Religious sect dwindles; leader in
Citizen Online Edition/October 16, 2004
By Mark Niesse
Eatonton -- Pyramids, obelisks and a lonely sphinx stand
deserted on the Egyptian-themed compound where as many as 500
members of a quasi-religious sect lived only five years ago.
The United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors has gone quiet since its
leader, Malachi York, was sentenced to 135 years in federal prison
in April for molesting 14 boys and girls whose parents were
members of his group. The federal government has seized the
Nuwaubians' 476-acre farm in this middle Georgia town and the
group's members have dispersed.
"York was it. Everything flowed from York. There was never any
mistake about that,'' said Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills, who
has clashed with the Nuwaubians since York moved his followers
from New York City's Brooklyn borough to this rural county in
1993. "He was the absolute ruler. There was no one else,'' Sill
said of York.
At their height, the Nuwaubians brought 5,000 people to
Eatonton for Savior's Day to celebrate York's birthday. In 1999,
as many as 500 people lived on the compound, practicing York's
malleable religion that shifted from Islamic roots to Judaism,
Christianity and Egyptian mysticism, with members at times
dressing as cowboys and American Indians. At one time, York even
incorporated space aliens into his teachings, claiming that he was
an extraterrestrial from the planet "Rizq.''
When the U.S. Marshal's office seized York's property over the
summer, about 50 people were evicted from the compound. "As far as
I'm concerned, it's over. He's gone, and he was the ringleader,''
County Commissioner Sandra Adams said. Some Nuwaubians carry on.
Their flashy Web site is still active, and they still operate a
small bookstore in Atlanta that sells various literature,
including York's writings.
"Everybody is still working together and moving forward,'' said
Adrian Patrick, York's attorney. "People are trying to fit the
organization into this traditional hierarchy, but that's simply
not the case. You can't destroy the organization by having the
Some of the Nuwaubians still live in Eatonton near the
compound, but two of them wouldn't comment when approached by a
reporter. Two others who live in the Atlanta area did not return
telephone messages left at their homes, and a woman working at the
bookstore directed all inquiries to the group's Web site.
The site includes hundreds of posted messages from York's
followers who are trying to raise money for his court appeals.
They have titles like, "He NEVER Molested Us - He is innocent!!!''
and "Attorney Sabotages York's Case.''
A neighbor who lives near the compound said he thinks York was
targeted by white authorities with an agenda against the mostly
black Nuwaubians, who now call themselves The Yamassee Native
Americans of the Creek Nation.
"In the old days, they would have hanged him,'' neighbor Bobby
Walker said. "But today, they hung a charge on him he couldn't
fight. ... This man bucked the power structure of Putnam County,
and he should've known better.''
The Nuwaubian compound has sat empty for months. An American
flag hangs on the entrance gate, and some of the 20-some
structures are starting to fall apart. The federal government is
expected to eventually put the land up for sale.
York, 58, was convicted by a jury in January of 10 counts of
child molestation and racketeering. Prosecutors said he used the
cult for his sexual pleasure and financial gain, including
recruiting members to groom children for sex with him.