|Leader||Eduardo V. Manalo|
|Geographical areas||Worldwide, especially the Philippines|
|Founder||Felix Y. Manalo|
|Origin||July 27, 1914 |
|Members||More than a million in Central Luzon; 70,000 in the provinces of Cebu, Bohol and Negros Oriental |
The Iglesia ni Cristo (pronounced [ɪˈɡleʃɐ ni ˈkɾisto]); Tagalog for Church of Christ; also known as INC, or Iglesia, is the largest entirely indigenous Christian religious organization that originated from the Philippines and the largest independent church in Asia. Due to a number of similarities, some Protestant writers describe the INC's doctrines as restorationist in outlook and theme., but the Iglesia ni Cristo does not consider itself to be part of the Restoration Movement. Felix Y. Manalo officially registered the church as a corporation sole with him as executive minister on July 27, 1914 and because of this, most publications refer to him as the founder of the church. However, the official doctrines of the church profess that Jesus Christ is the founder of the INC and that Felix Manalo was God's last messenger, whom he sent to re-establish the Christian Church to its true, pristine form because the original church apostatized. They believe that the apostatized church is the Roman Catholic Church, and proclaim that Catholic beliefs  shared by most Christians, such as the Trinity - which is according to the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church as the central dogma of Christian theology- are proof of this apostacy. The organization does not believe in the Trinity, nor that the divinity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit are Biblical.
The historical context of the Iglesia ni Cristo lies in a period of the early 20th century characterised by a variety of rural anti-colonialism movements, often with religious undertones, in the Philippines. United States missionary work was exposing Filipino culture to many alternatives to the Roman Catholic Church, which had been installed under Spanish rule. Some observers see the INC as an aggressive, materially successful, indigenous movement which became a major religious movement in only a period of fifty years. Some believe the success of the INC is attributed primarily to its leadership.. However, the members of the Igelsia Ni Cristo have full belief that the success of the church is the work and guidance of God.
In search of the truth, Felix Manalo as a young adult drifted from one organization to another, including atheism and agnosticism. At some point in his life, his own studies brought him to what would be the basis for the teachings of Iglesia ni Cristo. In 1913, Manalo began to preach his religion to whoever would listen.
The INC began with a handful of followers on July 27, 1914 in Punta, Santa Ana, Manila; with Manalo as its head minister. Manalo propagated his message within his local area, growing the Iglesia ni Cristo and converting members of other religions. From the beginning, the INC used Filipino in language, lessons and instructions, and hymns. His first chapel was made of bamboo and was not constructed until two years after he began preaching.
The Catholic Church attributed its growth to the novelty of Protestantism, which was brought to the Philippines by the Americans. They believed that Manalo would not stand against the theological sophistication of Catholic orthodoxy. The INC however continued to grow beyond World War II. Evangelicals had an overall negative view of Felix Manalo and the INC in particular, and Filipinos in general. Ridicule was the prevailing attitude. As written by Ann C. Harper, evangelical preachers and missionaries were mostly racist and prejudiced. In Tondo, Manalo started his first of many debates. By this time, Manalo was already well honed with the Bible and was a master public speaker. He defeated both the Protestant ministers and Catholic priests who entered the debate with him, resulting in many converts. In 1916, Manalo began establishing congregations throughout the provinces.
Despite critics belief that INC's success was only temporary, its growth continued. Observers attribute the Iglesia's growth to the active involvement of its members and their unity in faith. The INC expanded slowly from its roots in Manila until it established a credible national network even before the Second World War, reaching Cotabato province in Mindanao in 1941. Even during the Japanese Occupation, the Iglesia kept on expanding.
In 1948, the Iglesia built its first central office and official residence of the executive minister on Riverside Street, San Juan, Metro Manila. After the war, the congregation grew from approximately 85,000 in 1936, to 200,000 in 1954. By 1970, the INC had about 500,000 members and was established in almost every province in the Philippines.
In the late 1950s, as Felix Manalo's health started to fail, Eraño Manalo began to take on leadership role under his father's guidance. Eraño Manalo succeed Felix Manalo by vote. And when Felix Manalo died in 1963, it did not cause any disruption in the church's activities. His son Eraño took over duties as executive minister and later on, his grandson Eduardo V. Manalo became the deputy executive minister.
