BRIDGING THE GAP
The religions of the African Diaspora (Voodoo, Santeria, Candomble, etc.) and the religions of the African continent (Ifa and Akan) are all based on oral tradition. Within this oral tradition, knowledge is passed on by word of mouth, from one generation to the next. This means that priests and priestesses are initiated, trained and ordained without any written records. This lack of documentation allows priests and priestesses to make claims about their backgrounds and capabilities that cannot be confirmed or validated. They do readings and perform rituals, taking peoples’ lives into their own hands and, on occasion, doing actual harm. Before NARC came into existence, those who consulted these priests and priestesses had no way of knowing who was trained and ordained and who was not. A primary motivating factor in NARC’s creation was the need for such confirmation and validation.
In Nigeria, where NARC has certified hundreds of babalawos, priests and priestesses, laws have been passed which make it illegal for a person to pose as a priest or priestess. Though these laws have been in existence for some time, the Nigerian police did not begin to enforce them until NARC began to certify priests and priestesses. In the United States, all religious organizations have a means for establishing the validity of priests, ministers or other church officials. Such officials usually carry some form of identification from the organization’s governing body. NARC’s position is that African-based religions must utilize a process by which such identification can be made. NARC refers to this process, which it has implemented in America and throughout the world, as “certification.”
Each applicant for NARC certification is subjected to a rigorous examination the information provided on the NARC Certification Application. We confirm the certification information by contacting the person who initiated the priest/priestess and witnesses who observed the initiation. Once it has been determined that the priest/priestess was truly initiated into a legitimate spiritual house (ile, pale or sanctuary), he/she may be certified. The priest/priestess must provide two (2) color passport photographs, Social Security number and date of birth. NARC then prepares a color photo identification card that certifies that its holder is a bona fide priest/priestess of a legitimate African-based religion. In addition, NARC has produced an official decal (sticker) that priests can post in the front window of their homes to indicate that the National African Religion Congress certifies them.
Awareness of NARC certification provides law enforcement officials with a way to quickly and confidently identify legitimate priests and priestesses. When, for example, the police are called to a location at which a religious ceremony and/or animal sacrifice is taking place, they should ask the priest/priestess if he has proof of his initiation. Any legitimate priest/priestess who wishes to establish his legitimacy need only apply to NARC for certification to be provided with the identification card and decal that will satisfy this demand. NARC maintains a hotline that police departments may call 24 hours a day in an emergency to verify a priest’s certification or obtain advice on the handling of spiritual situations.
“Bridging the Gap in Understanding” addresses problems associated with animal sacrifices. Most government officials do not understand the manner in which the sacrifice of birds and four-legged animals is properly carried out in the various religious traditions and cannot, therefore, distinguish legitimate sacrificial practices from those that are not. Many practitioners do not understand that they may create unnecessary problems for themselves not by they sacrifice the animals but by the way they fail to properly hold and care for them beforehand and afterwards. With the help of NARC’s attorneys, you and other government officials can provide the information priests and priestesses need to avoid problems and practice their religion in peace, without interference from government or their communities.
What is Bridging The Gap?
Who Needs Who
NARC Needs The Police
The National African Religion Congress needs the police. We encourage law enforcement officials to question the legitimacy of African-based religious practitioners because we object to people passing themselves off as true priests and priestesses, operating under the protection of the United States Constitution while engaging in practices that are unacceptable in society and offensive to legitimate practitioners. Their actions mislead people and bring confusion about the nature of African religious practice. They foment division in our community by tainting the reputations of legitimate priests. That is why a group of priests and priestess representing all branches of the family of African-based religions came together from all over the world to establish The National African Religion Congress. Just as we struggle to establish the right to practice our religion, we also struggle to uphold the moral and ethical practice of those religions.
Law Enforcements Need NARC
Law enforcement officials need the National African Religion Congress. It is apparent that the police do not possess adequate comprehension of African-based religions and need help to identify bona fide priests and legitimate practices. NARC World is the verifying board for African-based religions. Through our certification process, we can help the police to respect truly ordained priests and priestesses and to authoritatively challenge the practices of illegitimate ones. The certified priests and priestesses of NARC can help the police to understand the difference. NARC Seminars on Religious and Cultural Diversity represent the beginning of a fruitful dialog between government officials and true practitioners, to everyone’s benefit.
Importance of the NARC Directory
The National African Religion Congress publishes an annual Directory of Priests and Priestesses. The Directory lists the
Date of birth,
of each certified priest and priestess throughout the United States (national members) and the world (international members). The listings are indexed by religion and by region. The Directory also features:
The doctrines of each religion, agreed upon and compiled by a committee of priests and priestesses from each religion,
A glossary of terms, and
The Proceedings of the Annual African Religion Conference, including the papers written by Conference participants for presentation during the conference.
The NARC Directory is the only publication of its kind. It can serve as an authoritative reference work for use by government officials and others who seek to improve their understanding of African religion. Order it for your departmental library.
The National African Religion Congress has established relations and a dialogue with medical insurance companies so that Priests and Priestesses may be compensated as medical providers for their work with insured clients. Guided by the insurance companies, NARC has established a process of accreditation that meets their criteria. We first establish that the priest or priestess has the power to heal. That priest or priestess must then be accredited by the National African Religion Congress based upon their training and skill in the healing arts of their religion. Secondly, the accredited priest/priestess must participate in a program of continuing education through a series of seminars, workshops and classes the National African Religion Congress has established to allow them to obtain the credits needed to maintain their accreditation.