A unique religious movement in Peru, synthesizing various beliefs and practices under the guidance of Ezequiel Ataucusi Gamonal.
The Evangelical Association of the Israelite Mission of the New Universal Covenant, known as AEMINPU, is a new religious movement founded in Peru in 1968 by Ezequiel Ataucusi Gamonal. This movement, often referred to as the “Israelites” in Peru, is distinctive for its syncretic nature, combining elements from various religious and ideological traditions.
Ideology and Beliefs
AEMINPU synthesizes Jewish and Adventist theology with Inca mysticism and spirituality, alongside a Maoist view on politics and economics. Ataucusi, who described himself as ‘the Christ of the west’, gradually diminished the spiritual importance of Jesus Christ in the religion, elevating his own status within the movement. The organization has strong apocalyptic beliefs, with Ataucusi claiming that he had personally delayed the end of the world events.
Members strictly interpret the Old Testament and observe the Shabbat, ceasing all secular activities from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday. They adhere to a dress code prescribed in the Bible, believe in the separation of sexes, and participate in animal sacrifices during religious ceremonies. The movement also ascribes mystical qualities to the coca plant, though prohibits the use of tobacco and alcohol.
Membership and Growth
Initially, AEMINPU had about 180 followers at its founding in 1967, but the community rapidly grew to around a thousand members the following year. By 1980, it was estimated to have around 30,000 members, and at the time of Ataucusi’s death in 2000, the movement was believed to have more than 200,000 followers. The movement’s emphasis on communal living and strong community life, combined with its attraction to indigenous Peruvians and those disillusioned with violent methods of Communism, contributed to its rapid growth.
Attire and Distinguishing Features
The followers of AEMINPU are easily distinguished in Peru due to their unique attire. Men traditionally grow their beards long and do not shave or cut their hair. Women cover their hair, even in non-religious settings, and wear modest, long-sleeved clothing.
Ataucusi was known to have multiple wives and was accused of sexually molesting young girls. The group has faced accusations of promoting homophobia due to its literal interpretation of the Bible. AEMINPU’s distinct ideology and practices have made it a subject of interest and controversy within the broader religious landscape of Peru.
The establishment of AEMINPU and its growth reflect the dynamic and diverse nature of religious movements in Peru. The movement’s unique blend of religious beliefs and its involvement in the socio-political sphere highlight the complexities of religious identity and expression in the region.