Singapore government takes notice of Christian extremists

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong devoted a good part of his National Day Rally speech to warning off Christian extremists. Miak Siew in a recent paper demonstrates how narrowly based  is the religious group that wants to push the anti-gay agenda into Singapore politics. Full essay.

53 Responses to “Singapore government takes notice of Christian extremists”


  1. 1 xlandjy 26 August 2009 at 05:49

    My friend and I got a shock of my life when we were confronted with the LARGEST CROSS in the world when we went for supper at Newton Hawker Centre.

    A newly completed condo facing Newton Circle built their light exactly like a christian cross and overwhelmed the whole Newton area when it is swtiched on. The light is about 26 storey high vertically. God has taken over the whole of city area.

    My friend told me that earlier, the developer put up a huge banner to thank GOD for helping him to sell all his condo unit…

    Really offensive and frightening….

  2. 2 anon 26 August 2009 at 11:09

    But this of course literally begs us to ask about madrasahs.

    And I still don’t understand why the government policy is (supposedly) all about integration, but has no problems with race-segregated SAP schools

  3. 3 sloo 26 August 2009 at 11:56

    Actually with regards to the other christian leaders that were not present, I recall that the Anglican Church Leader is also presently the head of the National Council of Churches which include some of the mega and militant churches. And COOs is itself under under the auspices of the Anglican Church. Perhaps the govt thought to invite the head of the council as he would represent the other churches.

  4. 4 George 26 August 2009 at 12:03

    So the Methodist Church which is a significant denomination here was among those who snubbed the PM’s invitation?

  5. 5 Liew kai Khiun 26 August 2009 at 15:38

    I guess the state had probably breathed a sign of relief on the night of 2 May where civil society (which they had constantly belittled) had won the EGM and thereby saving the authorities of any potentially politically awkward actions.

    Now that the Lord (with the red shirt and glasses) had spoken at the University Hall, the rest of the flock would fall in place. I have noticed this, even before the NDP rally that the Christian Post, which was stridently and fanatically anti-secular during the AWARE episode, is also feeling the heat. In one of its editorials, featuring a fictious dialogue with Jesus during National Day, Christ was no longer blasting gays, but his own deluded homophobic followers.

    With the national shaming from the highest level, i bet that the so call new aware EXCO of Ms Lau would be feeling played out by the feminist mentor and stigmatised by her immediate relations. Fundamentalist activists would be probably thinking twice now.

  6. 6 Roy Tan 26 August 2009 at 16:33

    I’ll be uploading the video of Miak’s talk to YouTube soon. Cheers.

  7. 9 sloo 27 August 2009 at 12:28

    With regards to the condo with the huge lighted cross, the developer is the indonesian company The Lippo Group which is owned by a christian family. And Thio Su Mien’s husband, Thio Gim Hock, is one of the directors there. I guess this is their way of hnouring their faith for bringing such success to the company.

    check out:

    http://www.tricor.com.hk/webservice/00156/file/announcement/eng/LTN20060811146.pdf

  8. 10 Roy Tan 27 August 2009 at 16:40

    This is Part 2:

    (I’m not done yet!)

  9. 11 KAM 27 August 2009 at 20:21

    In an island of 100 chickens, some of them profess to be born “ducks”. First it was 1 duck and then there were 2 ducks. Chicken laws states that citizens (inhabitants) of the island should only stay on land and not swim in the waters around the island. Ducks on the other hand, have developed a liking to swim in open seas. The 2 ducks begin to swim and some other chickens start to think, hey that’s cool, while others then start to say that’s what they want to do in the first place, be ducks.
    Now 10 chickens openly say they are ducks and they swim, albeit against the laws which were meant to “protect” chickens and prevent all sorts of drowning, etc.

