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’
Published 18 February 2012
Guest essay by Lim Jialiang
The growing religious extremism in the world today is not something that will come as a surprise to you. Regardless, we have the tendency to think that such extremism can only come from Islam, which is extremely wrong. Extremism and terrorism are two separate issues, and one might lead to another. This is a case of extremism. The recent incident that involves the Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) has indeed come as a shock for many of us, who have been born and raised in a multi-religious society. Currently, the Cru in Singapore has taken down all online material, in response to the large social media outcry. Continue reading ‘Crusades are conflicts by another name’
He had waited patiently to be served. Foreign workers from India have largely resigned themselves to be almost invisible to Singaporeans, unless when Singaporeans wish to make an issue of their (unwanted) visibility.
But today, he was alone, and not a threat to our beloved racial model. And so he was ignored even though he had actually come to the coffee counter before three other customers — construction supervisors who perhaps came from the same worksite as the Indian guy. The difference was that the supervisors were Chinese, with at least one of them from China, judging by his accent.
The three women behind the counter — Chinese Singaporean, middle-aged — engaged the men in banter as they prepared their orders. There was an easy familiarity, possibly because the men had become regular customers from working nearby.
Continue reading ‘Starting the new year with race and religion’
Published 10 September 2011
This weekend is the tenth anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York and two other attacks in the area. That event changed the course of history greatly, and its consequences continue to impact our lives, from heightened security for air travel, to the absence of trash bins in certain areas, to a shrill demonisation of Islam. While pragmatic measures might have been justifiable, the last was not. Moreover, it is seldom noticed that some who profess to be Christian go overboard as well.
Even lower under the media radar is that Hindu extremism also manifests in violence (typically against Muslims, occasionally against Christians), and it was stridently political Buddhism in Sri Lanka that was one of the factors precipitating the long civil war there.
To mark this dismal anniversary, I am sharing here a documentary Religulous by Bill Maher. It comes in five parts, each of about 20 minutes (with thanks to David Chein and Shawn Danker).
Continue reading ‘Bill Maher’s Religulous’
I did not say that — thundered Lee Kuan Yew this morning. After having caused much unhappiness among Muslim Malays through his book Hard Truths, he must be acutely aware that a Wikileaked cable from the United States embassy in Singapore risks another firestorm.
The Singapore government has previously taken the position that US diplomatic cables pouring out through Wikileaks are unauthorised releases and refused to comment on them. In this round of releases (end August 2011, unredacted versions) however, Lee Kuan Yew has had to put out a press statement, with the commandment that editors should publish it. That said, Lee Kuan Yew is no longer part of the government, so maybe it doesn’t count as any change to government policy.
But let’s take the story in chronological order.
Continue reading ‘Lee Kuan Yew denies ‘venomous’ remark’
While I was working on the previous article Religiosity and income inequality, it occurred to me that it might be worthwhile taking a look at the Census 2010 data. I didn’t expect it to have any information about religiosity — the topic of the earlier post — but at least it would have numbers about religious affiliation.
Indeed it had. The religious landscape did not change dramatically from 2000, the year of the previous census.
Continue reading ‘Singapore’s religious landscape from Census 2010′
To mark the first day in New York state when same-sex marriages could be registered, the New York Times ran a portrait page, featuring twenty couples. See this link (if it still works). The picture I particularly liked was this:
Why? Because they were completely counter to the stereotypical image of a gay male couple. Michael Roberts (left) and Michael Johnson (right) have been together for thirty years, far longer than many heterosexual marriages. Why did they have to wait so long before they could get married?
Continue reading ‘Hot in New York’