Dec. 17, 2006 – His name is Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda; his followers call him everything from apostle to Dad, or simply Jesus Christ Man. De Jesus Miranda himself believes he’s the living incarnation of “Jesus Christ Man,” “the second coming of Christ.”
A follower of his believes “he is God, he is God.” She also lavishes him with money and gifts.
“I don’t have one Rolex,” de Jesus Miranda said, “I have 3 because they want to give it to me. It’s like that woman that came to Jesus with the expensive perfume and put it on his feet. He didn’t reject it, so when someone gives me a watch or a gift, I receive it. I like them too, they’re nice.”
This self-proclaimed Son of God is a 60 year old former heroin addict and convict. The divorced father of 4 was born in Puerto Rico and now lives in South Florida with his second wife.
From a warehouse in Doral, near Miami, he presides over the “Creciendo en Gracia” or Growing in Grace Ministry which he also calls “God’s Government On Earth.
As any other head of state, he is protected by a security detail that mimics the U.S. Secret Service.
In an interview with the self-proclaimed Messiah, CBS4’s Ileana Varela asked de Jesus if he was able to do some of the things Jesus Christ did like performing miracles, healing the sick and walking on water.
De Jesus said not necessarily. “My life is my church and what I’m doing worldwide,” he said.
What De Jesus is doing at more than 300 centers in Central and South America, Cuba and the U.S. is preaching a message of “freedom to indulge” because according to this modern messiah, there is no sin, no devil and no hell to pay.
De Jesus says, “It doesn’t exist. The devil was destroyed two thousand years ago.”
It is music to the ears of his followers, mostly Hispanic men and women who believe they are God’s chosen people, predestined for salvation no matter what they do on earth. They also believe all other faiths are false and must be destroyed, from Catholics to Baptists and Jehovah’s witnesses.
His followers have organized marches at which they destroy religious books and symbols. They also have a campaign aimed at disrupting other religious gatherings, sometimes with violent consequences.
“What disturbs me is that he fits into the typical mold of a cult leader, total complete submission to his authority,” FIU Religion professor, Daniel Alvarez said.
Alvarez has a Masters Degree in Theology from Harvard Divinity School, and is among those who fear “Creciendo en Gracia” has the makings of a destructive cult.
“He destroyed my family,” said former member Regina Albarracin, who left the church about 5 years ago. Her husband soon followed but their son Alvaro remained to become one of the ministry’s biggest financial backers, donating more than $1 million to the church.
Alvaro is not alone; many others have set up businesses in de Jesus’ name that pour cash into the ministry.
“I know were going to be running the whole world,” de Jesus said.
A web entrepreneur and self made millionaire, Alvaro Albarracin left his wife and children for the man he calls Jesus. He has since remarried to another church member and rarely speaks to his parents who insist he’s been brainwashed by the man “they” certainly don’t call Jesus.
His mother, Regina Albarracin said, “You think he’s Jesus Christ? No he’s the devil. You think he’s the devil? Yes that’s him.”
Regina Albarracin is afraid for her son’s soul, and Professor Alvarez says she should be. Most of these movements, he says, self destruct sooner or later.
“Lots of broken lives, lot of spiritual and emotional and psychological debris that will be strew on the path of the gentleman,” Alvarez said, “and the fallout will be inestimable for the lives of these people who get caught up in this kind of movement.”
Unfazed by the criticism, de Jesus continues to plan for the role he believes he is destined to play on the world’s stage. “I will be president of the biggest government that this earth has experienced,” promised de Jesus.
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