To be honest, while I’ve never really been fond of the Iglesia ni Cristo, I have always found some measure of appreciation for their dedication. With their well-designed places of worship to the disciplined approach its members have always had to their day-to-day living, I have always wondered what the Philippines could be like if the Catholics of the Philippines would adapt the same amount of sincerity and devotion to the teachings of their own religion. Being raised Catholic myself, I honestly don’t think that majority of Catholics even understand what their religion is supposed to be about. Most of them only show up for church on Christmas and Easter or any other special occasion such as baptisms, weddings and funerals.
Anyway, as of late, it seems the higher-ups of the Iglesia ni Cristo are in a bind as it seems that there is a growing schism between its constituents. The Iglesia ni Cristo was established by Felix Manalo, a former Catholic who disdained the doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church at the time. Today, his descendants who will supposedly inherit his authority over the establishment seem to be under threat from other ministers who don’t exactly agree with them. The fact that it has been said that the INC has been becoming stricter is just one sign of great change in their organization.
While I certainly hope the INC can resolve their issues with as little as trouble as possible, history itself proves that religion is every bit as complex and volatile as politics. Also, like politics, religion is prone to change and often at an unprecedented and unexpected way. Could the growing schism amid the ranks of the INC be just history repeating itself when it comes to religion and how, sooner or later, its members begin contradicting one another, resulting in often violent (but I dearly hope not because I think the Filipino people have had enough of religious violence already) conflict and confrontation?
Despite my upbringing, I’m not exactly big on organized religion. While I do believe in God, I will never use Him as an excuse to justify the bad things that I do and I have never used His words to bash people I don’t like. God may have my unwavering faith, but I will never hold the same kind of faith for any human being or an organization of them (such as an organized religion, for instance) as they are flawed in one way or another.
If history serves correct, one can note that any religion splits apart sooner or later because one constituent will not agree with the rest. Then, when that splinter of organized religion grows large enough, it too will split as other members will find something to complain about eventually. The INC, after having grown to such size and wielding considerable influence over the Philippine government, seems to be no exception to this rule and only time will tell how things will turn out although I myself hope that they can at least settle their disputes peacefully.
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