Take the pledge to vote

For a better tommorow#AajSawaroApnaKal
  • I agree to receive emails from News18

  • I promise to vote in this year's elections no matter what the odds are.
  • Please check above checkbox.

    SUBMIT

Thank you for
taking the pledge

Vote responsibly as each vote counts
and makes a diffrence

Disclaimer:

Issued in public interest by HDFC Life. HDFC Life Insurance Company Limited (Formerly HDFC Standard Life Insurance Company Limited) (“HDFC Life”). CIN: L65110MH2000PLC128245, IRDAI Reg. No. 101 . The name/letters "HDFC" in the name/logo of the company belongs to Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited ("HDFC Limited") and is used by HDFC Life under an agreement entered into with HDFC Limited. ARN EU/04/19/13618
LIVE TV DownloadNews18 App
News18 English
News18 » World
2-min read

Mexico Church Holds Mass Baptism Despite Leader's Sex Crimes Scandal, Pedophilia Charges

The leader of the controversial church, Naason Joaquin Garcia, was arrested in Los Angeles in June on sex crimes charges, including child rape.

AFP

Updated:August 14, 2019, 9:35 AM IST
facebookTwitterskypewhatsapp
Mexico Church Holds Mass Baptism Despite Leader's Sex Crimes Scandal, Pedophilia Charges
Naason Joaquin Garcia, the head of a Mexican-based church estimated to have more than 1 million followers worldwide, appears in court in Los Angels, California, U.S., June 10, 2019 (Reuters)
Loading...

Guadalajara: Mexican Pentecostal church the Light of the World is in crisis, its leader facing pedophilia charges, but that has not stopped thousands of people from around the world traveling to its headquarters to be immersed in a giant baptismal pool.

The leader of the controversial church, Naason Joaquin Garcia, was arrested in Los Angeles in June on sex crimes charges, including child rape.

Joaquin, who claims to be the last apostle of Jesus, and three co-defendants are accused of coercing minor girls into performing sexual acts by telling them that going against his wishes would be going against God.

But if the scandal has diminished the fervor of the five million members the church claims worldwide, there is no sign of it at the Light of the World's annual gathering this week at its headquarters in Mexico's second city, Guadalajara.

Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from 58 countries have descended on the western city to take part in a week-long "holy convocation," the church's main event of the year, which will culminate in a "holy supper" Wednesday.

With mass baptisms, 2,000 gigantic loaves of bread and 28,000 liters of wine, the faithful are clinging fast to their church -- and its leader, absent for the first time ever this year.

"I'm telling you with 100 percent certainty: He's innocent. He's an honorable man. His heart is a precious work of God," said Andres Riquelme, 48, who traveled from his native Panama to be baptized along with more than 2,000 other believers Monday, the first of three days of mass baptisms.

Joaquin, 50, has been a powerful presence despite his absence.

An enormous photo of him hangs above the church's choir, his name is constantly on his followers' lips, and he even addressed a letter to the gathering from his California jail cell.

In the text, which was read out at the meeting, he assured his followers that while he awaits trial on 26 US felony counts, he is fulfilling a different "divine mission": preaching to his fellow prisoners.

"God's plan is perfect, even though it is not always pleasant," he said in the message. He told his congregation he was "preaching the word" to fellow prisoners from Russia, Ukraine and Croatia, seeking to spread his faith to their countries.

The judge in the case set Joaquin's bail at USD 25 million -- later doubled to USD 50 million -- ruling that he posed a flight risk.

His followers call that evidence of religious persecution.

The church was founded in 1926 by Eusebio Joaquin Gonzalez -- Joaquin's father -- who claimed to have experienced a "divine revelation." Extreme religious fervour has been on full display in Guadalajara this week, with believers crying, shouting and praying with twisted faces and full-throated shrieks.

"Do you believe in Jesus Christ?" a minister asked newly baptized members, who responded "Amen!" with their right hands raised before being plunged into the full-body baptismal pools.

They have sometimes met with hostility in Guadalajara.

Last weekend, protesters threw rocks at a bus that was carrying pilgrims to the group's sprawling, white-spired church.

"The church has never doubted for a moment that God will give his answer. We know that (Joaquin) is an honorable man, an innocent man. We are waiting for God, patiently and in prayer," said Elpidio Acevedo, 60, a Mexican man who was among the newly baptized.

The Light of the World claims to have 1.8 million members in Mexico and five million worldwide.

Get the best of News18 delivered to your inbox - subscribe to News18 Daybreak. Follow News18.com on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and on YouTube, and stay in the know with what's happening in the world around you – in real time.

Subscribe to Moneycontrol Pro and gain access to curated markets data, trading recommendations, equity analysis, investment ideas, insights from market gurus and much more. Get Moneycontrol PRO for 1 year at price of 3 months. Use code FREEDOM.

Read full article
Loading...
Next Story
Next Story

Also Watch

facebookTwitterskypewhatsapp

Live TV

Loading...
Countdown To Elections Results
To Assembly Elections 2018 Results