Here is a letter from one of our concerned brethren regarding an analysis of the current crisis our beloved Church is facing nowadays. Of course we know how the the Sanggunian has controlled many aspects of the Church especially the use of Social Media headed by ACTIV and CEBSI. It is unfortunate that the lack of Godly fear and all humane consideration has not only left the hearts of some members of the Sanggunian but have also rubbed off to their cohorts thus, they are becoming more unChristian as proven by their smear campaigns of lies and deceit. They have continued to Cyberbully the many brethren who have spoken openly about the anomalies and corruption they have observed in the Church. Sadly they have even brought their smear campaign of deceit and confusion abroad, using Special Gatherings and Wosrhip Services to speak evil of others, spurring lies and owning guile as part of their being without reproach. Slander, character assassination, dishonesty and distortion of the truth has filled their hearts in their desperate attempt to cover up one mistake after another.
In their many blogs, they have released such Character Defamation and Cyberbullying to the some of our brehren, a true measure of their lack of integrity, an open display of their dirty tactics which we will never emulate. We will continue to defend ourselves in a Christian manner, encouraging each other to continue to stand for the truth and our Lord God's righteousness, always strengthening each other with kindness and compassion and sincere brotherly love.
As a regular member of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, I am perplexed and confused by the response of the current Church Administration to the biggest crisis that the organization has faced. To be hones,t there are so many rumors floating around that I no longer know which is the truth. I want to preface my thoughts by stating that I am neither on the side of the Administration nor the side of the ministers that claim to be anti corruption. I am on the side of God and the truth that He upholds.
Why do I want these allegations answered once and for all? To be put simply I am a human being with this inherent curiousity. I am curious if there is immoral suppression currently taking place within the Iglesia Ni Cristo today.
I have been waiting to hear a clear explanation from the current Church Administration concerning the circumstantial evidences that have been presented against them, but like many brethren I have been ordered to close my eyes and cover my ears lest I be expelled. Instead, I am left to find the truth on my own through published articles, notes from meetings or specials worship services, testimonies from brethren, as well as my own observations of the Church. The following points are what I have gathered based on my own investigation.
ALLEGATIONS OF FINANCIAL MISMANAGEMENT
The current Church Administration is accused of mishandling the monetary contributions of the brethren. To put it in layman's terms: They are stealing from the church's treasury and wantonly spending the brethren's hard earned money to purchase personal luxurious items and pleasures. They are criticized for not having enough money for the upkeep of houses of worship and brethren are wondering if the Administration can maintain the speed of which they are building houses of worship. The Administration is allegedly in so much debt that they had to resort to selling church properties.
How the Church Administration responded:
When accusations of theft and corruption within the Church’s Treasury department were first published by self-proclaimed INC whistleblowers... the Administration initially responded with pure denial stating that the claims were unsupported. They denied the irresponsible use of the brethren's offering. They also denied the selling of Church properties, the deceleration of building additional houses of worship, and the decreasing quality of properties being purchased or rented to be used as places of worship. Bro. Edwil Zabala, a spokesperson of church, answered to the corruption allegations against the church stating: "We are not doing anything wrong. We are not doing anything evil... Of course we are hurt. What if you were the one being gossiped about? What if you were the one being maligned?"(1)
As of now, they have come forward admitting that they have indeed purchased luxury items such as airplanes and helicopters. Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo shared his business justification during a recent worship service in Sacramento, Metro Manila South, Philippines, stating the reason they purchased an expensive aircraft:
“Well who do you think would come with me if we instead walked [from the Philippines] to America, my brethren? That is difficult right? What kind of vehicle would you have to use to get there… a car for example? No! What do you need to use? (Audience answers “airplane”). Even that they criticize. Where will I ride? How will I get there?
You know brethren we have been travelling for a long time. Even till now I am afraid of riding airplanes. Especially now with news of airplanes crashing, right? During our visit in Taiwan, to establish them as their own district, our flight from Taipei to Kaohsiung. I didn’t know what was going to happen to us because our airplane was going to crash in the manner that it was flying. This is what the others do not know.
Sometimes there are storms that we have to face. The “polar vortex” that was around -40… maybe not even 40… maybe even -45. It was so cold my brethren. You could not go outside. Your face will freeze off. We faced that.
And when we were in the Middle East region, for example in Bahrain, it was extremely hot. There are even those that asked us when we were in Australia “why did you pick this place? It’s too hot here.” Well I responded “when else will get to visit here?” I am not going to go here for vacation. Our purpose there is to visit the brethren.
That is why despite any conditions we do what we must. What is the reason? It is our desire to see the Church. That we ourselves could teach them the words of God, because this is very important”.
[Translated from Tagalog to English]
The current Church Administration also responded to allegations that they have drained the Church’s coffers. They asserted that since the time that Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo became the Executive Minister and after the beginning of the construction of the Philippine Arena in year 2011, 873 chapels have been built (2).