Shortly after assuming office, Eraño Manalo began to travel to congregations, officiating worship services and staging religious rallies. He visited farthest congregations from the north to the south assuring the faithful that the Iglesia was alive and had a leader. Over the next 30 years, the Iglesia would establish more than 4000 locals, and 100 districts. The Iglesia became the fastest growing church in the Philippines.
By the late 1960s, Eraño had proven himself a worthy successor to his father and began a number of initiatives, including the establishment of congregations in the United States and other countries. On July 27, 1968, Eraño Manalo officiated the first worship service in Ewa, Hawaii thus starting the mission of propagation outside of the Philippines. Unlike the Catholic Church during the Spanish colonial period and the Protestants during the American colonial period, religious groups who emerged after the era of colonialism, including the INC, did not have the support and aid of governments and armies to support their propagation to foreign lands.
In 1969, the church began operating its own radio station with regionally syndicated programs, and in 1983 it launched television programming with national syndication.. In 2008, it began broadcasting 24-hours via satellite DirecTV channel 2068. On March 17, 2009 the Iglesia ni Cristo on Guam celebrates its 40 years of existence in the island. From 7 members who started meeting together outside their work camps, the Iglesia ni Cristo now has 3 local congregations. In 1994, the Iglesia ni Cristo built a permanent chapel then estimated to be worth US$2.1 million. In 2008, on the occasion of the 39th year anniversary of the church, the Legislature of Guam recognized and congratulates the church.
In the 1990s a few congregations were established in cities in which the Iglesia believe as significant in the history of the biblical church. In 1994, the Iglesia succeeded in establishing its congregation in Rome, Italy, in 1996 the Jerusalem congregations was established and in 1997 the congregation in Athens, Greece followed. In 2005, the Roman Catholic Church formally acknowledged the existence of the INC, calling it an "emerging" influential religious group.
According to various sources, including the 1997 Britannica Book of the Year, INC had a worldwide population of over one million members by the early 1980s. According the 2000 census of the Philippine National Statistics Office, over 1.76 million persons in the Philippines were are affiliated with the Iglesia ni Cristo as of that year. or roughly doubling in size in a span of 20 years. Santa Clara university places the number at 2.3% of the population in the year 2000, or roughly 1.77 million. Some Catholic publications put the number to be between three million and ten million worldwide, possibly making INC larger than the Jehovah’s Witnesses. INC has become the second largest religious organization in the Philippines and the largest independent church in Asia . By 2008, INC had grown to more than 5,000 congregations in the Philippines, and more than 600 abroad. Congregations are called local congregation, or simply locale. The INC has local congregations in 89 countries and territories with its members belonging to 102 nationalities and ethnic groups.. Among the 89 countries are included the following: South Africa, Nigeria, Libya, Abu Dabai, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, India, Kazahkstan, Russia, China, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and American Samoa.
On July 27, 2009 the church in celebration of its 95th year anniversary held "huge religious assemblies" in 14 locations throughout the Philippines and in five sites in four other countries. In Manila, the assemblies were held at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City and the Rizal Memorial Complex in Manila. In the provinces, members assembled at the Butuan City Sports Complex in Agusan del Norte; Bicol University Sports Complex in Legazpi, Albay; Cebu Sports Center in Cebu City and others. In Pampanga, at estimated 1 million people packed Villa Del Sol in San Fernando, Pampanga. Gatherings in other countries were held at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. and the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California; O2 Arena in London, U.K.; Parco Esposizioni Novegro in Milan, Italy; and Hills Center in Sydney, Australia. Other members held their assemblies in their respective houses of worship. At it's 95th year, the Iglesia Ni Cristo has over 5,400 local congregations in 90 countries.
The Iglesia ni Cristo holds beliefs that run contrary and at odds to many Christian professing religions. Some observers describe these beliefs as unique and distinct making it different from what is generally known as traditional Christianity. Doctrines such as the denial of the trinity and the necessity of membership in the Church for salvation are just a few examples of what sets the Iglesia ni Cristo apart from the major Christian religions of today.
