Melbourne: An Australian couple who claim they are Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene are asking their ‘disciples’ to donate to sustain them, raising concern among cult watchers, and the Anglican and Catholic churches that the pair could draw in the vulnerable.
The pair, real names Alan John Miller and Mary Suzanne Luck, operate from rural Wilkesdale, near Kingaroy, where they claim to have been joined by 30-40 followers, reports the Courier Mail.
"My name is Jesus and I`m serious," Miller says in a video recording from a workshop.
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 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 USD 400,000, 240ha property where they hold weekly meetings and plan to build a centre for international visitors.
In an apparent coincidence, land clearing has created a giant cross on neighbouring properties. Locals insisted it was not carved deliberately.
Concerned relatives and friends have contacted the Cult Awareness and Information Centre to warn of Divine Truth followers selling homes to move to Wilkesdale.
The centre`s 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 Phillip Aspinall and the Catholic church 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," Aspinall said.
Miller was born in Loxton, South Australia, and has two children from a previous marriage, which he says ended after he "began to remember details" of his past life.