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Primary to the Iglesia Ni Cristo is the doctrine of bloc voting, written in their book “Mga Pangunahing Aral Na Sinasampalatayanan ng IGLESIA NI CRISTO” (Fundamental Teachings of the IGLESIA NI CRISTO). On page 127, written by their current Executive Minister, Eraño G. Manalo, he says (translated in English), “Do not destroy the unity of the Church whether regarding voting or other activity for this is an excommunicable sin in the Church.” To a critical mind, this doctrine of bloc voting is more like coercion and suppression of freedom of choice rather than unity.
Taking this for granted, the Iglesia Ni Cristo’s sphere of political influence is much revered by those who would like to have seats in the government. The group’s endorsement is also much awaited for during campaign period. According to Inquirer.net, on May 10, 2007, the Iglesia Ni Cristo “has a membership of at least two million — only a fifth of the 10 million required for a senatorial candidate to land in the winning circle of 12, but enough to provide a head start.” This ‘head start’ is an eye candy to politicians, enough even for presidential candidates to court the sect leader. They deem that whoever is given the blessings of the group’s executive minister, his seat in the government is assured.
What is their secret formula to being known as the “kingmaker”?
In a book written by former Iglesia Ni Cristo minister, Dr. Melanio P. Gabriel, Jr., titled “Ang mga Lihim at mga Kabulaanan ng Iglesia ni Cristo” (The Secrets and Lies of the Iglesia ni Cristo), on page 7, the total membership of INC is listed by years. Sources of the figures are the official magazine, Pasugo, of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, and other prominent newspapers. The list shows the year, membership and the publication where the figures were published, respectively: 1949, 4 million, Pasugo, August 1954, p.5-6; 1950, 2 million, Pasugo, December 1955, p.35-36; 1951, 2 million, Pasugo, July 1951, p.24; 1955, 1 million, Pasugo, July 1964, p.23; 1961, 4 million, Manila Times, October 13, 1961; 1963, 3.5 million, Sunday Times Magazine, April 28, 1963, p.62; 1964, 3 million, Sunday Times Magazine, August 9, 1964, p.28-29; 1965, 4 million, Philippine Herald, November 1, 1965; 1966, 5 million, Manila Times, May 9, 1966 and Pasugo, July 1966, p.6.
As observed in the given figures, the total number of members of this organization radically fluctuates. They have announced their total membership in their official magazine, Pasugo, in 1955, and the figure they gave was 1 million. In 1966, only after a decade, they have reported a total of 5 million members in both the broadsheet Manila Times and in their Pasugo. As of 2007, in Inquirer.net, the group “has a membership of at least two million,” as aforementioned. Therefore, it appears like a guessing game.
However, there are more reliable sources than the Pasugo of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, like the Bureau of Census and Statistics. Here is an extract of Joe Cruz’ report from the newspaper The Bombshell, published on October 21, 1954:
“…the Philippines Free Press, dated April 23, 1950, made all estimation of more or less two million members. It was the most shocking news perhaps to other religious organization ever made publicly. Since it scattered like wildfire that engulf the four corners of the Philippines, Roxas, Avelino and Quirino were prompted to see the founder of “Iglesia Ni Cristo,” and perhaps President Magsaysay too, for some political reasons. Analyzing its members whether such number is true, there are only 86, 125 members as of 1953, as far as the Bureau of Census and Statistics is concerned and not two million as claimed.”
The truth about INC’s mythical numbers
Records show that Eraño Manalo, the Executive Minister, was berating his ministers for faking attendance and membership rolls to make it appear that their church is growing. Manalo was speaking in the vernacular but this had been translated into English and disseminated all over the Internet. The one who has a video clip of this meeting, however, is Bro. Eliseo Soriano, Presiding Minister of the Members Church of God, International (MCGI) better known as Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path). He plays this clip now and then to millions of his audience, one reason the Iglesia Ni Cristo want to stop him talking at all costs. The Iglesia Ni Cristo had been filing case after case against Soriano to include a mocked-up rape case filed by a former member of Soriano’s group.