‘Leap of faith’

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Friday, March 28, 2014

I AM entertaining the idea of setting up my own religious group once I retire from my media work. I have observed that the best “racket” in this world is using belief and religion.

In fact, I have already recruited my first few “disciples,” namely Ehda Dagooc and Divine Ngujo of The Freeman, Malou Mozo of Manila Bulletin, Aileen Garcia-Yap of Cebu Daily News and Kat Cacho of Sun.Star Cebu. In media gatherings, these ladies would call me “Pastor Bobby.” For women, the number one qualification for membership in our group is that they should be “mamords” (sexy).

And since my initial disciples are covering the business beat, it wouldn't be difficult for us to find sponsors or contributors. We would have Cebu Holdings president Francis Monera, my kababayan from Mindanao, as our financial adviser and lawyer Jeanette Japzon, also of Cebu Holdings, as our as our treasurer (maoy tighawid sa sibot). Fellow columnists Frank Malilong, Eddie Barrita and Eli Espinoza would be the legal advisers.


Since, I am fond of wearing all-white, I would register our group under the name, The Man in White and the Sexy Ladies. But wait a minute, would it be a religious group or a cult?

A cult is a group with deviant and novel beliefs and practices. The term cult was originally used to describe a group of people who worship a deity. It was first used in the early 17th century and denoted homage paid to a deity. It is borrowed from the Latin word “cultus” (worship).

A religious group is one with a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe. It practices devotional and ritual observances and follows a moral code. Examples are groups that practice the Christian or the Buddhist religions.

If you examine carefully the definition of the two words, the bottom line is worship, belief and faith. But in our society a group is called a cult when it worships directly a living person.

A religious group believes in God who is the Supreme Being and its beliefs are based in the Holy Scriptures. A cult is founded and organized by an ordinary person especially in the remote areas. A religious group is founded by prominent and rich people.

Former Barangay Buanoy, Balamban councilor Casiano Apduhan, who is known as “Tatay Loloy' to his followers and who was arrested recently by National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 is called cult leader. Roberto Verano known as “Daddy Divine” in Buhisan and Ruben Ecleo Jr., supreme leader of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries (PBMA), are also classified as cult leaders.

Aside of being religious leaders, they also claim that they are faith healers. That is why they have loyal followers willing to kill and die for them.

But how do you classify religious founders and preachers who proclaim that they are the “son of God” or the “new Jesus Christ” and their place is the “new Jerusalem”? Do we classify them also as cultists? Mind you, these so-called preachers are amassing wealth from their followers here and abroad.

Have you seen the movie “Leap of Faith” starring Steve Martin and Liam Neeson? Among the oldest forms of deception is the one done by impostors that exploit the religious faith of simple people. That was shown in the movie.

The film exposed the real life of a charlatan evangelist and his itinerant faith healers. Steve Martin was the road evangelist who called himself Jonas Nightingale.

He had perfected a tent-show operation using state-of-the-art high-tach equipment (computers, hidden microphones and surveillance cameras) in his activity. He also had a large staff of conspirators and an excellent all-black gospel choir.

But in the end, a “real miracle” happened and Nightingale had an abrupt change of heart. Mao nay gi-ingon sa Binisaya nga wala gyoy binuang nga molungtad ning kalibutan.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 29, 2014.


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