Iglesia ni Cristo: Snapping Dissent with Familiar Patterns

By Jane Abao

Manila, Philippines (August 15, 2015) – What did experts think about the dissent within the Iglesia ni Cristo?

The INC is facing a crisis. That’s very clear from recent news. Critics claim that the leaders of the group are wasting money citing the millions of pesos being spent for their airplane. Rappler reports-

The Airbus that [Eduardo] Manalo and his ministers are using is aside from a Boeing Business Jet 737 that had been described as “the best-selling jet airliner in the history of aviation.” Depending on the model, a passenger business jet can seat from 85 to 215 passengers, while a customized executive jet can have a bedroom and seats good for 20-30 passengers, sources familiar with aircraft told Rappler.

The Boeing Business Jet 737 is said to have been purchased 4 years ago at an estimated price of about P3.6 billion ($80 million), the sources told us. Yearly maintenance costs of these types of aircraft, according to those in the know, easily amount to from P3 million to P4 million. This excludes fuel expenses. (http://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/investigative/100445-iglesia-leaders-billions-pesos-aircraft).

Added to this is abduction of ministers who were critical of the administration. Lowell Menorca’s case, for one, is intriguing. (http://www.rappler.com/nation/100501-inc-minister-lowell-menorca-released). There are allegedly no abductions happening. This is denied by the church. (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/707413/what-split-what-corruption-iglesia-ni-cristo-spokesman)

But they immediately excommunicated some critics including the mother and brother of the Executive Minister, Eduardo Manalo. (http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2015/07/23/1480126/iglesia-ni-cristo-expels-leaders-mother-brother)

They even filed libel cases against the critics. (http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/metro-manila/07/28/15/iglesia-ni-cristo-sues-expelled-minister-libel)

The crisis is not yet over as the critics try to create a movement “to return the church to its old splendor when it first began with Felix Manalo.” (See Nehemiah Ecclesiastes, Official videos, Facebook, 8/10/2015).

What is happening with the Iglesia ni Cristo? Where is the Iglesia headed for?

Four sources have invariably discussed what is happening with the Iglesia ni Cristo through their own platform: a professor of Philippine Studies, a Sociologist of Religion, a Bible Scholar, and a minister of the Iglesia ni Cristo who left his organization with many questions on his head.

The professor of Philippine Studies was asked about what he thought about the INC controversy. The sect is usually secretive, he said. There is a need for transparency.

Written by Joe Torres (ucanews, 8/10/2015), the interviewee noted that secrecy is one of hallmarks of this religious sect. In “Public rift puts 101-year-old Philippines sect under spotlight,” he highlighted the need for transparency. Here’s part of the report –

David Michael San Juan, professor of Philippine Studies at De La Salle University in Manila, said the public rift represents a crossroads for the usually secretive sect.

“The rift may weaken it if it fails to address concerns on transparency and other issues,” he said. “The rift may strengthen it if it leads to more transparency in their highly respected institution.”

In other words, secrecy in the sect has contributed to their undoing. San Juan said some issues that church members raised are valid and that includes the allegation about certain ministers trying to extort money from politicians, and the allegation that church funds for being used for some leaders’ luxury. These are public issues, he said.(http://www.ucanews.com/news/public-rift-puts-101-year-old-philippines-sect-under-spotlight/74040)

Earlier, Rappler.com posted a Podcast titled “Saan patungo ang Iglesia ni Cristo?” (Where is the Iglesia ni Cristo bound for? (8/8/2015). Jayeel Cornelio a Sociologist of Religion is said to point to some INC growth at another level: “religious worldling.”

Worldling is inherently negative, but as the column of Cornelio proposes the concept of “religious worldling” to explain what is happening with the INC, he lauds the group in terms of sophistication in the positive sense.

The Director of Development Studies Program of Ateneo in “INC, Philippine Arena, and religious worldling” was theorizing that with the mammoth Philippine Arena, the INC has achieved some sophistication.

Worldling

WorldlingDotOrg says the term “worlding” cannot be found in any dictionary, even though the term has been in use for nearly a century. Martin Heidegger is said to have popularized the neologism in his 1927 Being and Time to mean “being-in-the-world.”

A worldling is a person who is primarily concerned with worldly matters or material things. As applied with the Iglesia ni Cristo, the focus was on expansion – material at that, with the Philippine Arena giving the high point of assessment.

Now, we come to a preacher. What did he think about this INC crisis? It is a judgment from God says Bro. Eli Soriano, Presiding Minister to the Members Church of God International (MCGI). Do not mistake that for “pagsubok” or trial. Only fanatics insist it is trial, and that corruption is being revealed only now. No, that church has been corrupt from the beginning, he says.

Soriano’s blog says it best. In “Gravity Floating Up All Secrets of Secrets,” he writes –

What is obtaining now with the Iglesia ni Cristo ni Manalo is that in spite of their indoctrinated secrecy of what they do, a force from above is making those secrets surface. Undoubtedly, it is the power of God! That group has long been practicing the act of covering up ugly matters inside their church, of bringing them down, and layering them into secrecy.

But what they did to five PUP students in secret, for example, came out. The case said their members involved mangled the victims’ bodies at the basement of their chapel. The dead bodies floated and were fished out from the muddy Pasig River!!!! (See Supreme Courts Annotated, Vol. 339, August 28, 2000 on the case People vs. Abella).

In an attempt to flush the killing off, the river was the supposed solution. But the bodies floated up to witness against the killers.

What did Soriano think about what’s happening?

Can we say this is like the Cambrian Period where it is said there is a massive explosion of revelation? (Note: I do not believe in the Cambrian Period being an explosion).

We cannot say that corruption in the Iglesia ni Cristo ni Manalo evolved! What is true in the Cambrian Period is collaterally true with the INC of Manalo. Since its inception, there are the corrupt practices of its ministers! It is proven by the very words of Eraño Manalo, second generation Executive Minister, that the corruption among the present generation of his ministers was inherited from ministers pioneering their works of corruption! It was earlier proven by a circular signed by Felix Manalo, first generation Executive or Presiding Minister, himself revealing the corrupt practices of his pioneering ministers. (http://www.controversyextraordinary.com/2015/08/gravity-floating-up-all-secrets-of.html)

Finally, we look into a minister who left the INC.

On a circular read in the whole district of Leyte, July 25, 2015, Joven O. Sepillo Sr is excommunicated for allegedly fighting the Administration and circulating false information with the objective of troubling the church. Sepillo Sr. said he had decided to come out in public to clear out his name against this charge.

Sepillo, Sr. an INC minister for 29 years but excommunicated by the Sanggunian together with his family, was bidding goodbye to his calling as minister for what he considered to be irreconcilable to his principles. He was expelled instead. The following are excerpts from his post [translated from Tagalog] centered on many questions similar to those being voiced out by other excommunicated INC ministers –

If only I left in an orderly way, it would not reach this far, they said. Is what is orderly, bidding goodbye without mentioning any shenanigans and not calling the Administration to counter these? Have they found out that there is no corruption going on now? Has the Administration done an honest-to-goodness investigation to protect the Sanggunian from false accusations? If they have but the ones told to investigate are themselves the accused, will justice be seen by the brethren who are looking for truth?

I am sad that what is often heard from the Spokesman of the Iglesia regarding critics is that they are only defaming without showing any evidence. Those opposing corruption are shown as evil and creating trouble in the church. They are the ones being persecuted, threatened, and done with, just to silence them.

Is there no one from the Sanggunian who will stand for truth? Shall we only wait for the hand of God to render judgment on the guilty? They may have forgotten that it is a Nation of God that they are managing.

The root cause of these troubles now is the change of perceptions among ministers about their supposed life in the ministry. Some are not aware that this is where corruption entered in – the supposed lifestyle of ministers. (See post by Jorge. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/711261/doj-secures-3-expelled-iglesia-ni-cristo-members).

Interpretations

San Juan, the professor, said secrecy has not done good to the INC. He considers that some of the issues raised by the members of the INC are public and therefore valid.

Cornelio, the sociologist says the INC has come to religious worldling, a sophistication that he tends to congratulate, although it is not about being godly but worldly. Cornelio has barely scratched the surface and his basic fault is the color of his tone. He provides no proper guidance for the reader since his moral compass is also faulty. Notice his use of the term, “Moral Economies.”

At the bottom of his column is written this part:

Some parts of this column are derived from the paper Cornelio presented at the international workshop “Emerging Moral Economies in Southeast Asia” at L’ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris in June 2014.

This italics part in a way explains the deficiency in Cornelio’s analysis. The original material was written one year before this public clash between the Manalo brothers with the Sanggunian on the side of Eduardo Manalo, the incumbent executive minister. Where was Cornelio all the time?

The column of this Sociologist of Religion is pathetically dead and deaf to events that have recently unfolded and still are. There was no attempt at updating. He had disregarded the fact that the INC members question the purpose of the mammoth building and even as basic as its maintenance. This is moral economy for Cornelio?

The second review of this Jayeel Serrano Cornelio talks of “restorationist ethos” of the INC but still suggests a patronizing attitude. With all the news coming out from many quarters, one would wonder if Cornelio is a PR man for the INC. His article of August 13, 2015 says –

The church espouses a restorationist ethos as it claims to be the one true church called to take Christianity back to its original character and form of worship. It has several distinctive elements, among which is the absolute oneness doctrine that pits it against the Trinitarian mainstream in the Philippines.

Its founder, Felix Y. Manalo, is believed to be the fulfillment of a biblical prophecy that in the last days, an Angel from the East will arise. The church has therefore effectively sacralized the Philippines as a nation that plays an instrumental role in the last days.

The church’s unity is also one enduring source of pride for its members.

Unity manifests itself in different ways, such as doctrinal uniformity and submission to the leadership. Members are expected to heed their ministers, for example, on matters of faith and interpretation of Scriptures.

Members also fall in line during national elections, voting as a bloc for whatever candidates church leaders tell them to support. Members cannot take each other to court nor can they marry nonmembers. Even the predictable neo-gothic architecture of its churches is evocative of Iglesia ni Cristo’s institutional unity.  (http://www.ucanews.com/news/after-101-years-growing-pains-for-philippines-iglesia-ni-cristo/74075)

One wonders now how Cornelio was educated. Was he taught to think critically?

Here’s a quote from Albert Einstein’s Ideas and Opinions (1954). It emphasizes the importance of bracing all education with critical thinking principles and the development of character – no matter what specialization.

It is not enough to teach a man a specialty. Through it he may become a kind of useful machine but not a harmoniously developed personality. It is essential that the student acquire an understanding of and a lively feeling for values. He must acquire a vivid sense of the beautiful and of the morally good. Otherwise he – with his specialized knowledge – more closely resembles a well-trained dog than a harmoniously developed person. He must learn to understand the motives of human beings, their illusions, and their sufferings in order to acquire a proper relationship to the individual fellow-men and to the community.

It’s a waste of time when a sociologist of religion writes without first manifesting on the environment. It is even dangerous that he professes to teach the Catholic world about the INC. If he is writing for United Catholic Asia News, he is only misleading the people there. Has he come across what the critic ministers are saying? There’s a Farley de Castro that is often reported by Ces Drilon of ABS-CBN. De Castro is one of the INC ministers excommunicated. Here are excerpts (translated from Tagalog) from his talk (Part III) –

They are just running away. They just do not want to answer the many questions about the anomalies and corruption issues happening now in the church.

Why don’t they answer? They said they will answer the questions last Tuesday [August 4, 2015] during the Prayer Meeting but they dealt with another topic. Aren’t they liars? And until now they haven’t answered the questions regarding anomalies in the church.

 

In Part II, here are some of Farley de Castro’s words [translated from Tagalog] addressing his brothers –

We saw how the words of God were used as basis in persecuting and abusing others by those who have no right. The abuse and wrong use of the words of God to deceive and make the brethren believe to accept their deeds and their reasons. Our poor brethren, our brethren who cannot do anything but follow.

But my question is, why is this done in the management of ministers? They said, isn’t it true that this church won’t apostate anymore? Yes, but many individuals will apostate if they do not move – if we don’t help them, if we don’t love them. Most of them are poor but with full faith, giving their all with readiness.

But our offerings are being wasted in a lifestyle meant only for personal interest.

He addresses Eduardo Manalo, the Executive Minster, and asks many questions, even an intriguing one about the spirit that dwells at their Central. [Note: Central refers to the main headquarters of the INC).

Bro. Eduardo, I have been hearing you for a very long time and I know that you love the church. But why now, why did you allow the church to go this way?