The first and foremost of the doctrines of the Iglesia ni Cristo is the belief that there is only one God, the Father. The Church opposes the doctrine of the Trinity and is not to be mistaken as to follow the beliefs of Unitarians or Arians who also reject the Trinity as outlined in the Nicene Creed.
According to Iglesia doctrine, "the Father is the only true God, and Christ was sent by Him". The Church upholds that any beliefs that differ from this, such as the Trinity or the Mormon belief of Plurality of gods are simply wrong and goes against biblical testimony. To them, there is no other place, be it in heaven or on earth where another God exists, other than the God they call "Lord God Almighty" and that this belief is based on the bible. They believe that this is the belief of "the people of God" even at the time of the prophets, and continued to the time of the apostles in the Christian era. They believe that this belief is the right knowledge and understanding concerning God. They further believe that the doctrine of co-equal God's, be it as a three-person Trinity, or "plurality of Gods" contradicts this belief. The Church states that it believes in the one and only true God, the Father and "the Creator", and that this is the doctrine taught by Jesus Christ and his apostles. God is described as a spirit and therefore without flesh and bones, and is everlasting. It is further upheld God is immortal, all-knowing and does not get weary.
The Iglesia ni Cristo has a number of beliefs concerning Jesus Christ that differs from most major Christian religions today. They believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and was made Lord by God, but that He is not God or god-man (dual nature) as some churches believe. They assert that Jesus Christ never claimed or said that He was God but instead preached of a one true God, the Father in heaven. They believe that He (Jesus Christ) is a man in nature and state of being. To support this belief they point to several bible verses which state that Christ experienced human experiences such as hunger, thirst and death, among others. However, they say Jesus Christ is distinct from other human beings in that He did not commit sins and was exalted by God. They also believe that Jesus Christ is the only Savior appointed by God and the only mediator between God and man.
This Belief of the Iglesia Ni Cristo is criticized by other religious groups. One of the criticisms from many religious groups say that the Iglesia Ni Cristo does not give importance or honor to the Lord Jesus Christ. However, the Iglesia Ni Cristo vigorously defend their beliefs about the man nature of Christ and his state of being. The Iglesia Ni Cristo claim they give big honors to the Lord Jesus Christ by worshiping him as the Son of God. Like many Christian denominations, they teach that Christ is a man who is without sin. They say that God made Christ holy, God put everything under the feet of Christ, God commanded everything that breathes on earth to worship Christ by confessing that Christ is the Lord, God made Christ as the mediator between man and God, and Christ is the Savior of the Church. These are just some Doctrines that is taught by the Iglesia Ni Cristo. This, and many other doctrines of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, provides proof to the members of the church that they give proper honor and importance to the Lord Jesus Christ and that they obey what God commanded every member of the Church to accomplish.
To the Iglesia ni Cristo, the Holy Spirit is not a person or being but rather is the power of God sent to earth by Him. It is not referred to as God, nor is a part of God according to bible. They believe this Spirit is sent by God in the name of Jesus Christ to teach God's messengers of the meaning of God's words. According to them, the Holy Spirit is also sent to help God's people overcome their weaknesses, to strengthen, edify and comfort them.
The Iglesia ni Cristo believes that unity is an essential characteristic of "the one true church" and considers unity as a fundamental doctrine and upholds it faithfully. They say this doctrine traced its roots "in the history of God's people" as written in the Bible. Unity practiced by the Iglesia ni Cristo is not like that which is based on the mundane and ordinary, but based and founded on biblical teachings. It is upheld that the unity embraced by the Church is a distinctive mark of a true Christian Church and a unique and a striking characteristic of "the true Church". The Iglesia ni Cristo further states that this unity is distinct and exclusive and can only be found in the true Church and is nothing less that absolute. The Church describes this unity as one in doctrine, one in polity, one in faith, one in worship, and with one heart and one voice.
In his argument to the lawsuit questioning religious organizations requiring their members to vote for a particular candidate, Executive Minister Erano Manalo argued that voting as a bloc is a manifestation of religious unity. He said that the Iglesia voting as one "give flesh to their belief that only by acting in unity with their brethren will they be truly faithful to the Church".
