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Thursday, February 02, 2006

A Religion That Grew From a Lot of Brew

By Peter Carlson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 31, 2006; C02
 

On the South Pacific island of Tanna, beneath a volcano that rumbles and smokes, a guy wearing a fake U.S. Army uniform raises an American flag. Then 40 barefoot men march past, carrying fake rifles made of bamboo, their brown chests decorated with red paint spelling out "USA."
 
Later, a group of men slinging fake chainsaws sing a homemade hymn: "We've come from America to cut down all the trees so we can build factories."
 
This isn't a protest or a piece of performance art. It's a religious ceremony held every year on Feb. 15 -- John Frum Day, the high holy day of a South Pacific religion that worships a messiah who is, as Paul Raffaele writes in a wonderfully weird story in the February issue of Smithsonian, "an American god no sober man has ever seen."
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