Didn’t you know that from the beginning the church would become like this if your wife will always intervene? Because this was the order of Bro. Eraño G. Manalo before he died. Why is it that we who are standing for righteousness are the very ones being expelled? Is it really true that the spirit of the devil thrives at Central? We love you, Bro. Eduardo.

Didn’t you know from the beginning what your mother and your brother wanted, especially Bro. Angel? Didn’t you know that never did he want to grab your rights? Didn’t you know that they only wanted to let the church restored from the beginning when the messenger of the last days started it? May God have mercy and remember his nation.(https://www.facebook.com/NehemiahEcclesiastesOfficial/videos/vb.414257252092254/440362976148348/?type=2&theater)

If Cornelio had scanned the environment well before writing, he would know that there’s no honest attempt at “restoration ethos” in the way he presented it. There is logically no restoration ethos where communication lines are not open. As a consequence, there’s no restoration ethos where the leader is found decidedly weak and indecisive, cutting off links even with his very own mother and siblings.

What sorely obtains is more of a group confronting the administration and calling for a movement (kilusan) to force a return to the old set-up (physical) – because things are not normal. The resolution they basically wanted was for Eduardo Manalo not to listen to his wife, some peace, and a simple life style for the ministers. For a restoration ethos to materialize, it should start from the head having the drive, the discipline, and the desire. It should not come from the few critics at the side. But clearly, when a fish rots, it begins from the head.

As expected, there’s no response from his side. From all accounts, he and his men were not even answering questions of their brethren who wanted at least the children of Eraño Manalo to be back to their posts and their power restored. But Sociologist Cornelio appeared more of writing public relations pieces, taking extreme care lest he mention any fault. One is inclined to think he is an INC trolling in United Catholic Asia News, ready to neutralize whatever is written against the INC. That is barely a way to be helpful to society as a sociologist of religion.

Back to interpretations, when it comes to religion, the most that should be consulted are those that handle the words of God for this is the commodity in question. What is happening now? Preacher Soriano declares it is a judgment from God that the INC is being revealed as corrupt even from the beginning.

Admitting that he is the fiercest critic of the INC, Soriano would examine their beliefs and practices now and then – would answer to questions about the INC in his regular Bible Expositions. For that, he has attracted many court cases filed against him by the INC – including threats on his life. These have all become the drama that the broadsheets, the TV and the Internet would banner for several years.

The preacher talks about disturbing familiar patterns in the way the INC reacts to dissent – coming from his experience with the INC and paralleling those reported in the news. These practices and their attendant difficulties have been inflicted on him and those of others he knew, but never in his mind did he imagine they will happen to the very members of the INC.

What about the INC minister who had decided to leave his ministry? Sevillo Sr, the expelled INC minister, tends to agree with all of these three experts: (1) There is lack of transparency in the INC as pointed out by Prof. San Juan; (2) The INC has become worldly-wise as discussed by Sociologist Cornelio, but in the sense that it has become materialistic; (3) Corruption is with them according to Preacher Soriano, yes; but judgment may not have come yet. Sevillo Sr. seems hesitant to admit God’s judgment happening at this time, but he uses it as a warning stick against Eduardo Manalo’s administration. He adds a fourth one, his own interpretation of events: (4) The lifestyles of the ministers have led to this organizational upheaval

Like other INC’s who have began to doubt why these things are happening within them if they are a true church, Sevillo Sr. is still staying with the INC despite what he had observed. His belief is intact – presumably including the belief that Christ is mere human being.

Bro. Eli and the INC

As dissent within the INC develops amidst efforts to counter them – mostly suppress them – the following chips have in many forms bobbed up like familiar patterns of a template observed in the past: (a) Pressure on the Department of Justice, (b) Use of the National Bureau of Investigation as a personal bodyguard, (c) Framing up for a charge of rape, (d) Case closed case unclosed, (e) One-sided media, (f) Assignment to kill, (g) No mercy, (h) Humiliating the victim, (i) Hounding the leaving or those who criticize, (j) Gunshots fired at the home, (k) Brainwashing the members.

These were so in the case of Bro. Eli Soriano, the foremost critic of the INC. The INC has applied all of these to him and the people with him.

Aren’t these parts of the culture of the Iglesia ni Cristo? Why do they repeat themselves and this time on their very own people? It is not enough to just mention them as how they are worsening, only the victims can tell. But definitely politicians are wittingly or unwittingly part of the whole scheme. We will look into five of these practices later.

As defined in the dictionary, dissent is the expression or holding of opinions at variance with those previously, commonly, or officially held. Synonyms are disapproval, disagreement, difference of opinion.

But not all dissent is bad. Some are good when truth is king as in the case of critiquing their beliefs by Preacher Soriano and disapproving of maltreatment of the family of Eraño Manalo by Sevillo Sr.

In brief, here are how the familiar patterns have come into Bro. Eli’s life: He, as a bible man, believes he should correct whatever practices he finds are not biblical. That is part of his commission. But the INC is one that takes criticisms to the point of wanting him killed, if not imprisoned (with false charges), and humiliated before the world.

That explains how Luisito Amansec, a former INC hitman, found out the truth about the preacher and confessed that he was around to bump Bro. Eli dead. He became a member of the MCGI instead. Lying has long been with the INC ministers that Bro. Eli is not what they picture him to be. Amansec realized that his heart learned mercy for the first time when he saw Bro. Eli, long pictured as evil in the Iglesia ni Cristo.

In a case for libel where Bro. Eli won, video tapes and DVD’s had been provided to the court where INC ministers were calling him names like “dayukdok,  “mandarambong, “mongongotong,’ “matakaw sa pera,” “Seaman-loloko,” among many other names through their program, Ang Tamang Daan. In English, they mean starved, plunderer, extortioner, money-hungry, and deceiver. They were doing this but MTRCB never sanctioned them.

Bro. Eli also had provided proofs that the INC had distorted his speeches and commentaries to prove consistent patterns of mangling of tapes by the Iglesia ni Cristo on statements made by him. An example was when Soriano was asking for 3.6 million on January 10, 2004; the mangled tape was shown in Ang Tamang Daan aired over Net 25 on March 29, 2004 that Soriano was asking for 6 trillion.

A discussion of these can be found in the court records of Criminal Case No. Q-05-136679 filed for libel for an Ang Dating Daan TV program aired on January 21, 2005 with Ramil T. Parba as representative complainant of the Iglesia ni Cristo along with Marianito Cayao and Bernardo Santiago.

Accused were Eliseo Soriano, Danilo Navales, Jocel Mallari, and Luzviminda Cruz, all anchors of Ang Dating Daan program on TV. This libel case was dismissed for lack of evidence. Cayao and Santiago are former members of MCGI having been excommunicated by Bro. Eli and then later joined the INC. What the MCGI throws away for spiritual filth, the INC accepts.

INC hates dissent. It also explains why Lydia Manuyag, former INC auditor from Central Diliman was straffed at her home for speaking in SBN21 where she had corrected Bro. Eli. The preacher was quoting the magazine, SAY, that Manalo is a billionaire. Trillionaire, said Manuyag, not billionaire. Afterwards their home was straffed. Lydia’s husband, also a former INC member, was hit with four bullets.

It also explains why Daniel Veridiano, Bernardo Santiago, Marianito Cayao and their kind who have been excommunicated by Bro. Eli for several offenses, have, in turn, been used against the preacher as either complainant or witness.

If media can be used against people especially the TV, it has not been forgotten that Soriano is a victim of this trick, which is why until now the Members Church of God International (MCGI) are boycotting GMA7-11. It is to send a strong message that it is not taking things sitting down. The dramatization in the interview with Daniel Veridiano in “Paninirang Puri, Case Unclosed” presented the Church leader as a shameless old man devoid of the knowledge of the Bible and hungry for sex – and for the same gender yet. The members were pictured as fools – laggards with the brain of a shrimp. This had been so after the Interpol caper has failed. Interpol whom the INC had access to, had found out that the Bro. Eli whom enemies wanted to humiliate before the world is not in hiding – and is even a man of God – not a sex-starved fugitive as the dramatization painted him to be.

The interviewee was Daniel Veridiano, excommunicated from MCGI where Soriano is Presiding Minister to. Veridiano became a member of the INC. By twist of faith, it is GMA being boycotted by MCGI for 5 years now for what they did to Bro. Eli and the organization. Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 22.18.36

What about GMA 7-11? Earlier, it had made Daniel Razon to decide whether to remain as anchor and restrict his language when referring to the Iglesia ni Cristo, or resign. If he does not like restrictions, the INC may boycott the station. Where? On stage when he preaches to the congregation of the MCGI or Ang Dating Daan (as the church is more popularly known). Razon is Soriano’s nephew and the appointed next-in-rank to Bro. Eli. At the same time, he was working for GMA. But he chose to leave GMA rather than restrict his language – not even in anchoring but in preaching in church.

Imagine GMA representing the INC and asking one to restrict his language – and in another venue yet? Why does INC use GMA to restrict one’s language outside of the studio that is the very workplace of Razon? Can’t he preach before the congregation without an outsider’s intervention? Why did religion have to involve a TV station?

The Australian Journalists’ Code of Ethics says in #8 rule:

Do not allow advertising or other commercial considerations to undermine accuracy, fairness or independence.

There is an equivalent in the Code of Ethics of the Philippine Press Institute and the National Press Club of the Philippines in #5:

I shall not let personal motives or interests influence me in the performance of my duties nor shall I accept or offer any present, gift, or other consideration of a nature that may cast doubt on my personal integrity.

INC hates being critiqued. That explains why the NBI had been used to raid the ADD Convention Center in 2001 on a simple charge of libel filed by the INC. The director at that time was Reynaldo Wycoco, an INC member. They came in full-battle gear looking for Bro. Eli whom they could not recognize though they talked to him. Wycoco was reported preparing another raid in 2005 when he succumbed to heart attack.

The MTRCB had suspended the Ang Dating Daan TV Program including all the anchors at least three times in the past at the behest of the Iglesia ni Cristo. One time, it was because Bro. Eli was calling them Iglesia ni Manalo that they took as insult.

BELOW: Thousands upon thousands of people gathered in front of the Human Rights Commission in the Philippines to show their support to Brother Eli when the latter was indefinitely suspended by the MTRCB from appearing in any television program. The Human Rights Commission later ruled in favor of Brother Eli stating that the MTRCB committed a grave abuse of authority against the preacher.

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 21.57.49

The Department of Justice also through Secretary Raul Gonzalez had been utilized to persecute Bro. Eli.

A rape charge filed against him was dismissed as the investigating prosecutor found no probable cause to prosecute Soriano. The judge believed that Veridiano’s accusations were all lies and fabricated. Filed sometime before October 5, 2005, the case was dismissed on January 26, 2006. It was penned by Alexandro Lopez, Asst. Provincial Prosecutor and approved by Jesus Magarang, Provincial prosecutor, Province of Pampanga, San Fernando City. The case highly considered the rift going on between the INC and the ADD.

But the dismissed case was ordered re-filed by the Office of the President Gloria Arroyo, one widely known as supported by the INC through bloc voting.

Media People Talking

Why do we allow these things to happen? Columnist Conrad de Quiros, in exasperation, asked this question. He mentions about the INC’s habits of “trying to keep certain prominent citizens out of jail or, in the case of public officials, keeping them in power.” He also questions why we allow the Iglesia ni Cristo meddling in the justice department, and interfering in elections, among many others.

Here are excerpts from de Quiros’ column –

The INC has grown over the years to become the second biggest church in this country. You’ve got to wonder, though, what it is asking its fold to do. Over the same years it has grown, it has been trying to keep certain prominent citizens out of jail or, in the case of public officials, keeping them in power.

Not too long ago, the INC made headlines by railing against the government for axing Magtanggol Gatdula, the director of the National Bureau of Investigation and an INC stalwart. P-Noy himself did the axing after finding out that Gatdula had a hand in the illegal detention of a Japanese fugitive. Despite De Lima’s strenuous attestations that the justice department did its homework before recommending Gatdula’s dismissal, the INC complained that he was not given a chance to explain.

All of these must make us ask: Why do we allow this?