The Iglesia Ni Cristo holds prophecies that is included in the INC doctrine and this is how they prove their doctrine and to prove the Iglesia Ni Cristo is the true church, they preach these prophecies to prove that the Iglesia Ni Cristo is the true Church and it was founded by Christ.
One of these prophecies is that the Iglesia Ni Cristo, which was founded by Christ, was foretold to turn back from being the chosen people of God by going in the ways and acts of the demons after the death of the disciples of Christ. They use verses in the Bible such the Acts of the Apostles and the Book of John. But as it was foretold that the first Christians would worship a false God, the Iglesia Ni Cristo also has the doctrine or the prophecy that the churches which were in the first century and in the time of the Apostles was prophesied to rise back to the end times of the earth, it would rise in the Far East, and would be brought to the west(Isaiah 43:5-6, Moffatt translation). The last messenger of God who is known as Felix Y. Manalo was also prophesied in the Bible and the Iglesia Doctrine. Another prophecy was the rise of false prophets, churches, preachers etc.
They also hold prophecies about World War I and World War II, one of which is that these were signs about the coming of the end of the earth and that these are the signs of a second coming of the true church and the second advent of Christ. Church members preach that signs would include huge earthquakes, rampant spread of poverty, pain, sorrow, starvation, etc. They use the New Testament, especially Matthew and Revelation to justify their opinion. Also, the church has a prophecy about the advent of Christ. To fulfill this prophecy, according to the teachings of Iglesia Ni Cristo, th Gospel of God must be preach all over the earth, whether other people would accept it or not, and within their doctrine it says that after the preaching of the Gospel every perosn should know that the end is near and Christ would advent soon. They use the Gospel of Matthew to justify this part of their doctrine.
These are just some examples of the prophecies that the Iglesia Ni Cristo holds and teaches. This was discussed in formal debates, nationally (Philippines) and even internationally with other major religious groups.
Members of Iglesia ni Cristo allows embalming for postmortem viewing of their loved ones. It forbids cremation because they believe the body of the deceased is sacred and should be cared for with respect. They dress and groom the deceased to resemble as close to possible how they looked in life. The preferred method is arterial embalming which injects formaldehyde into the body.
The interment proceedings of Brother Eraño G. Manalo (January 2, 1925 - August 31, 2009), which a non-INC dignitary described as “solemn and elegant”, was simple and devoid of intricate rituals and prayers for the dead.
This stems from the church’s belief concerning the dead. As a minister put it, “Once a true Christian dies, he is certain of salvation on Judgment Day.”
The Iglesia Ni Cristo Members use or apply these commandments according to what they believe the Bible teaches. There may be some more commandments being applied, but these ten are the main commandments which must be applied by every member of the Church. This is approved by the church administration to let every member preserve their being as a chosen people of God and to have the right of attaining salvation on the Day of Judgment. This is according to their fundamental Doctrines.(This is just a summary of the Iglesia Ni Cristo commandments and their fundamental teachings and beliefs).
In tagalog (panalangin), the Iglesia Ni Cristo pray as a unified group during their worship services and they do not allow or apply the repeatedly way of prayer. For it is in the Iglesia Ni Cristo doctrine/teachings that the Bible forbids the repeatedly way of prayer(Matthew 6:7-8).
According to the Iglesia Ni Cristo, they also have an individual prayer in their house of worship before the worship service begins. In these prayers they thank God for the blessing they receive, ask for guidance, increases in faith, understanding the gospel, and ask for forgiveness. They also pray for the church administrators and INC brethren. In their prayers for themselves they ask of God to always be guided, have strength, and to be united as according to the Bible and their internal teachings and doctrines. All of their prayers are done in the name of Jesus Christ, which are done in accordance the churches doctrines and teachings. They believe that Christ is their mediator between us and God.
The Iglesia Ni Cristo also have various doctrines about how they should apply group and self-prayer before eating, going to work/school, sleeping and so forth. In this way each member of the church and the family will always be in the presence of God and Christ.
