Of Religious Cults and Charismatic Personalities

The most commented blogs at Mouse and Keys are about Apollo Quiboloy and the Iglesya Ni Cristo. Apollo C. Quiboloy is of course the self-styled Son of God in Davao. He has quite a following though not as numberous as the Iglesya Ni Cristo. Quiboloy’s cult started out as a Born-Again groups which has been multiplying in the Philippines since the 1970s. Quiboloy was taken out of their “Christian” association when he started telling people that he is the new Son of God of these days.

The Iglesya Ni Cristo was founded by someone who claimed that he is the angel rising from the east in the book of the Apocalypse. “From the east” means “out of the Philippines.” This sect is Philippine-centred. It was founded in 1914 by Manalo who worked as a minister among fundamentalist Christian denominations. It is believed that he established his own church because he knew that as a Filipino minister, he will always be an understudy or an assistant to an American pastor. The Church that he founded is all-Filipino. The biggest antagonist of Manalo’s group is the one of Eli Soriano whose Church — The Iglesya Ng Diyos — is a breakaway group of the Iglesya Ni Cristo.

Both these cults are founded by people who claim a specific mission from God. But however preposterous their claim, there are still some people willing to be led by them. The group of Felix Manalo will be celebrating its 100 years foundation some eight years from now; Quiboloy’s following continues to grow even outside the Philippines. Manalo’s group ( it is a Church registered as a family business) isn’t growing, but they are good at marketing. Its popularity as the only all-Filipino Church (a position it held until the 1960s ) is now undermined by the presence of other all-Filipino churches eager to get its membership from the largely Catholic population of the Philippines. Of these growing churches, one is headed by the self-proclaimed “Son of God” from Davao. Both Churches are raking in millions of pesos, which only shows that the best business is still religion. But apart from this, how come their members can’t see through the lies and the pretenses of these two founders?

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