Why do we allow the INC to begin with to interfere in elections? We know that INC members vote as a bloc for the candidates of their leaders’ choosing. We know this because that church doesn’t bother to hide it; it parades it as one of the reasons for joining it or currying its favor….This is out-and-out flouting of the separation of Church and State, a thing expressly forbidden in a democracy. And yet we see no law stopping it, and yet we see only politicians seeking to profit from it.  (http://opinion.inquirer.net/29267/why-do-we-allow-this#ixzz3ilLClbI2)

It’s not only de Quiroz questioning the behavior of the INC as an organization. Here’s an excerpt from what Blogger Jake Astudillo wrote about INC power in government offices –

The morbid interest of the INC for critical posts in the national government is quite disturbing too and even the high courts of the land are not spared. The Supreme Court has some justices and other people therein known to have been highly recommended by the INC and cannot be said to be free from public perception of being stooges for the INC.

The same is true for the National Bureau of Investigation, and for other offices under the Office of the President. One of these is the Movies, Television, Radio Censors Board (MTRCB) where the INC cries to as its favored valid court every time their beliefs are being scrutinized. At least, that was the experience of Bro. Eli Soriano. Maria Consoliza Laguardia used to hold fort as head censor of the MTRCB and decides matters upon the behest of the INC.

Jake Astudillo mentioned Lawyer Panopio’s analysis, Reporter Romero’s observation, and Author Vitug’s book. Panopio had underscored INC’s influencing court litigation results; Romero and Vitug were aware of INC recommending justices where these justices decide in favor of the Iglesia ni Cristo once put into place. More from Astudillo –

Not everyone is cowered by the INC influence, however. An enterprising young lawyer found that unconstitutional powers are being interpreted as vested in the MTRCB. James Benedict Panopio, in his analysis of the MTRCB rulings on suspension of the Ang Dating Daan (ADD) programs on TV said the INC should seek redress in the courts instead of the MTRCB. It is not a secret that litigations are highly the interest of the INC where they try to influence results, one of which is the Barrameda case, he said. 

Purple S. Romero of Newsbreak took note that Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. of the Supreme Court is publicly known to have been highly recommended by the INC. Marites Vitug, in her book, Shadow of Doubt: Probing the Supreme Court, gave the same observation. For three days after the publication of her book, Vitug was receiving death threats on her mobile phone.

And Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr? He was the ponente or decision writer or justice in charge of the case in the Supreme Court sustaining suspension of Ang Dating Daan upon the complaint of the Iglesia ni Cristo. “Political considerations may have come into play in the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the suspension of the religious group Ang Dating Daan’s TV program according to court insiders we talked to,” said Newsbreak reporters. In earlier reports, Newsbreak through Romero surmised that the ruling of the Supreme Court was to please the Iglesia ni Cristo. It was not exactly a legal reason, the report said. The report is interesting in that the dissenting justices pointed to suppression of the freedom of speech in their decision.

And Justice Velasco? Of all people, why did he not inhibit himself from the case, considering his links with the Iglesia ni Cristo? With just their endorsement, the message is clear: they expected someone to exchange favor with. And as venial as one can be, if your ambition is lying in wait for an invitation, you can be used and finally play the willing tool. But it takes two to tango.(https://kotawinters.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/are-we-now-going-to-give-the-country-to-bloc-voting-people/)

Familiar Patterns

These familiar patterns keep repeating themselves. Are we that weak to resist? Recent events with the INC and INC influence show the following:

1) Intervening with the Justice System

A recent news report stated that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has directed National Bureau of Investigation Director Virgilio Mendez to discipline an official who declared earlier that the bureau’s probe on the alleged abduction of 10 ministers of the influential Iglesia Ni Cristo was deemed closed. (http://manilastandardtoday.com/2015/08/04/doj-iglesia-case-still-open/#

Written by Rey E. Requejo titled “DOJ: Iglesia case still open”(Manila Standard, 8/04/2015), De Lima was said to have made the statement reiterating that the authorities are still investigating the supposed abduction of INC ministers. This was in contrast to the claim of NBI Anti-Organized Transnational Crime Division chief Manuel Eduarte that the case is now considered closed.

De Lima was reportedly surprised said Eduarte had declared the case was closed when he is not even involved in the investigation nor part of the team.

A check into records show that Eduarte is a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo.

Not long after, The Daily Tribune came out with “Binay asks De Lima to stop ‘reckless’ statements vs INC” (Tribune Wires, 8/07/2015) (http://www.tribune.net.ph/nation/binay-asks-de-lima-to-stop-reckless-statements-vs-inc)

The report said Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay had advised Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to refrain from giving “unwarranted statements” on the alleged abduction of Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) ministers.

In a letter to De Lima, the Vice President said he felt compelled to “call your attention to the unwarranted statements you have been expressing in the mass media in your capacity as Secretary of the Department of Justice asserting that the alleged abduction of ministers of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) is not yet a ‘closed’ case.”

Binay reportedly noted that De Lima’s statements contradicted the findings of National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) authorities that conducted the investigation.

“It taxes credulity that you had to publicly contravene the findings of the NBI Anti-Organized Transnational Crimes Division, which itself conducted the investigation on the alleged abduction,” the Vice President said.

“According to your own people in the NBI, no such abduction took place, which finding is bolstered by the fact that there is no complainant who has come forward to attest to its commission. In short, there is apparently no crime committed or being committed,” he added.

If there was no abduction that happened, why are there many complaining from diverse places? Would it hurt to check if there are? What is the hurry in Manuel Eduarte in trying to close the lid and in Binay pressuring the DOJ Secretary if there are lives involved?

2) Riding on one-sided media for personal agenda

The Daily Tribune is also the one that reported earlier on Jose Norelito Fruto, 50, of Amparo Road, Nova Ville Subdivision, Novaliches in “Bogus gay doctor apprehended for molesting Caloocan student” by Arlie O. Calalo (The Daily Tribune, 07/14/2015).

Fruto was one of the INC ministers picked up earlier for questioning regarding the Antonio Ebanghelista blogs that blared corruption issues within the Iglesia ni Cristo.

The report said a 22 year old man (Robert Anthony, not real name) was allegedly sodomized by Fruto and that a CCTV tape showed at least the first of two incidents, the first one (July 4) inside the victim’s house, and the second one inside Fruto’s home.

This Daily Tribune report was used by the INC against Fruto as the “proof” to truth, just as they used it against Justice De Lima. It is clear that The Daily Tribune is not as popular as other broadsheets. The comments are scanty and are lorded over by INC members who spam the same comments over and over.

In the case where Binay berated Justice Secretary De Lima whose group is trying to look into reports of abduction, media was also used in impressing to the public which case is closed or unclosed.

3) Promoting lying and falsehood

Letters posted on Social Media by those expelled show that they were being forced to do things against their conscience. Here’s one written by Joven O. Sepillo Sr –

On July 18, 2015, my name was written in social media as one among those ministers who were abducted and could not be seen. We told our contacts that we are safe and not abducted. My family were wondering why my name was included there when we are just silently doing our responsibilities in the Locale of San Roque in Tolosa Extension, Leyte East District. Who could have done that and what was his aim?

On July 21, I was made to produce a video and say, “I am INC.” I cooperated and did the video according to the order of Bro. Rommel Sanvictores of INCTV and then sent it through email. My family felt safe then that when the video will be shown, it will be clear that I was not abducted and that I won’t be missing but will be found doing my work. When July 24, 2015 came, I welcomed the order from Central to make another video together with the brethren from the Locale with all of us saying,” All of us with responsibilities and all the brethren of the Locale of San Roque, Ecclesiastical District of Leyte East are proclaiming that we are fervently following doctrines and are submitting to obedience so that we will be saved.” Then we would greet Happy 101st Anniversary to the Iglesia ni Cristo. 

Upon arrival at the San Roque Locale, I found the brethren already gathered by the Head Deacon based on the order of the District and there was the Video man. It was not a day for Worship Service at San Roque, but the video would show that the service was just over. At that moment, I decided not to make the [second] video because, first I had already made one last July 21, 2015 as proof that I was not abducted. Second, the brethren already knew on July 23, 2015 about the call from Ka Tenny and Ka Angel, and because of that, they will be asking questions like what is happening with the church.

The following day, July 24, 2015, came the reading of the Circular pertaining to the family of Ka Erdy. I have read that Circular concerning the expulsion in the Worship Service at Tolosa Extension, but I felt so hurt that it has come to this. I could not anymore take it that after reading about the expulsion of the family, they would order me to proclaim fervent obedience and submission to the Administration – and with that I had to involve even the brethren!” (See post by Jorge. (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/711261/doj-secures-3-expelled-iglesia-ni-cristo-members).

4) Threatening the lives of those who leave their religion or dis-agree with them.

These are lines from a report titled, “Iglesia ni Cristo expels members who joined protest in US (Coconuts Manila, 8/06/2015) –

According to another expelled INC member who was at the rally, fears of retaliation from the church against protesters were heightened a week later after gunshots were fired at his home. (http://manila.coconuts.co/2015/08/07/iglesia-ni-cristo-expels-members-who-joined-protest-us).

The members clearly know about killing being a part of the culture of the Iglesia ni Cristo.

Recently, Joy Yuson, one of the expelled ministers said in the vernacular, “We have to be careful. If they find us on the way, they will kill us. They may run over us, hold us up, kill or trace our steps to home.” (http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/focus/08/06/15/witnesses-vs-inc-placed-under-witness-protection-program).

According to ABS-CBN News, expelled INC Minister Joy Yuson had allegedly received information that the INC has a private army of 100 people that can strike any time. His companions also had other information –

“[Roel] Rosal, who used to work for the New Bilibid Prisons, told De Lima that INC can release inmates from prison, while [Lito] Fruto said an assistant state prosecutor from the justice department was involved in the arrest of one of the ‘missing’ INC ministers, Lowell Menorca, as well as in framing him up for a charge of rape.”

Yuson, Fruto, and Rosal are former members of INC who were expelled from the church after expressing support to the family of the late executive minister Eraño Manalo. (http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/focus/08/06/15/witnesses-vs-inc-placed-under-witness-protection-program).

These reports need verification, and if true, should be addressed by proper government authorities.

  1. No Mercy

A church is supposed to be the very first example in showing how character is supposed to be developed in a vibrant community. It may be none of people’s business questioning how a son can tolerate not talking to a mother for five years. But it has become public that the mother of Eduardo Manalo, Executive Minister of the INC, had wanted to talk to her son. Wasn’t she claiming her life was in danger together with the others? She was expelled from the organization in a show of force with the INC leadership claiming Ka Tenny and the rest of the family were creating division in the church. Farley de Castro, one of those expelled ministers claimed the widow of Eraño Manalo is more than 80 years old and is ill.

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 22.08.03

The Public is Watching: One-Sided Media

The Daily Tribune was decidedly one-sided. It did not mention earlier reports that De Lima had wanted the erring NBI Anti-Organized Transnational Crime Division chief Manuel Eduarte who said that the case is now considered closed to be sanctioned.

The Daily Tribune is obviously one of creating news instead of being a news courier. A good story would present both sides.

There is a tendency now for journalists to create news. And that is completely wrong. Journalists have a responsibility to report the news and comment upon the news. But they don’t have the right to create news. (Oscar R. Landicho, “Ethics in Journalism,” Booklore Publishing Corporation, Mla: 2002).

Indeed, what our country needs are good and honest journalists who can tell us what our people need or what is wrong with some government officials including judges and justices.

A look into a description of this paper says –

The Daily Tribune is a daily English-language broadsheet publication in the Philippines. Its office is in the 1st Floor of the Bel-Air Apartments along Roxas Boulevard, Manila. Its editor-in-chief is Ninez Cacho-Olivares. The Tribune is known for being critical of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her successor, Benigno S. Aquino III; conversely, it is often cited as supporting former President Joseph Estrada (now Mayor of Manila) and Vice President Jejomar Binay. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Daily_Tribune).

As a politician who has declared running for President as early as 2010, Binay, in his act of throwing down the gauntlet for the Iglesia ni Cristo is suspect. First, the INC’s practice of coercive bloc voting is a magnet for many politicians to woe the INC’s favor, ignoring the negative effect on the voters.

Second, the INC has been embroiled in controversy and has occupied the news spots in the recent months. But The Daily Tribune shows no indication of knowing anything before hand, as their reports reflected nothing of the other side.

What’s with a news outfit that cannot be objective? A journalist can do his job if his hands are free of bribes. Lest we be seen as imputing anything, there are many things aside from money that can corrupt a journalist: gadgets, electrical appliances, cars, free gasoline, gift vouchers in some department stores, free trips, free meals and drinks. Take that from a seasoned journalist like Oscar Landicho.

