Influential Philippine religious leader dies: sect
Tue, Sep 01, 2009

MANILA, Philippines - Erano Manalo, the politically influential leader of a major Philippine Catholic sect, has died aged 84, the group said Tuesday.

Manalo, the executive minister of the two-million-strong Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ), died of a heart attack on Monday, sect spokesman Bienvenido Santiago said in a radio announcement.

The Iglesia ni Cristo, founded by Erano's father in 1914, instructs its members to vote as a bloc and thus is eagerly courted by politicians seeking endorsement during presidential and other elections.

It also owns a television network as well as other businesses, and the Manalos are regarded as among the most powerful families in modern Philippine history.

Iglesia and other indigenous Christian churches often clash with the teachings of the Roman Catholic church, the main religion in the Philippines that counts over 80 percent of the 92-million population as members.

Sect members believe that Felix Manalo, Erano's father, was the last messenger of God, and that the Holy Trinity does not exist.





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