In a previous column in this space I already wrote about bigotry especially against those not sharing the view of the majority. Now, I will be writing about something personal- religious bigotry sparked by misinformation and the lack of understanding of the many on the beliefs of a minority.
I am a member of the Iglesia Ni Cristo since 1992. I had my own share of intolerance and disrespect from those who don’t understand the Bibilical doctrines I have embraced and believed. It has sometimes bordered on oppression. Just like Jesus who prayed for those who have nailed him on the cross “for they know not what they are doing.”
The current issue over the charges slapped against some officials of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) has sparked bigotry against members of the religious group that has not been seen before in the country.
Human rights advocate and constitutional law expert Harry Roque said the allegations hurled against INC officials should not lead “to the oppression of the church and its members.”
Roque expressed alarm at how “unproven cases have sparked bigotry against INC members that reflects religious intolerance that had hitherto been virtually nonexistent among our countrymen.”
“Some INC members have called this bigotry and it’s hard not to agree with them given the comments of some netizens online. Many forget that the accused officials are Filipino citizens and are entitled to the same rights you and I enjoy, including the presumption of innocence,” he said. “Their being part of a religious minority does not mean they deserve less in law; on the contrary, because they’re a minority the more they deserve its full protection,” he said.
“Justice should be served. However, we should not be quick to condemn the church and its flock based on some TV interviews. What is tragic here is that allegations of wrongdoing are now damaging an institution that is part of Philippine history and culture,” Roque added.
He said the INC is a “homegrown Filipino church” that has attracted millions, including non-Filipinos, into its fold all over the world.
“Wherever it goes, it spreads not only its religious teachings but our language and our culture as well,” Roque said adding that INC also promotes “good morality and civic values among its faithful—something the country badly needs now.”
Lest I be accused of sub judice by touching a matter that is now in the hands of the court, I rest my case for now.
“… Satan himself MASQUERADES as an angel of light; “So it shouldn’t surprise us when his [satan’s] servants masquerade as servants of God. But they’re not getting by with anything. They’ll pay for it in the end.”
“… in the end they will be punished for what they do.”(2 Corinthians 11:14 AMP; 15 MSG & NCV)
(Reactions are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org)