Here’s an excerpt from Landicho’s (2002) chapter on Envelopmental Journalism –

Only in the Philippines is ‘envelopmental journalism’ practiced with notoriety and frequency. Envelopmental journalism is not only illegal but also unethical. People who promote envelopmental journalism are peddlers of corruption, dishonesty, and immorality. Some journalists are … in the payroll of some politicians and businessmen.

The report on extensive lecture of Vice President Binay on DOJ Secretary De Lima is not balanced sans just one-liner saying Manuel Eduarte was not involved in the project of ascertaining abduction of INC ministers, or that De Lima was surprised on Eduarte’s “Case Closed” pronouncement. Instead, Binay was marking that Eduarte is a lawyer – as if being lawyer is equivalent to being honest and correct.

What citizens can do for now are the following: 1) Watch for wayward media and expose them; and 2) Watch the moves of politicians and expose them.

The Public is Watching: Politician’s Pressure

An evaluation of Binay’s motherland statements manifests an over-representation of this politician in the absence of a report on De Lima’s stance. He was clearly standing for Manuel Eduarte – someone not involved with the case – or even for the INC. This group is widely known to be influential with a reputation of actively lobbying to be able to place their own people in sensitive positions of the government.

From The Daily Tribune

“By your actuations, you are promoting the image of disunity, discord and even corruption in the INC to its clear prejudice and detriment,” Binay said.

“As public officials, it is our duty to respect the internal affairs and concerns of the INC and allow them, without the unwarranted interference from government, to conduct their own business in accordance with their religious beliefs. No less than our Constitution guarantees this inviolable separation of church and state,” he added.

“For the sake of upholding our Constitution, as well as protecting the integrity and good name of the INC as a religious community, I urge you to refrain from uttering baseless, if not reckless and irresponsible, statements that would tend to harm the religious institution of the INC,” Binay said. (http://www.tribune.net.ph/nation/binay-asks-de-lima-to-stop-reckless-statements-vs-inc)

Binay might not know it but it is the very ministers of the INC running for their lives who had requested for government intervention. Isaias Samson Jr. at a press conference held in July 23, said that government intervention in the crisis would help resolve the issue. Samson is one of those expelled INC ministers. (Tetch Torres-Tupas, “INC crisis: Suspended minister urges gov’t intervention”Inquirer.net. 7/23/2015).

Samson claimed that the INC was after him because of he had opposed INC general auditor Glicerio Santos Jr. According to reports, he was also accused of being the man behind the blog of Antonio Ebangelista, who has released critical articles against the group. (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/707346/minister-detained-by-armed-guards-escapes-corrupt-inc-practices-bared).

The 1987 Constitution of The Republic of the Philippines in Article III Bill of Rights is enough cover for those running for their lives from the powerful.

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 22.10.51Consider this: Binay, a candidate for President in 2016, pitches for a religion that is publicly known as influential, but he does not feel for those individuals in it being abducted and reporting fear for their very lives.

The fact is that the INC does not need protection because it is very powerful – unlike individuals in them being threatened after exposing anomalies in their organization.

The right to life, liberty and the protection of the laws is guaranteed by the constitution. It is the right of citizens to be protected and secure in their persons.

The least that Vice President Binay could have done is not to contribute to the INC cover-up – unless he is a willing tool and has become part of these familiar patterns. Politicians are well-entrenched in these practices of the INC having become stooges or willing to become one.

A bird of the same feather knows its kind. It is time for everyone to choose whom to side with: the good or the evil.

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Court Acquits ADD “Eternal Life” Discussants from Libel Charge

By Jane Abao

Manila, Philippines (3/16//2015) – This court acquittal marks another victory for MCGI on the lot of libel cases filed by the Iglesia ni Cristo against the former’s ministers. A topic on “Eternal Life” led two panelists of the Ang Dating Daan TV program discussing news items mentioning Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) members as killers. Eternal life would not accommodate such people, they concluded.

Joselito Mallari and Wilfredo Santiago were commenting on three news items published in three local newspapers in their TV program. As a result the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) represented by Bienvenido C. Santiago filed charges against them on March 31, 2004 for the crime of libel. The court, however, acquitted these Ang Dating Daan TV panelists recently.

In a 13-page decision penned by Presiding Judge Manuel B. Sta. Cruz, Jr. of the Regional Trial Court, NCJR, Branch 226 for Criminal Case No. QO4-126059, Joselito “Josel” Mallari and Wilfredo “Willy” Santiago are acquitted of the crime of Libel for failure of the prosecution to prove all the elements of the crime charged, thus failing to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 21.48.57

To be able to successfully prosecute the crime of Libel, the court said the complainant must prove the existence of the following elements:

  • The allegation of a discreditable act or condition concerning another;
  • Publication of the charge;
  • Identity of the person defamed; and
  • Existence of malice.

In part, the court said –

The alleged libelous remarks were made by the accused as panelists in the TV program “Ang Dating Daan.” This court notes the remarks were made in the context of explaining the teachings of their religion on the popular topic of “eternal life.” Although it may be argued that some of the members of the Iglesia ni Cristo were offended by the remarks, especially when the news clippings of the murders allegedly committed by individual members of the INC members were shown on the screen, this court rules that this alone does not make the remarks of the accused actionable by itself.

The court further said –

As with all other members of the various religious faith, an individual member of the INC has a reputation that is personal, separate and distinct in the community and it is highly unlikely that one’s personal reputation will be affected by what is seen and heard or published about the other INC members. It is also improbable that the INC community’s reputation, as a whole, will be blemished by these isolated acts imputed to some of its members…

The judgment quoted the Supreme Court stressing in MVRS Publications, Inc. vs. Islamic Da’wah Council of the Philippines that “words which are merely insulting are not actionable as libel or slander per se, and mere words of general abuse, however opprobrious, ill-natured, or vexatious, whether written or spoken, do not constitute a basis for an action for defamation in the absence of an allegation for special damages.”

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 12.47.40

Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path) is the longest running religious program in the country hosted by Bro. Eli Soriano, the Presiding Minister to the Members Church of God, International (MCGI). It has won several local and international awards. At the time of the filing of the case, ADD and the Iglesia ni Cristo were having a running debate centered on their teachings wherein each side tries to defend their teachings. The remarks being contested in this case were allegedly made by the accused on or about April 22, 2003 during the program of Ang Dating Daan at SBN21.

The court said the news items the panelists discussed were: a) People’s Journal, “INC minister shoots farmer dead,” dated July 24, 1996; b) People’s Tonight, “3 Iglesia-Vigilantes nabbed for beheading, roasting 2 men,” and c) Abante, “Ministro Namaril.”

The remarks include, as translated in English, “Do you know of churches that kill? Do they have eternal life?”

“Aha, you see that? He already killed him yet roasted him! Ministro Namaril (Minister Killed Someone). Whatever church that is, those inflicted with that kind of malady, cannot be granted with eternal life. As long as you are a murderer …. my countrymen, do not believe that a murderer is of God and has eternal life.”

The complaint accused these panelists of “intending to convey malicious and offensive insinuations and imputations that are destructive and tends to destroy the name and reputation of the Iglesia ni Cristo with no good justifiable motive but solely for the purposes of maligning, besmirching the name, honor, character and reputation of said offended party and to expose them as in fact they were exposed to public hatred and ridicule to their damage and prejudice.”

MCGI Minister Mallari, one of the accused, is now based outside the country. Defense witness Emilio T. Magdaraog then issued a judicial affidavit. He said the purpose of airing Ang Dating Daan and its related programs like Itanong mo kay Soriano (Ask Soriano, the Bible will Answer) is to spread the word of God according to what is written in the Bible and to have people lead a new life. As translated, he added, “This includes exposing and castigating religions that do evil but introduce themselves as they alone are of God and it is they alone that will be saved.”

Magdaraog is also a Minister for MCGI. Speaking for Mallari, he said in his judicial affidavit that Mallari was speaking in general terms. He was referring to “any religion that agrees and gives consent to killing their members but declares to the public that they alone are the ones who are of God and they alone are the only ones to be saved.” Speaking still in the vernacular, Magdaraog said, “It is clear that the Bible teaches that there is no salvation for killers or murderers. As ministers we are taught to speak the truth, no matter if some will be happy or angry at us.”

This is not the first time libel cases were filed by Bienvenido Santiago as private complainant or representative of the Iglesia ni Cristo against panelists of Ang Dating Daan TV. Fortunately, the courts have acquitted the accused in several libel cases in the years ahead for lack of evidence.

Meanwhile, Wilfredo Santiago, who was Bro. Eli’s Bible Reader, was separated from MCGI in 2009 (five years after the filing of this case) after a frustrated ambition to become minister. Willy had put up his own church group trying to mimic doctrines he learned while at MCGI and infusing them with his own understanding. Failing to muster even a hundred members, he still called his group “worldwide” in an effort to mimic MCGI and be another “Bro. Eli.” Unfortunately for him, those he had taken away have been sending feelers for wanting to return to MCGI.

In this Libel case, filed in 2004 and finally judged this February 15, 2015, Willy was represented by a Public Affairs Office (PAO) lawyer. His co-accused, Mallari, had another counsel representing him.

Atheists Fighting Religion as “Virus” of the Mind?

By Jane Abao

Manila, Philippines (12/11/2014)  – Religion is a virus of the mind that should be eradicated according to an American philosophy instructor and atheism advocate, and proposes how it should be done. However, there is much that this man has not accounted for, from the view of some Christians.

Peter Boghossian wrote in his book, “A Manual for Creating Atheists” (Amazon, November 2013) some protocols towards “containing such virus.”  Boghossian wrote –

A key containment protocol is to financially cripple any institution that propagates a faulty epistemology, starting with the most egregious perpetrators: religious institutions.

Containment as defined in the dictionary has to do with preventing the expansion of a hostile power or ideology or something hazardous.

Boghossian whom Christians believe is a cultist seeking fame and followers and Atheist_1recognition among the atheistic intellectuals (of which he is not one) began his book with his version of a definition for faith. Faith accordingly is a faulty reasoning process because it is “belief without evidence,” and it is “pretending to know things you don’t know.” (pp 23-24).

Whenever you hear the word faith, replace it with ‘pretending to know what you cannot know.’ It is definitive of faith that it is pretending.

Boghossian’s whole approach, based on his definition of faith, contains what are viewed by some Christians as urging extremisms. On the other hand, these are being welcomed by atheists who in fact parrot him.

 

The Bad and the Good

The following are some of Boghossian’s containment protocols excerpted –

  1. Use the word “faith” only in a religious context.

When the faithful are pressed on the definition of faith… they usually retreat to the words ‘hope,’ ‘trust,’ and ‘confidence,’ abandoning knowledge and certainty.

  1. Stigmatize faith-based claims like racist claims.

Don’t let people of faith sit at the Adult Table. Those at the Kid’s Table can talk about anything they’d like, but they have no adult responsibilities and no voice in public policy.

The faithful are to be told, “You are pretending to know things you don’t know. Go to the Kid’s Table, this is a conversation for adults.”

  1. Treat faith as a public health crisis.

We must reconceptualize faith as a virus of the mind … and treat faith like other epidemiological crises: contain and eradicate… it is a public health

  1. Remove religious exemption for delusion from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM).

Once religious or delusions are integrated into the DSM, entirely new categories of research and treatment into the problem of faith can be created. These will include removal of existing ethical barriers, changing treatments covered by insurance, including faith-based to special education programs in the schools, helping children who have been indoctrinated into a faith tradition, and legitimizing interventions designed to rid subjects of the faith affliction.…

In the long term, once these treatments and this body of research are refined, results could then be used to inform public health policies designed to contain and ultimately eradicate faith.

According to Thomas A. Gilson, editor of True Reason (Kregel Publications, Feb 1, 2014), Boghossian, with the language of hatred, is using a communist psychological approach to dissent.

Another reviewer noticed that Boghossian’s “containment protocols” are informed by sources from the political left.  The methodology begins with redefining words to one’s advantage, then to stigmatize, and segregate –

It’s the politics of personal destruction and it comes directly from Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals.” We’ve seen many of the New Atheists use these same tactics. No one more so than Richard Dawkins who really popularized the idea that religious believers shouldn’t be reasoned with, they should be laughed at.

Reviewer Gilson said although roughly the book is urging extremism, there are three good things it does: 1) The author takes a serious swipe at whether there is such a thing as truth, 2) He makes a strong plea for rational thinking, and 3) He recommends a Socratic approach to learning about religious beliefs.

Bro. Eli of MCGI

Smiling side

If Boghossian had heard of a Bro. Eli Soriano, he might have never written this Manual or had written it differently. Called TruthCaster, this Filipino – Brazilian preacher deeply espouses rational thinking when it comes to faith such that he has incurred the ire of all religions other than the one he is Presiding Minister to.

