On the night of the new moon recently, Johnny Midnight, an occultist who has risen to religious prominence only this year, gathered some 30,000 of his followers and radio listeners into the prestigious air-conditioned Araneta coliseum in Quezon City, Philippines.

The people came by private and public transportation from all over greater Manila and its outlying towns and barrios. Following the instructions that Midnight had issued repeatedly over the radio for weeks, they brought bottled mineral water. Many waited from as early as 8 o’clock in the morning for the coliseum gates to open, and when the program finally began at 7:00 P.M., they packed the auditorium to witness a show that had all the trimmings of modern entertainment. The stage, designed by a noted Manila stage personality, had as its centerpiece a giant pyramid made of bars wrapped in aluminum foil. Six girls clad in white, ancient-looking Greek gowns, and jingling golden bells, escorted Midnight to the stage. Men in colorful robes heralded his dramatic entry with French horns.

A man who is usually seen in a plain bush jacket, Midnight wore a white-and-gold flowing satin robe for the event. The big dome roared with thunderous cheers and applause from the crowd. Many were seeing Midnight for the first time, although they had read about him and heard him over radio station DZBB. His five-hour program runs from midnight to 5:00 A.M.

Midnight amused the crowd with has witty remarks and humor, and even did a bad “lip sync” of a local pop song. Then he began to speak in a strange tongue that sounded like Arabic. As he did so, a smoke machine under the stage emited white smoke. Shifting colored lights add to the eerie atmosphere. As the chanting and the tongues speaking ...

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