CALIFORNIA – Several Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) members who joined a protest in California more than a week ago have been expelled from the Philippine-based church group.
On July 26, several INC members held a protest in front of the the sect's main US office in Burlingame, California. They were demanding answers to the corruption scandal rocking the INC.
Protesters spoken to by the ABS-CBN North America News Bureau said they were expelled after being identified by church officials at the rally.
Later that week, some of them received phone calls from INC officials telling them they were expelled. Others found out when they were turned away from a church service.
A former INC member said she was among those expelled after the rally. She requested for her identity to be concealed due to safety concerns.
"It's almost disgusting to see when a leadership that's being questioned for being corrupted, instead of addressing the issue they're diverting the issue and turning the members against each other,'' said the INC member.
She hopes the protest can inspire other INC members to not blindly follow orders from church officials.
"Instead of just expelling everyone, they must address the issue. It's everyone's responsibility. Don't just wait for the leadership and do what they tell you. If the leadership is in question, everyone has to think for themselves…People should be allowed to question things peacefully without threats, without violence,'' she said.
"I know that only God can judge me. Expulsion under a corrupt leadership means nothing to me, personally. I can't speak for everyone else but for me, personally, I know I did the right thing and I'm fighting the good fight."
According to another expelled INC member who was at the rally, fears of retaliation from the church against protesters were heightened a week later after gunshots were fired at his home.
"It just so happens they showed up at the the vigil a week prior and we have the incident a week later so a lot of things go through my mind of course and I don't know,'' the INC member said.
''I have no idea. I hope it's not anybody from the church. I just wanted to open that conversation with the administration and nothing more. I don't want anybody getting hurt nor do I want to point fingers and anyone at this point."
The police confirmed to ABS-CBN News that there was indeed a shooting at both locations within ten minutes of each other. The police have witnesses but no one has been arrested at this time.
ABS-CBN News has also tried to reach INC's main office in Burlingame, but no one has yet responded.