They should have nipped these allegations in the bud instead of allowing it to spin out of control. Here are some simple approaches to a (then) not complicated problem:
1. Put the accused Church Council on administrative leave (until their names are cleared), have the Executive Minister officially announce and launch an investigation against the accused council with the purpose of clearing their names, audit and account for all of the church spending, and share this information with the brethren.
2. Put the accused Church Council on administrative leave (until their names are cleared), hire an internationally reputable unbiased 3rd party to audit and account for all of your funds and spending, and afterwards share this information with the brethren.
Some may be asking, “how about the 873 chapels built since the year 2011, that proves something right?” Not really! It’s great that 873 Chapels were built. But stating this data point without it being relative to any other information does not prove that the Administration is frugal in its expenditures nor that they are successful in managing the church’s treasury. The point is, even if they built 873 chapels but the cost of those chapels was, for example, only 10% of the Church offerings being contributed, a simple difference calculation will beg for where the rest of the church offerings were being allocated to.
There also have been strong evidences brought forward showing that the quality of these recently purchased properties have lowered considerably. I myself have attended in some of these newly purchased sites and can truly attest to the shoddy buildings not befitting for the worship of our Almighty God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, the Church Administration's admittance and justification to the purchase of luxury aircraft was illogical with respect to reasoning. Here is why:
Putting aside their irrational business justification, is there a problem with someone owning a plane? No, not at all! Let me explain then where the Church Administration has fallen short:
• As a non-profit organization they failed to logically justify that this was a necessary expense and the most cost effective option of travel. For example, if you are going to buy a plane it might help you to avoid a scandal if you have a valid business justification for purchasing one, valid aircraft requirements, a conservative cost to requirement ratio, and you have published all of this information internally (maybe even externally), and made this information accessible to the people contributing monetarily to your organization. To put it simply, as a religious non-profit organization it is very important to foster a culture of internal transparency to help the brethren understand that all of the funds are being used thoughtfully.
• It’s a really expensive plane! To put it into perspective, here is the cost of the current Administration's plane (not including maintenance, fuel, and when it’s just parked and unused) in comparison with other well known public figures and the reported cost of their personal aircrafts (3):
1. Harrison Ford- $18M
2. Tom Cruise- $36M
3. Oprah Winfrey- $42M
4. Donald Trump - $95.8M
5. Church Administration - $80-200M (4)
RUMOR OF ABDUCTED MINISTERS
Context: The current Church Administration was accused of illegally abducting ministers who supposedly were going to reveal corruption within the church and detaining ministers who refused to cooperate with them in suppressing the rumors of corruption.
How the Church Administration responded:
The Administration denied that any abduction has occurred (5). After weeks of denying it in front of the media they released a church produced interview video of ministers that were supposedly abducted (6). These ministers rejected all of the abduction and detainment rumors.
This rumor should have been easy to put to rest. I’ll share with you how. Immediately gather all of the rumored victims and their immediate families, bring them to a public media news organization, and have them participate in an interview on national television. Let them state that there were absolutely no unlawful abductions that involved the current Church Administration nor any Philippine Government agencies or forces.
What is the value-add of this approach? It helps prevents any arguments that the abducted ministers are being blackmailed (through their family members) or even that the Administration has scripted the interviews (7).
Instead of taking this logical approach, the Administration chose to take weeks to interview the supposed victims. To even raise more suspicion of foul play, only some of the “abducted” victims were present to testify in an interview hosted by the Church’s controlled media outlet (Net 25)!
I have spent time getting to know Ministers and their families. They follow the Church Administration’s orders to the T. So why was the Administration not able to act on this swiftly and efficiently?
The Iglesia ni Cristo has experienced immense growth these past years. However the current Administration has failed to scale the organization and its processes to adapt to the changing times. Instead of taking this opportunity to transform the organization to be more efficient and more secure against people’s future attempts to malign the Church’s image, they have instead opted to attack man’s curiosity and hunger for truth.
Again I am not saying that any of the rumors are true. I am simply stating that based on the actions that have been taken by the current Church Administration, the only thing that they have successfully done is prevaricate from allegations of corruption. Although the legal burden of proof falls upon those laying charges (in this case the expelled ministers), they have still failed to address and manage the biggest crisis that the Church has faced and have allowed the public image of the Iglesia Ni Cristo to be smeared. They have illustrated a reprehensible weakness in devising strategies and executing tactics to save the Church… a weakness that no leadership team can afford. Not when the stakes are higher than ever, with the Church’s salvation at risk, and with time literally running out.
To be honest, more than these allegations of corruption and rumors of abduction… what scares me the most is that this current Church Administration seems to be uninspired and ill-equipped in preparing the Iglesia Ni Cristo; an unblemished body to meet our Lord Jesus Christ and our Almighty God on their return.
"They tried to bury us...they didn't know we were seeds."
Official Website: http://www.incdefenders.org/
Email: [email protected]
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