    The chief chicken council of the remaining 90 chickens start to see that other chickens from other islands also have this phenomenon. They are concerned but they like to be “global” and “in times with others”. So the 10 ducks on the island start to say being a duck is their right and that the original laws should be changed that swimming is ok and even natural for the 90 chickens. The 90 chickens who are also really chickens start to worry because the baby chicks now receive an education via internet, schools and other sources, that being a duck is natural and swimming is ok. Some of the chicks will become ducks due to natural tendencies while others may follow blindly, finally learning to swim while others drown.
    So is it right for the chicken council to be wary and careful about endorsing ducks and their way of life? Or should they be mindful yet respectful towards the ducks, while protecting the majority chickens?
    Hard debate continues…..
    so are you a defiant duck or a conservative chicken?
    Both are animals…to each its own. Unless the ducks becomes the majority, and becomes Chief Duck council, otherwise just make living with chickens and accept the general laws, changing them slowly…

    • 12 Martha de Beest 28 August 2009 at 06:37

      “some of them profess to be born “ducks””

      There’s the flaw in your analogy. A few really are ducks, they don’t just “profess to be”. If you walk, swim and quack like a duck, you’re a duck. The percentage is a constant, and chickens cannot be “educated” into being ducks. They wont like the water.

  10. 13 Z 27 August 2009 at 22:22

    “Really offensive and frightening….”

    Err.. why?

    • 14 Martha de Beest 28 August 2009 at 06:33

      It sounds like a grotesque and fanatical intrusion on the public secular space.

      • 15 Z 28 August 2009 at 17:39

        Take a look at art 15(1) of our Constitution before resorting to rhetoric. It’s not even about the propagating of one’s belief here to convert others, just a profession displayed publicly and that’s ‘grotesque and fanatical’, ‘offensive and frightening’? That’s no different from saying that advertising plays/movies with homosexual themes is an intrusion on public morality. What’s the common fallacy? The appeal to fear.

      • 16 KAM 28 August 2009 at 19:02

        Why do people like to pick out parts of an essay and dissect it to mean literal sense?
        Some ducks are really ducks.
        Some ducks are not really ducks but they are unsure.
        Some are definitely not ducks.
        Fact is, most of the 100 animals are not ducks.
        Only a percentage (less than 50%) are ducks.
        If more than 50% are ducks, then maybe legislation will be changed quicker.
        If 10% are ducks, then the onus is on the majority to make or remake laws to help the minority. This is also a valid argument to have “inclusive” laws to not disadvantage the minorities.
        However, til we can have a duck minister, we cannot do much. We can quack all we want, but chickens will never want to swim. Some of them (not all) only laugh at the ducks. I did not say I agree with this status quo.

  11. 17 Terence 30 August 2009 at 00:32

    Hi Pastor Kong Hee of City Harvest Church was spotted as one of the audience members at the rally. Also, he related to the church members about having tea with the vice-president of the IRO. So while it might be true that some pastors do have some aversion towards inter-religious activities, it is also obvious that there are some exceptions.

    • 18 Martha de Beest 30 August 2009 at 19:02

      Re Z – the post about the giant cross:

      Without seeing it it’s difficult to know the facts and whether it’s really offensive,or insensitive at least, both to Christianity and other religions, but if it’s as described, and if the religious design is deliberate, and not just a coincidence, then why would it not need the same planning and public considerations as building a giant church or mosque or temple in a public space?

      I understand your point about expressing religious belief, and some do want to shout it loud from the top of a man-made mountain, regardless of other peoples’ religious sensitivities. But is that appropriate in this context?

      I don’t think you can really compare advertising a play or movie with building a 26 storey high cross in the centre of a public space of a country that has experienced religious riots. That’s a totally disingenuous analogy.

      I also think many Christians themselves will find such a building a grotesque, materialistic and offensive distortion of their beliefs surrounding the suffering of their lord on their cross. I doubt Jesus would have thought, in his dying moments on that instrument of torture, “hey,I hope a wealthy landlord shows his belief and devotion by building a giant condo in the shape of this cross”. I expect he would have probably have told him to build a free hospital or hostel for the homeless instead, or to give away all his wealth if he really wanted to follow him. That would be a much better advertisement for the religion too, rather than what appears to be a show of wealth, power and self-aggrandisement.

