It had the makings for talk show gold: Divorce court. A cult leader. Protesters on the steps of a courthouse. But then there were the bored camera guys and the cops who stood twiddling their thumbs as the 20-or-so followers of Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda paced silently -- and quite politely -- in a circle, holding Spanish blue-font signs. The whole thing felt weirdly, unnaturally, tepid -- considering the elements.
As the story goes, Miranda -- the Puerto Rican-born former heroin addict who claims to be the embodiment of Christ -- recently suffered a big financial bruise at the hands of X-wife Josephina Torres. Supporters of his Doral-based church materialized in front of the Miami-Dade family court on Northwest 1st Avenue yesterday afternoon. They were there to protest a recent court finding: The estranged spouse is now entitled to dip into the church's fund as part of the settlement. The church's bank account is in Miranda's name.
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Die-hard followers are pulling the church-and-state card. Jo-Ann De Jesus, daughter of the leader, stood among photographers in her wide-frame Armani Exchange sunglasses just after 2 p.m. yesterday. "They're limiting our ability to exercise our freedom of religion," she said, as reporters whipped out their notebooks. "We have just enough to pay the electricity and insurance at the church."
During the August 2008 trial, X-wife Torres told of the luxurious lifestyle she was used to living. That included staying at the finest Latin American hotels, driving fancy cars and taking trips around the world. She also claimed to be physically and psychologically abused by Miranda.
Outside the court yesterday, protesters wore 666 t-shirts, the group's religious symbol. Several had tattooed the number on his/her angle and many carried signs that were too small to read.
Onlookers seemed confused. One pretty 20-something in a suitcoat watched the demonstration while chatting on her Blackberry. "I don't get it," she said into the phone. "Who are these people? What do they want?"