The set-up in the Members Church of God International (MCGI), whether it be a weekly thanksgiving or worship service where Soriano preachers is interactive, allowing him to utilize Socratic questioning to preach the word of God. Although he uses the Bible as main reference, in addition to other resources like Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary, and evidences for what he is saying, the communication is two-way, and never the hypodermic model utilized by some.

At the front is a presidential table where two or more facilitators are asked questions by Soriano allowing the topic to unfold. In all parts of the world, since the Church is international, there are translators for the church service – from Tagalog to English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, or German. This extends from the introduction of the topic by his assistant, to the consultation period, and finally to the main part where Soriano finishes off the topic for the service. The audience have their Bibles and they each take notes for review purposes. It is also to enhance their understanding.

A thanksgiving service begins at 3:00 PM (Saturdays, Philippine time) and ends usually at 11:30 – an average of 8 hours with consultation in between. Aside from questions about husband-wife relationships, family management, health, and related concerns, the Consultation as in the Church service proper, involves faith questions such as the following: What is man? What is his purpose? Why are we here? Is life merely physical? After a man dies, where does he go? Is death merely physical? Why did God place the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden? How did sin enter into the world? What is sin? What are angels? You said that angles are spiritual stars, what purpose do they serve? If Satan has children: who are they? What is the purpose of Jesus? Why is transgression of the heart of man described in the Bible as the worst kind of sin? What is the role of Satan? If Satan has deceived the whole world, in what forms has he deceived them?

This preacher is the most queried man on earth, in fact. He carries a Q&A segment in his Bible expositions. He is asked these questions because of his unequalled understanding and he mainly uses the word of God. In discussing this kind of questions, he necessarily exposes false doctrines and practices. – to the mortification of false prophets. More so when he gives Bible Expositions to the public that can be heard worldwide via satellite systems.

In a fight therefore between the religions and the atheists, one can find Preacher Soriano with both because he draws the line. He fights the religions, just as he fights the atheists – all for truth. Either side to him has flaws.

When the evangelist says he is the most maligned preacher, it is on account of having to stand for truth that people try very hard to discredit him for making them run for their money. No one and no one had been humiliated through an Interpol Wanted scheme but Soriano. One politically influential church group had made a game out of filing Soriano case after case, making use of church members the latter had excommunicated – either as complainants or witnesses. The local courts had declared that he is not a fugitive from justice as his enemies would want to put out. (https://kotawinters.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/eli-soriano-not-fugitive-from-justice-two-courts-deny-motions/). Anyone wanted for a crime would not be advertising himself and his activities, and facing the world to answer questions about God’s mysteries – a routine for the preacher.

If there is someone whose biopage in Wikipedia reads more like a charge sheet, it is Soriano’s. This is the work of his enemies as Wikipedia is open to public editing. But aside from the so-called religions running after Soriano’s neck, there are the atheists who engage him in fiery discussions. Soriano happened to chide an actress atheist, Kathy Griffins, for her irresponsible words. During an awarding in 2007, Kathy remarked –

A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus. Suck it, Jesus, this award is my god now!

When it became known to the public that the preacher rebuked Kathy, another atheist named Kate twitted to him in anger, “I Wikipedia’d you!”

Sweeping and Misplaced Definition of Faith

What follows are contentions of the Christian side on Boghossian’s book. First, it is noted that he quoted John W. Loftus, a leading crusader against Christianity for his definition of faith as evidence-free. Loftus had converted from Christianity to atheism. Such understanding of faith cannot stand for all times, all people, and all places according to Gilson. Definitions are conventional, are developing through usage and have historic meanings. As such, the definition of faith involves evidence. Moreover –

When Boghossian says faith is evidence-free, everyone who has any awareness of the truth of the term knows that he (and other New Atheists in the past decade or so) made that up; it’s not the historic meaning of the term, it’s not the conventional meaning, and it’s not the meaning that applies to…. persons of faith who present evidences for [their] beliefs.

Many Kinds of Religions

Second, there are many kinds of religions. Hinduism, Buddhism, and tribal religions are called religions by some but are not typically theist.  There are important variations in religious beliefs just as there are important differences in non-belief. In fact, not all who claim Christianity can be called Christian, for example. One cannot conclude that100 religions calling themselves Christians accept each other as true and therefore do not disagree. This is on account of false religions existing. Moreover, if these 100 religions differ from one another, one cannot conclude that Jesus Christ is false and did not exist due to these differences.

Third, and as a corollary, a true church would agree with some of Boghossian’s proposals as in the need for rational thinking. It is these false religions that TruthCaster Soriano is waging war on. Partly because of them, people have turned away from believing – what with their idol worship and many other false practices. By inference, these false religions have contributed to the hatred of people on the notion of a creator because of how they unfaithfully have stood for God. In short, they had breed atheism some way, such that atheists relish laughing at God and calling him an underachiever – one whose existence they try to disprove at all costs. But this does not make Boghossian right in his placement of “the virus.” Lumping all religions into one is likened to an attempt at throwing the water with the baby.

Naturalism Not the Standard

Fourth, Boghossian’s book implies that naturalism is the standard of truth. Is it? Naturalism is a theory denying that an event or object has supernatural significance, or is the doctrine that scientific laws are adequate to account for all phenomena. This ism is what infidels adhere to, as declared in Infidelsdotorg that owns The Secular Web (htto://infidels.org/)

Atheist_2

Organization of Infidels

Infidelsdotorg is an international organization of atheists who would rather call themselves “infidels,” defined in the dictionary as unbeliever, disbeliever, un-Christian. A most familiar name – Richard Dawkins – is a member of the Honorary Board, as one from his country, the United Kingdom (http://infidels.org/infidels/honorary.

This organization covets the time spent by the faithful in praying which it says should be better used for gainful pursuits. To some extent, this is true. Catholics, for example, pray with their rosary, 5 Our Father’s and 50 Hail Mary’s.  However, to God who knows the hearts of men, payers need not be long. A true-faith believer would know God will not appreciate treating him like deaf and dumb with repetitious prayers.  But more importantly, the wrong manner of praying does not void the presence of a creator, and praying to a believer is invoking his rights for help and protection from his maker.

Infidelsdotorg claims religious believers waste their money on church buildings. That is admittedly true for one that taxes its members the whole year through for lagak (literally means “drop”) and more lagak to build chapels and chapels but their doctrines are questionable, according to their most severe critic, Soriano.

Infidelsdotorg also mentioned “miracle healing” as practiced by some, with the uncured patient dying as a result. It also mentioned the Catholic Church’s opposition to birth control measures, the religious wars, justified murders on grounds of blasphemy, and many others as making religion “harmful.”

Infidelsdotorg is not exactly right, however, primarily for the reason that all religions cannot be lumped into one and then generalized as “harmful,” just as atheism comes in many forms.

As explained by Infidelsdotorg, an atheist is not looking for meaning or purpose in his life, does not believe in eternal life, is not afraid of death, and if he dies, that is the end of it. Atheists would not therefore readily turn to the teachings preached by Soriano because the Members Church of God International (MCGI) believes that man has to be saved from his sins, there is an eternal life, and that life has meaning and a purpose set by the Creator. Most of all, man has to live by God’s laws and not according to his own wishes. The end for man is to be glorious as his creator has set it – ruling over spirits and man that do not conform to the good and order.

In the history of the MCGI where Soriano is Presiding Minister to, there were only two converts to atheism, but this was not surprising since the two were found leading licentious lives.  As expected, they were excommunicated by the preacher. But notable is the fact that there have not been any liabilities to society among the MCGI members because the church looks after them. A lot of testimonies claim their lives have changed for the better after knowing the Christ being preached by Soriano.

Bro. Eli’s Longer List of the Harmful

The preacher has a longer list to what Infidelsdotorg calls religions’ “harmful” and he has a stronger term for these things: Udyok ni Satanas or Satan-inspired. They are invariably what false religions do and they are what he often calls attention to. To name a few, they include: (1) Baptizing children who have no knowledge of what is going on and who cannot give their consent to the ritual; (2) The forever-baby representations of Jesus Christ, and through images yet; (3) Virgin Mary believed not as a person but as direct mediator to Christ; (4) Santa Claus and celebration of Christ’s “birthday;” (5) Tithing; (6)Forever praying for the dead and forever paying services “for the repose of their soul;” (7) Calling the priest Father, Reverend, Most Reverend, Most Worshipful and many other addresses; (8) Use of Latin for Church services that people do not understand; (9) Prohibiting Church members from reading the Bible; and (10) Bad role modeling among church leadership who do not apply Bible injunctions: from improper way of dressing, to licentious living among the members. They only select what they teach for fear of losing members if they strictly teach all.

By calling these things Satan-inspired, Soriano recognizes something that naturalism denies. People sound being “in” when people mouth atheist ideas. But Soriano teaches that aside from matter that is admittedly living, there is something besides matter in man. This aspect is important in considering those whose ideas become truth for most of the public, the scientists for example.

Soriano goes beyond atheist scientists who do not recognize the existence of ethos as drivers of science and proponents of hypotheses.  Ethos, as defined, is the distinguishing characteristic, moral nature, or guiding belief of a person, group, or institution. A cat playing with a mouse as it dies slowly is hurting to them. There is the ethos of sympathy – for the dying mouse. What about a pupa that kicks and kicks itself to tiredness? If that is senseless, one’s sympathy for these beings may just be self-righteousness but one does not see that internal structures may need these interventions. Before a pupa becomes a beautiful butterfly, it has to kick and kick inside its cocoon to generate oil in its body. This is needed for its growth to the next phase. Grant it sympathy and tear the cocoon and see whether it can become a butterfly that it is meant to be.

It’s all About Ethos

Communicating anything – especially what one believes in like the origin of the universe or one’s religion is actually all about ethos. So when a person loses one’s faith, it is more like having one’s ethos changed. It is said that Charles Darwin “lost his faith” while writing On the Origin of species. Darwin wrote:

There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designed the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice. Not believing this, I see no necessity in the belief that they eye was expressly designed. On the other hand I cannot anyhow be contented to view this wonderful universe and especially the nature of man, and to conclude that everything is the result of brute force. I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance. Not that this notion at all satisfies me. I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton. (http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/entry-2814)

Darwin mentioned CHANCE, not seeing order into the existence of things. To a believer however, there is no chance with God. He had created all things – with a purpose, from the beginning to its end. Whatever happens, God has allowed it and it is not by chance (Bro. Eli Soriano, MCGI, SPM, 12/1/2014).

Richard Dawkins, who is looked upon by many as the successor of Darwin, made a pitch against a supposed beneficent creator, referring to the same incident that Darwin spoke of –

Atheist_3

He wrote this in his book, The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution (2010). Notice that he wrote “victim” for caterpillar. He wrote “paralyze but not kill” for feeding within the living bodies. Where reasoning is involved, there is ethos. Communicating reason carries mood or emotion, but it speaks more of the person’s norms, principles, standards. There is no reasoning without speech. So with two people talking about one incident, the ethos can vary. Aren’t these not carried into the labs? Scientific information is supposedly relayed with care, preserving the original as best as one can, cleaving to truth.

Ichneumonidae refers to parasitoid wasps seen as most beautiful and most amazing by some biologists. As implied, there is a creator who made these insects with a purpose in mind – no matter how we do not like what these insects do.

Atheist_4

It was Richard Dawkins who popularized the idea that religious believers shouldn’t be reasoned with, they should be laughed at. Another Atheist Scientist Lawrence Krauss is on record saying God is not needed for a universe to exist. These are the new heroes of emerging atheists today. Understandably, since communicating about existence or anything carries ethos, there is the need to be careful least one pick up the ethos of another.

In Charles Darwin’s account, the ethos is of an absence of readiness to consider a creator. In Richard Dawkin’s account, the ethos is of obvious negative or hostile state of mind against a supposed beneficent creator.

Ethos acts to level the playing field this way: Since the supposed reasoning comes from the person involved (the supposed thinker), justice plays its part for everyone. The religions may do their practices, harmful or not, but as they do them, it is up to the individual to submit to them or not, to question them or not, to consider them well as of life or as of death and then to decide what to do. If the individual fails to evaluate properly what his religion (harmful or not) offers, given his capacity to understand, then ethos has not worked for him. Ethos has been displayed or is being displayed by the subject religion as opportunities for him to assess, but he has not used his mind properly for an appropriate decision. So whether his religion is virus or not, is actually not an issue.

