FREMONT, Calif. – A clash took place between Iglesia Ni Cristo members and expelled INC members outside of a San Francisco Bay Area chapel during the first stop in Executive Minister Eduardo Manalo’s pastoral visits in the United States.
These expelled and hidden, current members of the church call themselves INC Defenders and while this is not the first time they protested outside a chapel it is their first physical altercation.
An INC Defender by the name of “Jeremiah”, who chose to remain anonymous for his safety, said the protest was peaceful until the worship service ended.
“It didn’t have to reach that point when things started becoming super tense and super physical,” said Jeremiah. “You could’ve just blocked our signs that would have been enough. You shouldn’t have tried to tear down the signs because that was complete disrespectful, desecration of property.”
The protesters say that continue to believe in the church just not in Manalo’s leadership.
Yolanda Cuevas, another INC Defender, said “The goal today is to just educate the brethren that’s still there because there’s a lot of pressure for them to keep giving money to the corruption, whether it’s for the airplane or the legal battles a lot of time refuse to face. Basically the brethren needs to awaken to what is happening.”
INC officials Bob Pellien and Rommel San Pedro say that while they do not condone any acts of violence they are not surprised of what transpired.
“These people standing out there calling him criminal and all the other things they’re saying it is not a shock that one or two would let their emotions get the best of them but again I repeat it has nothing to do with the church,” said Pellien. “It’s really of an individual nature.”
“Our Lord Jesus Christ also had passion,” said San Pedro. “When there were money changers in the temple he took their whips and drove them out of the temple. When Peter was getting in his way he said get behind me Satan. But we would never ever dare judge our Lord Jesus Christ for any of those things. He was a perfect man. We are only human.”
These INC officials say that the protesters continue to discredit the church’s work like Manalo’s campaign to end world poverty and the contributions from local congregations to humanitarian missions around the world.
“We have one man leading the Iglesia Ni Cristo,” said Pellien. “And he says we will go there and help. Members all of the church will contribute and donate and work for the success of reaching those people in need.”
Pellien and San Pedro say that this protest does not take away from the goals of the pastoral visit.
“There’s a campaign now for all members of the church to uphold our spiritual fervor,” said Pellien. “A lot of the themes of the lessons that the church administration is sending to us has that theme. As he travels around I’m sure that theme will be emphasized as well.”
All the while, according to the INC defenders more members of the church are starting to question the leadership.
Cuevas said, “We have a lot of not just defenders that are out but we also have a lot of silent defenders who are still in the church who are starting to see what’s happening around them.”
After today’s events, each side was unrelenting. The so-called INC defenders say they will not stop protesting the church’s leadership. And the members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo say they will not stop celebrating Eduardo Manalo’s visit to the United States.
Manalo’s cult fighting each other! You just made the Manalos richer! SMH.