La Luz del Mundo
|Iglesia del Dios Vivo, Columna y Apoyo de la Verdad, La Luz del Mundo|
Logo of La Luz del Mundo Church
|Director||Samuel Joaquín Flores|
|Region||44 countries as of August 2013[update]|
|Founder||Aarón (born Eusebio) Joaquín González|
|Congregations||2,869 as of August 2013[update]|
Spanish: La Luz del Mundo; LLDM; LDM; Iglesia La Luz del Mundo; ILLMEnglish: La Luz del Mundo Church; LLMC; Church of the Living God, Column and Ground of the Truth, The Light of the World; The Light of the World Church
|Local Spanish pronunciation: [i´ɣlesja ðel djoz ´biβo, ko´lumna j a´poʝo ðe la βeɾ´ðað, la luz del ´mundo]|
The Iglesia del Dios Vivo, Columna y Apoyo de la Verdad, La Luz del Mundo, (English: Church of the Living God, Column and Ground of the Truth, The Light of the World)—simply referred to as La Luz del Mundo—is a Christian denomination with international headquarters in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. La Luz del Mundo (abbreviated LLDM, or sometimes The LDM) is based on a Christian doctrine and is centered around two charismatic leaders, founder Aarón Joaquín González—originally known as Eusebio Joaquín—and his son Samuel Joaquín Flores. These two are regarded by the church as living apostles of God.
The church was founded in Guadalajara in 1926. Its members claim to be the restoration of primitive Christianity. Throughout the mid-1900s the church expanded throughout Mexico and entered other nations late in Joaquín González's ministry. After the elder González's death, his son became the church's new leader and worked to expand the church internationally.
The church does not use crosses or images in its worship services and its members do not observe Christmas or Holy Week. Female members follow a dress code that includes the wearing of long skirts and head coverings during religious services. The church's hierarchy allows only men to hold leadership positions in the religious arena, and it is headed by Flores, who is referred to by believers as the Apostle of Jesus Christ and the Servant of God.
- 1 Name
- 2 History
- 3 Beliefs and practices
- 4 Organization
- 5 Architecture
- 6 Statistics
- 7 Controversies
- 8 Notes
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
The full name of the church is Iglesia del Dios Vivo Columna y Apoyo de la Verdad, La Luz del Mundo ("Church of the Living God, Column and Support of The Truth, The Light of The World") which is derived from two passages in the Bible, Matthew 5:14 and 1 Timothy 3:15.
The founder of the Church, Eusebio Joaquín González, was born on August 14, 1896 in Colotlán, Jalisco. At a young age, he joined the Constitutional Army during the Mexican Revolution. While he was on leave in 1920, he met Elisa Flores, whom he later married. While stationed in the state of Coahuila in 1926, he came into contact with two preachers known as Saulo and Silas. Their teachings forbade their followers to keep good hygiene and wear regular clothes. After resigning from the army, Joaquín González and Flores worked as servants for the preachers.
During the 1920s, Mexico underwent a period of instability under the Plutarco Elías Calles administration that was seeking to limit the influence of the Catholic Church to modernize and centralize the state within the religious sphere of Mexican society. To protest Elías Calles' policies, the Catholic Church suspended all services, bringing about an uprising in Mexico. This uprising, or Cristero War, lasted from 1926-1929 and resurged in the 1930s. In April 6, 1926, the Church said that God changed Joaquín González's name from Eusebio to Aarón via a vision and he was later told to leave Monterrey where he and his wife served Saulo and Silas. On his journey, he preached near the entrances of Catholic churches—which contributed to the persecution he faced—until arriving at Guadalajara in December 12, 1926. During these early years the Cristero Wars impacted both Catholic and non-Catholic congregations and preachers, especially evangelical movements. Small movements were attacked by the government and the Cristeros, which provided for a hostile environment for Joaquín González's work.
Aarón Joaquín González's early ministry
Working as a shoe vendor, Joaquín González formed a group of ten worshipers who met at his wife's apartment. He began constructing the church's hierarchy by instituting the first two deacons, Elisa Flores and Francisca Cuevas. Later he charged the first minister to take care of 14 congregations in Ameca, Jalisco. During these early years, Joaquín González traveled to the states of Michoacán, Nayarit and Sinaloa to preach. In 1931, the first Santa Cena (Holy Supper) was held to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus. The church met in rural areas, fearing complaints from Catholic neighbors. Immigrants from the countryside added a significant amount of members to the church.
