith universal, from local sects and new churches started by men, with no actual link to the apostles or Jesus. Which was for many centuries considered the true mark of orthodoxy. It's not a replacement of the identity of Christian, but a claim to be the only truly Christian one. – Sola Gratia Oct 9 '19 at 22:22

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