      • 19 Z 31 August 2009 at 16:38

        Martha de Beest,

        I see where you’re coming from. Like you, I do not support the display of such extravagance. I am, however, concerned that one’s profession of faith should invite such harsh criticisms from people whose rights are not at all affected one bit. I grant you that the choice of medium seems strange, and appears (though this is debatable) to contradict the faith that it seeks to profess, but I do not think such harsh words – and the effect they seek to realise – are justifiable in a nation where freedom of conscience/profession/propagation is constitutionally guaranteed.

        The reference to religious riots is pretty much in my opinion an over-used, non-sequitur argument. It assumes that the symbolic and perhaps exaggerated display of one’s allegiance to a particular faith will necessarily incite people to hatred. This is untrue. It is true that many religious people who mock/ridicule other faiths (and it is this which will incite hatred) might have a tendency towards overt displays of religious fervour; but it is simply inaccurate to then pin the blame of religious riots on one’s profession of faith. This argument also does not take into account the fact that the religious riots in this country were very much politically motivated.

        Unless the Giant Cross has an accompanying neon sign declaring ‘Worship Christ or burn in Hell’, it simply does NOT offend the religious sensitivies of normal people who do not harbour any vendetta towards the Christian faith. I sincerely disbelieve that there is any iota of truth in the 7th month ghost festival religious stories, but my ‘religious sensitivity’ is not at all affected by the getais and burning of hell-money in the ‘public square’. Noisy and environmentally unfriendly they are, I will never judge them of being inappropriate, let alone ‘grosteque’ or ‘offensive’.

  12. 20 Martha de Beest 1 September 2009 at 06:33

    Z, I think “extravagance” is the wrong word. From a Christian perspective, I believe that would only amount, at minimum, to a massive display of the sin of pride. But I think the points I mentioned have more to do with the temptations in the desert.

    Your stance does raise some very interesting points, namely, is the (hypothetical) building of a (presumably) secular condominium in the form of a 26 storey religious icon (possibly without relevant official planning consideration):

    a) a form of speech falling under freedom of speech protection? Remotely possible I suppose, if burning a flag in the USA can be speech for those purposes, but it might make a nonsense of all the planning and zoning laws in the world if that were the case. I think it is highly unlikely to amount to “speech”, and neither can it be any protected form of “profession of belief” for similar reasons.

    b) a recognised religious practise, and so protected as such? Obviously not.

    c) A propagation of a religion (to what extent is that a right?)? I don’t see how it fits in with propagation. Wouldn’t that involve building a church rather than a condominium? And isn’t such a large display more likely to cause resentment than conversion where the vast majority of the population are of a different religion? Look at the recent demonstration in Malaysia against a minority Hindu group that wanted to build just one temple in an overwhelmingly Muslim area.

    I don’t see why you raise freedom of conscience in this context. Wouldn’t that actually be more to do with, for example, the right of a workman NOT to have to build such an icon because it contradicted his own beliefs?

    As to dangers to public order, and also your point that the rights of others are not affected: I think we have to take on board the context of aggressive actions by some (supposedly) Christian extremists and their perceived agenda to try and take over the country, or at least force everyone to follow their rules (that affects everyone’s rights), which causes some people genuine alarm. The erection of a 26-storey cross in such a location could easily be seen as inflammatory, and in some ways a possible declaration of that intent. Not that it necessarily actually would be that, but that is how some may see it. Some people see them, rightly or wrongly, as a potential Taliban. Extreme religious groups maybe need to take responsibility for the fears their actions have created rather than claiming to be victims themselves.

    As regards your comparison of the giant cross to the traditional ghost festivals, I’m afraid I think you are again being disingenuous. You are not forced to go and watch or take part in such festivals. The equivalent to those would be more like a Christmas pageant. But presumably the point of building a cross so large is so that no one can avoid it. Isn’t that an infringement, an imposition on other peoples’ space?

