Cultists and false prophets. They seem to flourish in every corner of planet. Spouting their twisted doctrines and other modified Biblical bullshit whenever and wherever they can find an ear attached to a brainless twit willing to surrender what individuality they have remaining.
Before we delve into the world of Iglesia and Felix Manalo, let me first talk about Reverend Jim Jones. A man who, by leading over 900 people to their deaths, became one of the most famous cult leaders of the last half of the 20th century.
James Warren “Jim” Jones (May 13, 1931 – November 18, 1978) was an American religious leader and community organizer. Jones was the founder and the leader of the Peoples Temple, best known for the mass suicide in November 1978 of 909 of its members in Jonestown, Guyana, and the murder of five individuals at a nearby airstrip, including California Congressman Leo Ryan. Over 300 children were murdered at Jonestown, almost all of them by cyanide poisoning. Jones died from multiple gunshot wounds to the head and groin; to this day it is suspected his death was borne of a suicide.
Jones was born in Indiana and started the Temple there in the 1950s. He later moved the Temple to California in the mid-1960s, and gained notoriety with the move of the Temple’s headquarters to San Francisco in the early 1970s.
On the day of the mass suicide, Jones told Temple members that the Soviet Union, with whom the Temple had been negotiating a potential exodus for months, would not take them after the Temple had murdered Ryan and four others at a nearby airstrip. The reason given by Jones to commit suicide was consistent with his previously stated conspiracy theories of intelligence organizations allegedly conspiring against the Temple, that men would “parachute in here on us,” “shoot some of our innocent babies” and “they’ll torture our children, they’ll torture some of our people here, they’ll torture our seniors.”Parroting Jones’ prior statements that hostile forces would convert captured children to fascism, one temple member states “the ones that they take captured, they’re gonna just let them grow up and be dummies.”
So what drives over 900 people to blindly, and systematically kill themselves for one man? In similar fashion, one could ask, “Why follow such men to begin with?”
The answer is: Charisma.
Charisma, when employed against a weak mind, can be a very potent weapon. Leaders such as Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong and even the Kim’s of North Korea, have all successfully used some form of charisma to achieve their personal goals of being seen in a Godlike manner.
Which brings us to latest incarnation of homegrown, self-born prophets and messiahs: Felix Manalo
Felix Ysagun Manalo (born Félix Manalo ý Ysagun May 10, 1886 – April 12, 1963), also known as Ka Félix, was the founder and first Executive Minister of the Philippine-based religious organization Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), and incorporated it with the Philippine Government on July 27, 1914. He is the father of Eraño G. Manalo, who succeeded him as Executive Minister of the INC, and the grandfather of Eduardo V. Manalo, the current Executive Minister.
There are no known precursors to the registered church because of the muddled history of where Manalo studied and as such, acquired the idea of founding the church. Critics say that Felix Studied in a University in the United States where he got the idea and patterns for the church leadership, architecture and more. The establishment of the church in the Philippines was said to have happened when a church sect leader who was a member of the same church Felix attended, disagreed in establishing the church immediately. External sources and critics of the INC refer to him as its actual founder. The official doctrine of the Iglesia ni Cristo is that Felix Y. Manalo is the last messenger of God, sent to reestablish the first church founded by Jesus Christ, which the INC claims to have fallen into apostasy following the death of the Apostles.
Once again, charisma came into play against the weak-minded masses. And in 1914, the Philippines was definitely a place full of such like-minded people. A people struggling with an identity crises. And for Felix Manalo. This was exactly what the doctor ordered.
Thus, he claimed the Iglesia Ni Cristo was prophesied in the Bible. And the specific prophecy he quoted was Isaiah (43:5-6): “Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you. I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth.” Iglesia Ni Cristo interprets the word “east” as “far east” (based on a faulty translation) and claims that it points to the Iglesia Ni Cristo being created in the Philippines.
The people naively bought into his game, hook line and sinker. So much so, that today, the following is just some of the many of INC’s requirements.
- They blindly give their money to his cult.
- If a member owns a business, they are required to give no-less than 15% of their company profits to this bunch.
- No one is permitted to marry a non-Iglesian.
If even a portion of the above is not met, followers risk excommunication. Which in reality, should be seen as a blessing in disguise. And just like Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple, there have even been eye-witness reports of beatings, harassment, and even killings of those who have tried to leave or speak ill of this cult.
So why, after 100 years, do the people of the Philippines still follow such a bunch as Iglesia Ni Cristo? Why, year after year, do they continually surrender their lives and hard-earned money to this cult? The question can still be asked of The Peoples Temple, and many other cults. And the answer is always the same…
The fear that unless they do the bidding of such Cults. Their leaders. And even their henchmen. They will never arrive at the gates of heaven. And in a country that is practically driven by religion, it’s not too hard to imagine. From the simplest broom pusher on the streets. All the way to the Presidential inner-circle, this Cult has maintained constant sway over a nation and a sizable portion of its people.
One only has to look at the photo above, to realize it doesn’t take much for simple-minded people to do their masters bidding.
Right to the bitter end.