In 1934, a temple was acquired and members were encouraged to buy homes in the same neighborhood, thus establishing a community. The church was registered as Iglesia Cristiana Espiritual (Spiritual Christian Church) but Joaquín González claimed to have received word from God in the dedication of the church, saying that it was "Light of the world" and that they were the Iglesia del Dios Vivo, Columna y Apoyo de la Verdad (Church of the Living God, Column and Ground of the Truth). The church used the latter name to identify itself. In 1939, it moved to a new meeting place at the 12 de Octubre colony, forming its second small community which was populated mainly by its members. This community was an attempt to escape the hostile environment, not to create an egalitarian society.
Schism of 1942
In 1942, in its most significant schism, 250 members left the church. Tensions began to build after Joaquín González's birthday, when the congregation gave him gifts of flowers and sang hymns celebrating his birthday. This celebration generated a heated debate that culminated with the defection of several church members, including some pastors. Anthropologist Renée de la Torre described this schism as a power struggle in which Joaquín González was accused of having enriched himself at the expense of the faithful. Church dissidents took to El Occidental to accuse members of La Luz del Mundo of committing immoralities with young women. Some of the accusations were aimed at close down a temple that LLDM used with government permission. Members of La Luz del Mundo attribute this episode to the envy and ambition of the dissidents, who formed their own group called El Buen Pastor (The Good Shepherd) under the leadership of José María González, with doctrines and practices similar to those of La Luz del Mundo. The leader is considered a prophet of God. As of 2010, El Buen Pastor Church has a membership of 17,700 in Mexico.
This schism was followed by a new baptism, which the church biographer says was an order from God to Joaquín González. With the growth of the church and the city, issues of safety developed in the 12 de Octubre colony meeting place in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In 1952, Joaquín González purchased a plot of land outside the city and called it La Hermosa Provincia (The Beautiful Province).
In 1952, Joaquín González purchased land on the outskirts of Guadalajara with the intent of forming a small community made up exclusively by members of LLDM. The land was then sold at reduced prices to members. The community included most necessities; services provided in La Hermosa Provincia included health, education, and other urban services, which were provided in full after six years partly with help that the church received from municipal and non-municipal authorities. This dependency upon outside assistance to obtain public services ended by 1959 when residents formed the Association of Colonists of Hermosa Provincia, which was used to directly petition the government. Roger S. Greenway says that Hermosa Provincia received a white flag from the city for being the only colony in the city that has eliminated illiteracy by the early 1970s. Joaquín González started missionary efforts in Central America and by the early 1960s, La Luz del Mundo had 64 congregations and 35 missions. By 1964, after his death, the church had between 20,000 and 30,000 members spread through five nations including Mexico. The colony became a standard model for the church which has replicated it in many cities in Mexico and other countries.
Samuel Joaquín Flores' ministry
Samuel Joaquín Flores was born on February 14, 1937 and became the leader of the church by the age of 27 after the death of Joaquín González. He continued his father's desire for international expansion by traveling outside of Mexico extensively. He first visited members of the church in the Mexican state of Michoacán in August 1964 and later that year he went to Los Angeles on a missionary trip. By 1970, the church had expanded to Costa Rica, Colombia, and Guatemala. The first small temple in the Hermosa Provincia was demolished and replaced by a larger one in 1967. With Joaquín Flores' work, La Luz del Mundo became integrated into Guadalajara and the church replicated the model of La Hermosa Provincia in many cities in Mexico and abroad. By 1972, there were approximately 72,000 members of the church, which increased to 1.5 million by 1986 and to 4 million by 1993. Patricia Fortuny says that the church's growth can be attributed to factors including its social benefits, which "improves the living conditions of believers." Joaquín Flores oversaw the construction of schools, hospitals and other social services produced by the church. It also expanded to countries including the UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ethiopia and Israel between 1990 and 2010.
