Saturday, January 1, 2011

Religious Freedom

The Interior Minister, Áfrico Madrid, has closed down the facilities of Creciendo en Gracia in Tegucigalpa. Creciendo en Gracia is a cult, headquartered in Miami, Florida. The founder, José Luis De Jesús Miranda, believes he is "the man Jesus Christ" and urges his supporters to tattoo "666" on their bodies.

On December 29 this year Creciendo en Gracia in Tegucigalpa held a public tatooing event, in which members got 666 tattooed on their arms, necks, foreheads, etc. On December 31, Áfrico Madrid and the National Police locked up the cult's facilities in Tegucigalpa.

This is not the cult's first run in with the law in Honduras. In 2009, the de facto regime placed a migratory alert so that the cult leader, José Luis De Jesús Miranda, still cannot enter Honduras.

Madrid alleges that the cult is operating under the wrong kind of paperwork, eg, they filed as a mercantile association, a business. That's not surprising since that's how they are organized in the US as well. They don't seek a tax exempt status and are happy to pay taxes. Its worth noting the cult has been operating in Honduras since 1994 and has centers in Tegucigalpa, Comayagua, San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba, and Santa Barbara.

Madrid says they need to file different paperwork to operate as a church. However, Madrid also said they were closed down by order of the Fiscal de Menores (Children's Prosecutor) who was concerned because they had tattooed children in their public event on the 29th, not withstanding the declarations of the cult leader in Honduras, Hector Fonseca, who said that the children were tattooed only with the permission of their parents.

Áfrico Madrid, the Interior Minister who previously banned Halloween celebrations, may need to read his constitution again. Article 77 of the Honduran constitution guarantees free exercise of any religion or belief as long as it does not contravene the public order or laws of Honduras.

Madrid failed to identify any law that had been broken by the cult that would justify shutting them down, and since they've been operating under the existing paperwork since 1994, it would appear that Madrid is once again carrying out his own religious agenda, in violation of the Honduran constitution.


RNS said...

Apparently their "crime" is possessing pictures of tattooed children. Tiempo has the following quote from Madrid today:

"They were charged by the Fiscalia del Menor because they were found to possess photos of tattooed minors."

Apparently they just make up crimes in Honduras under this administration.

Tambopaxi said...

Possession of photos of tattooed minors... Clearly some sort of satanic cult.

Seriously, Madrid is a clear and serious threat to freedom of expression in Honduras. Lobo has done nothing to contravene his Minister, which leads to me believe that he (Lobo) shares his Minister's disdain for a basic democratic freedom in Honduras.

RNS said...

It gets worse. Madrid alleged in a La Tribuna article today that they had violated the Ley de Administración Pública, the Ley de Municipalidades and the Ley de Policia y Convivencia Ciudadana.

The Ley de Administración Pública is all about public administration, from the Council of Ministers on down. There's nothing in it they could have violated.

The Ley de Municipalidades is all about how municipal government is organized and operates. There is nothing in it they could have violated.

The Ley de Policia y Convivencia Cuidadana regulates the organization of the Police, Municipal courts, and describes what they can do. There's nothing in this law that the cult could have violated.

The money quote: "All of these laws regulate these kinds of liberties and this sect has violated these laws because they've abused the liberty, which is something that has limits."

Lobo calls himself a Christian humanist, but somehow can't seem to enact either the Christian or the humanism parts in his government.

RNS said...

Áfrico Madrid:

"What we are going to analyze are their documents, their actions, their operations, and if the religious beliefs of the organization are compatible with the common good of the nation."

Tambopaxi said...

Madrid sounds like something right out of the 1890's. Sometimes, I despair for Honduras...

Anonymous said...


Don't you mean 1490s?