US justice department: The son of God — a rapist!

US justice department: The son of God — a rapist! Featured

THESE are serious accusations. And it is a measure of the inadequacy of our justice system that it has taken a foreign country to indict one of the Philippines' most powerful personalities, described as a shrewd businessman, an influential radio and TV station owner, a feared political kingmaker and to top it all, head of a religious sect who styles himself as the "appointed son of God" (ASOG).

Mincing no words, the United States Department of Treasury said it was acting "...to promote accountability for human rights abusers and corrupt actors across the world. For more than a decade, Apollo Carreon Quiboloy engaged in serious human rights abuse, including a pattern of systemic and pervasive rape of girls as young as 11 years old, as well as other physical abuse. Quiboloy also subjected pastorals and other KOJC members to other forms of physical abuse... Quiboloy was on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's most wanted list for sex trafficking, fraud and coercion, bulk cash smuggling, and more."

America is seizing Quiboloy's assets in places where they can. (Jean Mangaluz, Inquirer.net, Dec. 10, 2022.) In short, America has gone beyond its shores to go after miscreants, those who broke its laws establishing the preeminence of the secular over the spiritual, the temporal over religion; and in the process risking the fury of the "appointed son of God." For isn't it a "divine revelation" when Quiboloy is claimed by Quiboloy himself to be the blessed one? And he has declared that those who mocked him as the Sanhedrin and the high priests did 2,000 years ago will face the rage of his father? Did he not stop the earthquake in the Philippines three years ago? America, beware!

Televangelism

Quiboloy's profession is televangelism or the use of media to communicate his brand of religious belief. There is nothing wrong with this per se. In the 1930s, Fr. Fulton Sheen, an American Jesuit priest, practically pioneered broadcast preaching, spreading God's gospel on his program, "The Catholic Hour," on radio. With the advent of television, he was the first Catholic religious personality to use this medium in his syndicated TV presentations, "Life is Worth Living." Later consecrated a bishop, he was on his way to being beatified by Pope Benedict 16th in 2012.

Upon the deregulation of media in America, access and ownership of TV networks and cable TV became open for anyone who could afford it. And with a large Christian Protestant population, American churches of several denominations started using this media. These spawned all types of ministries from regular pastors of local churches to charismatic religious personalities with their own places of worship — now called megachurches or TV studios — from whence their broadcast emanated.

Christianity started sending missionaries from the third century to many lands to save souls; and from the early Middle Ages, to conquer the natives using religion and the sword as tools for colonization.

First considered complementary to missionaries sent abroad in the 19th century, radio and TV enabled the Christian West to reach large numbers at relatively low cost even in those countries where preaching and missionaries were banned — Asia and the Middle East.

Early legitimate televangelists were backed by big churches. Fulton Sheen by the large Catholic community; Oral Roberts of the Pentecostal Holiness and the Methodists churches; Pat Robertson of the Baptist Church; and the internationally famous Southern Baptist minister, Billy Graham, perhaps "...among the most influential Christian leaders of the 20th century." Graham, who repudiated racial segregation, famously invited Martin Luther King jr. to preach jointly in New York.

Capitalism and religion

But in the true fashion of capitalism, its values began to permeate the practice of religion itself, resulting in the proliferation of all sorts of Christian religious denominations, sects and cults competing against each other not necessarily for the conversion of souls but for lucre.

Overarched by America's convoluted tax system, these televangelists became masters at milking their congregations, perverting religious broadcasting using laws and rules exempting churches from taxes. Religion became a lucrative business!

The likes of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker who headed the "Praise the Lord (PTL) Club" under their Trinity Broadcasting Network gained notoriety accumulating millions of unaudited funds diverting amounts to themselves, even building a Christian themed park, Heritage USA, which eventually went bankrupt. Jim was convicted of several crimes and sentenced to 45 years in prison (serving only 5 years).

One of the most notorious was Jimmy Swaggart, a Pentecostal pastor ordained by the Assemblies of God; he founded a small church, the Family Worship Center and parlayed this into a multi-million megachurch. He lost his church eventually when he was embroiled in a sex scandal with a prostitute.

Gaya-gaya in da Pilipins

The perversion of religion through mass media became apparent with the popularity of American televangelists. We have our own televangelists in the Philippines who may have accumulated riches too. But whether they are legitimate or not is for our justice system to prove.

The US' formal accusation specifically declared that, among other things, the "Appointed Son of God" is a rapist. These are fighting words. Former Justice secretary Menardo "Boy" Guevarra, the current solicitor general, issued a response that is at best a lame one. "If the evidence further shows that some acts other than those covered by the US indictment have been committed here, then that's a cue to conduct a separate domestic investigation."

The Justice department has admitted that a complaint of rape, child abuse and human trafficking was filed against Quiboloy in Davao City last year, but that this was dismissed. He noted that the dismissal is "now on appeal with the DoJ."

Justice Secretary Crispin "Boying" Remulla has no response nor started any initiative to do any investigation except to aver that the extradition of televangelist Apollo Quiboloy, if requested by the United States government, may take time.

Treating Quiboloy with kid gloves is understandable as in the city where his cult sprouted, he is virtually untouchable, having been the spiritual adviser of his co-Davaoeño, former president Duterte. And herein lies the greatest abnormality — not so much ASOG's amassing of wealth but his accumulation of political clout at its rawest, controlling a sizable amount of command votes.

This fact is significant as over the years he has managed to project an image of a political kingmaker. And this symbiosis between the traditional politicians and the sect leader — charlatans all — have taken a life of its own. True or not, it doesn't matter, as every election time those who seek the highest office must first seek the blessing of the appointed one. So, they form a bee-line to his heavenly abode in Barrio Tamayong for the ASOG to lay his holy hands upon their heads. All of them — winners and losers. And this feeds on itself. This in essence is political power. How he manages to pick the winner is perhaps a mystery.

Quiboloy deserves his day in court — but not in his heavenly domain. This is now in the hands of BBM. Will he risk the wrath of the "appointed son of God"? Or will he let justice run its course?

 

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