When prayer is conducted in the congregational setting or within family/friends gatherings, participants are required to answer "Yes, Father" "Yes, Lord" and "Amen" during the appropriate times within the prayer. This is done so that participants may fully involve themselves in the prayer, and show agreement with the various ideas being said.
The church is divided into numerous ecclesiastical districts, which in turn are divided into local congregations. These congregations are led by a minister. The administration of the church is centralized and managed from a central office. Thus, all lessons in worship services across the world will have the same topics.
The central office is one of several structures inside the central office complex. It houses the permanent offices of the central administration and most of the church's departments. It is here where about a thousand INC professionals and volunteers hold office. Contrary to claims, the central office is not the residence of the Manalos. Built in 1971 for PHP22 million. It has a cinema and theater, canteen and social halls. The building is currently estimated to be worth PHP1 billion.
The Iglesia ni Cristo central office complex is a large, secured complex located on Commonwealth Avenue, New Era, Quezon City, Philippines and is the seat of the INC's Central Administration. In addition to the six-story central office building there are six other major edifices and several buildings. The major buildings include the 7,000-seat central temple, the multi-purpose tabernacle hall, the 30,000-seat central pavilion, the College of Evangelical Ministry, the New Era General Hospital, and the New Era University. In 1968, Eraño Manalo moved the central office from the chapel on Riverside Street, San Juan, Metro Manila to its present location. The INC acquired several hectares of land and in the next forty years transformed the area to what it is today.
Formally, the Iglesia ni Cristo is led by the Executive Minister (Tagalog: Tagapamahalang Pangkalahatan); INC teachings, however, state that Jesus Christ is the head of the Church and is also its founder. According to the teachings of the Iglesia Ni Cristo these Executive Ministers and past Executive Ministers are the leader here on earth as they wait till the Day of Judgment. These Executive Ministers leads the Church to the way of true salvation and to let every member of the Church be one/united, to guide every member who experience problems as he/she face's the world, to make sure that every Church member will attain the promise Salvation as according to their teachings until the day of Judgment.
The INC has had three Executive Ministers:
Membership in the INC is conferred through baptism. People who wish to be baptized in the INC must first submit to a formal process taking at least six months. Once someone officially registers with their local congregation, the person is given the status of Doctrinal Instructee, as they are called within the Iglesia ni Cristo, and taught the twenty-five lessons concerning fundamental beliefs of the INC. In the United States, there are an additional three lessons taught for a total of twenty-eight, which mainly contain information about the Church and its beginnings in the Philippines. These lessons are contained in the doctrine manual written by Eraño G. Manalo entitled Fundamental Beliefs of the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ). This book is given to ministers, evangelical workers, and ministerial students of the INC. Each lesson is usually thirty minutes to one hour in length. After hearing all of the lessons, the students enter their probationary period during which they are obliged to attend fifteen once a week group prayer meetings, wherein they are taught to pray and are guided in their adjustment to the INC lifestyle.
When the sixth month comes, the students who have been active in attending the twice a week worship services and whose lifestyles are in accordance with INC doctrines are screened before being baptized. During the screening they are asked questions about the doctrines taught to them. Those who pass the screening are scheduled to be baptized. Since understanding is necessary before being baptized in the INC, the minimum age for baptism is set at around twelve and at least the 6th grade. Newborn children of members are instead "offered" or dedicated to Christian service during the worship service. The child offering in the INC is done through a prayer led by an ordained minister of the INC.
Members who are not living in accordance with the doctrines taught in the INC are admonished. Those who continue in violation of INC doctrines after being admonished are expelled from the INC.Certain violations, such as eating blood or marrying non-members may result in mandatory expulsion.
INC members are instructed by their administration to invite people to Bible Studies and evangelical missions (known as Pamamahayag in Filipino), and to distribute magazines and pamphlets which are given to them by the administration.
In the Philippines, radio and television programs are produced, and they are broadcast on 1062 kHz DZEC-AM radio, DZEM 954 kHz, the Net 25 television station operated by Eagle Broadcasting Corporation, the broadcast division of the Iglesia ni Cristo and GEM TV, the sister station to NET 25, also owned by the INC and Iglesia ni Cristo TV broadcast on cable.
