A new documentary series from HBO will pull back the curtain on La Luz del Mundo, a secretive and nontraditional Christian denomination, and the sexual abuse that several members, many of them minors, say they have suffered at the hands of its successive leaders.
Titled “Unveiled: Surviving La Luz Del Mundo,” the HBO Original production will unfold in three parts. It was directed by award-winning filmmaker Jennifer Tiexiera, the director of “P.S. Burn This Letter Please,” and produced by Alex Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions in association with Law & Crime Productions.
In an interview with Variety, Tiexiera said she hoped to draw attention to a story that was not given much coverage by the media despite the global reach of the church. La Luz del Mundo (LLDM) claims to have congregations in over 50 countries and over five million followers, but it is an institution that is also cloaked in secrecy.
“It amazes me how many people have not heard of this organization,” she says. “First and foremost, I want people who watch this film to become aware of what is happening.”
LLDM was founded in 1926 by Aarón Joaquín Gonzalez. Joaquín Gonzalez was succeeded by his son and then grandson, all three — known as “Apostles” — served as head of the organizations. They are said to be appointed by “divine revelation.” Former members have come forward to describe how the Apostles built and maintained a system to procure and groom children for abuse. The series culminates in the events leading up to the 2019 arrest of the current Apostle, Naasón Joaquín García and his trial. He pled guilty to three charges concerning the sexual abuse of children has been sentenced to a maximum 16 years and eight months in jail. The filmmakers reached out to the church and submitted questions via email but did not receive comment.
“There was mind control at work here,” says Tiexiera. “These people were brought up to believe that eternal salvation comes from the Apostles. There is a power structure here that silenced people.”
The series includes interviews with survivors and other former LLDM members, many of whom are speaking out for the first time, as well as never-before-seen footage. That includes clips of courtroom victim statements that were heard during sentencing. It is told from the point of view of the survivors, who met on Reddit to share their stories of abuse. Tiexiera said it is unclear if the allegations impacted membership because LLDM keeps those numbers guarded.
“There are a lot of good people in this organization who do good work,” she says. “Hopefully this is a wake up call about what needs to change.”
But Tiexiera said many members still maintain Naasón Joaquín García is innocent. “They look forward to his return,” she said.
The series debuts on Dec. 6 with parts one and two. Part three will debut Dec. 7 at on HBO. All three episodes of the series will be available to stream on HBO Max on Dec. 6 with the linear premiere.
“Unveiled: Surviving La Luz Del Mundo” was produced by John Jordan; executive produced by Stacey Offman, Richard Perello, Rhonda Schwartz, Brian Ross, Evan Lerner, Alex Lowry. For HBO, executive producers include Nancy Abraham, Lisa Heller, and Sara Rodriguez.