United Nation of Islam
The United Nation of Islam (UNOI) is an African American religious movement based in Kansas City, Kansas. It was founded in 1978 as an offshoot of the Nation of Islam by Royall Jenkins, who continues to be the group's leader and styles himself "Royall, Allah in Person". Since its founding, the group has undergone numerous name changes and is currently known as the Value Creators.
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Royall Jenkins was born in 1942 in South Carolina and grew up in eastern Maryland, later moving to New York and then Chicago, while working as a long-distance truck driver delivering publications of the Nation of Islam (NOI). He remained a member until after the death of Elijah Muhammad but split from the organization in 1978. According to Jenkins, he spent time on a spaceship with angels, where he learned that he was the Supreme Being and how to govern the world.
Public records show Jenkins working as a truck driver and living mostly with friends as he tried to recruit followers, including his daughter Maureen, who joined him in 1985 in a house in Waldorf, Maryland. The house was rented for them by Joseph Kelly, one of Jenkins' first converts. The UNOI eventually grew, and was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in New Jersey in 1993.
The beliefs of the UNOI are based on the beliefs of the NOI with considerable modifications by Jenkins. While believing that Allah came in the person of Wallace Fard Muhammad, founder of the NOI, Jenkins claims that he himself is Allah in his own person who is more powerful and who is given the task of coercing the submission of all things and perfecting everything used to magnify Him, after which men [specifically males] will all be God, or gods.
Jenkins stresses the relations between different races and sexes, referring extensively to black man, black woman, and white man. Black men are said to be the real and original men, whereas white people are claimed to have been created by a scientist named Yakub 6,000 years ago, the same belief held, at least in a metaphorical sense, by followers of the NOI prior to the death of Elijah Muhammad. Jenkins also claims that black men created black women as a natural pleasure, that women are inferior, and that following female guidance leads to Hell. He believes that black women are in league with white men, whom he considers enemies, and condemns women seeking child support, custody, and alimony though courts.
Jenkins also claims that the current NOI has been led astray by its leader Louis Farrakhan, whom he asserts is the most "formidable enemy to Allah," and that Farrakhan uses tricks and deceptive tactics to "silence anyone else's voice" and "prepare the masses to fight for him," through appearing "to be against the Whiteman [sic] and his government."
Members of the UNOI work as unpaid labor in various businesses owned by the organization. UNOI-owned businesses include a full-service gas station (Your Gas Station), several restaurants and bakeries, a sewing factory, an urgent-care medical facility (Your Colonic Center) and a construction company, among others. UNOI claims that it provides for all the needs of all full-time volunteers. The group has roughly 200 full-time members in Kansas City, with perhaps 300 spread across several other cities. Most of the latter are part-time.
UNOI hosts several call-in TV and radio programs across the United States. Jenkins appears regularly on these programs, as well as touring various US cities. The UNOI also offers classes and has a Web site that provides extensive writings by Jenkins and recordings of his TV appearances.
After moving to Kansas City in 1996 (although its headquarters was not moved there until 2001), the UNOI received commendations for apparently aiding in the renewal of an area along Quindaro Boulevard that had a reputation for high crime rates and as a slum. The group purchased several properties in the area at minimal prices and used them to house its various businesses. As this happened, crime rates fell dramatically and property values rose. Commendations extended to the Wyandotte County government donating several additional (vacant) buildings to UNOI.
Critics of the UNOI note that members work for Jenkins' benefit in UNOI businesses and receive no income, apply for and receive welfare from the government, and are given only the minimal necessities for survival, while UNOI uses the funds for their own benefit (including free vacations in the Caribbean). UNOI members and their children are required to be educated by the UNOI, which does not instruct them in many basic skills or provide opportunity for accredited higher education. Members receive health insurance and are not permitted to receive medical care outside that offered by the UNOI at Your Colonic Center, which does not include any physicians licensed in Kansas. At least one child of UNOI members has died without being taken to Kansas City emergency medical services.
The UNOI has also overstated its success—on one occasion stating that the Kansas City site is free of all crime, in the same month as a gunman fired twenty shots at a UNOI-run gas station. The Kansas City police department said it was unable to judge the effectiveness of UNOI in reducing crime. In 2002, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported five health violations at a UNOI-operated diner. In 2003, the gas station was the UNOI's only profitable business.
Jenkins has taken several wives from among his followers, including a teenaged stepdaughter (after having impregnated her). From these unions, he has fathered at least 15 children. Jenkins claims that he is justified in practicing polygamy, comparing himself to Solomon and claiming "In the near future, a man will be known for his wisdom according to the number of wives that he has."
Notable among the UNOI's critics are at least ten former members, including Moreen and Hanif Jenkins, two of Royall Jenkins' children from his first marriage. Hanif was a member of the UNOI for six months and then became a critic of its operations. Moreen joined the UNOI in 1985. She claimed that she married Joseph Kelly, one of the first members of the UNOI, and also studied UNOI theology for several hours a day for years. In 1997, Royall Jenkins declared that Kelly was a reincarnation of Elijah Muhammad, a claim that the NOI rejected. In 2002 Moreen Jenkins claimed her father threatened her life and the life of her youngest child after she attempted to apologize to the victim of a beating by UNOI members. She then took her infant child and left UNOI. Members continued to harass her. She stated that the UNOI was blocking her attempts to communicate with her other children and her attempts to gain custody. As of 2003, she had filed for divorce and still sought custody of her children. Moreen died at her home on October 14, 2008, shortly after her 45th birthday.
In 2003, the UNOI stated that Moreen Jenkins was "operating out of vengeance, scorn, anger, desire and treachery" and proposed that she seduced reporters with "the guise of a scoop." In the same statement, Royall Jenkins is quoted as announcing “the time when those who conspire against the rise of the Blackman —including Black women—will no longer be tolerated." After her death, Jenkins described his daughter as a traitor, stated "the death of my daughter Moreen was more than justified" and exhorted his followers not to mourn.
In September 2017 Kendra Ross brought a civil suit against the UNOI stating that she was forced into unpaid work for 10 years and made to move to various cities from the age of 11 until she escaped at 21. She was forcibly separated from her mother at 12. Her lawyer stated that "“This organization just took away her childhood...They stripped her of 19 years of her life, forced her to work for no pay, and subjected her to just inhumane conditions.” She was forced to marry another member who was chosen by a "psychic doctor". A federal judge awarded her approximately $8 million in damages.
In June 2018, the United Nation of Islam was profiled on A&E's Cults & Extreme Belief, a television show where host Elizabeth Vargas and others interview former members of organizations considered cults, talking to them about how they became involved and their allegations of abuse. In the episode, former members talk about their allegations of human trafficking, neglect and abuse, and unpaid labor of children in the group.
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