On the other hand, scientists come out from the labs with their hypothesis – but not everyone is able to watch them or read them as they communicate their findings. As Dr. Lawrence Krauss, for example, talks about his “Universe from Nothing,” he keeps on laughing at the religious as “those guys” and mocking at God as useless and not needed for a universe to exist. But Krauss gave conferences and wrote a book on this hypothesis. Although yet a hypothesis, it will most probably find its way into children’s books as the theory of evolution did. In this case, ethos from Krauss which should have provided the supposed thinker some window of him is almost nil – except those who have viewed him on YouTube most probably – or read his book.

Between false religions and atheistic science, the latter can do more harm then. Nevertheless, ethos from the communicant (religion or science) can logically be met with the principle,”from death to death and from life to life.” Life only comes from life. What we put in the mind and what we accept comes from this principle (II Cor 2: 15-16).

Local Atheists Parrot Atheist Scientists

As described by Infidelsdotorg, an atheist may be neutral or harmless, and that is probably when he is quiet. The moment he actively campaigns for their belief of a “There is no creator” and parrot their new-found heroes in Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss among others, Christians may not look at this kind of atheists as harmless. That is the view of creationists or of at least true Christians like Soriano. Krauss wrote “A Universe from Nothing” (Atria Books (January 1, 2013).

Jeremy Lucban, a locale atheist, exemplifies these new atheists now pontificating to people to be unbelievers.  He laughed derisively at Bro. Eli Soriano’s post on the Mitochondrial Eve without understanding the preacher’s position. In return, the preacher called his mouth “stinking.”

Atheists do not recognize a creator and do not feel bound by God’s laws; therefore they do not look to the Bible as a reference for morality. They laugh at it as a book of fairy tales and Lucban just did it with the title of his newly-opened blog.  A true atheist would believe in evolution for it is sacrilege not to, and so he does. Not believing the Bible as true, Lucban cherry-picked verses “to prove” his point.

A creationist, particularly a true Christian, recognizes a creator and looks upon God’s laws as his guide to morality and truth. “Stinking” to a Christian therefore takes the word of God as to what it is. What are fragrant to God are those that are of Christ, and there are two types of aroma in the eyes of God: the aroma from life to life, and the aroma from death to death (II Corinthians 2:15-16).  Those who are not of Christ then have no life above the material and therefore they “stink” – not just in the mouth for they are spiritually dead, having taken their death from the non-life. In contrast, life can only be taken from life.

In his blog, Soriano posted ISAIAH 40:22 as in from the Bible –

ISAIAH 40:22

 It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

As a response, Lucban insolently posted “Isaiah 40:22 is FLAT EARTH with a DOME.” This was according to Lucban’s source, but what he meant to do was to load the ignorance of some believers on Soriano. Obviously, Lucban did this to jibe with his agenda of presenting the Bible as a book of fairy tales. And so everyone must believe the earth is flat with a dome – according to foolish believers. He even added an image of that “flat earth with a dome.” That’s pure Strawman fallacy, Lucban! You are boxing against the wind!

As to doing good without the Bible to follow, this is not impossible to some. The God of the Bible claims he has placed that desire on man. However, to unbelievers, they can never be moral (as with spiritual life) since their knowledge comes from non-life or death and is separated from the life of the maker.

The rest of Lucban’s arguments do not deserve attention. With Reductio ad absurdum he cuts up pieces, perhaps in his lack of understanding, or in his bid to find flaws before he could understand what is being said.

The Real Virus of the Mind

The mind, after all, necessarily needs to be free from whatever virus that impinges on it. The question then is not so much as where to locate the virus but why it is virus.That virus needs to be qualified from being just referred to as “virus because X does not reason.” There is a need to go deeper and say the virus is “virus because X does not reason properly. And why so? Because X, in man’s thinking carries ethos and it is seen in the way he communicates. Man, the actor in religion or science, is matter but he has a sentient part – exemplified simply in the way he thinks, in the way his words come. If reason is all that important to us, then virus must be located (for its presence or its absence) – but more than that: the reason of the reason.

Applied to the laboratories where scientists work, ethos is evident. Until now, the theories or hypotheses of scientists remain only theories or hypotheses after several centuries of studying. These include Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, the Big Bang, and now Lawrence Krauss’ Quantum Mechanics’ universe from nothing.  If these are just theories or hypotheses, why act as if they were true? Why teach them? Why write books on them and make money out of them? It is obviously hard to believe in a scientist who, in his attempt to rationalize God fails, and curses him all along.

Applied to religions, ethos is also evident, and so a believer should be able to reason. Why, for example, should one kiss a wooden crucifix passed from one mouth to another? Why one should preach at chapels when he is a womanizer or a pedophile or a murderer? Why one should vote for a politician against one’s will for so-called church unity? There is much that religions have done to breed atheism – false that they are. It is worse than not knowing God at all.

The real virus of the mind is not religions per se, or scientism/naturalism. The real virus specifically comes in many names like greed and self-righteousness. It is very evident in ethos – in the way one communicates as a result of his thinking. It is the spirit of falsehood – the spirit that can rule in the mind of anyone (in science or in the religions) if he does nor watch out.

And the source of it? The same source of chaos, a spirit being that is seemingly doing its best to suppress exposure of the spiritual dimension (of existence, of man, of truth) because then he would be exposed – Satan. However, not in all cases is Satan responsible for the failings of man; it can be man himself.

For Bro. Eli Soriano who stands against these religions and stands against atheism, it is time the world asks him the question, why so? #

Bro. Eli, Pope Francis and the Squid Tactics of Roman Catholic Lackeys

By Jane Abao

Manila, Philippines (8/14/2014) – It all started with a question: Will God forgive those who don’t belSquid300ieve in him?

This was one of the questions asked by an Italian journalist to Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina or Pope Francis to the Catholics who in effect said, “Obey your conscience. That is your guide to what is right and what is wrong.”

Not long after that, media blared that the Pope said, it’s okay not to believe in God if you have clean conscience. Courtney Coren wrote it for Newsmax summarizing La Repubblica, the broadsheet where Eugenio Scalfari wrote his questions.

The Pope has lately been voicing out statements that shocked the world, including saying that he believes in God but not in the Catholic god. The Pope also has been set to task by Bro. Eli Soriano who found the Pope’s “Letter to a Non-Believer” as containing unbiblical answers.

Soriano is the Presiding Minister of the Members Church of God International (MCGI) or Ang Dating Daan as locally known. The preacher was particularly pointing to Paragraph 20 of the letter as translated in English in http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/letters/2013/documents/papa-francesco_20130911_eugenio-scalfari.html

The Pope’s letter to Scalfari that Vatican calls “non-believer,” said –

I now wish to address the three questions from your article of 7 August. I believe that in the first two questions, what interests you is to understand the attitude of the Church towards those who do not share faith in Jesus. Above all, you ask if the God of Christians forgives those who do not believe and who do not seek faith. Given the premise, and this is fundamental, that the mercy of God is limitless for those who turn to him with a sincere and contrite heart, the issue for the unbeliever lies in obeying his or her conscience. There is sin, even for those who have no faith, when conscience is not followed. Listening to and obeying conscience means deciding in the face of what is understood to be good or evil. It is on the basis of this choice that the goodness or evil of our actions is determined.

Vatican documented the 2,500-word piece dated 4 September 2013 as “Letter to a Non-Believer: Pope Francis Responds to Dr. Eugenio Scalfari, Journalist of the Italian Newpaper La Repubblica.” Critiquing the response, Soriano said, among others, that the conscience of man is not a correct guide to the question of believing in God or not, because there are men whose consciences have been seared.

In Soriano’s blog in esoriano.wordpress.com titled, “The Greatest Fallacy of the Roman Catholic Church Ever,” the preacher also contested the Pope’s statement that Jesus is not spirit but man. There are parameters to truth where some truth are time-bound said the preacher. In other words, since the statement was said only recently, “Jesus is not spirit; he is man” can no longer be true.

Among the items that Bro. Eli pointed out is the Catholic’s false belief about Trinity where there are three persons of equal status.  Not true, Bro. Eli said, because the son said in the Bible that, “the Father is greater than I,” and the Bible is an authority on this matter.

Searching for Truth

Searching for truth is one of the most novel pursuits of man today. But one needs to be serious about it because it has to do with an “end” question, “What will happen to me when I die? Will I be saved?”

The common denominator between Bro. Eli Soriano, Pope Francis and Scalfari is searching for truth, one could safely say – but not for apologists whose preference is placed on defending royalties, come what may. The man – not the message – is their focus.

To advance some more, those leading the churches need to be fully abreast of what is true. That in essence was the statement that Bro. Eli wanted to make when he was critiquing the Pope in teaching someone that Vatican called a non-believer. Hence the statement, “I am advising the Pope – if he accepts advises – to be more biblical in his pronouncements for the sake of more than a billion souls that look up to him as their leader.”

Bro. Eli is in fact fascinated with the new Pope as the latter proves to be cleansing the Roman Catholic Church – is in actuality creating its collapse – to come back to truth. This is what Soriano said in his blog.

We have members in Argentina who are former Catholics. I am thanking God that after the so-called ascension of the present Pope to the alleged throne of Peter, Argentines still strove to leave the Catholic Church and join us to be members of the Church of God International! I am happy for them in the sense that Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina caused the greatest collapse in the history of the Catholic Church when as present pope he pronounced that Jesus Christ is not a spirit but human!

Use of Reasoning, Discourses

The Word of God is the final arbiter above all things if we have to stick to truth. And for using truth to argue, to reason out, one must believe in truth himself.  To stay in the domain of truth, one must, himself, serve truth. Would anyone in his right mind refute this?

At other times, fidelity with truth may even necessitate detaching oneself – like give up serving what one used to believe in as “truth.” This is not very far to imagine as in the resignation of popes.

Blessing from God

Despite truth not laid readily on the platter for man, he is blessed to have been given the wisdom and the opportunities to know truth. But it is not like lying down under an apple tree and waiting for the apple to drop to one’s mouth. A man of God that would preach God’s word must study, practice, and apply principles found in God’s book. Above all, he must be above reproach so that no matter how small, no matter how insignificant he is in the eyes of people, he is someone justified in God’s eyes to handle his words. Not everyone is worthy to do that.

A lazy man, for example, that refuses to read his Bible will not come to understand anything. A braggart cannot win in an argumentation or discourse without studying how to keep away from fallacies. A so-called priest who does nothing but shout out curses to anyone criticizing his beliefs is not a priest in the real sense. An apologist that uses materials other than the word of God for what is true is not a careful apologist.

If one practices more on tricks to mislead the audience with corrupt communication rather than finding out what is true, he is but a paid hack, a hired lackey to ensure status quo that someone may hold on to dear power. For example, the Pope’s pronouncement about Jesus not being a spirit but a man as the bone of contention should not lead to anywhere but there. Stay there and resolve that thing. It should not lead to yourself and your pompous biodata.

Recently, someone calling himself Lay Person Scripturist (?) tried to hi-jack a supposed work-in-progress, using the blog of “Splendor of the Church.” Bro. Eli Soriano was advising the Pope to be more biblical in his pronouncements in his blog in esoriano.wordpress.com. This so-called “scripturist” who obviously has no gifted knowledge about scriptures came forward to brag about his knowledge of Hebrew and Greek. He was challenging Bro. Eli to prove his recommendation of the KJV as the better Bible. Someone’s pronouncements had suddenly metamorphosed into better Bible. Was that the issue? How did it come to that? This is clearly squid tactics at work!

Lay it on the Table

For anyone thirsting for truth, one should take extra care that one does not adhere to personalities but to God and his word. When Bro. Eli was finding issues with the pronouncements of Pope Francis, he was laying on the table these pronouncements for examination: firstly, about following your conscience as guide to belief or non-belief in God, and secondly, about Jesus being man and not spirit.

Why was he doing this? Preachers should continually study and examine information around just like other professions do. Bro. Eli said handling the words of God is most delicate and should not be simply toyed with by people who make business out of it. More so, use it for power.

What should be done now as proper, when things are on the table? To discuss these to find out the truth according to the final arbiter – the word of God.

So now, is conscience a proper guide to what is right and what is wrong? Is Jesus a man and not spirit? These are questions the world should be able to discuss – with saneness of mind, like adults who care for themselves and for others. These questions need answers, and it is but proper to discourse on them – especially with the Roman Catholic Church leaders. When Bro. Eli blogged about this, no one stood up for the Pope – in the proper way. Attempts were all spent at tearing down Bro. Eli as if the Pope would stand right if they do.

