Published 21 September 2012
politics and government , religion
Three press statements were issued on Thursday, 20 September 2012, and I am archiving them here for the record. [Addendum: I am also archiving two more statements that came out on later Friday 21 Sept or Saturday 22 September 2012] . However, I will begin with a short commentary on the statement issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs. This ministry includes within it the Internal Security Department. Teo Chee Hean (mentioned in Lunch menu a 4-point letter) is the minister with oversight of this ministry.
The first thing you would notice is that the second paragraph of this statement is consistent with my account of events that mentioned a lunch meeting with the Archbishop. In fact, with so many statements flying around, it is indeed notable that none deny the sequence of events that I have published. Continue reading ‘Three statements from the government, Function 8 and Maruah on the archbishop affair’
Sometimes, people respond to a hole by digging a deeper one. Archbishop Nicholas Chia of the Catholic Church issued a press statement at around 10:30 pm last night in response to my post Lunch menu a 4-point letter. I only heard about it from reporters, and at the time of writing this, have not seen a copy of the press statement he issued.
According to the Straits Times:
The head of the Catholic Church in Singapore has confirmed that he wrote to an activist group backing its call to abolish the Internal Security Act (ISA) – but withdrew the letter later fearing it could affect the country’s social harmony. Continue reading ‘What the archbishop did not intend’
Published 18 September 2012
politics and government , religion
The head of the church was told to present himself. Although couched as an invitation to lunch, it wasn’t hard to see it for what it was — a summons to appear before Caesar for a dressing down.
Could he bring another priest along? he asked.
No. Come alone. Continue reading ‘Lunch menu a 4-point letter’
It was a small survey about attitudes to adoption and having children by persons who are single or not conventionally married (as per current Singapore law), but I think it will take me five articles to present the results.
That said, it’s not as if it is such a significant survey. It’s certainly not representative of Singaporeans as a whole since it was conducted on this blog alone, and only open to responses for three or four days. As I mentioned previously, the readership of this blog has certain demographic characteristics — being generally more liberal is one of them. And so, the results are only suggestive of what this segment may be thinking. Continue reading ‘Attitudes to creating non-standard families, part 1′
What is the place of religion in society? Two recent news stories from the US pointed to this question. Both by themselves had little significance for Singapore, but nonetheless gave food for thought.
The first, Republican horrified to discover that Christianity is not the only religion, was about Valarie Hodges, a state legislator in Louisiana, changing her position with respect to a proposed law that would enable school fee vouchers, provided by the state government, to be tendered at mission schools. At first, she fully supported the law, assuming that religiously-run schools only comprised Christian schools. Then, she was aghast to learn that in line with the secular underpinnings of the US, other religiously-run schools would be equally eligible under the program, in particular, a Muslim school that had applied for inclusion.
“We need to insure that it does not open the door to fund radical Islam schools. There are a thousand Muslim schools that have sprung up recently. I do not support using public funds for teaching Islam anywhere here in Louisiana,” the article quoted her as saying. Continue reading ‘What limits to ‘religious liberty’?’
It would seem to me almost inevitable that if you were a preacher who went on and on about how, if you believe, believe, believe, you would be blessed with material riches, then you yourself had better live a life of luxury. If you didn’t, wouldn’t you run the risk that a member of your church might point to your lack of wealth and question your own piety? That might be a tad embarrassing.
Embarking on the prosperity gospel is to take the road to excess.
Continue reading ‘Crossing over from gospel to vanity’
Below is the speech delivered for the event on 23 June 2012 when yours truly was honoured by the Humanist Society (Singapore) with the Humanist of the Year award. I was asked for something touching on “gay-rights issues/humanism/religiosity”.
Thank you very much for the honour. I think it’s very generous of the Society, though I would understand if it had been a difficult decision since I am a gay man. Some of you may wonder why it is such a big deal that I would open with a sentence about my sexual orientation. It is a big deal because the world in which I am living now makes it so.
But it shouldn’t be so, and it wouldn’t be so if we applied reason upon empirical knowledge, which is the very essence of humanism. To be gay is now known to be a completely natural phenomenon, inherently harmless. Continue reading ‘Speech for Humanist of the Year 2012′
Brian Brown, the president of the National Organisation for Marriage, based in Washington DC, lived up to his billing. I had been forewarned: If Helen Alvare’s arguments were difficult to follow, the NOM’s would be even more so.
In fact, they were so difficult to follow, the one-hour session was almost enjoyable. There were huge opportunities to read between the lines. Continue reading ‘Opponent of same-sex marriage casts debate as between ‘elites’ and ‘people’’
Listen to this audio (only 1 minute 41 secs). A pastor tells this flock that when they see a limp wrist in their sons, they should “crack that wrist”.
“Give him a good punch,” he adds.
Called “a horrific anti-gay tirade”, it was featured on the Huffington Post, 1 May 2012. The recording was originally publicised (provided?) by Jeremy Hooper of the blog Good as You. The voice in it is said to be that of Sean Harris (pic at right), a pastor at Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, in North Carolina.
Harris is heard endorsing the use of physical force on boys if they show any sign of effeminate behaviour.
Continue reading ‘Pastor heard telling dads to strike sons’
Published 2 May 2012
homosexuality , religion
I have long argued in private that Singapore megachurch Christianity resembles folk Taoism as much as it does conventional Christianity. Adherents of megachurches, many of whom would have renounced Taoism to convert to Christianity, may rise in uproar. But I am undeterred in my observation.
There are many ways to look at the human phenomenon known as religion. Classifying people or groups of people by nominal self-declaration is one. Classifying them according to their doctrinal similarities is another, though it is one that some religious adherents tend to insist as the sole valid way. In part, this springs from the demand that religion is a phenomenon unto itself, and it can only be assayed on its own terms.
Continue reading ‘Megachurches and the cultural applications of religion’