MANILA – Dozens of members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) held a vigil in front of the sect's main office in the United States to call for reforms in the century-old religious group.
The protesters trooped to the sect's main office in Burlingame, California holding placards, as they demand a probe on various issues hounding INC.
The INC members are protesting the expulsion from INC of Cristina ''Tenny'' and Felix Nathaniel ''Angel'' Manalo, the mother and brother of INC executive minister Eduardo Manalo, who became the leader of INC upon the death of his father Eraño in 2009.
They are also calling for a proper investigation into allegations of corruption in the INC leadership, as well as to find out the real situation of the ministers who were allegedly abducted on orders of the INC leadership.
The ministers were allegedly abducted because of their supposed knowledge of the anomalies in the INC and their support for Tenny and Angel.
The members specifically demanded for the convening of a tribunal which will investigate the alleged corruption. Some ministers in the US said stories of corruption within the INC leadership are common, but no one had the courage to stand up and speak.
They also want for Tenny and Angel to be readmitted to the INC.
The INC, a politically influential religious group in the Philippines, has 200 congregations spread out across seven districts in the US.
INC MINISTER QUITS
The protest comes after a minister of the INC in Fremont, California stepped down from his post amid the controversies surrounding his church.
In a video uploaded on YouTube on Saturday, minister Louie Cayabyab said he could not bear to read the circulars expelling the wife and children of Bro. Erano G. Manalo and Bro. Isaias T. Samson Jr., the former editor-in-chief of INC publication ''Pasugo''.
''You might be asking, 'why''' Because in my heart, in my heart of hearts, I can’t take it. It is, it is just so so difficult to betray one’s heart,” Cayabyab told the congregation.
The minister said he was well aware of the consequences of his actions. ''I know that I will be stripped out of my duty. From now on, I will no longer be a minister, probably I will be expelled from the Church, but I will take it brothers and sisters,'' he said.
Cayabyab, however, admonished the faithful ''to remain in the Church no matter what happens.''
He then thanked his Fremont brethren for the love and kindness shown to him and his family.
Members of the congregation could be heard sobbing in the video.
In a press conference, INC General Evangelist Bienvenido Santiago said the INC leadership decided to expel the two from the general membership of the INC after they appeared in a YouTube video claiming their lives are in danger and that some ministers have allegedly been abducted.
Cayabyab has previously been assigned to INC locales in Washington D.C., Temple Hills, Maryland, Northern Virginia, Virginia, Baltimore, Maryland, Elizabeth, New Jersey, Central New Jersey, Staten Island, New York, Virginia Beach, Livermore, and Northern California.