There should be a law that requires a church leader to pay the government a kind of sin tax when his income exceeds a defined amount. And his bank account, created from the exploitation of the gullible flock, must be made public. They must pay. God knows who does not pay.
Excerpt from Hawaii News Now: “The head of a mega-church in the Philippines was detained at Honolulu's airport after federal agents found $350,000 in cash on the private plane he was on … Apollo Quiboloy was among six people on the Cessna Citation Sovereign, which was to leave for the Philippines … Also found on the plane [are] parts to assemble military-style rifles … Quiboloy is the pastor of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ … Quiboloy was detained for most of the day Tuesday before being released … The private plane, worth at least $15 million, remains in Honolulu. The federal government is working to seize it ....”
Quiboloy is the self-proclaimed “Appointed Son of God”. I don’t know what this title means. But it doesn’t look good. Because I often find this saying: “Everyone is a child of God.” Which means that someone who is simply an appointed son of God must be of a rank lower than the rest of us, lower even than being adopted. That probably explains why Quiboloy got caught in Hawaii. We children of God got the memo but he didn’t.
Anyway, several Biblical passages came to mind after reading the news:
Beware of false prophets. I and my Father are one. The love of money is the root of all evil. He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword. You cannot serve both God and money. It is easier for the kingdom of the camel to pass through the eye of a rich person than for God to find a needle in a haystack – or words to that effect.
Wait. The correct verse is “It is easier for a camel pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to sign a bank waiver.”
Does God answer prayers? One of my kids asked. He said he prayed to God for the rain to stop because he was told God would answer his prayer. The rain didn't stop so he was disappointed. I told him it's hard to know if God – if He exists – answers prayers because millions of people are also praying to Him, creating an information overload. The farmers are praying for rain, and not just the farmers, but the mud fish, the turtles, and the earthworms.
He said he no longer believes God answers prayers. I was surprised. I didn't teach him to be an atheist or an agnostic, only to use the scientific method.
I had been in Sunday school since I was five. I had good teachers. And I took up a Bible correspondence course. But until now I cannot explain if God answers prayers. I couldn’t explain – and this is my major problem – the meaning of the death of six million Jews in the hands of Adolf Hitler. Did God answer their prayers before they were put to the gas chambers? What was His answer? No?
I have read some attempts to rationalize the Holocaust. The common explanation is God gives different answers: yes, yes-but, maybe, soon, no way. Also “God works in mysterious ways.” A weird explanation is God allowed the massacre of the Jews – a crime against humanity – because they refused to believe in Jesus. Now, if you read your Bible, you will find passages in the Old Testament that say, or seem to say, that the Messiah should be a descendant of King David, not an appointed son or adopted. But in the New Testament, you have this theological problem because, in the book allegedly written by Matthew – the author is anonymous – Jesus is born of a virgin, conceived by the Holy Spirit. So, how could Jesus be the Messiah? Well, there’s also a passage in Isaiah about a virgin conceiving a child and his name would be Immanuel, not Jesus or Quiboloy or Brod Pete.
This is why we find a YouTube video of Mr. Bean playing the Devil, directing Christians to proceed to a room in Hell because, he said, “I’m afraid the Jews were right.”
These are debatable concepts and what I usually tell my kids when I don’t know the answer is I don’t know. I can’t pretend to know even if pretense gives a semblance of comfort and direction. At times, though, I give them answers from findings of Biblical scholars. I like the advice of a theologian in Silliman University: “It's all right to be confused, as long as you’re confused on a higher level.”
So, I’m not worried if my kids become agnostics or atheists or believers. Ethics is separate from religion although often tied to religion. I don’t teach them compassion and friendship to kids of different religions, and kindness to living things, and curiosity about the universe. THEY teach me.
“With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion.”
That statement is from Steven Weinberg, a physicist who, with his two colleagues, won a Nobel Prize in 1979. He was not talking about suicide bombers. After all, how many atheists are in jail?