s we continue with our worship service every week, only four topics take center stage. Salvation, Obedience, Offerings, and Expulsion. Come to think of it no other topic is actually discussed. Have you heard lessons on love for your parents recently or the importance of family in relation to serving God? Or that God appreciates the quality of an offering more than quantity? ; that a poor man’s penny can be worth more than a rich man’s thousand? Or do they put emphasis on how much is given, stressing that the more you give, the more blessings you receive? Or threats of expulsion and the lake of fire for all eternity for those who do not submit to intensive obedience?
Sometimes we have to understand that not all of us define true faith in identical fashion. Similar to the days of the Marcos era. There were the outspoken activists, the low-keyed sympathizers, and the die-hard Marcos loyalists. We have the outspoken Defenders, the silent sympathizers, and the die-hard EVM followers.
But the Marcos era ended after two decades. Reason? Opinions are many. As many as the people behind those opinions. One thing is clear however. History has never granted an indefinite rule to a one man authoritarianism and of course that referral quote on empires built: “The first creates, the second expands, and the third squanders”. Perfect to a T, I might say. Every absolute ruler from Hitler to Idi Amin has fallen. You might argue, what about the Pope. Well, is the Catholic church during these times an authoritarianism? Do they expel their members? Do they persuade their members to give beyond their capacity to do so? Do they teach hatred for former members and threaten them with eternal damnation in the lake of fire? No, they don’t. They are satisfied where they stand. Their new Pope is unprecedented in approaching tradition clearly drawing the line between morality and church procedure. Their Pope has brought renewed strength and acceptance within the Catholic church, praise and admiration from the rest of the civilized world.
How do we compare? From the Federal Palace of Switzerland, Johann N. Schneider-Ammann has this to say on reports of alleged violation of human rights against its members and former members: [credits to Sher Lock]
“The Federal Department of foreign affairs follows the human rights situation in the Philippines closely including through the embassy of Switzerland in Manila. We are fully aware of the situation faced by the ‘Iglesia ni Cristo’ under its current administration and will continue to observe any related developments.”
Are we a church who has two faces like a drug dealer with a legitimate front? Do we give dole outs for the purpose of aiding the impoverished or do we do it to convert members to collect more cash from? Remember, the Lingap-Pamamahayag was never practiced before but now it’s a regular church program where propagation is concerned. Does the church use its finances to shoulder these dole outs? No, the members provide for them and are transferred to bags printed with the Lingap logo. So where does our weekly Lingap offerings go?
We teach love for our fellowmen but scorn in the same breath the bloodline of our own family. We teach humility and frugality while driving out from the chapel grounds on a brand new Rav 4 with police and security in tow. We teach salvation and forgiveness and pray for the destruction and death of former members. A Church or Cult? A Church is defined in the bible as the body of Christ. So in all aspects, the church is presumed to be perfect and flawless as Christ himself is. What then is a Cult? Read on.
“Psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton, who wrote the definitive book about thought reform (often called “brainwashing”) also wrote a paper about cult formation. So what is a cult according to Lifton? He defined a cult as having the following three characteristics:
1. A charismatic leader, who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose power.
2. A process [is in use] call[ed] coercive persuasion or thought reform.
3. Economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie.”
What are its warning signs?
“Ten warning signs of a potentially unsafe group/leader.
1. Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.
2. No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
3. No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.
4. Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.
5. There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
6. Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.
7. There are records, books, news articles, or television programs that document the abuses of the group/leader.
8. Followers feel they can never be “good enough”.
9. The group/leader is always right.
10. The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.”
Sound familiar? Actually dear friends and brethren alike, the downfall of EVM’s church is inevitable. There is nothing he can do or for that matter anyone can do to prevent this. The only thing he and his crooked knights can do is to delay it. Just look around and take notice. The multi-billion loans and the dwindling church offerings relying solely on cash on hand. How do you explain the way they are pushing the church officers for more new members, the bribes on ministers and their families to instill loyalty – brand new cars, additional cash hand outs. All this to ensure no defection. And what about the millions of members who pay for these luxuries? Keep them at bay with non-stop lectures on intensive obedience and the lake of fire and brimstone, damnation for all who refuse to intensively submit.
The regular offerings of the church is no longer enough to maintain the survival of the church. We know it and they know it. Denial? If so, why monopoly on all church service activities that are money related? Why exercise sole franchise in producing uniforms for the Pananalapi, Kalihiman, schools, ministers, students, stickers, posters, banners, pins, books, other souvenir related items? Tickets to enter a church function at the school grounds or activity area? The One with EVM pin which used to cost 25 pesos but now 50 pesos and a requirement for use by every deacon, deaconess, ministers, and BEM students not to mention every volunteer worker of the church. This is aside from revenues generated by our resort hotel at Subic with a casino license. Automatic deduction of all ministers, employees of the church including the staff of the school for the barangay chapels. And of course paying the rent for the INC housing units which used to be free by ministers and the like. What does this all indicate? Only one thing. We are gasping for survival. (By the way, a new INC pin is on the way. It’s a reboot of the original INC seal.)
Unfortunately, the last remaining breaths of the Church will only be felt by the brethren who stood fast and firm but left behind by their coward king and crooked knights together with their filth of a family who’ll have long scampered and disappeared in fear of moral and legal reprisal for the ransacking of the Church treasury. But will this Church die? If we are talking about EVM’s church, definitely it will. No doubt about that. But when the smoke and cloud clears, the real Church, Christ’s Church will again see light as it awakens from a long slumber. Christ himself will extend his hands and embrace all his lost sheep and gather them in one place. Then shall God reach out to his begotten son, his children, and show the world why He is God, the Creator of the Heavens and Earth. He will rebuild his nation once more as He had done before, vast and greater than ever. The tears and sorrow of his children will He also uncreate. So be it.
Let us end this post with an anecdote and a smile. It is always better that way. 🙂
Well, this happened at our locale many years ago. I was a young deacon then. I had a sakop working as food attendant at SM Cubao. He met a young lady also working there but unfortunately not a kapatid. One thing led to another and both fell in love. They got married in a civil wedding. And as we all know when you get involved or married to a non member you’ll be expelled. Now the day of reckoning arrived. The circular of expulsion was to be read. The pagsamba’s last part ended prior to the circular reading. The document was passed to the reserbang manggagawa for him to read. The reserba after glancing at the paper hesitated. He asked the PD about it. Not satisfied, he turned and consulted his senior. The senior studied that circular again and discussed it with the PD. The kapulungan was getting restless on the delay. The officiating minister finally agreed and he read the circular. It went something like this, “…sa pamamagitan ng palibot liham na ito, ipinababatid namin sa inyo na si kapatid na ERANO G. MANALO ay tinitiwalag sa Iglesia dahil sa pamumuhay ng labag sa buhay Cristyano …”
Yup, Erano G. Manalo but of course not our Pamamahala but a namesake even to the middle initial. The minister made a short clarification after the pagsamba 🙂