The Lackeys: Rise of Greenhorn Defenders

What happened was that someone in tow, identified only as “Lay Person Scripturist” posted “A Response” to Bro. Eli. That was quite expected. The problem was that he deflected from the issue and trained the discourse on himself and about what he knew about Greek and Hebrew. It was a decoy, all right, to draw the attention away from Pope Francis and his pronouncements.

The comments below the blogs called Bro. Eli all sorts of names. No one said anything against the Pope; neither against the personality of the blogger.  The page belonged to the Catholics. “Lay Person Scripturist” is hardly a name. But since he was blogging on the blog of Padre Abe Arganiosa’s “Splendor,” he was deemed to be speaking for the Church – until his words betrayed him. Duane Yan is after all just a lackey. Is that his real name? No one knows for sure. He is not open about his identity.

As it is, Greenhorns or Tenderfoots should stay in their proper places and that is to study AND THINK– instead of trying to cover up for their elders. Until they are ready, it will not do any good as shown in this example. Instead of facing the situation, apologists for the Catholic Church only showed their lack of character.

Pope Francis can very well speak for himself. The Bishops of the RCC can speak for their beliefs and defend them instead of a lackey doing it. This early, the corrupted thinking of the “scripturist” seems to say that covering up for a leader is preferable to searching for truth. That is heroism to him.

Duane Yan’s Fallacies

Google is everybody’s friend. That’s how we came to know the full name of this so-called Scripturist – if that is really his true name. Does Duane Yan or Lay Person Scripturist live scriptures? Read scriptures? Study scriptures? A scripturist is defined as one who is strongly attached to, or versed in, the Scriptures, or who endeavors to regulate his life by them. That is what the dictionary says.

Duane has not shown anything about being a scripturist – through his demeanor or through the contents of his discourses. Anyhow, the following is an analysis of Duane’s first blog with all his fallacies. The statements in quotes are his, and the fallacies he committed are set in bold. The author takes the pleasure to comment as reaction to his fallacies.

A1) Ad Populum Argument. Duane opened his Blog 1, “A Response to the Attack of Eli Soriano against Pope Francis” with a claim –

“It was jealousy that forced Eli Soriano to come up with this article.”

That’s an appeal to the RCC mass. However, the claim for a jealous Soriano was not supported at all. He did not give evidence as to how Soriano was jealous (of the Pope?) and in what terms Soriano could be jealous. Instead, his subject was the Pope.

A2) Non Sequitor. Duane came up with the charities of Pope Francis as if to say that Soriano has no charities since he doesn’t speak about them, or that he does not know about them, or that the Pope does them. It doesn’t follow that because Duane is ignorant of the charities of Bro. Eli that there is no charity to speak of from the side of Bro. Eli. Or because the Pope does charities, then Bro. Eli has none.

A3) False Analogy

“The teachings of a preacher who uses verses cannot save people if he does not follow the will of God.”

There is no debate here; it is true for everyone. The comparison is a false analogy since it is being used as support where there is none to support. This supposed claim is not a claim at all, but Duane makes it appear to the audience that he is talking about Soriano, and that what he is saying is true.

A4) Diversion

“The real problem is the malicious thinking of the Leader of Ang Dating Daan who cannot explain the Hebrew Alphabet. The leader of this ADD does not know the Greek language.”

What was the issue? The pronouncements of Pope Francis.  So why did it suddenly shift to Hebrew and Greek language? So that the so-called Catholic defender can cover up the errors found in the Pope’s words. No one came up but him – a “scripturist.”

One cannot run away from what is true and replace it with another. Your knowledge of the Hebrew and Greek alphabet cannot be the topic when no one brought it up.

A5) Strawperson Argument

“Now let us give Eli Soriano the Grammatical Analysis of John 1:1…..The question is does Soriano know Greek Grammatical Analysis?”

Was there a need for this? The contentions are on the pronouncements of Pope Francis. Why did it come to teaching Soriano of Greek Grammatical Analysis? You simply ignored Bro. Eli’s actual position and substituted your distorted, scheming misrepresented version of his position. Will teaching Greek Grammatical Analysis to Soriano show the way if Pope Francis is correct or not?

A6) Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc (After this, therefore this)

“They challenge the Pope since it is impossible for Him to give importance to these things. That is why Soriano does all these impossible things so the debate will not push through.”

Duane Yan, you are indeed egoistic!  What debate are you talking about? You claim to have sent an email asking for a debate? Was there an answer? A letter or an email is said to have been received if there was a reply. And since Bro. Eli found fault in Pope Francis words, does that necessarily lead to a conclusion that debate with you is being avoided, and so the preacher needed to do that? How egoistic can you get!

Well, here’s something you have to know about Soriano: Bro. Eli attends to millions of people everyday aside from doing his own studies as preacher. So he has to divide his time for more important things. Not every email then gets a response.  If there is none, the answer may be no or later.  What is known is that Bro. Eli does not discourse with a lackey like you. What he likes is leader-for-leader since the leader knows best what doctrines his church carries. It is doctrines that are the meat of debates, not Hebrew or Greek language. You claim to be Lay Person, so stay with Lay Persons. The policy is that anyone wanting to debate with Bro. Eli must have authority from his leader.

What is a debate? Merriam Webster defines it as “a contention of words or arguments as a regulated discussion of a proposition between two matched sides.” Two matched sides, it says. At least, Duane should approximate if he has the mettle to deal with Bro. Eli. Knowing Hebrew and Greek does not guarantee that one is competent in reasoning, what more with measuring truth from different angles? You first blog already committed many fallacies. Is this a guarantee that you can handle a debate?

Duane’s second blog was more insulting. It was titled, “A Response to the Response of the Coward Leader of Ang Dating Daan.” Let us check again on his fallacies. The words enclosed in quotation marks are his. Fallacies he committed are set in bold.

B1) Distraction. By this time, Duane or whoever he is, has misled his audience to forget about Pope Francis and his pronouncements.  Or so, it seems. In summary, Bro. Eli found issues in the Pope’s statements about following conscience to believe or not believe in God, and that Jesus is not spirit but man. So now, the focus is on Duane, himself, and his supreme knowledge of Hebrew and Greek. How did it jump from one topic to another? This Lay Person Scripturist inserted himself. What he did was distraction. He had tried to make the people forget about looking for truth – because now he had shifted the topic from Pope Francis’ unbiblical pronouncements (Argument of facts) – one that he could not answer – to a Coward Soriano (Argument of evaluation – personal). In sum, he was running away.

B2) Emotive language

Soriano knows very well that I am a Lay Person. You are aware that I have contacted you last February 2014 via elisoriano.com. What is your purpose to claim that a person wrote this when you know that I was the one who challenged you to prove that the King Version is truthful to the Original Language? Are you just getting the attention of our members to show that you are fighting? You are a liar to show that a priest wrote this article.”

This person sees himself as the center of the world. When you are someone leading millions, you won’t have time to remember every email that comes along the way. The staff handles those emails first and then consults with management about time and priorities and other related concerns.

But this person who staunchly comes forward to do squid tactics looks at himself as the all-important person at the moment. Is what you call “lying” that hard when you cannot even come out with your real identity? That blog, “Splendor” has long been Abraham Arganiosa’s. You just popped up at the moment Pope Francis is being talked about.

The Pope doesn’t need anyone like you to cover for him. Already, you have the gall to call Bro. Eli as coward in all your impertinence and simplistic attitude in looking at scriptures. If you attach yourself to scriptures, you must make sure you do not soil its reputation by showing your brazen self-assurance that you know everything as to cover for the Pope! You could have at least waited for the Monsignors, or the bishops to do it and not you! For sure, they know better to respect people unlike your glory-seeking self.

Bro. Eli was not born yesterday. So many people would like to be associated with Bro. Eli through a debate – win or lose. Just having debated with him is already a feather on their cap. So do not think that Bro. Eli does not practice discernment with these people asking for debates. Your proposal alone as limiting the debate to a Hebrew language with no one understanding what is happening already marks you as a social climber that is hardly one looking for truth. Why should he waste time on you? Your tail is showing; tuck it in, please! Enough of your social-climbing at the expense of Bro. Eli.

ADDRESSING YOUR VIDEO: It now appears that you have forced your way into a Church locale for a hidden agenda. In your email that you said was sent last February 2014 (retrieved just this week), 1) You were asking for a debate; 2) You were asking that you may bring a video.

Since you were not even granted a debate, how come you have a video entering a church locale? What is your motive for doing that? To show that no one wanted to debate with you? Shallow trickster! Only your kind can be tricked into thinking that no one in the world can face a great Duane in a debate! It is easy to fool people, but no matter how many videos you post, a thinking mind will still examine the veracity of those posts.

Anyone wanting to know about truth is welcome in the Church locales of MCGI. Unless you went there for an evil purpose, you are most welcome. You need not present a video to create something that is not true.

B3) Ad Populum Argument

Why will I not be proud of the Pope when he did many good things?”

The blogger is courting the audience to rally behind him, but there is no need for this. It is not an issue that Pope Francis did many good things. No one is fighting that. This is yet another proof that this fellow does not merit the time of Bro. Eli for a debate. It will just be a waste of time. He doesn’t know where to place himself arguing through blogs; what more in a formal discourse?

B4) Either-or Argument

The question is do you really know Hebrew? If you are capable, then come out for an honorable debate.”

By this time, one can sense that this person is really pitiful. It’s either you know Hebrew or you are not honorable. It’s either you know Hebrew or you are a coward. It’s either you know Hebrew or nothing.

Bro. Eli is right in ignoring that email. This fellow has nothing between the ears and will only waste his precious time that can be used for others.

B5) Slippery Slope

You will do everything that is impossible so the debate will not push through.”

Duane, if you had been a student, you may have learned that you cannot force your teacher to pass you; you have to show you merit her passing you. The same with anyone having the stature of Bro. Eli. He can afford to choose who are worth debating with. If there is no challenge and he can see that you are just going to waste his time talking about dictionaries that no one from the audience will understand, then create your own opponent. That proposal of yours is of the devil.

How can you claim that Bro. Eli would even waste time thinking about you and how to dodge you? Look at his debate records. In the space of four years from 1995-1998 for example, he had a record of 4 debates each year. Now, it is becoming less and less especially in foreign lands because these debates on video are all over the Internet. Challengers are withdrawing that there are times the tickets for Bro. Eli and his staff have been bought already and the venue paid for.

Oh, my! Bro. Eli doesn’t even know you exist and there you are, accusing him!

B6) Strawperson Argument

“I will repeat. I am challenging you to an honorable debate to prove that your highly recommended King James Version is truthful to the original language just like you said in the video.”

What Bro. Eli said in the video is not the same and identical as what Pope Francis said that “Jesus is not spirit but man.” That was one of the issues.

You are lost, young man! You can improve your ability to reason by familiarizing yourself with the kinds of fallacies that you have committed here. Improve your reasoning; formulate effective arguments and maybe someday, Bro. Eli can consider you as worthy to waste his time.

The meat of Apologetics work, as in others, should be in searching for truth and not swallowing up a load of unverified cache, and then fool the audience with corrupt evidence. No! There is no high pride that we need to cover up when it comes to truth. What Bro. Eli said about Pope Francis and his pronouncements were not yet answered. Unfortunately, you are not the right person to answer for them, given your performance.

What We Can Learn From the Comments

All is not lost if we can learn something from the load of comments. You don’t see Duane Yan defending what he said nor explaining himself. But you see the members of the Roman Catholic Church actively responding to commentaries or simply throwing stones. Some 90% of the comments were attacks on the person of Bro. Eli. Most were rehash of what the Iglesia ni Cristo would accuse the preacher of. Duane’s “A Response to the Attack of Eli Soriano against Pope Francis” reaped 260 comments as of August 10, 2014. His “Response to the Response of the Coward Leader of Ang Dating Daan” reaped 175 comments as of August 11, 2014.

From the two blogs of Duane aka Lay Person Scripturist, people called Bro. Eli names and threw him accusations not fit to see in print. Some even had usernames that are godly-sounding like “Ang Tunay na Kawan” (The True Sheepfold”) but the language is most foul. Against Catholics, the usual attacks are those that deal with idol worship but are ignored by them or replied to with a counter-attack. Idol worship of Catholics? Answer: Soriano is rapist, extortionist, plunderer, deceiver, scum of the earth. This has been the mantra of the Iglesia ni Cristo and is now in many forms being used by the Catholics against the preacher. That is because Bro. Eli up to now criticizes false beliefs during his Bible Expositions that are aired world-wide almost every week through satellite. Obviously, he cannot stop doing that because people ask him questions and he has to answer. Critiquing false beliefs is part and parcel of the work of a preacher of God. It helps in the propagation of truth.