In North America, a television program called The Message is produced in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is currently aired in the United States and Canada and some parts of Europe. Each 30-minute program is hosted by one of a panel of INC ministers, who share the main beliefs of the Iglesia ni Cristo with a television audience. The INC use to maintain an hour long time slot on The Filipino Channel and airs two among many of its programs including the INC Chronicles and Ang Tamang Daan. It has since stopped and instead GEM-TV began broadcasting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on DirecTV channel 2068. Livestreaming of INC Programming is now available at www.gemnet.tv 
The official INC magazine available to INC congregations worldwide is entitled God's Message or Pasugo. For many years the INC published the bilingual Pasugo for the Philippines and a separate all-English God's Message International Edition for usage abroad. In January 2004, the administration of the INC began to publish only one magazine both in the Philippines and abroad bearing the name God's Message. While predominantly English, the latest version contains a Filipino section. The magazine consists of letters to the editor, news from locales worldwide, religious poetry, articles relating to INC beliefs, a telephone directory of locales outside the Philippines and, until recently, featured a schedule of worship services.
From the beginning, the INC has continuously extended help not only to the well-being of local townspeople but also to protect the environment through it various humanitarian services.
The INC has outreach programs, such as its "Lingap sa Mamamayan (Filipino: Care for the People)", offering free medical and dental services, community cleanups and tree planting projects. In California, Daly City twice declared a week in July as "Iglesia ni Cristo Week" in recognition of the efforts of the INC members in community service events such as community beautification projects, blood drives, and food distribution sessions.
Coinciding with the 67th anniversary of the local congregation in the Barangay of Dau, Mabalacat, Pampanga, the INC launched a program called "Vigorous Environmental Concern for Mankind" which included programs to support the "clean and green" programs of the local government. The INC conducted Linis Bayan (Filipino: Clean Town) and Lingap sa Mamamayan within the local area.
The Iglesia Ni Cristo also has an Online site www.gemnet.tv this website is for all Iglesia Ni Cristo members to have an update of the Past and present activities of the Church. The website is also used by members to listen and watch CMV or Christian Music Videos, the CMV's are composed of Original musics and hymns of Iglesia Ni Cristo Composed by the INC members themselves.
This website also has the regular/daily tv programs and bible studies, which is also shown in this website. The www.gemnet.tv has pictures of past activities of the Church, Blogs, and every member can share the happenings of their designated locales, and inspirational messages and compositions which is also sometimes published in the magazine of the Iglesia Ni Cristo which is the PASUGO or God's Message. There is also an Online Live feed of the channel GEM(global Expansion media) on this website. This website was made in order for every member of the Iglesia Ni Cristo be one all around the world and have ideas or news to their designated locales.
The Iglesia ni Cristo's architecture is notable for the narrow-pointed spires of its chapels. Some observers describe the style as Gothic, while others see the style as reminiscent of Mormon temples. The Chapels of Iglesia Ni Cristo has won noble prizes in honoring the beautiful designs of the architecture of Iglesia Ni Cristo, Not only in the Philippines, but also in others countries such as in Forest Hills,USA. The early chapels of Iglesia Ni Cristo was only made out of bamboo's(also known as kawayan in Filipino). Until they had Build the First concrete Chapel. As the members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo rapidly increases, more chapels are being built for each Locale in each district.
Ever since former Philippine president Manuel L. Quezon created a lasting friendship after asking Felix Manalo for advice, the INC has been known for its strong political influence. While it strongly maintains a close "friendship" with incumbent administrations, the INC also sees to it that they do not lose "discreet connection" with the opposition. The INC reportedly supported Ferdinand E. Marcos until he was ousted in 1986.
Newspaper reports say that the Philippine Congress decision to uphold the decision on September 2005 rejecting the Arroyo impeachment complaint was swayed largely by INC influence. Behn Fer. Hortaleza Jr. says otherwise and wrote an op-ed piece for The Sun·Star Pangasinan stating that Representative Joey Salceda "had wanted to pit the INC against the Catholic church by so timing the congressman's 'news' with another expose on the bishops' receiving Pagcor "sin money" for their projects." Others argue that the INC vote is only significant in close-run elections, noting that INC-supported candidates, Senator Sergio Osmeña Jr. lost in 1969 to Marcos and businessman Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. lost to Fidel Ramos in 1992, largely due to irregularities in counting the election returns in favor of Fidel Ramos, most numbers were changed with snopake.
