La Nueva Jerusalén

A controversial religious community in Mexico, known for its strict religious practices and isolation from the outside world.

Religion: Christianity
Founder: Nabor Cárdenas Mejorada
Founded: 1973
Location: Michoacán, Mexico
Size: Approximately 5,000 members
Other Names: The New Jerusalem, Church of the Living God, Column and Ground of the Truth

La Nueva Jerusalén, also referred to as the New Jerusalem, Church of the Living God, Column and Ground of the Truth, is a religious sect located in Michoacán, Mexico. Established in 1973 by a defrocked Catholic priest, Nabor Cárdenas Mejorada, alongside a local woman, Gabina Sánchez (later known as Mamá Salomé), who claimed to have received visions from the Virgin Mary. These visions directed them to create a new holy city as a sanctuary for true believers to await the end of the world. This site was allegedly chosen by the Virgin Mary in Sánchez’s visions​​.

The foundation of La Nueva Jerusalén was steeped in controversy from its inception. Mejorada, a critic of certain Catholic reforms, was inspired by the revelations given to Sánchez by the Virgin of Rosary to create his own religious division, which took on a sect-like character. This sect secluded itself from the rest of Michoacán state and named their sanctuary La Ermita. Mejorada, eventually excommunicated for his beliefs and actions, adopted the title Papá Nabor. The sect reported witnessing miracles, including resurrections and healings, and gradually replaced many Catholic practices with their own, based on the predictions given to Sánchez by the Virgin of Rosary​​.

La Nueva Jerusalén’s belief system combines traditional Catholicism with apocalyptic prophecies, including the imminent end of the world and a unique emphasis on the Virgin Mary. The sect follows a rigorous routine of prayer and religious ceremonies. Its members are required to adhere to a strict dress code, rejecting modern technology and mass media, which they consider products of the devil. The leaders, claiming direct communication with the Virgin Mary, exert considerable control over the community, including restrictions on education, healthcare, and almost all forms of entertainment​​​​.

The community has experienced internal and external conflicts, notably rejecting modern education and medical practices, leading to clashes with neighboring communities and authorities. After the death of Nabor in 2008, the community faced division and turmoil, particularly over the control and direction of its beliefs and practices. Conflicts escalated to the point where in 2012, a faction led by a priest named Martin de Tours destroyed schools inaugurated in 2007, asserting a belief in the necessity to eradicate secular education​​.

Governance within La Nueva Jerusalén is theocratic, with leaders asserting divine authority, resulting in a hierarchical and patriarchal social structure. The community’s population is primarily made up of founding members and their descendants, with life centered around religious activities and strict adherence to leader directives.

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