Three members of a Philippines church, who exploited religious workers on R-1 visas and preyed on the charity of generous Americans, were indicted last month on charges of human trafficking, forced labor and marriage fraud.
Guia Cabactulan, Marissa Duenas and Amanda Estopare – Philippine nationals serving as representatives for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name (KOJC) – are charged with obtaining visas for church members to enter the U.S. on false pretenses.
Purportedly here to perform at musical events, the members instead were forced to surrender their passports to the administrators upon arrival and put to work soliciting donations for a church subsidiary, the Children’s Joy Foundation USA.
Though donors were assured that contributions would benefit impoverished children in the Philippines, the indictment alleges that the proceeds funded KOJC operations and lavish lifestyles of church leaders.
Workers who met assigned quotas were kept in the U.S. through student visas and arranged marriages to KOJC workers who were U.S. citizens. Some 82 sham weddings were cited in the federal indictment.
Delving deeper into the cultish charade, David North of the Center for Immigration Studies provides more colorful details:
- NOJC’s founder and leader is Apollo Quiboloy, a hometown crony of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. The church guru lent his helicopter and jet to Duterte during the 2016 election campaign.
- Church members called “pastorals,” as well as other victim-escapees interviewed by the FBI, were forced to perform “night duty,” i.e., have sex with the KOJC leader.
- Money raised by stateside workers and shipped to the Philippines was denominated in crisp $100 bills hidden in socks. Armani suits and other luxury goods purchased here were sent to Quiboloy.
“Within this unattractive context, the church violated our immigration laws more than 100 times to fund his extravagant lifestyle,” North notes.
So far, the arm of U.S. law has not extended to Quiboloy who remains comfortably ensconced in the Philippines. However, it is refreshing to see an institution that exploited both America’s generosity toward immigrants and its respect for freedom of religion held to account for its sinfully illegal behavior.