    • 21 Z 3 September 2009 at 15:08

      Martha de Beest,

      1. Your charge that the condominium was built “without relevant official planning consideration” must be backed up. If this is indeed the case, the developers rightly ought to be faulted. If it is not the case, I don’t think you are entitled to presume it.

      2. If it is your argument that building a condominium in the shape of a religious symbol CANNOT legally be considered a profession of faith, the onus is on you to prove it. The current case does not at all make “nonsense of all the planning and zoning laws in the world” UNLESS the planning and zoning laws in our country actually do stipulate that such conducts are illegal.

      3. If it is not illegal, it would run counter against the spirit of Art 15 of the Constitution if you and I are allowed to decide what amounts to a ‘profession’ of faith of a group of people whose religious beliefs we do not particularly agree with. For freedom of profession to be meaningful, surely it must mean freedom for the believer to choose how he wants to profess his faith. This freedom is circumscribed by art 15(4) -so unless you can prove how the construction of this building will lead to public order, health or morality being degraded, in a tangible and not frivolously speculative way, it really is a non-issue.

      4. The analogy to the burning of the US flag/or any national flag is not a good one because such is precisely the kind of activity that art 15(4) seeks to prevent. Burning a symbol of someone else’s cherished nationality is an act of inflammation; erecting a symbol of one’s own religious affiliation is not.

      5. Neither is the comparison to the situation in Malaysia ingenuous nor admirable. It is disingenuous because Malaysia is a Muslim country with Islam enshrined in its Constitution. It is not admirable because the situation in Malaysia is undesirable, where the Majority is given the right to bully members of smaller faiths/communities. If this is what you envision towards in protesting against the cross-like building, I am certainly not on your side.

      6. I have not seen evidence of anybody trying to “take over the country”. Don’t tell me that the Aware takeover (which I was against) is evidence of ‘Christian extremists’ taking over the country, this is Singapore, not Southpark. Isn’t this really an appeal to fear?

      7. Your critique of my analogy with traditional ghost festivals is wrong-footed. The sight of a 26 storey cross which irritates you is no different from the NOISE and SMELL of these festivals which annoy me. Moreover, you are not forced to look at the building either. The point, however, is that none of this is good enough reason to curtail the religious freedom of people who we live unavoidably side by side.

  13. 22 sloo 2 September 2009 at 00:04

    Z
    Do some checking up on the web. Not only was the Mr. Thio one of the directors, apparently he, his wife, the infamous TSM and daughter, the even more infamous TLA, have bought units in the condo. My point is why did the authorities allow such a design in a commercial space? The Lippo Group also wanted to name one of their projects The Trinity and this was rejected by the authorities. I have a feeling this was for the newton condo.

    If this was so, then the whole development is actually a cunning and sneaky way to use a commercial enterprise to promote the faith of it’s owners. In a very extravagant manner too. If this is allowed then i assume you have no objections to other condos being built like temples with Taoist statues.
    U want to have a 26 storey cross, apply to build a 26 storey church. This would at least be the minimum requirement in a multi-religious and supposedly secular society. The authorities have failed in their duties and the fundies have again demonstrated how cunning and ingenuity can actually be used to gain the upper hand in our society.

    Perhaps the problem now is what would the resale value of these condos be? After all the market for such a building would be limited to only the very wealthy christians. Silly me – of course there are many of those here.

    • 23 Z 3 September 2009 at 20:23

      Hi Sloo,

      Thanks for the comments.

      As Terence said, developers have discretion as to how they design their private properties. I cannot see why shouldn’t the authorities allow it just because 1) the owners/developers happen to be Christian; 2) they are ‘infamous’ ones. I don’t think they have done anything so wrong to deserve having their freedom of expression curtailed to such an extent.

      I have absolutely no ‘objections to other condos being built like temples with Taoist statues’. In fact, I think it would be very creative architectually.

