December 17th, 2008
04:43 PM ET

Preacher says he is divine, vows to fight $2m divorce judgment

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/17/story.jose.luis.de.jesus.jpg caption="Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda says he is God, and his followers believe him."]

Patrick Oppmann
CNN Miami

He tells his followers he is God.

But Jose Luis De Jesus Miranda’s wife disagreed and was awarded a $2.2 million divorce judgment.

It may seem unusual for a church leader to claim he is divine and then go through a messy, public divorce, but De Jesus’ church has always been, well, unique.

His followers, many of whom are Hispanic and have left the Catholic Church for his take on Christianity, believe that he is both the reincarnation of Jesus Christ and the anti-Christ. Dozens of his followers in South Florida and in Latin America have had 666 –the number associated with the anti-Christ—tattooed on their bodies as a sign of their beliefs.

De Jesus tells the people who believe in him that there is no sin and that they are members of a “super race.”

One of those believers was De Jesus’ second wife Josefina Torres. But Torres told CNN in an interview that after five years of marriage she began to see through her husband and spiritual leader.

“It was like seeing a magician perform and then going backstage and you learn how he does the trick,” Torres said in Spanish.

Torres claimed in her divorce filing that De Jesus was unfaithful to her and abused her.

De Jesus never hid his taste for the high-life, bragging to CNN correspondent John Zarrella during an interview about the number of Rolexes he owns. He also admitted to enjoying expensive cars and homes in Florida and Texas paid for with church money.

But lawyers for Torres found during the divorce battle that De Jesus didn’t stop with expensive homes and cars. Attorneys filed records with the court that proved De Jesus had lost over $46,000 at one casino.

In a deposition, De Jesus explained his gambling losses this way, “When I win in a casino I report a loss because there is no proof that you kept– if I made $10,000, I report a loss."

Their leader’s spending habits did not seem to bother the parishioners at a church service who were approached by CNN last year after news of the divorce broke. Church members said they wanted De Jesus to be happy and would continue to give. Members of de Jesus church are encouraged to tithe or donate ten percent of their earnings.

Judge Roberto M. Pineiro, who heard the divorce case, observed in open court, “I really don’t know where the personal property starts and the church property ends.”

In the divorce settlement, Pineiro wrote that the church’s assets should be considered De Jesus’ property too. He ordered that De Jesus pay his ex-wife $2.2 million of his and the churches’ roughly $5 million in assets.

A statement released by the church blasted the judge’s “ignorant decision.”

The church “pronounces itself unable to pay any sum of money to Ms. Torres, as this is a personal divorce case and therefore not a matter of the Ministry. We will appeal this decision before a Superior Court and will resort to all necessary resources against Mr. Roberto Pineiro and his ruling,” the statement read.

Filed under: Patrick Oppmann • Religion
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Barbara in Boston

    This guy sounds eerily like Jim Jones. Very scary.

    December 17, 2008 at 5:49 pm |
  2. Jill

    People like this give Christianity a bad name. He is nuts, plain and simple. Mental illness occurs in all professions.

    December 17, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  3. Diane N.

    Good for his wife. Anyone who thinks they are divine forgot the rules. Remember that one, 'there shall be no other gods before me' and oh that other one 'the meek shall inherit the earth' and of course that one where we're suppose to 'humble ourselves' something to that effect...

    December 17, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  4. earle,florida

    This is for the corrupt ,both "in and out of religion"! For those who believe religion has become passe? Although it's spirituality existence has been compromised, once predicated by the inception of our inner collective consciousness. The once "Almighty God" has become a variable by-product of the "Darwinian Doctrine Equation". The masters of modern day societies are once again deities,nothing has changed since the recording of time. There is however one constant, that being the collective faith's of all mankind replinishing the soul's immortality incapable of death. The folly of the atheist or agnostic to dismiss religions intangible spiritual energy is fooish. Does oneself wish to dismiss eternal bliss as trivial? PS ,The arrogance of leaders inability to listen to there flock reaps horrific punishment,...

    December 17, 2008 at 5:01 pm |
  5. Melissa, Los Angeles

    Religion is brainwashing so this type of following doesn't surprise me. Glad the wife woke up and saw him for who he really is – a con man.

    December 17, 2008 at 4:57 pm |