In 2004, Fernando Poe suspended campaign stops in the provinces to attend a meeting called by Manalo. For their part, the INC leadership said members do not vote to ensure the victory of the candidate they vote for. Manalo said "BLOC VOTING is a manifestation of religious unity that is essential to spiritual salvation".
Not all candidates in Philippine politics embraced support from INC. Macapagal-Arroyo's father, Diosdado Macapagal has refused INC's support during his runs for Vice President in 1957, and re-election for President in 1965 – in which he lost to Ferdinand Marcos.
The support of the INC was reportedly sought out for passage of House Bill 5043 (the "Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2008"). In 2008, the INC and the Catholic Church were again pitted against each other when health advocate RH Advocacy Network (RHAN) sought the support of the INC to counter the firm opposition of the Catholic Church and President Arroyo to the bill. Representative Janette Garin of the first district of Iloilo said the INC's stand could determine if the bill gets passed in the House of Representatives. She said the opinion of the Iglesia ni Cristo is “important” in determining the fate of House Bill 5043.
The INC played a major part in the May 1st 2001 demonstration (more popularly known as EDSA III). Although the INC normally disallow members to join rallies, they were unusually encouraged to attend this one particular event.. Most of those in the crowd were INC members
On July 27, 2008 on the occasion of its 94th Anniversary lawmakers, governors, mayors, councilors and other government officials cited the meaningful role of the Iglesia ni Cristo in Filipino society. Rep. Annie Susano of Quezon City's second district where the INC's executive offices are located, along other government officials said that the INC continues to contribute not only to the spiritual development of the Filipino but also in shaping the country's destiny. Susano said INC also plays a crucial role in improving the socio-economic condition of its followers and other Filipinos, at home and abroad.
A year before, on the same date, President Arroyo declared July 27 of every year as "Iglesia Ni Cristo Day" to enable millions of INC followers in the Philippines and in 75 countries around the world to observe the occasion with fitting solemnity. President Arroyo’s proclamation was based on a resolution of the House of Representatives authored by Rep. Annie Rosa L. Susano.
On July 8, 2009, almost two years after the declaration of the "Iglesia Ni Cristo Day", President Arroyo, in keeping with the Republic Act 9645, declared that July 27 of every year as "Iglesia Ni Cristo Day" making it an official national working holiday.
The Iglesia ni Cristo has come under fierce criticism from apologetics groups and other religions mainly due to disagreements over their doctrines and beliefs regarding the interpretation of the Bible. They have also been criticized by a media agency for their political influence.
It should be noted that most religious organizations in the Philippines participate in politics in varying degrees. In fact, "most public events, even those sponsored by the government", are preceded by a Catholic mass. The INC votes as a bloc  whereas the Catholic Church had and still use public protests to oust political figures out of office . The INC's participation may also be a reaction to the Catholic Church's exerting its influence on government  which always had a central role in the Philippine political arena.
Karl Keating, the founder of Catholic Answers accused Jose Ventilacion, an INC minister, of breaking an agreement in 1990 for a one-on-one debate made by the two organizations in National City, California. Instead of a one-on-one debate, Keating says that Ventilacion had three helpers assisting him, and that "they" allegedly were shouting at him during the debate. The head projector at the side of Mr. Ventilacion was not also in the agreement. Keating views the church as being built on a set of "anti" doctrines, and that their lessons, as well as their God's Message magazine are dedicated more to debunking Catholic and Protestant beliefs and doctrines, although he did reveal the extent of his studies concerning the church save for his own account of the debate he had with Ventilacion. Catholicism and Protestantism remain among the predominant religions in the Philippines especially in Luzon and Visayas islands. Keating also states that the INC began as a Protestant sect, comparing its doctrines with those of the American Campbellites saying it "heavily borrowed" from the latter. Some writers describe the INC as a genuinely Filipino variety of the Christian faith. (See Foreword, Studies in Philippine church history) Keating criticized the Iglesia ni Cristo for believing that the Whore of Babylon is the Roman Catholic Church and that the Beast of Revelation is the Pope, a belief shared with other Christian religious organizations, and an assertion which the Catholic Church denies. Keating detests the INC for its position based on the point that the pope's alleged title, Vicarius Filii Dei, Latin for Vicar of the Son of God, adds up to 666 which is one of several alternative numbers known as the "Number of the Beast": and the Iglesia ni Cristo also said that it is engraved on the Pope's tiara, and a claim formerly shared by some in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Catholic Church also declared that Vicarius Filii Dei has never been an "official title" of the pope. Vicar of Christ (Lat. Vicarius Christi), is a papal title. 
