I'm Jesus, Riverland man says

The Sunday Mail, Australia/May 14, 2011

A couple who say they are Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene have set up base in Queensland's Bible Belt.

The pair, real names Alan John Miller, who once lived in Loxton in South Australia's Riverland, and Mary Suzanne Luck, operate from rural Wilkesdale near Kingaroy, where they have been joined by an increasing band of followers.

"My name is Jesus, and I'm serious," Miller said in a video recording from one workshop.

Cult watchers and the Anglican and Catholic churches are alarmed the pair, who ask followers to make donations to sustain them, could draw in the vulnerable.

Miller bought a 16ha property at Wilkesdale in 2007 and his Divine Truth followers have since been buying nearby blocks to be close to the charismatic leader, 47, and alluring Luck, 32.

Locals and real estate agents confirmed the group had sparked an unlikely property boom, with estimates they have bought up to 30 blocks and with new properties in high demand.

Followers joined forces in 2009 to buy a $400,000, 240ha property where they hold weekly meetings and plan to build a centre catering for international visitors.

In a bizarre coincidence, land clearing has created a giant cross on neighbouring properties that can be seen from space using Google Maps. Local residents insisted it was not carved deliberately.

Police are said to have been called to investigate screams in the area, only to discover members taking part in a healing exercise where they shout to help process "past soul damage" and ill feelings.

Some residents complain they are being driven out of the quiet hamlet by the group, which resembles Debra Geileskey's Magnificat Meal Movement that drew scores of followers to Helidon near Toowoomba.

Queensland has a tradition of fostering fringe religious movements. Fugitive killer Luke Andrew Hunter was recaptured in February after 15 years on the run in which he hid out with the separate Jesus Group in the state's far north.

Concerned relatives and friends have been contacting the Cult Awareness and Information Centre to warn of Divine Truth followers selling family homes to move to Wilkesdale.

Centre spokeswoman Helen Pomery said: "The moment someone becomes God or God's voice on Earth it gives them another level of authority to enforce submission to them."

Anglican Archbishop Dr Phillip Aspinall and the Catholic church, unaware of the group until contacted by the Sunday Mail, urged people to be cautious when exploring new movements.

"This is especially true for people who are seeking meaning in their lives and, as a result, may be vulnerable," Dr Aspinall said.

Mr Miller was born in Loxton and has two children from a previous marriage, which he says ended after he "began to remember details" of his past life.

Tailoring his appearance to look like Jesus, he yesterday held a workshop in Albury, New South Wales, where he stood by his claims and said at least "30 or 40" people had bought blocks around Wilkesdale.

"Mary and myself haven't ever encouraged people to move out there. Some of the people we don't even know," he said.

In one recording he said: "There's probably a million people who say they're Jesus and most of them are in asylums. But one of us has to be. How do I know I am? Because I remember everything about my life."

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