Jesus Redux

They're waging a war on organized religion, they bring in millions of dollars, and defectors say they're a cult

José Luis Jr., meanwhile, has established a congregation of his own. He says he has about 80 members in Puerto Rico and groups of 30 to 40 in Peru, Brazil, Guatemala, and Miami. Virtually all are former Creciendo en Gracia members. Among them are his mother and two of his four sisters.

In many ways José Luis Jr.'s teachings mirror his father's. He believes the Devil was destroyed and that salvation is predestined. But parishioners don't have carte blanche to indulge their urges. And he never claims to be Jesus Christ. As he puts it: "I offer people a safe alternative to that kind of fanatical thinking."


Alvaro Albarracin's devotion to Creciendo en Gracia has 
cost him his relationship with his parents. It also 
contributed to the breakup of his first marriage. He's 
pictured here with his new wife, Martita Roca, who acted 
in Love for Rent
Jacqueline Carini
Alvaro Albarracin's devotion to Creciendo en Gracia has cost him his relationship with his parents. It also contributed to the breakup of his first marriage. He's pictured here with his new wife, Martita Roca, who acted in Love for Rent
Creciendo en Gracia members stand on Coral Way and 
112th Avenue and display picket signs to passersby, many 
of whom are heading to a gathering for Ministerio El Rey 
Jesés. The event took place January 22
Jacqueline Carini
Creciendo en Gracia members stand on Coral Way and 112th Avenue and display picket signs to passersby, many of whom are heading to a gathering for Ministerio El Rey Jesés. The event took place January 22
Creciendo en Gracia sells a variety of merchandise, 
including license plates and dolls made to look like its 
bishops
Jacqueline Carini
Creciendo en Gracia sells a variety of merchandise, including license plates and dolls made to look like its bishops
Creciendo en Gracia sells a variety of merchandise, 
including license plates and dolls made to look like its 
bishops
Jacqueline Carini
Creciendo en Gracia sells a variety of merchandise, including license plates and dolls made to look like its bishops

Creciendo en Gracia devotees believe, on the other hand, that Junior is just another minister of deceipt and that, little by little, De Jesus is exposing the one true Gospel. As he does, their minds are evolving. When it's all over, they'll have perfect knowledge — but only if they believe. De Jesus says his followers will then shed their tired flesh and he'll give them new bodies that feel no pain and never die. Although he can't say exactly when the change will come, the buzz around headquarters is that it could be any moment.

Some of his followers, like Albarracin, are so convinced salvation is imminent that they refuse to plan for retirement or take out health and life insurance.

After all, when the transformation is over, they won't want for anything.

"We're the government of God on Earth," explains De Jesus. "We will spread all over and rule the world. We will control the church, the economy, society, education, politics, technology. There will be no war, no corruption. I mean, if a lie can change the world, why can't the truth do it?"

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