Lockdown, religion, Quiboloy — con artist or God’s chosen

Lockdown, religion, Quiboloy — con artist or God’s chosen Featured

IN times of great peril, man turns to his deity or the unknown for his survival. This is how religion evolved over the millennia: The primordial longing to be extricated from whatever difficulties he is faced with. This is, perhaps, also the evolution of prayer, starting as incantations to implore the gods for a “deus ex machina.” These are the miracles, inexplicable events attributable to those greater than him.

Lockdown and prayers
During this quarantine period, social media has been inundated by calls to prayers from all religions, sects and cults. In one TV mass celebration, a Roman Catholic priest proclaimed the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) as God’s instrument to bring the straying sheep back to the Shepherd. Hallelujah! And every 12 noon and 8 p.m. daily, the church bells will ring enjoining the faithful to pray the oratio imperata to fight the virus. Hallelujah! Catholics have a convenient prayer for all occasions, be it an earthquake, a typhoon or a tsunami. And an obscure Sta. Corona has appeared, the patron saint of pandemics.

We have one from our Muslim brothers,too, Ustadh Ahmad Javier preaching about “sampung mabubuting naidulot ng Covid-19 sa mundo” (10 good things from the virus), among which are that the lockdowns have drastically minimized industrial pollution, principally from China, healing our environment and general cleaning of cities. But my favorite is the minimizing of haram activities like drinking and gambling, leading a sinful nightlife and, presumably, going wenching. Inshallah!

Appointed son of God
But by now many would have heard of this enigmatic man from Davao City. With a dashing personality, he has the gift of gab and can sway audiences through an emotional roller-coaster, although his audiences are confined within a controlled space where images are shaped and filtered through the harsh and dominant lenses of television cameras — his cameras. With his fanatical followers, he has the capacity to make or break local politicians. This is a mighty man and an ally to another powerful Davaoeño — President Rodrigo Duterte.

Pastor Apollo Quiboloy enthrals his audience through a staccato of biblical quotes that purportedly underpins whatever claims he makes as personal revelations directly from God. During his sermons, the spellbound faithful interrupts with shouts of “Amen” and “Hallelujahs” — with the cameras panning over the choir, singling out gorgeous coiffured women in finely cut conservative white dresses with tears running down their cheeks. This goes on and on, mesmerizing an audience he already dominates, capturing images and selectively editing them for cable TV channels that he owns. This is theater at its most garish exhibition.

How Quiboloy became the chosen one is a riveting tale in itself. At his birth, he intimated that his mother had a vision of God looking down from above and declared, “That is my son!” (He has not revealed if he was born in a manger or whether his was a virgin birth.) Right after high school in his village, he attended a Bible college and later became a national youth leader of the United Pentecostal Church, which he left in Sept. 1, 1985 with 15 of its members to establish his own church, “The Kingdom of Jesus Christ — the name above every name.” He preached that Jesus Christ came as a redeemer of the Jewish people 2,000 years ago, but he comes today as the savior of the gentiles — the non-Jews — for which he was chosen by God the Father as the “appointed son of God” exactly on April 13, 2003. In some creative but convoluted way, which is the basis of his church’s credo, God gave him the “kingship” — the ultimate act of the Father who was now “finished with him” as the good pastor was now in a state of perfection, similar to Adam (and Eve) before the fall.

Owner of the world and the universe
Central to his version of the biblical genesis was an interesting twist that God ceded His right and responsibility over the universe to Adam (and Eve), but was deceived by Satan; so, ownership of the universe passed on to the devil. The race procreated through Adam and Eve, “the fallen Adamic race,” was doomed. And for more than a thousand years of the “Dominion of the Serpency (serpent seed),” the world was Satan’s. Until the fight between Lucifer and Quiboloy in “that covenant mountain” (presumably a mountain in the outskirts of Davao City) ensued, winning for the latter the whole enchilada — the Universe! In this new creation, a new Adam has come. Quiboloy profoundly and expansively declared that — “It is I that came. Who am I? I am the new owner of the world. I am here to ‘undeceive’ you by enlightenment.”

‘Earthquake stop!’
But Quiboloy has of late made other assertions. During the 6.7-magnitude earthquake in Davao, he declared publicly that he stopped the earthquake, in time to prevent further damage. Multitudes laughed and mocked him. With that, he subsequently allowed Typhoon “Tisoy” (international name: “Kammuri”) to ravage the land as chastisement for the taunt and for good measure, punishing those who insinuated he was a sexual predator and illegal recruiter. The latter prompted the Federal Bureau of Investigation to raid his church in Hawaii. This raid was also an offshoot of an investigation of an attempted United States dollar smuggling aboard his jet in Hawaii last year. With all these, God conversed with Quiboloy: “Nakausap ko and Diyos — ang kumakalat na virus ay kaparusahan sa pagsira sa aming simbahan. Hindi ko ito mapipigilan, ito po ay itinakda. Ngunit and mga kasapi po ay walang dapat ipag-alala, kami po ay exempted sabi ng Diyos (I talked to God. The [coronavirus] is punishment inflicted for destroying His church. I can’t stop this. It is ordained. But my flock need not worry. God said we are exempted).”

These claims have biblical antecedents 3,200 years ago, when Moses inflicted 10 plagues upon Egypt when the Pharaoh did not let his people go “…water turning to blood, frogs, lice, flies, livestock pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, darkness and the killing of firstborn children.” Neither are these all that far-fetched from the One who turned water into wine, healed the sick, the blind to see, the lame to walk and even the dead to rise 2,000 years ago; or to the splitting of the moon in Muslim tradition by the prophet Muhammad; or of Isra and Mi’raj, two parts of a night journey on his flying horse-like beast, Buraq, to the farthest mosque and of his ascent to heaven 1,400 years ago.

So, there you are. The persons who can deliver us from this quarantine and this dilemma are both from Davao; one, a mere President with temporal powers saddled with a coping and alarmingly incompetent bureaucracy; and the “appointed son of God” himself.

Filipinos are predominantly Roman Catholics; many are poverty-stricken and easy prey to Bible-quoting characters gifted with eloquence mouthing passages of hope giving respite from their miserable lives. And, churches, sects and cults are the petri dish for the emergence of these types. These institutions enjoy tax-free revenues.

And, here is one whom prophets may have foretold — or a snake-oil salesman, a charlatan or one totally deranged!000
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