      I cannot see how the ‘upper hand’ is being ‘gained’ at all just because a building is built in a shape of a religious icon. Upper hand in what? Is there a competition going on? Are more people becoming Christians because of a building? Am I missing something?

  14. 25 Terence 2 September 2009 at 12:53

    Hi guys,

    I’ve check out the condo for myself and I honestly don’t think there is much to be concerned about. The so-called cross is not exactly a lighted cross, but rather resembles one. Yes, the design is striking, but I wonder how many people who pass by it actually notice that it is a cross? And even so, it is not exactly overt. Furthermore, the condo is private property, and I believe the owners have some say in the design of the condo. Of course, it will be a cause of concern if the condo becomes a sort of high class Christian enclave.

  15. 26 all man are brothers 2 September 2009 at 18:41

    Hi Terrence,

    Obviously u have not read the post by sloo just on top of your post.

    I hope someone could help to post a picture here.

    all man are brothers

  16. 27 sloo 3 September 2009 at 10:50

    Terence

    Actually the fact that before the building was completed there was a huge banner thanking god for the success of the project, that one of the Directors of the developer is the husband of TSM, the the developers themselves are known to be christian, makes this whole situation very suspicious. Whether the cross is overt or not, it is obvious that the backers wanted very much wanted the development to reflect their christian faith and to propogate it a very public fashion.

    To the genral public, this may not seem suspicious or blatant as they would not know the history and beginnings of this condo. To those in the know, however, this is an overt and blantant attempt at propagatig ones faith in a commercial project

    As i mentioned before, if they wanted to propogate their faith, subtly or not, they should be transparent about it and apply to the relevant authorities making clear their intentions. They have chosen to do so sneakily and cunningly- yet another example of how they work.

  17. 28 sloo 3 September 2009 at 10:53

    Terence

    As for whether the condo becomes a christian enclave, i actually see no problem in that at all.

    It is private property and what they do within the four walls of their apratments or even within the condo is up to them. As long as the other non-christian owners do not complain or mind that there private space is infringed upon and as long as it does not infringe on the public and secular space.

  18. 29 Martha de Beest 3 September 2009 at 21:01

    Z, you seem to have side-stepped some of the points, but answering your numbered paragraphs:

    1. I made no such charge, and we are dealing with unknowns and hypotheses. I do wonder, given the sensitivity around religion, whether such an icon would get permission if the authorities were aware, assuming such permission is necessary (I don’t know).
    2. I think you’re mistaken here. If we’re going into legal territory, I think we would both probably agree that there is an initial need by an opponent of the building to show that there is a prima facie case that it was illegal, for whatever reason. If you then want to raise a defence that it is a “protected profession of faith”, the burden of proof shifts to you to establish that. Once you make a case for that, your opponent gets a right of reply to what you raise. I think you would be in great difficulty, but it’s a very interesting question: whether a building can, of itself, be a form of speech, and a protected one at that. Would architects of all sorts of buildings then be able to start challenging planning authority decisions which rejected their designs on the basis that those decisions infringed their freedom of speech? Out of interest, what do you think the architect (or his client) of a 26 storey cross on a condominium would be trying to say? What do you think the man in the street will understand by it?
    3. I don’t have time to check out Art. 15 right now, but am prepared to take at face value what you say about it. You and I don’t decide what amounts to a protected profession of belief, parliament and the courts do. And yes, a prima facie illegality would have to be shown first, as mentioned in 2 (above).
    4. You missed the point I was making, which was actually in your favour. I can’t remember how this US case was decided ultimately, but it was about whether burning a flag (an action) could be protected freedom of speech. If such an action could be deemed “speech”, then maybe erecting a building could be too. But I think it’s probably trying to stretch things too far.
    5. I think it’s obvious from the way I phrased the example that I don’t agree with the protestors’ desecrations; it’s just an example of how sensitive these things can be. I see the (presumably) fundamentalist demonstrators as having something in common with some Christian extremists in Singapore who want to impose their views and rules on everyone else, and don’t respect secular space.
    6. I invite you to reread the relevant paragraph and answer the points I actually made. Also re-read the article we’re commenting on. Clearly there is great concern about the actions of these people.
    7. I think we will have to agree to disagree on this point, which is one of degree. As for curtailing religious freedom, building control of condominiums does not prevent anyone from practising their religion. And the very living together side by side probably requires more multi-religious sensitivity than building an enormous icon in such a location.
    8. Re Terence’s post – if the cross on the actual building, as opposed to our hypothetical icon, is not really noticeable, then our whole discussion is largely academic. If applicants for apartments were to be discriminated against because of religion I guess it would be another story.

