I studied all the televangelists in town but this Brother Eli Soriano of Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path) is one huge anomaly. He’s the only preacher who is not afraid of displeasing the crowd. He is the only one who is not worried about appearing the fool, uneducated and unwashed. He’s got a message to tell the world and everything, including himself, cannot get in his way.
Like prophet Elija of old, Bro. Eli appealed to me as one who can and will go it alone even should his flock desert him and veer away from the narrow path of Christ. Well I could be wrong of course so I set out to know more about this guy and possibly join his group, if need be, just so I can understand the guy firsthand, minus the negative publicity by his detractors and minus the positive testimonies of his adherents. It all sounded like a perfect plan but first I must confront one small personal problem.
You see, like the Batman, I’m not much of a joiner. I could stand before a crowd and deliver a speech with just a little prodding and an initial minor discomfort but no one could ever compel me to join a crowd of religionists and mingle. Like most everyone else I know, I was allergic mingling anyone who claim to be religious and do their damnedest best to coax you into joining them. Besides, I had always maintained a healthy distance against anything resembling a groupthink. One thing more, I had a reputation of being a loner to worry about, you know. In the name of science, however, I acted against my nature. And yeah, to my delight, I did found the juicy truth about this guy and his religion!
Unfortunately, (and this is where you say ahhhhhhhh!! what a letdown!) what I’ve seen and heard inside Ang Dating Daan is hard to explain to non-members, especially in a such a way as to fully grasp the group’s essential beliefs and practices. I tried to do this several times with close friends and in frustration I ended up saying, “you really must hear it for yourself to fully appreaciate.”
Following my personal investigation, however, I can say this much is true; Ang Dating Daan is not a religious cult (in the way that voodoo is a cult), nor is it a business scheme nor a front for any illegal stuff as Bro. Eli’s legion of enemies would have the public believe.
Simply put, the church of Ang Dating Daan is a misunderstood minority, which so happens to quell people’s thirst for biblical answers to life’s questions. Hundreds of thousands of people have found in Bro. Eli’s group their spiritual family. Including old-fashioned loners like me.
Nobody forced me to join. They welcome you when you show up for the indoctrination. They encourage you to listen attentively and then leave you alone. Nobody even tried to convince me. Indeed, they even dissuaded me a little, saying its okay not to join unless I am really convinced. Up until the very last moment before baptism, the baptizer would tell you its not too late to back out, then he asked if I wanted to proceed. I said yes. And its the best decision I have ever made in my entire life.
This all happened three years and three months ago. I wouldn't censure those who would now tell me I’m saying this only because I am now biased in favor of my religious affiliation. To them, however, I would quickly reply like my journalism professor in college, "but I have always been biased in favor of truth, beybeh."
To all doubters, disbelievers and believers out there, let me ask you… DO YOU JUST EMBRACE OTHER PEOPLE’S OPINIONS WITHOUT QUESTION? OR DO YOU THINK MATTERS THROUGH AND DECIDE FOR YOURSELF?