Jesus or Mammon: Of Christians and money

Love of money, not God, rules

A few months ago, I found at church a New International Version (NIV) Bible, which is published and distributed by Touchlife Global Foundation (formerly Biblica). How could someone forget to take their Bible home after religious service? Being a “finders, keepers” person, I took it home.

As you would and should find in a Bible, there are plenty of verses highlighted in colors blue, green, pink, and purple for easy reference of the original owner. (I don’t know what those colors stand for in his/her Bible study but who cares?) However, I am surprised that the original owner did not highlight certain verses that pertain to MONEY or RICHES. These biblical verses include:

Matthew 6:19 NIV: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.

Matthew 6: 20 NIV: But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Matthew 6:21 NIV: For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6: 25 NIV: Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

Matthew 6: 33 NIV: But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 6: 34 NIV: Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

1 Timothy 6:10 NIV: For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Proverbs 22: 7 NIV: …the borrower is slave to the lender.

Why do I care, even if I’m not the original owner? Why do I care when I could just highlight the following verses in my own Bible?

The aforementioned verses provide me reflection matter on my ‘money’ relationships (direct and indirect) with certain people who profess themselves to be Christians, whether Catholic or Mainline/Evangelical/Pentecostal Protestant.

Not ordinary Christians but the ones who are ‘vocal’ about their faith and hold positions of power in their respective denominations. They are all Filipinos. (I cannot say for Christians in other countries but I read they also have interesting ‘money’ ‘stories’.)

Not saved from the sin of the love of money

A late relative of mine borrowed a huge amount of money from another family member. His wife, a religious education teacher in their town, refused to pay her husband’s debt, saying it was her husband, not she, who owed money. She’s got point but something’s amiss. Did her husband borrow money without her knowledge? Or could it be that she never benefited? If my memory serves me right, they belonged to a charismatic group.

Two former workmates, both members of a native restorationist non-Trinitarian denomination that got tangled in a nationwide scandal a few years ago, failed to compensate me for services I provided to their respective start-ups. One of them is member of his church’s multimedia team.

A friend, also belonging to the same denomination, failed to pay his debts on time many times. I always had to remind him to pay, and many weeks would pass before he finally pays. He never apologizes for his late payments (but at least he pays). Many years ago, he was into a great financial difficulty and I forgave him but prior to that, he had ‘preached’ to me the importance of paying debts on time. He happens to be a member of his church’s choir.

Another former workmate, who converted to evangelicalism during his overseas work in the Middle East, also failed to pay for a job I completed for his client. He forgot to invite me and other workmates to his lavish wedding.

Fucking Christians!

There was this one woman who failed to pay her debts to another relative of mine 20 years ago. She sat as one of the officers of my school’s parent-teacher conference association (PTCA). Rumors had it that she ‘borrowed’ the association’s money and the teachers acquiesced to it. (Birds of the same feathers flock together, if you know what I mean.) She was one of the elders at her church.

A common friend, who belongs to one of the fastest growing megachurches in the Philippines, borrowed close to five digits. She forgot to pay… because she has forgotten me. (Believe me, I did my very best to remind her and I can’t fight a woman, can I?)

A former schoolmate, who was an active member of her church’s youth group, also borrowed money ten years ago. She has yet to pay.

Another workmate, who belongs to an evangelical Christian denomination that doesn’t celebrate Christmas, avoided payment. He avoided opening and reading my messages on Facebook. Before he became a former friend, he had ‘preached’ to me the spiritual and practical benefits of tithing and offering and the importance of finding a truly biblical church. He is one of the thickest faced people I ever know.

Fucking Christians! Did they know what they did? They really have the gall to avoid paying their debts.

I also have heard interesting money stories from people I know.

A couple, both former instructors of mine at college, belongs to one of the oldest Mainline Protestant churches in town. They were rumors that they stepped down from their position as managers of the school’s cafeteria due to alleged financial management. I remember the time when the husband mocked me for my beliefs.

