Some of you readers may have been waiting for my next article. I’m sorry to say that I’m still working on it at this time. It’s not because there’s nothing to write about; on the contrary, I’m trying to keep the articles short for easier reading.
But I just thought I’d drop this quick post since some of our readers may be wondering why their Resident Ministers are suddenly being shipped out. In various districts, especially around America, the Ministers are saying their farewells all of a sudden. Why the sudden transitions? The answer, sad to say are not as noble and pure as some would have you believe. It is more of a legal recourse, to avoid greater legal ramifications that the Church is facing. What is the problem you ask?
Let me first explain one of the ways that the Iglesia Ni Cristo has been sending Ministers from the Philippines to the United States.
The legal department of the Church has been using the R-1 Visa route which is specifically for “Religious Workers”. Here are the official notes on it:
R-1 Temporary Nonimmigrant Religious Workers
“An R-1 is a foreign national who is coming to the United States temporarily to be employed as a minister or in another religious vocation or occupation at least part time (average of at least 20 hours per week) by:
- A non-profit religious organization in the United States;
- A religious organization that is authorized by a group tax exemption holder to use its group tax exemption; or
- A non-profit religious organization which is affiliated with a religious denomination in the United States.
This visa program is intended for religious workers whose lives are dedicated to religious practices and functions, as distinguished from secular members of the religion.”
In short, this is how a lot of the Philippine Ministers of the Iglesia Ni Cristo are getting in to the U.S. So what’s the big deal, you ask? Nothing. If it is done according to the law. But the problem is how the Administration plays with the U.S. Government. Here is another part of the law:
“A prospective or existing U.S. employer must file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, on behalf of foreign nationals seeking to enter the United States as a nonimmigrant minister, or a religious worker in a religious vocation or occupation.”
So what does the Church Administration do? They will instruct local congregations to “make a Petition” for a specific Ministers, as if that congregation is in need of a Minister and is “hiring” that individual from the Philippines, (as if) they chose to choose that individual, even though there are already hundreds of Ministers roaming the States already.
The U.S. Government approves the petition, the Minister goes to that specific congregation. Here is another trick. That Minister may not really be “assigned” for that congregation, they will just use them as a doorway to America but from there, the Administration sends them anywhere they want.
“USCIS may grant R-1 status for an initial period of admission for up to 30 months. Subsequent extensions may be granted for up to an additional 30 months. The religious worker’s total period of stay in the United States in R-1 classification cannot exceed five years (60 months).”
Another stipulation of the R-1 route is that the petitioned Minister should only stay for up to 30 months and maybe an extra 30 months. But as many of you know, they will often get around that as well. Why would they do this? Because the present Administration has this ARROGANT MENTALITY that they can do whatever they want, like how they act in the Philippines, deciding whatever and whenever because they have the law in the palm of their hands and in their proverbial pockets, so they have no fear of the law. But THIS IS NOT THE CASE in every country.
Well, the time has come that face the truth. The Immigration Office of the United States is now taking action and are finding out that a lot of the Ministers of the INC are NOT following the prescribed rules and are living somewhere else instead of where they were petitioned. Some have overstayed with expired visas and some not even supposed to be in this country at all. Remember, the R1 Visa is supposed to be TEMPORARY! The Department of Homeland Security is now investigating. That should cut down some of the Church Leadership’s arrogance!
Suppose the Minister has to be assigned to another congregation, instead of the one that petitioned him? What is supposed to be followed?
“Ministers, as opposed to other religious workers, may move from ministry to ministry within a denomination without a new petition, so long as the parent organization is the petitioner. If it is anticipated that the minister will be moved between different locations within the same denomination, the parent organization should file as the petitioner rather than the individual organization, and list each ministry where the minister will be working on the I-129. In such cases, USCIS requires the group tax determination letter issued to the parent organization, along with authorization from the group tax exemption holder that lists each specific ministry that may employ the beneficiary.”
In short, they cannot simply pack up and go. RULES MUST BE FOLLOWED folks! They are not in the Philippines anymore where you can buy off any politician and ignore the laws!
One final note before I conclude; and this is actually a big one. These laws are actually for “A non-profit religious organization in the United States”. I am embarassed to admit, but the Iglesia Ni Cristo is no longer a NON-PROFIT organisation. As we have covered on many articles, the Church has become a for PROFIT group. JUST LOOK AROUND! What do you think the Philippine Arena is for? Why do they sell fish right at the gates of chapels? Why do you think there are eco-fisheries and eco-farms? Why is the Church so intent in building up Africa, with olive trees? Why do the Ministers and officers sell tickets to brethren? Why are Guns & Roses performing at the Arena? Why are there petting zoos and Museum of Death? Why are there souvenirs being sold? Do you think these are all being done for our SPIRITUAL WELL-BEING?!?! The simple answer is COLD.HARD.CASH. In other words. FOR PROFIT.
In conclusion, the present Church Leadership cannot deny the fact that they are breaking the nation’s laws. We are still under the guise of a being a Non-profit organisation; the ministers are shipped in with the intent of them being moved around even without consulting the U.S. Government; And many of the Ministers, who now get to enjoy the taste of America, will do what they can not to be sent back the Philippine provinces, even if it means breaking the laws of the land.
As we close, let’s be reminded of the commandments of God, which the present leaders seem to have forgotten, or merely ignore now:
“You cannot fool God, so don’t make a fool of yourself! You will harvest what you plant. If you follow your selfish desires, you will harvest destruction, but if you follow the Spirit, you will harvest eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8
“Place yourselves under the authority of human governments to please the Lord. Obey the emperor. He holds the highest position of authority.” 1 Peter 2:13 NOG
“Whoever opposes the existing authority opposes what God has ordered; and anyone who does so will bring judgment on himself. 3 For rulers are not to be feared by those who do good, but by those who do evil. Would you like to be unafraid of those in authority? Then do what is good, and they will praise you, 4 because they are God’s servants working for your own good. But if you do evil, then be afraid of them, because their power to punish is real. They are God’s servants and carry out God’s punishment on those who do evil. 5 For this reason you must obey the authorities—not just because of God’s punishment, but also as a matter of conscience.” Romans 13:2-6 GNT
(all immigration information were quoted from https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/r-1-temporary-religious-workers/r-1-temporary-nonimmigrant-religious-workers)