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Thread: Creciendo en Gracia and Jose Luis De Jesus Miranda

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    Creciendo en Gracia and Jose Luis De Jesus Miranda

    Creciendo en Gracia (Growing in Grace International Ministry) is a movement of churches headquartered in Miami, Florida (www.cegenglish.com). It has churches in 35 countries - mostly in Latin America, but also in the US and Canada. The founder recently appeared on the NBC Today Show and ABC News Primetime and announced himself as Jesus the Christ.

    [See photo of Jose Luis De Jesus Miranda below.]

    The group is organized around Jose Luis De Jesus Miranda, a 61-year-old Puerto Rican man with special charm and an appetite for unrestrained indulgence. Followers call him Jesus Christ, or "Daddy," and lavish him with expensive gifts and large sums of money. Many of his followers have set up businesses that funnel 20 to 80 percent of their profits into the ministry. Others donate cars, homes, and tens of thousands of dollars in cash and free services.

    Where does all the money go? Miranda claims the money he receives is spent on headquarters operations, which run about $1.4 million a year, or goes toward buying airtime. As he puts it: “Everything I get goes to making sure the word is spread.” His media vehicle is Telegracia, a Colombia-based network that broadcasts to two million homes. Airs talk shows and sermons are in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

    Telegracia’s Website lists 32 cable companies that carry its signal in Colombia and dozens more countries. Miranda also claims to have 287 shows on more than 60 radio stations, as well as a satellite channel on more than 400 cable companies retransmitting the signal of Telegracia Channel 24 hours a day. And the faithful can tune in to a 24-hour-a-day Internet radio feed at NetGracia.com. Satellite delivers the signal to local television providers, many of whom donate their broadcast time.

    Miranda's life reflects little of that of the Biblical Jesus. He wears fine suits and diamond-encrusted rings, drives a 7 Series BMW, and, until recently, lived in a 5000-square-foot Miramar home with Corinthian columns and vaulted ceilings. He also travels with a security team who wear dark suits and earpieces. Miranda says the cost of his security detail runs upward of $300,000 per year.

    [See photo of Jose Luis De Jesus Miranda surrounded by security team in Eucador.]

    Over the past year, Creciendo en Gracia parishioners have held at least 40 protests against the organized church in more than a dozen countries. And Miranda says this is just the beginning. “My purpose,” he explains, “is to close down every church so the true church can begin. You could say I’m leading the greatest reformation that has ever happened.” Miranda’s followers believe they are God’s true chosen people and call their children the “super race.”

    They are convinced other Bible based churches peddle deceit and spread poverty, war, and disease. The Creciendo en Gracia Website describes ministers of other faiths as “evil and perverse men.” And it makes this promise: “We are going to shut the mouths of those dogs! We are ready to give our lives for this.” They recently disrupted a Costa Rican Jewish parade with signs that read, “Israel is cursed” and “We are the true chosen people.”

    “We’re the government of God on Earth,” explains Miranda. “We will spread all over and rule the world. We will control the church, the economy, society, education, politics, and technology. There will be no war, no corruption. I mean, if a lie can change the world, why can’t the truth do it?” In recent months Miranda has been banned by Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, where officials labeled him a "terrorist."

    In February 2007, he and some of his followers tattooed themselves with the number 666, CNN news service reports. Miranda said “666 antichrist means ‘do not put your eyes on Jesus Christ of Nazareth put it on Jesus after the cross,’” meaning himself. He also claims that the translation we have of “antichrist” is incorrect, as it should be the “new Christ.”

    Miranda teaches that the Devil has been destroyed, and that Hell does not exist. Nevertheless, he claims there are two classes of people: those who reject his message and are therefore predestined, and those who accept his word as the truth. The latter are saved and can not lose their salvation. Hence they are allowed to indulge in sin. When Jesus died on the cross, he washed away people's sin. So, he believes, Christ and the anti-Christ are one and the same.

    With their salvation secured, Miranda’s followers can indulge sinful desires. “Here it doesn’t matter if you are a drug addict,” he explains, “or if you have been married ten times. How many failures you’ve had — even if you’ve killed someone — we accept people with their weaknesses.” It’s a seductive proposition, especially for those from Latin America, where 73 percent of the population is Catholic and most people spend their lives following strict religious and legalistic teachings.

    [See image of flyer used by De Jesus Miranda flyer to promote his deviant theology.]

    Miranda’s message was born from an experience he had in December 1976. After a hard life as a youth in Puerto Rico, where he often stole to feed his heroin habit, he moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts, and ran a Bible-based treatment center for drug-addicted street people. But soon he lost faith in conventional churches. “I was getting tired of all the legalism and hypocrisy,” he explains. “I kept thinking, ‘Christianity should be something better.’”

    Then one December night, he says he awoke to find himself flanked by two large men with stern expressions who told him: “The King of Kings is coming to anoint you.” Before he knew it, he was standing in a luminous marble corridor where trumpets blared and a spectral figure crept toward him. Then the apparition merged with him, and he began to hear a man’s voice in his head.

    “The voice said, ‘Open your Bible,’” Miranda recalls. “So I opened to Romans 6. And he said, ‘Read that … that means you’re dead to sin; sin can’t reign in your life.’” The experience left Miranda transformed. “Ever since that day, I can’t learn from anybody — and I mean no one,” he says. He now believes that was the night of Christ’s second coming. That he was fully incarnated with the spirit of Christ.

