Swarms of barefooted Catholics took to the streets of Manila in the Philippines yesterday to celebrate the feast of the Black Nazarene, but militant Christians have warned devotees of the Black Jesus that they will be punished by God for worshipping a false idol.
The Express reports that the millions of faithful followers, who gathered in downtown Manila to march behind a dark wood sculpture of Jesus brought to the Philippines in 1606 from Spain and considered miraculous by Filipino devotees, could be invoking the wrath of God.
Why? You may well ask. Well, certain fundamentalists who hang about on conspiracy websites believe the Black Nazarene is not a representation of the Messiah but a pagan version of the deity Zeus.
That's right - Zeus. The Greek God of thunder and lightning who ruled supreme on Mount Olympus.
By worshipping the statue and attempting to touch it because of its alleged healing properties, Catholics are turning their back on the one true God, according to conspiracy website Cogwriter.
It states on the website, "The truth is that Jesus did not have long hair, look like the 'Black Nazarene' image, nor did He ever carry a cross looking like that.
"The idea that touching idols is good is certainly not from the Bible. Whatever healing powers are claimed for the 'Black Nazarene,' they do not come from the God of the Bible.There are 100 million people in the Philippines and 80 percent of them are Roman Catholic. The celebration of the Black Nazarene is over two centuries old and has become a popular tradition in the former Spanish colony.
"It is a version of the pagan deity Zeus that many people are bowing down before or otherwise venerating."
Devotees walk behind a carriage carrying a life-sized Black Nazarene as it is paraded throughout the city.
Yet behind this joyous spectacle, there lies a grand deception, according to Cogwriter. The website stresses that the Bible mentions the danger of worshipping false prophets, including wooden ones, and believes the people of the Philippines would do well to remember what Apostle John and others in the New Testament wrote about idolators.
In Revelation 9:20, supposedly written by the Apostle John, it said, "But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk."
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo was asked on DZMM radio station what he thought about criticism that the procession borders on idolatry. After taking a moment to think, he responded with, "Let's deepen our understanding of spirituality."