Jose Luis Passini lives with four followers

This Argentine who came to Chile 8 years ago, dismisses any relation to the disappearance of 12 teenagers in the Ninth Region. He lives in La Mision, a refuge that housed some members of the controversial cult, "The Children of God", which in our country is also known as "The Family" nine years ago.

Its leader, 49-year old Jose Luis Passini, doesn't seem surprised by the multiple accusations that this organization received this week. The organization was tied to the disappearance of 12 children in the ninth region.

Passini, who is married and has 6 children, presently lives with his 3 wives and their families, who help to pay the expenses of the house. He asserts that he studied journalism for two years at the Mariano Moreno College of Buenos Aires and that he joined the cult in Buenos Aires on January 19th, 1978, when he was 24 years old.

"This was a rebirth for me," he remembers and immediately points out that his other occupation is real estate.

While drinking mate, he comments that oincidentally yesterday was the 8th anniversary of his arrest at one of the communities located in Buenos Aires. This was in 1993. As he tells it, "they raided us by surprise and they accused us of an infinity of things: brainwashing, child trafficking, corruption of minors and many other things. Thank, God, we won that battle and regained our freedom."

This was when he came to Santiago. Tired of the quality of life in the capital city, he decided to travel through Chile from north to south. Once he arrived at the ninth region, and conversed with an evangelical pastor, he acquired the property as a free loan where he has lived for the past 10 years.

You are criticized for following the same doctrines that were used by the questionable "Children of God"

The principal is the same, but we underwent a process of maturation. We learned from our errors, as what we desire is to become the humble church that Jesus gave charge to his apostles.

What were these mistakes?

--In the beginning, our evangelization was designed for the youth of the '70s, that is to say with a very liberal and hippie basis. As such, we had a very distinct way of dressing and preaching the Gospel. When we became parents of children, we began to put together educational material with a basis of teaching about God for our children and we became more conservative.

What's your opinion regarding the accusations of kidnapping, sexual abuse of minors and brainwashing that surrounds your group?

--These are lies. First of all, we have a rule that we do not accept minors under 18 years of age into our community. Besides this, we ask for a notarized permission from the parents, that is, an authorization for them to join the community. The children that are brought up under our creed are our own personal children. People who approach the Mission are normally over 35 years of age. We are very careful, and amongst our rules is a requirement of an AIDS test.


--Because we don't want people who live here to be in risk of contagious diseases under any circumstance. But we do not accept the kind of behavior that you are describing. As a matter of fact, we have had people join with a clear intention of having promiscuous sexual relations. It is true that we accept divorce, but under no circumstances do we legitimize polygamy.

Then why did you flee from Argentina?

--To continue functioning in that country, they required us to have a legal identity. We did not consider that the minimum conditions were present to guarantee the security of our children and wives. They robbed and pillaged our communities, but they never acknowledged the verdict of the Supreme Court of Argentina, that we were innocent.

But this time, you are being severely accused of recruiting people, especially minors, and distancing them from their families

--This is not true either. We are not an organization that recruits people, unlike the Churches. As a matter of fact, we are fulfilling the job of preaching the Gospel more than recruiting people. In reality, it's the people who come to us when they find the word of God in the community and as such, practice it in their daily lives.

But even now in Chile you are being credited with the disappearance of children and teenagers in this area.

--There is a lot of misinformation about us. Even the photographs they show of our communities are foreign. Our only image is that of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Under Observation

Officers of the Second Police Station of Pucon denied that in latter times any complaints had been filed of supposed mishaps and that the Family, has not been a focus, as they are not influential in the area. Nevertheless, we were informed that the Civil Investigative Commission of this institution has the cult under observation and is investigating all the activities they undertake in this city.

The pastor of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, Victor Sepulveda, has been studying the controversial Family, heir of the Children of God, for years. He assures firmly that this group has been residing in this area for eight years and that their modus operandi is distributing posters, pamphlets and educational videos and cassettes about God's word in the streets.

"This is how they enter into families. Once they convince the parents how good it is to participate in the cult, they get them to participate in it", he assured.