Beliefs and practices
During La Luz del Mundo's religious services, male and female members are separated during worship; from the preacher's perspective, women sit on the left side of the temple and men on the right. The church does not use musical instruments during its services. There is no dancing or clapping, and women must cover their heads during services. Hymns are sung a cappella; Despite this, members listen to instrumental music and some have composed Christian music. When singing, all congregants sing at the same time. Congregations practice the songs to maintain proper melody and uniformity during their religious meetings. The church's places of worship feature no images, saints, crosses or anything else that it considers objects of worship because they believe that worship should be done spiritually and only to God. The places of worship have plain walls and wide, clear windows.
The church has three daily prayer meetings throughout the world, with two meetings on Sundays and one regular consecration. On Sunday mornings, congregants meet at the temple for Sunday School, which begins with prayers and hymns. After that, the preacher—usually a minister—presides over a talk during which he reads from the Bible and presents the material to be covered throughout the week. During the talk, it is common for members of either sex to read a cited verse from the Bible. At the end of the talk, more hymns and prayers are recited and voluntary offerings and given. Sunday evening services begin with hymns and prayers, after which members of the congregation of both sexes recite from the bible or sing hymns. A shorter talk is held with the aim of deepening the Sunday School's talk.
The church holds three scheduled prayer meetings each day. The first daily prayer meeting is at 5:00 a.m. and usually lasts one hour. The service includes a talk that is meant to recordar or remember the material covered in the Sunday School. The 9:00 a.m. prayer was started by Joaquín González's wife, Elisa Flores. A female member of the church presides over the prayer meeting, which includes a talk. The evening prayer has the same structure as the 5:00 a.m. meeting. In each prayer meeting members are expected to be prepared with their Bibles, hymn books and notebooks and to be consecrated.
Members of La Luz del Mundo believe that the Bible is the only source of Christian doctrine. It is used as the source of ministers' and lay persons' talks during prayer meetings. Ministers believe it is their duty to take care that talks do not deviate from set doctrine based on Paul the Apostle's letters, which usually include reproaches aimed at the primitive Christian church. The Bible is the only historical reference used by La Luz del Mundo during religious services. Members can find cited Bible verses quickly, regardless of their level of education. It is also seen as the only and "sufficient rule of faith for salvation".
La Luz del Mundo teaches that there was no salvation on earth between the death of the last Apostle (Apostle John) around 96 AD and the calling of Joaquín González in 1926. Members believe that the Church itself was founded by Jesus Christ approximately two thousand years ago and that after the deaths of the Apostles of God, the church became corrupt and was lost. The church claims that through Joaquín González, it is the restoration of the Primitive Christian church that was lost during the formation of the Roman Catholic Church. After those times passed, the beginning of Joaquín González's ministry is seen as the restoration of the original Christian Church. Salvation can be attained in the Church by following the Bible-based teachings of their leader.
Calling of the Servants of God
The church states that its members believe in "the calling of the Servants of God, sent to express the will of God and Salvation". It teaches that Joaquín Flores was elected by God as Apostle and the new leader of the church after Joaquín González died in 1964. La Luz del Mundo teaches that it is the only true Christian church founded by Jesus Christ because it is led by Joaquín Flores, who it considers the only true servant of God and Apostle of Jesus Christ. Members believe that this Apostolic Authority allows them to find peace, feel close to God and attain meaning in their lives from the hopes of joining with Christ to reign with him for eternity.
There is disagreement among sources regarding the christology of La Luz del Mundo. According to theologian Roger S. Greenway, the church is trinitarian but baptizes in the name of Jesus to conform to apostolic practice. Theological librarian Kenneth D. Gill agrees with Greenway that the church is trinitarian, and says it refuses to "use the term 'person' to describe the three modes of God." Sociocultural anthropologist Hugo G. Nutini also says the church is trinitarian but that its worship focuses exclusively on Jesus Christ as the source of salvation. Other sources say La Luz del Mundo is nontrinitarian In its principles, La Luz del Mundo proclaims a belief in the existence of one God and in Jesus Christ, "Son of God and Savior of the world". The church also states a belief in baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins and baptism with the Holy Spirit as confirmation from God for entrance into heaven. The Salt Lake Tribune said that these principles mean the church preaches that "there is only one God, and Jesus is his son and savior of this world, rather than part of a Trinity".
