Thousands of lives were lost and many people went missing because of “Yolanda” last month. But the tragedy was aggravated by the callous pettiness of some Netizens who chose to quarrel over supposed incidents that they did not bother to check or confirm in the first place.

This was the case when a rumor arose that the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) in Iloilo City reportedly refused to shelter typhoon victims who were not their “kapatid kay Cristo.” As expected, it drew outrage from the Internet community and became viral.

A certain Mai Militante blogged about the issue, drawing comparison between the INC officials and the Bethlehem innkeepers who refused to shelter Mary and Joseph during the birth of Jesus Christ.

Some defended the sect, tweeting that the INC calls its building “Sambahan” and is holy and sacred so non-believers are not allowed to enter.

Fuelling the anger of many is a a certain Regghie Orpiada, who said, “Tama lang talaga ang ginawa ng mga kapatid ko sa Iglesia Ni Cristo na hindi papasukin ang mga katolikong patay gutom.”

Although there is no actual proof to support the rumor, many Netizens ,as they proudly call themselves, were quick to ride on the controversy and hurl derogatory statements against INC.

It is appalling that many of them did not bother to check the veracity of the rumors. At the slightest provocation, they quickly turned to their keyboards and brandished deregatory words against INC behind the protective veil of their computer screens. How brave!

And yet there are some who advocate “citizen journalism” to utilize the rise of social media, which in my opinion, would just cheapen the profession. Who would want a journalist legion of rumor mongerers.

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The end of the rainbow

So at the height of Yolanda and its aftermath, Netizens chose to foment discord rather than help the victims.

This is not the time to judge the victims of their faith and belief. One should not say that those who died were not saved because they do not know Christ. Who can say for sure that none of the victims has accepted Jesus as their personal Savior? This is the time to offer help and surround them with comfort. This is not the time to scare them more.

No one even has the right to tell the victims right in front of their faces that they deserve to be hit by the storm, be left by relatives and be devastated in life.

Instead of fighting on social media, why don’t we tweet or post encouraging words that may uplift hope of every crying heart? Natural calamity comes not for those who have a certain belief or religion, it just comes, as the name implies, naturally. Everyone can be a victim despite his religion.

Natural disasters come not because God wants to punish or curse a certain group of people, but to test the strength of their faith. No matter what your religion is, this time is the best season to pray and nurture faith.

And certainly, mudslinging and debate based on groundless rumors are what we need right now.

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