    • 30 Z 5 September 2009 at 14:47

      Martha de Beest,

      If we can both accept the premise that the act in question is not illegal, then really the discussion hinges on the question as to whether such an act is so undesirable that it OUGHT TO BE illegal. It is in this context which I brought up the “freedom of profession” point. Therefore, whether architects can challenge planning authority decisions on constitutional grounds becomes a moot question – because this question presupposes that the architect has first done something ILLEGAL, which we have already agreed is not the case here. My point in bringing up ‘freedom of profession’ is to challenge those who claim that the construction of the building is so ‘grosteque’ and ‘offensive’ that it should be made illegal to think about whether they have given due respect to a citizen’s religious freedom prior to such a serious charge.

      My apologies for missing your “flag-burning” point. You are right, but all I was saying is that EVEN IF the act of flag-burning cannot be a protected act of profession due to the exception clause in Art 15(4), it has no weight here because of the dissimilar facts at hand.

      Your Malaysian parallel is misleading because you analogize inconsistenly. By claiming that “it’s just an example of how sensitive these things can be” you are analogizing the religious fanatics in Malaysia with the anti-religious protestors in this condo saga. But in the next sentence, you analogize the same religious fanatics with the condo developers – ‘I see the (presumably) fundamentalist demonstrators as having something in common with some Christian extremists in Singapore’. The fanatics in Malaysia are fanatical precisely because they will not allow others to exercise their totally harmless, religious freedom – whatever harm could be caused by allowing someone to construct a religious (or religiously shaped) building? There is only 1 party whom I can analogize the Malaysian fanatics to IN THIS CONDO SAGA, and whether or not the condo developers are themselves religious fanatics in other spheres is a total red-herring.

      I have re-read your paragraph and the only justification I’ve found for your ‘take over the country’ claim is this – ‘Extreme religious groups maybe need to take responsibility for the fears their actions have created rather than claiming to be victims themselves’. Well put, but misapplied. Your claim (and your position) will be perfectly understandable if the same group who took over AWARE is seeking to run for General Elections or is attempting a private takeover of Temasek Holdings. This will be cause for alarm, and they will only have themselves to blame for their past deeds which have tarnished their reputation. To say, however, that there is thus a cause for concern everytime they seek to display their religious belief publicly (irregardless of whether there’s any reasonable/tangible effect on others) is ridiculous; to say that them doing so is thus evidence of an attempt to ‘take over the country’ is profoundly insane.

  19. 31 Martha de Beest 4 September 2009 at 03:05

    P.S. – Anyone want to lay bets on who is likely to be the Chair of any Residents’ Association?

  20. 32 pinky 4 September 2009 at 22:45

    Hey, I have an idea… Lets rent an apartment in that condo among gay friends and hold regular gay party… HaLiLooYa….

  21. 33 Martha de Beest 6 September 2009 at 20:46

    Z,

    Before discussing the other points further, can we look more at the profession of religion point you raised. Let’s assume there is some illegality about building, say, a 26 storey neon cross on a condo in the middle of a commercial area and that is your defence. How would you argue that?

    • 34 Z 7 September 2009 at 14:39

      Martha,

      I would first look at the parliamentary materials to find out the context and purpose in which such an act is deemed to be illegal.

      I would not even bother defending the developers if Parliament has clearly stated how such an act does/will contravene public order.