    In the years that followed, the voice continued to offer new revelations. Then in 1986, it said, “Move to Miami. There you’ll have a bridge to all nations.” So at age 40, Miranda, his then-wife Nydia, and their five children came to the America, where he secured a fifteen-minute daily slot on WVCG-AM (1080) and began preaching his controversial message.

    Before long, other ministers were railing against him from their radio pulpits. However, this worked to his advantage. After he had been on the air three months, Miranda rented a Hialeah warehouse, filled it with 300 chairs, and invited listeners for a weekend seminar. To his surprise, he says, 500 people turned up. “Just like that,” Miranda marvels. “Creciendo en Gracia was born.”

    In the years that followed, the church increasingly revolved around Miranda. Then in 1998, he claimed to be the reincarnation of the Apostle Paul. The following year, he proclaimed himself “El Otro” meaning a demigod who would lay the foundation for the Lord’s return. Finally in 2004, he named himself Jesus Christ and the ultimate authority on the gospel. Today, no one but him and his right-hand man Carlos Cestero are allowed to preach and Miranda always defines the message. Instead of regular sermons, most followers around the world watch videos or simulcasts of these men projected on a screen behind the pulpit.

    Creciendo en Gracia has directed their full attention from the church as a whole to the Catholic Church as being a "Usurper," worse than Osama Bin Laden. Jose Miranda describes the Pope as "One that uses force or legal means to empower themselves with something that legitimately corresponds to others. One that pretends or appears to be something they are not." He said the Pope is not a representative of God, but represents child abusers, pedophiles and rapists in reference to the years of sexual scandals rocking the Catholic Church. Miranda calls for a full unmasking of the Pope and his office. Before Bin Laden's demise, he also broadcast a not so subtle request for Osama Bin Laden to send a volley of twelve fully fueled 747 jets crashing into the Vatican, even saying that Bin Laden is predestined to do this.

    Creciendo en Gracia has outposts throughout Latin America, as well as in Spain, Italy, Canada, and Australia. All told, the group claims 300 congregations with more than 100,000 members, plus a 24-hour cable channel that reaches two million homes. And it’s growing. In the last year alone, Creciendo en Gracia has added nearly 100 churches to its roster. Miranda has five churches in Texas, in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and McAllen.

    Rick Ross, executive director of the New Jersey-based Ross Institute, which tracks cults, agrees that Miranda’s group bears some of the markers. “The most defining element of a cult is its personality-driven nature,” he explains. “That leader is the hub, the glue that holds it all together. And they manipulate members into giving free labor or large gifts.” Miranda responded, "Anything they don't understand, they call a cult... If I'm a cult, I'm the best one. I love to direct this beautiful cult!"

    As of recent days, The self-proclaimed messiah is divorcing his wife of five years and records coming out in a Miami courtroom paint a picture of a church leader's life of luxury. De Jesus lost $46,846.36 gambling at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, FL in 2006. De Jesus' first wife receives $12,000 in monthly alimony paid for by the church. Properties were purchased in South Florida, Texas and Colombia with church funds but are titled to De Jesus or his daughter Jo-Ann. Despite the result of the investigation, church members made up of largely working class Latino immigrants say they will continue to donate and that they are happy if de Jesus lives well.

    Clearly, this spectral figure or apparition that merged with Miranda in 1976 was nothing less than a powerful demonic power of high ranking. Fallen earth-bound principalities constantly seek candidates in which to inhabit as to deceive and ensnare souls. 1 Timothy 4:1-3 states "God's Spirit specifically tells us that in later days there will be men who abandon the true faith and allow themselves to be spiritually seduced by teachings of demons, teachings given by men who are lying hypocrites, whose consciences are as dead as seared flesh."

    Jose Luis De Jesus Miranda penciling in June 30, 2012 for the end of days as another failed prophecy, nudging out Mayan Doomsday enthusiasts who have have earmarked December 21, 2012 for humanity's last gasp. "An earthquake is coming," Miranda proclaimed in an April 25 ministry broadcast. "It is getting closer and we will see the catastrophes. What you have seen is nothing. What is coming is cities falling."

    But Miranda is bringing his own unique twist to the Apocalypse-faithful. While promising the "complete destruction of the bad seed," the minister promises that he will emerge as a sort of superhero -- with the power to fly and even walk through walls.

    Alex Poessy, the group’s bishop in Canada, told the National Post, “That day, the body of Jose de Luis de Jesus, who is a human like you and me, his flesh is going to be immortal…. He’s going to be living forever. And that will happen to him, but also his followers.”

    "He's in their heads, he's inside the heads of those people," U.S. religion expert Prof. Daniel Alvarez told CNN News in 2007. "De Jesus speaks with a kind of conviction that makes me consider him more like David Koresh or Jim Jones."

    Miranda marshals a plethora of 'scientific' evidence to back his claim, much of it revolving around the reversal of Earth's poles causing "tectonic plates to heat up." "For 2012, we are expecting a change on the face of the earth and the destruction of the world will come." There's also some economic oblivion thrown in for good measure -- essentially a toppling of world governments prompted by financial meltdowns. It all makes perfect sense to the ministry's followers -- legions of a not entirely disclosed number in some 130 countries.

    Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda is nothing more than a charismatic cult leader, a charlatan, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and simply yet another in a long line of false prophets and false messiahs.
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