What is to make of these comments? A Church leader can benefit from reading them. They are a show-window of what can be done. Management-wise, one can readily see how the church that he is leading has formed the persons from what they say. Has the church taught these people anything? If the church they are defending is good and true, how come the language is that filthy?

In the teachings of Bro. Eli, saying fool and shameless is not wrong if the person is really a fool or shameless. It is telling the truth and there is the need to change pointed out. This is not applied, however, by a brother to another.  How about the Catholics? Looking at their comments, much can be said about Catholics: they don’t study their Bibles (“I was born a Catholic; I will die a Catholic”); they have not been taught respect. But happily, from the exchanges, one Catholic member was actively pushing for a debate to resolve issues (“I want to know who is lying; let’s have the debate”).

Here’s a proud Catholic named Alwin Bobis from the University of the Philippines talking – with a misplaced sense of martyrdom.

That’s how to be a Catholic! Non-afraid, courageous and above all, full of wisdom… Go and multiply! We are behind…. ALWAYS! (Posted 7:44 am, 8/8/2014 on Coward Leader).

If Catholics can bite bullets and powder in Nigeria, Egypt, Europe and in all persecuted-Christian land…. Eli Soriano is peanut (sic) in comparison…. For those who truly love Jesus, even martyrdom is a song. (Posted 7:47 am, 8/8/2014 on Coward Leader).

The most appropriate comment that goes along the line of thinking that we espouse comes from a John Cardenas from Systems Technology Institute. There is no pressure seen to defend his religion or his leader. He posted –

According to the Bible, there is a way to find out if the preacher is of God or not.

John 7: 17-18 (KJV)

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory; but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true and no unrighteousness is in him.

We need to weigh in the Biblical truths here, not the image of the Pope or even Bro. Eli. I am with you that this [sic] debate will be able to tell the people who is telling the truth. (Posted 11: am, 8/8/2014 on Attack Against Pope)

You can be sure John Cardenas learned this thing from Bro. Eli. This verse is frequently repeated during his Bible Expositions in the Q&A portion. It is also often discussed in Church gatherings. “The characteristics of a preacher of God” is one of the most discussed topics of Bro. Eli, either standing on its own or interspersed with other topics.

Authority to Speak

From the side of Bro. Eli, a Joemar San Jose, presumably a deacon, insisted on knowing about “authority to speak.” Who is authorized to speak for RCC? Is Duane authorized to speak for the whole of the RCC? Where can we find that authority spoken of? Where is it written? After a lengthy exchange (about 55 exchanges) with a certain Jay Pee of the RCC, it came out that a Bishop can give authority for his own Diocese – but up to that only. Duane cannot speak with authority for the whole of the RCC.

So what then is the use of jumping to a claim for debate if even his Bishop does not arm Duane with authority? Further, the purpose of a debate is finding out what is true. You would be a fool to debate using dead languages like Greek and Hebrew to find out truth if you can do it in the language of people hearing you.

But why do we use Greek and Hebrew dictionaries? To find out the intended meaning. But that is not all. You must know who is speaking so that you can gauge the meaning more closely.

Just because you know a handful of words in Hebrew or Greek does not give you the upper-hand. There is still God who guides his words and those he had appointed to use them. Therefore, the supremacy is not found in language.

To Be an Apologist

It is good to be an apologist but it depends on your apologetics. Merriam-Webster defines apologetics as “a branch of theology devoted to the defense of divine origin and authority of Christianity.” The term accordingly was first used circa 1733. This gives us an idea that certain truths on Christianity (Read Roman Catholic) have been in place as dogma as early as this period. Because they are dogma, a thinking mind should still check.

Experience reveals that some truths are time-bound. As new truths come in, the old ones found not working should go as wisdom reveals. Therefore, an apologist has to be open-minded and quick to check his facts. One need not swallow dogma – that is clear. The critical part is in having to defend someone you look up to as a leader when he makes a mistake. Did he indeed make one? Your task is to check, at the same time checking your thinking tools as well as your faith. There’s something we have to remember, however: Whoever is given the wisdom, to him we give the honor – to lead us into truth.

Everything an apologist does lies on his faith, but it does not mean blind faith. If you are sure your faith stands on solid ground, then your work is not that hard and there would be no inner conflicts. But if in your mind, the one you have to defend is in error, you are in for a quandary.

Debate on TV All That’s Needed

Duane Yan in “Splendor of the Church,” or whoever he is, said Bro. Eli is jealous and that is why he wrote that blog on the pronouncements of Pope Francis. The Pope really said those pronouncements as covered by media and Vatican documents.

No matter how Catholics pelt stones on Bro. Eli, it won’t change matters. Pope Francis said those words. He even said he believes in God but not in a Catholic God. It is because he has come upon new truths. Should there be things to settle, debate on TV is all we need.

ADDENDUM: There were two other responses that just came in. Abe Arganiosa’s post dated August 12, 2014 will be dealt first.

Every single word of the Catholic Priest Abe Arganiosa is in all capitals beginning with his title: “MAMA ELI SORIANO TOO COWARDLY IN HIS ALIBIS; REFUSES DEBATE CHALLENGES.” Aside from that, he topped it with a photo-shopped photo of Bro. Eli, presenting him as a clown.

For the many years that Abraham Arganiosa had been blogging, he has obviously not learned that any piece of writing one does is to persuade the reader of the truth of what one says. Therefore, there is what is called pathos or feelings of the audience. There is also ethos or the writer’s character as the readers see him as believable or not. More important, there is logos or proofs to confirm factual evidence. From what he had exemplified in his response, he has nothing of these three.

His post is a perfect example of a heart shown inside out. I pity this priest. Beginning with his filthy language, his cursing, and the things that make him laugh with great pleasure, I would not want any of my loved ones to come near this priest. Is this the one that should talk to you about God and his goodness?

Abe Arganiosa, the whole of your post is garbage! You do not even care what readers think of you; neither do you care if you are polluting people’s homes or not. And did you hit the point? You were talking about Bro. Eli shying away from debates and that is way off the mark. Was that the issue? There’s just one thing you need to know, perchance you can still wake up: You stink! That’s the truth of it! Priests as leaders should be examples and you are a poor one!

Just to tell the world that Pope Francis never makes mistakes, you yourself turn into a werewolf and bare your fang? That is what you do actually. It is not an intelligible way to handle arguments. You banner that Bro. Eli refused a debate challenge? When was that? And to whom is he a coward?  As a priest, you have to be careful of your words. Did you banner that just to show that you have done something for Pope Francis?

If Bro. Eli is a coward, why does he have the guts to correct Pope Francis? That alone puts you on the defensive.

Secondly, from your title alone, Abe Arganiosa, you are already lying. You used emotive language to rally your people. If I call you Auntie Abe, fair enough? Auntie Abe, the Photo-shopping Catholic Priest Shouts on the Internet.

Finally, I will spare you your fallacies. You do not appear teachable anyway, and discussing them won’t help. Just be ethical on the internet. Do not post on all capitals because that means shouting. Then, how come you do not know that photoshopping, or specifically placing one’s head on someone’s body, is unethical and even criminal? You just did it to Bro. Eli and his people may complain.

Aloysius Kayiwa

Next came the August 12, 2014 post of Aloysius Kayiwa titled, REFUTING ELI SORIANO & HIS FELLOW FALSE PROPHETS ON THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST. This is part of the responses to Bro. Eli Soriano in Splendor of the Church blog of the Roman Catholic Church that for a long time has been Arganiosa’s turf.  The blog is now tagged as Catholic Apologetics.

Kayiwa is not a Filipino. He is a Ugandan, a former Pentecostal, and a correspondent of Splendor in Africa. He posted a very thick discourse but the thickness is deceiving. He dwelt on many topics that Bro. Eli did not mention. Written at the top is the following:

“Going back at the school of the Fathers: St. Athanasius battle; nicea and the defence of the apostolic faith – the figure of athanasIus at the centre of the fight against the arian heresy. A fundamental question for Chistian experience, yesterday as today. Deepening awareness of the trinity and refuting the false teachers Eli Soriano and Iglesia ni Manalo.”

Mr. Kayiwa, if you are an apologist, you must know what to do. Process this thick thing in order to respond properly to the issues set forth by Bro. Eli Soriano. Bulk cannot daunt nor fool those with thinking minds. They will still examine what you are saying despite your much padding. If you were my student, I would ask you to re-write, cut off the first nine pages, and begin on Page 10. That is where you began to talk about Bro. Eli.

Remove extraneous material and do not force Catholic materials which have no credibility to others because they are not scriptures. For example, what does Bro. Eli care about your St. Athanasius, his battle and Nicea? Are they in the Bible? The Iglesia ni Manalo is also not included here. That surely is not the way to argue. Go simple and attack the issues presented and that is the pronouncements of the Pope.

Like the others, you mention many things that are only true to you. I will just show you some of what you said:

In his first line, Soriano says that: “Now, if the son is equal to the Father and the Father is a spirit, it follows that the Son must also be a spirit!” This is a bogus statement confusing the nature of God and cancelling out Soriano. Notice how he confuses the Spirit to be the Father and the Son and not Himself. Soriano does not know what “equal” means and he confuses the nature of the one God and through misapplying and torturing Scriptures to support his erroneous views.

If Jesus is also a Spirit like His Father as Soriano says, why does the Spirit come on him during Baptism by John the Baptist?

Resolution for this is a televised debate. When you go, try to repeat these lines you wrote and let us see if you can win. I am not an expert on these things but I have already learned something from Bro. Eli that is not in you. You suffer from the negative effect of drinking from loads of lies. Just from believing all those so-called saints and making them your gods already deceive your minds. Your thinking is veiled whereas God’s truth is simple – for those who are not idol worshippers.

Another one –

So Soriano gets it wrong in confusing the Spirit as being the Father and the Son. The Spirit is God himself – God the Holy Spirit.  When the Church asks us to bow our heads on hearing the words of John; ‘The Word became fresh [sic] and dwelt among us,’ She is calling us to pray homage to the goodness of God Who loves man so much as to become, Himself, the Messiah He had promised to the Hebrews – the Messiah who would be at one and same time, God and man.

This falls under the same thinking, the same error. Try to mention this again in the debate so that you can see why you are not correct. But this one below is what you really have to prove. Let us see who among you and Bro. Eli is the “charlatan pretending to be wise.” Prove yourself! Before you spread your heresies from Uganda to the Philippines, stand up and be measured!

This is your statement –

Enter in Soriano – a charlatan pretending to be wise

It is dishearting [sic] that although the Church Fathers sacrificed their lives to defend the fundamental Christian Faith against heretics, new false teachers, which the Scriptures warn us about, are coming up with wrong teachings. One of them is Eli Soriano, the founder of Ang Dating Daan cult aka Church of God International in the Philippines. Soriano has no shame in torturing, misapplying Scriptures and fooling people. In one of his latest articles in his blog, he accuses Pope Francis of calling Jesus a man by arguing with cynical statements that Jesus is a Spirit because God the Father is Spirit quoting John 4:24 which forces him to argue that –

“Now, if the son is equal to the Father and the Father is a spirit, it follows that the Son must also be a spirit!”

In reality, Soriano does not know what he is arguing against.

A ‘straw man’ argument defines a person’s point of view inaccurately, and then attacks the misrepresentation…

Aloysius Kayiwa, what you are accusing Bro. Eli of, is actually what you are doing! Your claims are based on a cache of your saints and relics. Those are not found in the Bible! If you agree to a debate, that “charlatan pretending to be wise” can be uncovered. I guarantee, that is you!

But have we forgotten what Bro. Eli was saying about Pope Francis? No! When you began your arguments with a human being (St. Athanasius) rather than God, you were building on shaky ground. Your understanding then is veiled.

Indeed, some people are not searching for truth nor are thinking anymore. Some prefer to drink from a cache of lies passed on from their forebears. But if you read the latest pronouncements of the Pope, they show that even he has not stopped thinking and is for changes. In the Pope’s interview with Eugenio Scalfari, La Repubblica’s founder (www.repubblica.it, 2013/10/01), the Pope was talking about how the Roman Catholic Church should change. In his exact words, he said there is “The leprosy of the papacy.” The Pope was using a metaphor, of course, but he is in effect saying that not everything is all right with the Roman Catholic Church.