La Luz del Mundo

A nontrinitarian Christian denomination embroiled in controversy and legal challenges.

Religion: Christianity
Denomination: Restorationism
Founder: Eusebio Joaquín González
Founded: 1926
Location: Guadalajara, Mexico
Size: Approximately 1-5 million members
Other Names: The Light of the World Church

La Luz del Mundo, formally known as the Iglesia del Dios Vivo, Columna y Apoyo de la Verdad, La Luz del Mundo (Church of the Living God, Pillar and Ground of the Truth, The Light of the World), is a nontrinitarian Christian denomination situated within the Restorationist tradition, with its international headquarters located in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Founded in 1926 by Eusebio Joaquín González, the church was established amidst the tumultuous period of the Mexican Cristero War, a conflict that pitted a secular, anti-clerical government against Catholic insurgents, particularly in Jalisco where the church’s missionary efforts were concentrated.

La Luz del Mundo distinguishes itself by adhering to a form of Restorationist theology, centering around three leaders regarded as modern-day apostles of Jesus Christ: Aarón—born Eusebio—Joaquín González (1896–1964), his son Samuel Joaquín Flores (1937–2014), and his grandson Naasón Joaquín García (born 1969). The church aspires to restore primitive Christianity, eschewing crosses, religious images, and allowing women to hold certain leadership roles, though not within its religious hierarchy. La Luz del Mundo’s teachings emphasize the Bible as the sole source of Christian doctrine, restorationism, the special calling of its leaders, a unique Christology that rejects the Trinity, and specific roles for women within the church and society.

The church’s organizational structure is hierarchical, with Naasón Joaquín García serving as the spiritual and administrative leader, under whom pastors, deacons, and obreros (laborers) serve various roles within the congregation. Worship practices are distinct, with services that separate male and female attendees, emphasize a cappella singing, and a dress code that includes long skirts for women and head coverings during services.

Over the years, La Luz del Mundo has faced various controversies, including allegations of sexual abuse against its leaders. One of the most significant controversies surrounding LLDM involves its current leader, Naasón Joaquín García, who was arrested in 2019 on charges including the sexual abuse of minors, human trafficking, and forced labor. Joaquín García, the grandson of the church’s founder, pleaded guilty to several charges in 2022 and was sentenced to 16 years and 8 months in prison. Additional charges related to the production and possession of child pornography were brought against him in 2023​​. The church’s response to these controversies has been to rally around their leadership, comparing Joaquín García’s letters from prison to the apostolic epistles of the New Testament, and viewing his incarceration as a testament to his divine mission.

Critics and former members argue that the controversies reflect deeper issues within the church’s leadership and governance, accusing it of fostering an environment where questioning is discouraged, and dissent is equated with betrayal. The church’s past, particularly under García’s father, who also faced allegations of child sex abuse that never led to criminal charges in Mexico, has been cited as a precedent for the current legal battles facing the organization​​.

Documentaries and investigative reports have further exposed the alleged systemic abuse and the church’s attempts to maintain control over its members, both physically and ideologically. Survivors and dissidents have utilized these platforms to voice their experiences and call for accountability, indicating a significant shift in the public’s perception and internal dynamics of the organization.

image via LLDM

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