Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.
KARL MARX, Criticism of Hegel’s “Philosophy of Right”
NB: At the risk of alienating a fervent body I write this blog just to make a point about an important topic. Not to denigrate a religious sect but to help people elucidate its condition
The first time I found myself asking who Quiboloy was, the answer was to shut up with hushes. Not enlightening but set the mood of political correctness we often associate with Islam or radical politics. So to sate my curiosity, many broadcasts were watched, subliminal messages analyzed and inquired into the history of one Apollo Quiboloy. Founder of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Other Name Inc.
Humble Origins, Godly Claims
Apollo Quiboloy’s ministry began in the working class district of Agdao, Davao City. With a handful of followers he rose through the Nicaragdao period of the 1980’s filled with political rife and political killings day after day. Rising through the pack of many aspiring religious leaders was his charisma, message and determination. With this qualities he rose spread his words across the Philippines gathering many followers as he could. He brought his converts to the “New Jerusalem” in Davao City and their slowly began a congregation that would today include millions of followers.
But many who closely listen to his claims speak of blasphemy for this upstart man of God. Their bone of contention: Quiboloy claims to be the Son of God.
Gifts from God
Fast forward to 2012 and the Reverend Pastor has gone a long way from his days in the slums. Owning mansions, fancy watches, cars, a college and his very own televangelist network the Quiboloy Empire has diversified income streams apart from the tithes given by his followers. Many of whom earn less than 200 pesos a day but still contribute a large portion of their income.
Another infamous aspect of his sect (or cult as many would say it) are the sacrifices that are offered by the thousands of devotees. These include throngs of faithful who go to Manila asking for money through caroling even if December is months away. Commanding wealthy professionals to sell puto and other items to raise funding. Predicting the end of times and offering salvation by purchasing rooms in his “Prayer Mountain” all paid to the coffers of his congregation. All of which Quiboloy dismisses and offers up as proof of Divine Exceptionalism.
The Servant who Invested
Yet why is it that so many people give their life, wealth, effort and daughters (allegedly) to this “con artist”? Is it because of good looks and charisma? Probably. Yet more than a glib tongue propels his pulpit. The Gospel of the Annointed Son of God reaches into a powerful psychological need of Man: to be comfortable in your own skin and be rich!
In his message, the Pastor preaches that one does not have to be give away their wealth to receive the salvation of Jesus. That a rich man no longer has to enter an eye of a needle to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Like many self-help gurus, the Pastor zealously preaches the way to success. He shows his followers their offerings as proof of his successful formula and with it he says, the keys to the Kingdom.
A soothing message. Appeals to the many who have pursued the egotistical Randian formula of social development. It eschewed the belief of Christ for the poor and converted it to Christ for the entrepreneur. It is the ideological balm for the rich and mighty, and those aspiring to be rich and mighty, who see poverty everyday and find no good reason in joining the huddled masses. And for only 10 percent of their incomes, a small price to pay for the good life hereafter.