Monday, January 12, 2009
Judge Rules that Church is Minister's Personal Business, Not Religious Nonprofit, and Awards Half of Church's Assets to Minister's Ex-wife
The Houston Chronicle reports that Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda, who gained international notoriety by declaring himself first to be Jesus Christ, then the Antichrist, lost his divorce court bid to protect his church from financial claims by his most recent ex-wife.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Roberto Pineiro ruled that De Jesus' Growing in Grace church was his personal business rather than a religious nonprofit body, and awarded Josefina de Jesus Torres the more than $2.2 million she sought in the divorce — the amount her lawyer deemed was half the assets of her ex-husband and his church.
De Jesus disappeared in August, when the judge declared him in contempt of court and ordered him to surrender to authorities for not paying Torres $15,000 a month in alimony. The divorce trial went ahead without him.
De Jesus' lawyer, Leonardo Renaud, is in the process of appealing the ruling and is filing a request to halt the property transfers.