      If, however, the reasons are not stated; or if they are badly stated (e.g. such a tall building forces people to look at it and therefore it must be bad), I would make a constitutional argument to convince the courts that trumping the ‘freedom of profession’ for no/illogical reasons will set a dangerous precedent for the future and legitimizes future acts of Parliament which unjustifiably erode the freedom of religion as guaranteed in our Constitution. I would point out that in many of the earlier cases where the freedom of religion of the complainant was sacrificed, it was because national security was directly undermined – e.g. Jehovah Witnesses claiming their religious right not to serve NS. I would thus distinguish the act of the developers with the defiance of the JWs to show why the behaviour of the former are not in themselves as socially serious and undesirable to warrant their freedom of profession being curtailed.

      • 35 Martha de Beest 8 September 2009 at 03:49

        Sorry, but you missed the point. What argument and precedent would you advance to support the (novel) idea that a building is a protected form of profession of belief/speech.

      • 36 Z 8 September 2009 at 18:08

        From the way Art 15 is drafted, it seems to me that ANY ACT, novel or not, can be considered a profession of religious belief UNLESS it contravenes public order, morality or health.

        Would you agree with that?🙂

  22. 37 Martha de Beest 7 September 2009 at 00:43

    Just by way of addendum on the topic generally, here is a brief extract from a research paper posted by someone at NUS:

    Goh goes on to note that ‘Khong’s war cry is not mere fiery rhetoric
    delivered for effect in the midst of pentecostal exuberance. His Church is organized into cell
    groups “structured like the military”, with three to four cell groups of around 10-20 people
    forming a sub-zone headed by a “volunteer zone supervisor pastor”, ten of which form a zone
    of 300-600 people … Khong believes that some Christian warriors will literally “die for
    Jesus in this wartime”, but “God will still have the victory” whether “through martyrdom or
    aggressive assaults on enemy territory”. Khong is raising a “spiritual army that captures
    territory for God”’ (Goh 2008).
    Such language is certainly not the public face of any Christian group in Singapore
    when it addresses a secular audience. It is, however, readily observable in in-house
    publications of some groups. Together with the open links to individuals and organizations
    associated with militant Christian groups in the U.S., where the language of warfare,
    religious armies and earthly battles with the devil is widespread, it does suggest an attitude of
    intolerance that qualifies as extremist among some sections of the Christian community in
    Singapore.

    • 38 Z 7 September 2009 at 14:25

      I’m personally in much disagreement with CHC and its practises but again, I cannot help but point out the appeal to fear here.

      “His Church is organized into cell groups “structured like the military”, with three to four cell groups of around 10-20 people forming a sub-zone headed by a “volunteer zone supervisor pastor”, ten of which form a zone of 300-600 people”

      >> So is my university. So is the civil service. So are many big private firms in the world.

      “Khong believes that some Christian warriors will literally “die for Jesus in this wartime”, but “God will still have the victory” whether “through martyrdom or aggressive assaults on enemy territory”. Khong is raising a “spiritual army that captures territory for God”’

      >> An amalgamation of words with loaded meanings without their proper contexts of use being explained is often an indication of the intent to misquote and mislead. Some questions any unbiased and critical mind will ask before jumping up and down at this paragraph – How does Khong define ‘warriors’? What does Khong mean when using the word ‘wartime’? What ‘victory’ is Khong appealing to? Is the ‘assault’ physical or spiritual? Who is the ‘enemy’? How does Khong use the word ‘territory’? Is our understanding of ‘spiritual army’ similar or different with Khong’s usage? When are militaristic words used in non-military contexts, and how do we tell if they are justified or not?

      “Together with the open links to individuals and organizations associated with militant Christian groups in the U.S., where the language of warfare, religious armies and earthly battles with the devil is widespread, it does suggest an attitude of intolerance that qualifies as extremist among some sections of the Christian community in Singapore”

      >> How are “open links” defined? By inviting a preacher of a fire-and-brimstone preaching church to preach, does that mean CHC believes in the same doctrines too? Or is more required? Does CHC preach that the “earthly battles” are something that the congregation should initiate/yearn, or something to simply be mentally/spiritually prepared for? With these questions unanswered, I am simply unable to make sense of how all the above could “suggest” an “attitude of intolerance”.

