- Thanks to centuries of Spanish rule, Roman Catholicism is the faith of 80 percent of the Philippine people. After the United States assumed control around 1900, missionaries could enter the country to begin wooing Catholics to Protestant churches.Before that could happen, a revolt broke out demanding independence. Rebel leader Emilio Aguinaldo (1869-1964) appointed Gregorio Agli-pay (1860-1940) as leader of the church (i.e., the Roman Catholic community) in areas under their control. Roman Catholic authorities excommunicated Aglipay, but he became a national hero. He organized his followers as the Philippine Independent Church. In 1906, the courts forced him to give up all Roman Catholic property, and he had to rebuild from scratch.The first American Protestant missionary was Presbyterian James B. Rogers, who arrived in April 1899. Methodists soon followed; they enjoyed great success, until faced with two schisms, the first by supporters of Philippine independence. Within a few years, missionaries from the Church of the united Brethren, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and the Congregationalists (through the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions) also arrived.The Episcopal Church sent missionaries in 1902, who targeted some of the many minority groups that other churches had ignored, such as the Chinese community in Manila.Meanwhile, Aglipay had been able to rebuild the church, though he lost much support from those loyal to their local parishes. He had also given up belief in the Trinity Thus he developed a relationship with the American Unitarian Association (now the Unitarian Universalist Association) and continued that relationship until his death in 1940. His successors reasserted their orthodox Trintarian faith and reached out to the Episcopal Church, the group closest to them in faith and practice. Negotiations brought the Philippine group into alignment with the Anglican tradition by 1948, when Episcopal bishops consecrated the new leadership of the Philippine Independent Church.Since World War II, the Philippines has experienced a radical religious pluralism, from extremist Islam to spiritualism. The whole spectrum of Protestant and Free Church movements from the West is represented. A controversial group, the Iglesia ni Cristo (one of several with that name) now claims more than a million and a half members and has developed an expansive outreach overseas. it was founded by Felix Manalo (1886-1963), who in 1904 left the Catholic Church to become a Methodist. He began a period of religious seeking in several churches, including the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He left the Adventists in 1913 and started the Church of Christ. Over the years, Manalo developed some dissenting ideas, including a rejection of the Trinity. He won a following among Catholics. His church now claims that Manalo was the fifth angel spoken of in Revelation 7:2.The Japanese occupying authorities had forced Protestant bodies into one church during World War II. In 1948, those who wished to continue as one church, including Presbyterians and Congre-gationalists (who had merged to form the United Evangelical Church before the war) and the United Brethren and Disciples of Christ (previously united in the Evangelical Church), formed the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. It had almost a million members at the start of the 21st century.Pentecostalism began organizing in the 1920s following the arrival of an Assemblies of God missionary, Benjamin H. Caudle. He was followed by a wave of Filipinos who had become Pentecostals in the United states and came home to spread the movement. The Assemblies grew steadily over the years and is the largest of the Pentecostal bodies today. it is closely followed, however, by the United Pentecostal Church,International, the Church of God (Ecclesia Dei), the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, and the Church of God (Cleveland,Tennessee).A variety of non-Pentecostal evangelical groups have found a high level of success, including the Christian and Missionary Alliance, the Local Church, and the Seventh-day Adventists. in 1974, a group of evangelical leaders created the "Dawn 2000" movement, aimed at planting 50,000 evangelical churches in the country by 2000. Evangelical Christianity was the fastest-growing segment of the religious community in the last two decades of the 20th century; the largest Evangelical community is the Jesus is Lord Fellowship, led by a former politician, Eddie Villanueva. By the end of the century, it had more than 250,000 members and was active in more than 25 countries.Among indigenous groups, the largest, apart from the Iglesia ni Cristo, is the Crusaders of the Divine Church of Christ, which has also become an international body. Of the older bodies, the United Methodist Church, the Philippine Episcopal Church, and the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches continue to maintain a substantial following.Philippine Protestants cooperate in three primary ecumenical organizations, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines affiliated with the World Council of Churches, the Philippine Council of Evangelican Churches affiliated with the World Evangelical Alliance, and the Philippine Council of Fundamental Evangelical Churches, representing the most conservative groups.Further reading:■ Gerald H. Anderson, ed., Studies in Philippine Church History (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1969)■ Church Profiles: Basic Information on Member Churches and Associate Members (Quezon City: National Council of Churches in the Philippines, Research and Documentation office, 1989)■ C. Sabato, Philippine Church History (Manila: Salasianam 1990)■ M. Wourms, The J. I. L. [Jesus Is Lord] Love Story: The Church without a Roof (El Cajon, Calif.: Christian Services, 1992).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.