Role of women
In the tradition of Pentecostalism, female members of La Luz del Mundo do not cut their hair, wear jewelery or makeup and are instructed to wear full, long skirts. Women can have their hair as short as their shoulder blades. These restrictions do not apply to recreational activities, where wearing bathing suits is permitted. Women wear a head covering during religious meetings. According to an interview of one adherent, women in the church are considered equal to men in social spheres and have equal capacities for obtaining higher education, social careers, and other goals that may interest them.
Joaquín González established the 9 a.m. prayer after hearing about one of his followers who was being abused by her Catholic husband. This prayer became one led by women. These prayers are seen as a religious activity equal to all other activities. This prayer provides space for empowerment in which women can express themselves and develop a status within the church's membership. Patricia Fortuny said, concerning the 9 a.m. prayer, that, "I infer from this that, if the membership considers this as [a] female [gathering], they would be giving authority to women in the religious or ecclesiastical framework of the ritual, and this then [would] put [them] on a plane of equality or [in] absence of subordination to men." She said that women of the church may be playing with their subordinate roles in the Church to acquire certain benefits.
Women of the church personalize their attire, according to Patricia Fortuny. Rebozos are worn by indigenous members and specially designed veils by other female members. Fortuny says that, " ... wearing long skirts does not negate the meaning of being a woman and, although it underlines the difference between men and women, [the church's female members] say that it does not make them feel like inferior human beings". Fortuny says women describe their attire as part of obeying biblical commands found in 1 Timothy 2:9, and 1 Corinthians 11:15 for long hair. and because the Bible states that men and women should not dress the same. Female members say the church's dress code makes them feel they are honoring God and that it is part of their "essence".
Fortuny also states that dress codes are a sign of a patriarchal organization because men are only forbidden from growing their hair long or wearing shorts in public. Women, at times, can be more autonomous than those in the general population in Mexico. Fortuny says that the growing trend of educated women having husbands in supporting roles is also seen within the church both in the Guadalajara (Mexico), and Houston (Texas) congregations. Many young female members said they want to undergo post-secondary education, and some told Fortuny they were degree students. Both young men and women are equally encouraged to enter post-compulsory education. Fathers who are members of La Luz del Mundo are more likely than their mothers to direct their daughters towards attending university.
La Luz del Mundo Church does not practice ordination of women. According to Fortuny, women can become missionaries or evangelizers; the lowest tier of the church's hierarchy. She states that "the rank of deaconess is not a position which common women could aspire to". Dormady states that the first two deaconesses were Elisa Flores and Francisca Cuevas. Wives of important members of the church usually get the rank of deaconess, according to Dormady.
Women are active and play key roles in organizing activities and administering them in the church. Women can serve as legal representatives of the church. Female office holders are always head of groups of women and not groups of men. A Deaconess can help Pastors and Deacons, but cannot herself administer the sacrament. All members of the ministerial hierarchy are paid for their services as part of the tithe by the congregational members.
Other beliefs and practices
The church teaches moral and civil principles such as community service and that science is a gift from God. Members of La Luz Del Mundo do not celebrate Christmas or Holy Week. The most important yearly rituals are the Holy Supper (Santa Cena in Spanish or "Santa Convocation"), held yearly on August 14, and the anniversary of Joaquín Flores' birth is held on February 14 at its international headquarters in Guadalajara.
The organization of La Luz del Mundo is hierarchical. The head of the church is Joaquín Flores, who holds both the spiritual authority as Apostle and Servant of God and the organizational authority as General Director of the Church. Below him are the ranks of Pastors, who are expected to develop one or more of the qualities as Doctor, Prophet and Evangelist. All Pastors are Evangelists and are expected to undertake missionary tasks. As Doctors, Pastors explain the word of God and as Prophets they interpret it. Below them are the Deacons, who administer the sacraments to the congregational members. Below the Deacons are the Managers, who have responsibility for the moral conduct and well-being of certain groups within the congregation. Managers grant permits to congregational members who wish to leave their congregations for vacations or to take jobs outside of the church district. The lowest rank within the ministerial hierarchy is that of "Worker", which confers responsibility for assisting everyone above them in the hierarchy with menial tasks.