Catholic Answers also rejects the INC's doctrines of apostasy within the Catholic Church and does not consider the verses used to support the doctrine of the Iglesia ni Cristo being prophesied nor the apostasy of the Catholic Church are used in the right context.
Let Us Reason Ministries, an online apologetics research group, criticized the INC for holding the belief that it has the sole authority from God to interpret and preach the Bible, while other religions do not. They also say that the INC intentionally misinterprets and misappropriates verses to agree with their doctrines and that they use fallacious arguments against other religions, stating: "Unfortunately they ignore the whole history of the Church in the zealous rebuttals against Catholicism. Nothing is out of reach of their researchers to demean and belittle. Some of the greatest scholars in languages and history are ignored or misrepresented as they present what they believe is correct. I suspect that many know better in what they teach." They also reject the INC's doctrine that one can only be saved if they are a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo.
According to The Bereans Apologetics Research Ministry, some of the beliefs of INC are contrary to mainstream Christianity.. However, the Iglesia ni Cristo states that, through biblical prophesies, it was elected to be "the nation of God," as the Israelites were, and that God chose them to serve him.
One incident between the two groups transpired on April 18, 2005 when they clashed inside a Jollibee outlet in Apalit town during an apparent unauthorized religious debate. Local police on orders of the town mayor went to the restaurant and tried to stop the holding of the debate for lack of a mayor's permit. Apalit Mayor Tirso Lacanilao had instructed the town's chief of police to transfer the venue of the debate either at the ADD convention center or at the INC chapel in an effort to prevent any trouble. ADD leaders, however, insisted on pushing through with the debate telling the police that "hindi naman magkakagulo (there will be no trouble)". Shortly after that, shouting and cursing from an ADD follower identified, as "Mataro" led to a free-for-all.
On April 27, 2008, Mataro, who was the host of UNTV program, was shot dead by two unknown assailants in San Simon, Pampanga. MCGI members have accused the INC of being behind the murder as Mataro's TV program, "D'Xman" (short for "The Ex-Manalista"), was critical of the Iglesia ni Cristo doctrines. Murder charges were filed against the principal suspects in the killing. Nickson Icao and Felizardo "Ka Zaldy" Lumagham, both of Macabebe, Pampanga and who claim to be members of INC, were charged before the San Fernando prosecutors office.
The main accusation of restraint of press freedom arises from the church's seeking to stop the publication of writer Ross Tipon's book, The Power and the Glory: The Cult of Manalo. The INC says the book contains "outright blasphemy" towards the late founder Felix Manalo by likening the INC to a criminal syndicate. However, Tipon, represented by lawyer Fervyn Pinzon, said stopping the publication of the book infringes on his freedom expression rights. An attorney representing the INC, Abraham Espejo states "direct assault on freedom of religion and seeks to destroy the image of the INC" and "The publication of the criminal manuscript will trigger social unrest, Millions of people may come out in the streets and this may lead to violence." The Iglesia ni Cristo alleges that the book has defamed its organization and Felix Manalo. The INC seeks PHP1,000,000 in damages from Tipon and the unknown publisher.
The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), a media agency, describes the INC as a shrewd political and business operator that parlays the votes of its members for political and financial concessions to the church. In 2004, President Arroyo dismissed rumors that she paid off the INC to support her candidacy. In an open letter to the INC which was read in all INC chapels across the country, Mrs. Arroyo said "I would never taint their (INC) sincerity by offering money for it".