1. What is the Sacred Name Movement?
The Sacred Name Movement comprises those churches, assemblies, worship groups, study groups, and individuals who believe they have found, are using, and must use, the original Hebrew pronunciations for the names of God.
2. Is the movement a unified organization?
No. It is made up of various groups with no central authority and no cohesive belief system.
3. Other than the sacred name, what are some of the beliefs of sacred name groups?
Certainly there are exceptions, but in general it may be said that the movement attempts to keep the Old Covenant. Sacred name teachers mention 613 laws of that covenant.
- Most are sabbatarian, betraying their Church of God, Seventh Day roots. But, a few worship on Sunday.
- Only a very few have a Trinitarian theology. Most believe a variation of the Arian theology. A small number are Modalistic (Oneness) in their view of God.
- Nearly all assemblies observe at least one (most, more than one) of the Old Testament feast days. There are long and serious discussions among them about the correct dates for the feasts. These differences usually center around the dates and sightings of the new moon. Divisions within and splits of groups are caused by these differences.
- Most sacred name assemblies celebrate the Passover in one form or another.
- A few groups practice animal sacrifice by offering the passover lamb each year.
- At least one group believes that Satan is a female and is God's estranged wife.
- One group teaches that AIDs is actually Bubonic Plague. And of course, that Bubonic Plague of the Middle Ages was actually AIDs.
- At least one group, The House of Yahweh, believes a man may have more than one wife. The Waco, Texas, Branch Dividian sacred name group practiced this perversion. We have no word on whether it is considered proper for a woman to have more than one husband. Probably it is not.
- An IDMR [Institute of Divine Metaphysical Research] teacher once worked into the wee hours of the morning, quite in vain I must say, to convince me that the Old Testament hero Joshua had no father because he was the son of Nun. The IDMR teacher supposes the Hebrew name NUN means the same as our English word NONE! I do not know if this is an IDMR teaching or if this individual gentleman was just confused. I had previously heard this told only as a child's riddle; but I did not imagine anyone thought it true. Needless to say, I came away from that conversation shaking my head in amazement.
4. How many sacred name people are there in the United States?
We do not know. A number cannot be determined with any accuracy. As J. Gordon Melton succinctly puts it in his Encyclopedia of American Religions, numbers are "not reported." Not reporting numbers is quite common among religious groups.
After having observed and studied the movement for more then six years, this writer's best estimate is that there are around 5,000 to 6,000 assembly members in the United States. If those claiming to be not a religion but only research organizations are included, we could push that number to as many as 7,000.
It should be noted that some SN groups give their mailing list number when asked for numbers. We do not take the view that receipt of literature equals membership.
A very low hurdle for determining membership is whether one has attended the meeting place in the last month plus ten times in the past year. Most certainly, a number of individuals are members of the Sacred Name Movement who attend no assembly.
It is also noteworthy that the movement's members generally disavow assemblies which use the Sacred Names but also have a New Age flavor.
A common phrase used within the Movement to specify and at the same time exclude is "brethren of good will." It is a term of fellowship. It is used in a sincere attempt to include those who are open to the fellowship of others in spite of doctrinal differences. It is also used to distinguish those controlling leaders who believe that only their converts are right in God's sight and all others lost. Still, the intrinsic nature of the phrase is a divisive one. Its very use shows division within the Movement.
The larger assemblies include an assembly in Texas having about 250+ members. According to reports made by former members, this assembly has a number of people who come and go and have no firm ties to the group. Two assemblies in Alabama have less than 100. Two groups are in Tennessee: one has about 250 people, the other, a commune, has less than 200. A group in Pennsylvania has large feast attendance, but their assembly attendance seems to be quite small, less than 100.
There are three or more non affiliated assemblies in Arkansas, but reports of numbers are sketchy. Best estimates are of a total of less than 150 members in these groups. At least one rather old and large group is in Michigan, estimate: less than 100 people. At least two, perhaps four assemblies are in Missouri. These have been subjected to repeated division. An estimate of their combined number, 125.
There are a few Jewish or Jewish wannabe sacred name Messianic assemblies. It is hard to give even a best guess estimate of their membership numbers. It is certainly a low number, probably less than 500 people nation wide.
This office believes that militia groups which are part of the Sacred Name Movement are not as numerous as some sensationalized newspaper reports have previously implied. We think that less than a 1,000 people are both anti-government militia and Sacred Name Movement.
Though not recognized as such by the majority within the Movement, the New Age SN people are certainly part of the Sacred Name Movement. These groups usually present themselves as research and self help organizations and are not always easy to detect as Sacred Name assemblies. The membership in all these groups is probably no more than 1,000 people.
There are numerous groups with membership in the teens and twenties. All these combined are estimated to number about 1,000 to 1,500 people.
We have not included in our estimate the Hebrew Roots Movement people. These folks seem to focus more on attempting to emulate the Hebrew culture than on the advancement of the sacred name theory. We understand most of these assemblies do not use the sacred names.
We acknowledge that we are treading on thin ice by giving these estimates. Please be aware that these estimates are at best educated guesses and may well err either high or low.
[Thanks to all who have some personal knowledge on this particular point and have sent assembly numbers to us. We do our best to verify this information. But, the number of members of the Sacred Name Movement can be determined with only a very low degree of accuracy. gm]