FIRING LINE: Kingdom under siege

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Sex trafficking is one thing. And that’s what lawyers defending Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, founder of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name or KOJC church, are confident of beating in a United States court.

But details of the indictment are shockingly another thing. Imagine systematically recruiting young girls as tender as 12 to make them clean one’s house, cook one’s meals, and lie in bed with a strange man through deception and under threat of “eternal damnation.”

According to US Department of Justice documents, those who lived through this ordeal were recruited as “pastorals” or personal assistants of Quiboloy, giving him massages and delegated with “night duty,” using their bodies to serve the “Appointed Son of a…” – I honestly forgot what he calls himself.

What church would have leaders herding these young girls to another country using fake travel documents to be maids, sex slaves, and solicitors of donations for fake children’s charities? That’s what years of sleuthing by US investigators found out and brought before a federal grand jury.

It’s not something I’d like to believe because they’re cruel and dreadful. However, I’ve got to admit these allegations are not far from the stories that have been buzzing around Quiboloy’s kingdom for decades. In an organization that calls itself a church, its saving work seems to be pretty messed up by the devil himself – if these accusations turn out to be true, of course.

In the past, there’d been sex scandals ripping into various international ministries, even the Catholic Church, but often involving just one erring high-profile minister, evangelist, or prelate; a lost sheep. None that I remember ever involved such a conspiracy by religious leaders to commit sex trafficking of children, fraud, cash smuggling, falsifying travel documents, and money laundering.

If Quiboloy is really behind all these, we haven’t seen such a fall from grace. I don’t know which is more damning a punishment – a whole lifetime in prison for these crimes or eternity in hell for the sin of it. What surprises me, though, is how cool and composed this pastor from Davao takes it all – as if he were truly untouchable.

Perhaps, that’s the feeling when you’re best buds with President Rodrigo Duterte. It may not be part of the case, but I wonder if the things he advises the President – as his spiritual adviser – also deserve an indictment.

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