South Side residents are expressing outrage about two huge banners in their neighborhood that feature the likeness of a religious leader who has been arrested and charged with child rape and human trafficking.
Naason Joaquín Garcia, the leader of La Luz Del Mundo, a Mexico-based religious organization with more than 15,000 churches in Latin America and the U.S. was arrested and charged last month in California with more than two dozen crimes, including child rape and human trafficking.
Two huge banners feature his likeness, one hanging on the front of La Luz Del Mundo Church, 1316 S. Cesar E. Chavez Drive, and another from the side of the building housing La Luz Del Mundo Family Services, 1570 W. Greenfield Ave.
Reactions to a Facebook post call for the removal of the large banner, which features a smiling Garcia and hangs above the main entrance to the church. They range from threats to take it down to calls for elected officials to become involved.
“That picture has got to go. It’s an insult,” read one comment. “A disgrace to the community,” read another.
Others defended the church’s decision not to remove the banner.
“Freedom of religion; let them be,” wrote one person.
The post has been shared more than 280 times on Facebook. Garcia became the leader of the church with an estimated following of more than 1 million people after the death of its first leader and founder in 2014. A federal investigation into Garcia’s alleged crimes began in 2018, according to news reports, and led to charges alleging dozens of sex crimes, including child pornography, child rape and human trafficking. He is being held by authorities in California on $50 million bail.
The Milwaukee chapter of the church issued a press statement Thursday afternoon that said Garcia has been falsely accused.
“He is detained but is innocent,” read part of a statement from the church in Spanish.
The letter states that La Luz Del Mundo Church has served Milwaukee for more than 30 years and has over 300 congregants. The statement also compared the charges against Garcia to the false persecution of Jesus Christ.
The church’s International Ministry released a press statement in late June stating that the allegations against Garcia were offensive, irresponsible and false.
The popular church has a good standing in the community and there is no reason to believe that Garcia has ever visited it. Mayor Tom Barrett proclaimed August 14, 2016, as La Luz Del Mundo Church Day in Milwaukee. In 2013, the church opened La Luz Del Mundo Family Services, a violence prevention and intervention center.
It does not appear as if church officials have any plans to remove the banner, but South Side resident Ricardo Jimenez said he hopes leaders change their minds.
“A man that used the name of God to take advantage of families and kids … It’s disgusting,” Jimenez said.” “Milwaukee can do better. We need his banner and his face off all these posters.”
Consuelo Garcia Herman says
That man has nothing to do with Jesus! Stop exalting man (perverse man) by having his face on a banner!
His official family name is ‘Joaquin’. — ‘Garcia’ is his second last name. The mother’s last name. The Joaquinita dynasty is:
1. Eusebio (a.k.a. ”Aarón”) Joaquín
2. Samuel Joaquín
3. Naasón Joaquín (locked up).
There are rumors that a grandchild of Samuel Joaquín—the second ‘apostle’— named Adoniram Joaquín, is being groomed to take on the ‘apostolic’ mantle if Naasón is sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison.
Robert T. Jenkins says
In the Bible at Luke 23:34 Jesus asked my Almighty God “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
This guy will be very sorry if he is convicted. The other inmates will teach him a valuable lesson in molestation and pain.
This article doesn’t have all the correct facts. Garcia is the 3rd leader/“apostle” to lead La Luz Del Mundo. I have family in this strictly disciplined church. I don’t think appropriate to hang his banner at this point.
I can, also, guarantee that Garcia has been to most of his churches, including Milwaukee. The family is good about visiting locations. His brothers have preached at many smaller churches large-term to grow those areas.
They have grown this church into a power in the religious community. They’ve done so by being hands on, and strategically places people- as well as, being deeply embedded into the lives of their followers.
The people of this church and many others are brain washed.Almost cult like. It’s a shame that these people still defend him.
Jess calder says
Can you describe exactly how the process was. And for how long did you study and investigate this church. Were you undercover? How did they let you in? I think it would be interesting since you have that info
Rick Saiz says
La Luz Del mundo church is a cult brainwashing false church that preys on the poor. The bishops, pastors, and unconditionales who run this church deceive the members by telling them that their leaders are innocent. If you have been molested by one of their pastors and report it, your life will be in danger. The previous leader, Samuel Joaquin Flores raped and molested 16 year old Mose Padilla. When Moses exposed him, the unconditionales of this cult kidnapped him and stabbed him more than fifty times. Just google his testimony with this cult and read it for yourself. The leaders of this church want to carry on the lie that they are innocent, so that the members continue to tith to support the lavish lifestyle of the pastors and bishops who buy expensive houses and cars, and take luxurious vacations. Remember when their church leader Naason was arrested, he had $200,000 in cash and gold jewelry on him. This is a greedy, controlling, money hungry cult that preys on the poor members of this false religion. Expose them for what they really are!