IGLESIA NI CRISTO: A REPUBLIC WITHIN A REPUBLIC
Opinion writer Alex Magno was analytically impressive in his estimation that the monolithic religious organization known as Iglesia ni Cristo is a republic within a republic. And amidst the scandal or controversy it has been exposed to merely serves as a sort of litmus test, a simple challenge for the organization to be stronger ahead.
Felix Y. Manalo (a Freemason whose fraternal discipline would reflect in the church he founded through its masonically inspired coat of arms) could not have envisioned that the rag tag believers he formed before would have grown into a giant today. It was of course steered by the son, Erano erstwhile called Ka Erdy who fashioned the budding religious crusade into a colossal force which politics and economics could only defer and acknowledge.
The INC doctrine which the senior Manalo advocated was in furtherance of a closely knit religious community where every act must apply or should be based on standards pursuant to Biblical citations. Anything outside of the Bible is deemed irrational if not outright despicable. The son went further in applying the doctrine. While old school religion taught that those who transgress religious dogma are committing sins, those in INC are suspended and the like.
INC not only takes care of its members in terms of direct assistance, legal or technical, it also herds its members as if they are business partners. It virtually creates work and opportunity for its constituencies. Members are given employment, livelihood and community defense. Members feel a notch higher than non-members. Their pastoral leaders not only go beyond pastoral care of their followers but pursue even their political and social concerns. Those who are reprimanded, suspended or expelled get nothing. And that means real hell.
The INC is a giant guild with religion as its core. It is highly secretive like any secret societies, highly disciplined like ancient soldiery, highly motivated like any fanatical sect, highly loyal like any mythological army. If it can be seen as a business, or a private corporation, it exudes of a movement with constant revolutionary fervor. Should a member is attacked by an outsider; the entire fury of a whole parish will soon unleash its anger on the assailant.
The members truthfully declare their revenues and from there submit their contributions through its system of tithing. They knew that it will be used for their protection, for their advancement, for their prosperity as a community. And it looks like they are properly managed—both as members and their resources. After all, they all are primed to follow Biblical accord and fear their conscience.
I have a lot of friends who are members of INC and from their actions; I could already discern the kind of association they belong to. Their organization has succeeded in transforming them into matured and trustworthy persons. As a matter of fact, employers have full trust on employees who are members of this religious organization. They follow their own dogmatic standard and not those regular secular traditions. They are truly a citizen of an outstanding government of their own—a fulfilled republic within a fledging republic.
For those non-members like me, it’s a privilege to have friends who are members of INC.