Another former teacher was a lukewarm Mainline Protestant before converting to evangelicalism (partly due to his mounting money problems, as I was told by former schoolmates and teachers). The pastor who converted him was also another former teacher of mine; he provided the new convert and his young family with free housing at his church, which he founded in town decades ago, plus stipend (for Sunday service). However, the new convert soon turned against the person who had helped him; he soon usurped authority and kicked out his colleague and benefactor from his own church. Not content, he changed the name of the church and became its head pastor. Until now, they haven’t kissed and made up; they refused to speak to each other at school (as I was told).

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) got tangled in a scandal many years ago. One of the officers involved was an active member of an evangelical church.

Years ago, I was lured into attending a market presentation of Alliance in Motion (AIM) Global by a couple, both common friends and both members of one of the famous evangelical churches in the country. AIM Global is a multi-level marketing (MLM) company that sells nutritional supplements, functional beverages, and personal care products, among others. The person who gave the opening prayer was a pastor, who told the attendees that AIM Global was sent by God to solve people’s financial difficulties. AIM Global is busted as a scam by renowned scambuster Ethan Vanderbuilt.

Fucking Christians! They really have the nerve to use religion or hide behind the cloak of their religion to acquire more riches.

Money is the biggest religion in the world.

Pacquiao’s fraud and tax evasion

The People’s Champ Sen. Manny Pacquiao, a former Catholic and now Born-Again Protestant, owed the Philippine government PhP 2.26 billion in unpaid taxes. (This grew to PhP 3.3 billion after surcharges and penalties).

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) accused Senator Pacquiao and his wife Jinkee (who loves expensive designer bags) of not declaring his dollar winnings from his fights in 2008 and 2009. He alleged that the tax case filed against him by the Aquino administration (2010-2016) was politically motivated. Last year, the tax court ordered the BIR to stop collecting the unpaid taxes from Pacquiao, who is close to the current president who loves to criticize God and the Catholic clergy.

Pacquiao, who loves to quote from the Bible, forgets to render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar.

The story of Kapa Ministry

In Mindanao, Philippines, a certain Pastor Joel A. Apolinario founded Kapa (Kabus Padatoon)-Community Ministry International, Inc., which is registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as an Independent Religious Corporation named. Kabus Padatoon roughly translates as “Make the Poor Rich.”

Just recently, the SEC revoked the registration of Kapa for offering and selling securities, in the form of investment contracts and in the guise of donations, without the necessary license and in a manner resembling a Ponzi scheme. Kapa is said to have recruited and encouraged members to donate any amount in exchange for a 30 percent monthly return for life, without having to do anything other than invest and wait for the payout.

I don’t know what denomination the Kapa founder belongs to. But three Facebook friends – a Muslim, a member of the native restorationist non-Trinitarian denomination, a son of a Catholic father and Messianic Jewish mother – joined Kapa.

Filipinos, particularly Christians, are really suckers for easy money.

Filipino Catholics and Protestants may criticize each other and engage in religious debates. However, when it comes to money, they come together to worship a common god.

When it comes to money, everybody is of the same religion.

Expelled for accepting money from candidates?

I have read on social media that four elders of the restorationist non-Trinitarian church were expelled (or excommunicated) for accepting money from candidates in the 2019 elections. Rumored amount of money is around PhP 100 million. This was never reported in the media.

In closing

It is not my intention to slander Christianity and religion, in general. My purpose is to narrate my memories of people and stories of few individuals who had a different way with money. This blog post is inspired by my reflection of the Bible verses I shared in this blog post. I withheld names, even names of Christian denominations. I am not trying to act self-righteous here.

I only want to say that many Filipino Christians, whether Catholic or Protestant, are really ‘clever’ with money. My money troubles are with people who are so vocal about their religion but become timid and go into hiding when it comes to payment of debts.

I would like to warn that such individuals could belong to your church. They could be members of the religious organization you belong to. It is in churches where some people may recruit members to join networking scams or invite them to invest their money in dubious ventures. (For starters, watch the film Honor Thy Father, starring John Lloyd Cruz.)

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