A church, or group, that is unable to fully provide for the religious needs of its members is called a mission. Missions are dependent on a congregation which is administered by a minister. A group of several congregations with their missions form a district. The church in each nation is divided into multiple districts. In Mexico, several districts form together into five jurisdictions that act as legal entities.
La Luz del Mundo uses the architecture of its temples to express its faith through symbolism and to attract potential converts. Among the church's buildings are a replica of a Mayan pyramid in Honduras, a mock Taj Mahal in Chiapas, Mexico and a Greco-Roman inspired temple in Texas. Its flagship church is located in its headquarters in Hermosa Provincia. Two smaller replicas of this temple are being built in Anchorage, Alaska, and in Chile to symbolize "the northern and southern-most reach of the church's missionary efforts."
Hermosa Provincia Temple
The flagship temple in Guadalajara is pyramidal and has an innovative structure. The project began in 1983, when the church's former temple built to accommodate 8,000 people was deemed insufficient to accommodate the growing number of people who attended various annual celebrations. Construction began on July 3, 1983 when Joaquín Flores laid the cornerstone and lasted until August 1, 1992 The temple was completed largely by members of the church. It is a notable architectural feature in Guadalajara in a working-class district on the outskirts of the city. Dozens of institutions, architects, and engineers were invited to submit proposals for a new temple. The pyramidal design submitted by Leopoldo Fernández Font was from the final shortlist of four proposals. Fernandez Font was later awarded an honorary degree]for this and other structures. He said that one of his favorite works is the Temple of the Resurrection, but that the temple of La Luz del Mundo seemed difficult to him. The temple was built to accommodate 12,000 worshipers and is used for annual ceremonies.
The building's design represents the infinite power and existence of God. It consists of seven levels over a base menorah, each of which symbolize steps toward the human spirit's perfection. In February 1991, a laser beacon was installed to commemorate the 449-year anniversary of the founding of Guadalajara. On July 1999 the pinnacle of the temple "La Flama" was replaced by Aaron's rod, a twenty ton bronze sculpture by artist Jorge de la Peña. The installation of the 23-metre (75 ft) long structure required a special crane.
Houston Texas Temple
The main temple in Houston, Texas, was inspired by Greco-Roman architecture. It is the largest temple constructed by La Luz del Mundo in the United States as of 2011. The temple's pillars resemble the Parthenon, according to religious historian Timothy Wyatt. The front of the building is decorated with carved scenes from the Bible and three panes of stained glass also depict biblical scenes. The temple can hold 4,500 people. The interior has marble floors, glass chandeliers, and wood paneling.
The structure is worth US$18 million and consists of the temple, classrooms, offices, and a parsonage. There is a sitting area with 14 free-standing columns in a circle next to the temple. Each column represents each of the Apostles—including Aarón and Samuel Joaquín. On top of the temple under Aaron's rod—the church's symbol which represents God's power tobring spiritual life to believers—is a large, golden dome. The symbol is also a reference to the church's founder.
Construction of the temple began in 2000 and it was finished in 2005. Most of the construction was done by church volunteers, who provided funding and a skilled workforce. The structure was designed by church members and the design was revised by architects to ensure compliance with building codes. The decorations and ornaments were also designed and installed by church members. The temple serves as a central congregation for southeastern Texas.
There are no definitive statistics for the total membership of La Luz del Mundo. It has reported having over five million members worldwide in 2000 with 1.5 million in Mexico. The church does not appear in the 1990 Mexican census or any census prior to that.
The 2000 Mexican census reported about 70,000 members nationwide, and the 2010 census reported 188,326 members. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose numbers also differ significantly from those of the census—1,234,545compared to the census figure of 314,932—said ambiguity in the census questionnaire was the source of the disparity. The World Christian Encyclopedia reports 430,000 adherents in Mexico in 2000 and 488,000 in Mexico in 2010. Anthropologist Hugo G. Nutini estimated that the church had around 1,125,000 members in 2000 in Mexico. In 2008, Fortuny and Williams estimated the membership at 7,000,000. Anthropologist Ávila Meléndez says that the membership numbers reported by La Luz del Mundo are plausible given the great interest it has generated among "religious authorities" and the following it receives in Mexico.
In El Salvador, as of 2009, there are an estimated 70,000 members of La Luz del Mundo, which had 140 congregations with a minister and 160 other congregations with between 13 and 80 members. As of 2008, there were around 60,000 members of the church in the United States.
