Privileged Peru : the Israelites of the New Universal Covenant
The Israelites of the New Universal Covenant are a New Religious Movement founded in 1968. A presentation of the Inca Empire, the Spanish Conquest of Peru, the subsequent colonial period and post-independence era acts as background to a global understanding of the Israelites. Israelite membership is drawn from Andean Indians who came to be open to religious change in the twentieth century. Ideas on indigenism coupled with social reforms, urbanization, and migrations led to a greater Andean self-identity and preparation for membership in the newly formed religion. An idealized view of the Inca past (encapsulated in the Inkarri myth) and a return of the same is envisaged as part of the solution for the Indian. These elements combined with the Indians' interaction with other Christian traditions (folk Catholicism with segments of Protestantism) to produce the Peruvian Israelites and the concept of Privileged Peru. The thesis traces the life of Ezequiel Ataucusi Gamonal (the Israelite founder), through folk Catholicism, 'miraculous' experiences, to membership in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church (when a migrant worker in the Jungle), contact with other Protestant groups, to the foundation of the Peruvian Israelites and through their subsequent history. The Israelite religion functions within a harmonious system of 'seven pillars of wisdom'. The pillars are the five feasts of Trumpets, Passover,Pentecost, Cabins and the Day of Expiation, with the weekly Sabbath and the Thousand Year Reign of Christ. Israelites are not a by-form of either Catholicism, Protestantism or Judaism, nor a political party in a religious guise. Ezequiel represents a new Christ-figure who interprets the Bible to offer salvation and a place in this world to Andean Indians, and the promise of entry into the Thousand Year Reign of Christ through observing the Israelite laws and through his own future death and resurrection.