World WNG Group online - The Fifth Estate TV -
It’s a group with millions of members and at least 7,000 congregations in more than 100 countries, and it claims to be the only true church. Most Americans don’t know about the Iglesia ni Cristo, or ‘Church of Christ’, with its gleaming, spire-topped buildings that have popped up everywhere from South Korea to South Africa.
In the last decade this religious sect has expanded rapidly, and it now has about 340 congregations in the United States. It has recently bought entire ghost towns in Connecticut and South Dakota. The Connecticut town will serve, among other things, as an educational center to train ministers.
In New York City last fall, the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) hosted oratorios at the famed Lincoln Center, and its members have banded together to do disaster recovery in the Philippines, to give to local food banks, and to break Guinness world records. Much of its work looks similar to that of any Christian church, with worship services, meals, voluntary tithing, and community service. It is built on intense communal relationships and has schools, a university, sports activities, and piano competitions.
But the group’s beliefs are non-Trinitarian, and critics also link it with patterns of intimidation and violence toward former or dissenting members – patterns the INC, headquartered in the Philippines, has avoided acknowledging. At least three expelled members of the group have been granted asylum in Canada in the last two years because of reported threats to their lives.
Some others who have been expelled say they have been threatened and stalked for criticizing the sect, which prizes unity and commitment to its central leadership under Eduardo V Manalo, the grandson of the founder.
‘When the members ask questions … you are automatically deemed as a defector, that you’re against the administration,’ said Liezl Deocampo, who was expelled from the INC in California in 2015 along with her family.
Deocampo said she has been stalked, with online threats and people parked outside her home, and her sisters cannot visit her for fear of expulsion themselves. She recently bought a gun and took gun training lessons.
The INC has denied every accusation of maltreatment or intimidation of former members. World WNG group online article 2 March 2019
It’s a large and powerful church with thousands of members across Canada, and yet for all its good deeds it’s dogged by controversy. Members of Inglesia ni Cristo in the Philippines have been accused of financial irregularities, kidnap, even murder. The Fifth Estate: Church of Secrets, CBC 2018
Iglesia ni Cristo means Church of Christ, and its followers claim it is the one true church. There seems little tolerance for anyone who thinks otherwise. ibid.
Almost 7,000 congregations worldwide and millions of members. ibid.
For over a century INC has been run by one family. ibid.
Voting as a block in Philippine elections. ibid.
Time and time again those who cross INC or its members seem to become targets themselves. ibid.