After reporter Roy Mabasa wrote that “three members of the Davao City-based Kingdom of Jesus Christ . . . were arrested by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in different locations in the US as part of an ongoing probe on human trafficking and fund-raising scam,” I could not wait to see what Pastor Apollo Quiboloy’s response would be.
The next day, Feb. 1, another newspaper reported that the three women had been detained, in California and Virginia. A lawyer representing Mr. Quiboloy, the “Appointed Son of God,” said the charges were a “grand conspiracy” calculated to shame him.
An FBI spokesperson was quoted as saying that they believed $20 million collected by the church “is going to fund the lavish lifestyles of the leaders of this scheme.”
The Kingdom of Jesus Christ claims 6.5 million members worldwide. Their pastor, named after the son of Zeus, supreme deity of Greek mythology, operates a 24/7 channel on cable television displaying views of its cathedral, Eden-like gardens, replays of gift-giving events held as far away as Canada. Telegenic, well-dressed worshipers sing hymns, play band and symphonic music nonstop. Parts of the episodes I caught on Jan. 31 and Feb. 2 were as elaborate as ever, including sermons in English and Cebuano delivered by the suitably, elegantly outfitted preacher. He quotes from the Old and New Testaments, considers himself “an ordinary person who has completed everything that the Father ordered.”
If Mr. Quiboloy commented on the FBI’s case against his US reps, it didn’t happen when I was watching. Should I keep watching?
On TV, the scenes that intrigued me and my eyeballs and ears showed high production values. The preacher was given a minute-long standing ovation when he entered the hall at 8:30 p.m. on Feb. 2, 2020, which he declared as “the year of superabundant blessings.” Multiple cameras shot close-ups of devotees praying, weeping, eyes closed. He thanked God, “You have raised Your Son in these last days.” A lesser speaker intoned, “Make way for the Appointed Son of God. .. No one goes to the Father except through the Son, our beloved Pastor Quiboloy!”
Thank the Constitution, a wonderful, God-given instrument that gives citizens the freedom to choose their faith.