According to Patricia Fortuny, members of La Luz del Mundo along with members of other Protestant denominations, are treated as "second class citizens". She says the church is called a sect in an offensive manner in Mexico. Rodolfo Morán Quiroz, a sociologist, said that the discrimination started by the Catholic Church, which in the past caused La Luz del Mundo to seek help from the authorities who promoted religious freedom in establishing its community in Hermosa Provincia, continues in Mexico. Church founder Joaquín González was beaten by Cristeros and was jailed by the government for preaching in the open air.
In 1995, as thousands of members of the church traveled to the Holy Supper celebration in Guadalajara, several members of a neighboring community supported by Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez protested the use of schools to provide temporary shelters for the Luz del Mundo pilgrims. The protesters said that after the ceremony the schools were left in disarray; however church authorities presented photographic evidence to newspapers to refute these claims.
According to Armando Maya Castro, many students who are members of the church have been discriminated against for refusing to partake in celebrations and customs concerning the Day of the Dead in their schools, and some have been punished for it. In one case reported by a Mexican newspaper, La Gaceta, a female member of the church was pushed by a fellow bus passenger, who then crossed herself because the member was wearing a long skirt. In July 25 of 2008, a public official sealed the entrance to a La Luz del Mundo temple in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, trapping the congregation inside until other officials removed the seals. This incident occurred because of complaints from individuals who did not like the presence of the church in the area. Reporter Rodolfo Chávez Calderón stated the church was in compliance with local laws.
Many female church members have faced discrimination and verbal abuse on buses, in schools, and in hospitals. Church members who were patients in a Mexican hospital were denied access to their ministers in 2011. The hospital required permission from Catholic clergy so that LLDM ministers could visit patients.
Ministers of the church have reported that the site of a newly constructed temple in Silao has been subject to harassment of its members, vandalism, and physical threats because of religious intolerance, which have caused them to request increased police protection. In February 2012, seventy ministers of La Luz del Mundo from different nations appeared before Mexican authorities in Guadalajara to denounce the lack of police protection for the church's residents in the city after a series of attacks left several members hospitalized.
According to sociologist Roberto Blancarte, La Luz del Mundo "has been the subject of an ignominious persecution, fueled by the most primitive prejudices and by outright obscure interests". Carlos Monsiváis also said that in 1997 the church became the victim of a defamation campaign.
Allegations of potential for mass suicide
After the Heaven's Gate suicide in 1997, the Church was accused in Mexico of having the potential to commit a similar act. Jorge Erdely Graham accused the church of being a "destructive sect" with the potential for mass suicide in Mexican television on March 27, 1997—a day after the bodies of the 39 members of Heaven's Gate who had committed mass suicide were found. According to Gordon Melton and David Bromley the church La Luz del Mundo became subject to fraudulent accusations of planning acts of violence or mass suicide against its members as a result of the Heaven's Gate mass suicide.
Sexual abuse accusations against leader
Former members made allegations of human rights violations against the leader of the church. These accusations were led by Erdely's anti-cult group, which demanded that La Luz del Mundo be stripped of its legal recognition as a religion. After four people initiated a formal investigation through the Mexico's Religious Affairs Department and a state prosecutor, Mexican authorities said that "because the alleged crimes occurred so long ago [approximately 20 years from the initial report], it's unlikely any trial will take place".
In one case, former member Moisés Padilla Íñiguez accused Joaquín Flores of forcing him to have sex when he was a teenager. According to the L.A. Times, days after his accusations, Padilla was kidnapped by two gunmen and stabbed 57 times with a dagger, none of which was legally proven. According to Mexican newspaper El Norte, the shallow wounds did not put his life in danger, although he could have died from blood loss. Padilla blamed Joaquín Flores for the stabbing and for an earlier attack in which he was allegedly beaten by men who warned him against criticizing the "Servant of God". A church spokesperson denied that the church or Joaquín Flores had any involvement in the attack and accused Padilla of orchestrating the attack to authenticate his previous charges against the church. Dissidents were suspicious of the Mexican legal system, arguing that "it favors the politically influential church"; prosecutors refused to say whether any evidence had been found; and authorities said dissidents were not being fully cooperative.
