Central American countries ban "Antichrist"
A Puerto Rican-born ex-drug addict who has the number 666 of the Antichrist tattooed on his arm but claims to be Jesus Christ has been banned from entering three Central American countries.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the three nations have banned Jose de Jesus Miranda, who heads a cult-like movement known as Growing in Grace with sermons televised from Miami to dozens of mostly Latin American nations.
Miranda wants to join followers at a rally next week in Guatemala.
A former heroin addict who was briefly imprisoned as a youth in his native Puerto Rico, Miranda, 60, talks openly in a video on his website about how he loved cocaine and dreamed of working in a Colombian drug lab.
But he says he is Jesus Christ reborn on earth, arguing Saint Paul's teachings show this is what Antichrist means.
He says other priests are "faggots", and makes fun of Holy Week customs in Latin America, calling heavy statues of Jesus that Catholics parade though streets "little dolls".
"The Pope should be ashamed," shouts Miranda in Spanish into a microphone. "He should wear pants like a man. He should tell the truth and stop teaching shit."
Tony Saca, the president of strongly Catholic El Salvador, barred Miranda from entering the country last month, describing him as "a danger to mental health". Miranda said the country would suffer an earthquake because of the decision.
Central America, especially Guatemala, has seen a surge in converts to a variety of Christian churches in recent decades.
Miranda's ministry began in 1986 in a Miami warehouse. He says it has congregations in more than 20 countries, mostly in Latin America. It counts with its own 24-hour radio and TV station.
In one video, the leader of the Growing in Grace church, sporting slicked hair, tailored suits and gold chains, rolls up his sleeves to reveal the number 666 tattooed on his forearm.
Hundreds of followers have now tattooed themselves with the number saying it is a symbol of love and not the sign of Satan. They say there is no devil, no hell and no such thing as sin.
'Antichrist' banned by three countries (Sydney Morning Herald, 15/4/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Growing in Grace
Growing in Grace (NBC TV News, Youtube)
Pope antichrist sign sparks free-speech holy war (CathNews, 31/7/01)
Antichrist is pacifist, ecologist, Cardinal tells Pope (CathNews, 2/3/07)
16 Apr 2007