A Church spokesperson responded by saying, "not one of the alleged abuses disseminated by the media has been proven true by the authorities". Anthropologist Renée de la Torre said that these issues are isolated to the church in Guadalajara. Lino González, speaking on behalf of the state prosecutor's office in Guadalajara, said that he believed that the accusations were unfounded.
The accusations against Joaquín Flores were never proven before a court. La Luz del Mundo Church was investigated, and the charges against it were refuted by the Mexican Commission on Human Rights. According to anthropologist Carlos Garma Navarro, the Mexican government took no action because there was no legal basis for a sanction, and this would open the door for sanctions against the Catholic clergy. However, Garma Navarro criticized the fact that the accusations were brought before the mass media instead of a judicial court, "because [the media] cannot operate as an alternative judicial court, and their aim is to maintain and increase their audience." According to Garma Navarro, it is likely that the researchers involved were being manipulated by groups opposed to the church that sought to give it a bad image and that the accusations were made in a "desire for revenge by intolerant extremist groups". He also said that members of the church were harassed because of their religious affiliation during what they perceived to be a lynching campaign against their leader.
Opposition to new temple in California
In 1995, La Luz del Mundo acquired a vacant nursery building in a commercial zone in Ontario, California. The church planned to use it for religious activities and was assured that it could as long as building requirements were met. The city then passed a law requiring all new religious organizations to obtain a conditional use permit to operate a church in the commercial zone. In 1998, the church petitioned for such a permit but concerned residents objected to its plans. María de Lourdes Argüelles, professor at Claremont Graduate University and board member of the Instituto Cristiano de México, led opposition against the church, which she called a "destructive sect". She said she had seen children and teenagers working overnight on the site under precarious conditions.
Ontario officials met with objecting residents and began researching the church and checking with cities where Luz del Mundo had temples, but found no problems. After considering zoning questions and citing traffic, parking and disruption of economic plans for that area, the city denied the permit to the church. La Luz del Mundo then sued the city for denying it use of its own building for services and for allegedly violating its civil rights. The case was settled out of court in 2004, and the church was allowed to build the temple and the city agreed to pay about US$150,000 in cash and fee credits to the church. The case was not taken to the courts because city officials and attorneys concluded the city would most likely lose the case and would spend more money than the settlement.
Wildlife Refuge and Sanctuary Silver Wolf
In 1998, the Joaquín family purchased Silver Wolf Ranch in Seguin, Texas. At the time Guadalupe County Sheriff Melvin Harborth deployed a criminal intelligence unit after receiving reports of armed guards on the premises. The sheriff said that a thorough investigation was carried out but nothing illegal was found, stating that "everybody's got freedom of religion". The ranch was divided into two; one part was private and the other a nonprofit part. The nonprofit part operates as an animal and wildlife refuge and as of 2008 the family had plans to open a zoo, but progress had been delayed due to lack of funds. Lawyer Bruce Hopkins said the situation "is a bit troubling" because the public access has been delayed for a long time. Authorities continue to watch the ranch but the owners have given them no reason to act.
The church has stated that voluntary donations do not enrich the family's private holdings. Church lawyer Maria Elena Castillo stated that the ranch benefits the public by rescuing and caring for "doomed or homeless" animals and that "veterinary and children's groups take educational field trips inside the nonprofit zoo". Vapsi Coronado says that the owners have been working with the United States Department of Agriculture to rescue abused and neglected animals since they purchased the ranch.
- Fortuny 1995, pp. 147-162.
- Biglieri 2000, p. 407.
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- "Historia". Iglesia del Dios Vivo Columna y Apoyo de la Verdad, La Luz del Mundo. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
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- De la Torre 2000, p. 77.
- De la Torre 2000, p. 71.
- Pineda, Israel (14 November 2008). "Homenaje. Historia Militar: Mtro. Aarón Joaquín González. 90 Años de haber alcanzado el grado de subteniente de infantería". La Luz del Mundo USA. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
- Dormady 2011, p. 22.
- Fortuny 1995, p. 149.
- Fortuny 1995, p. 148.
- De la Torre 2000, p. 73.
- De la Torre 2000, pp. 73-74.
- Dormady 2011, p. 28.
- Dormady 2011, p. 35.
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