      • 39 Martha de Beest 8 September 2009 at 02:50

        If you have time I suggest you read the professor’s whole paper, at least some of which I suspect you will agree with.

  23. 40 sloo 7 September 2009 at 12:57

    MArtha
    And who is Kohng from which church? Best, pass us thelink

  24. 41 Martha de Beest 7 September 2009 at 17:19

    Sloo,

    I can’t find the URL now, but if you copy and paste a sentence from the above into a google search, it takes you straight to the pdf which you can read or download.

  25. 43 Martha de Beest 7 September 2009 at 18:35

    Sloo,

    Re your question, I can only refer you to the footnote on p.11:

    17
    See lovesingapore, ‘Curious About Us.’ Available at http://www.lovesingapore.org.sg/ . As of May 2009, its
    chairman was identified as Lawrence Khong, leader of one of Singapore’s mega-churches, and among the other
    names listed under ‘Curious About Us’ was Derek Hong, senior pastor of the Church of Our Saviour. The links
    to American New Apostolic figures are fairly clear. As noted in another study, ‘The movement began when
    Khong met American preacher Peter Wagner in the first International Spirit Warfare Network in Seoul in 1993.
    Khong subsequently assumed formal leadership of the Spiritual Warfare Network in Singapore, which was
    already meeting regularly but informally’ (Goh 2008).

  26. 44 sloo 8 September 2009 at 15:17

    Z
    Perhaps it is the pastors’ intentions for their words and phrases to be vague and unclear. What is important is the context in which they are presented, how the congregation perceives them and the ends towards the these sermons and utterances are hoping to achieve.

    Visit any of the fundamentalist christian sites here and you can see clearly that the battles they wage is spiritual – against non-believers. So lets not get too anaylytical over words and terms and try to dispute their meanings when seen in the context of their presentation. It is very clear what these pastors are advocating.

    And to say that a church does not endorse the views of a ‘fire and brimstone’ pastor when he is invited to preach there in the first place is to be truly blind, deaf and….dumb. Lets be realistic about this and not try to be as vague and unclear (even misleading) in our arguments against the very clear facts that are presented.

    The govt really should look into the Spitritual Warfare Network. The fact that it is named as such speaks volumes about the group’s intentions and objectives.

    • 45 Martha de Beest 8 September 2009 at 22:13

      Good points Sloo.

      “Links” also reportedly includes links to their websites, selling their books, reporting to them on the number of email addresses they get of potential converts at events, etc and they are in any event open about their links in inhouse publications.

      The report does suggest further research on these matters be done. It’s just an overview, a sketch. I would be interested to know, given the reported kindling of this network in Seoul, and the stated policy of infiltration, whether it played any role in building to the recent situation in S. Korea where everyone except one person in the government was Christian (in a Buddhist majority country), and where Buddhist monuments were attacked and deleted from maps.

      It’s only fair to mention that the report does not consider that there is evidence of such infiltration in Singapore at present. It is more concerned at the corrosive effect of Christian extremists on secular space and debate, and their destabilising potential both in Singapore, and more explosively, in neighboring countries (using Singapore as a base).

    • 46 Z 10 September 2009 at 10:34

      I don’t get you at all. You admit that this is a group of people who is only waging ‘spiritual warfare’ (whatever that means) against others, which presumably means there is no act of physical/tangible harm at issue here. And that is enough for the government to step in??

      The very “clear facts” you mention are not clear at all. You have not even explained what “harm” is caused to others, in what circumstances should the government step into the religious arena, and how are we to make sense of all this in the broader understanding of constitutionally guaranteed religious freedom.

      Closing a blind eye to these important questions and substituting them with a “Lets be realistic about this” is being simple-mindedly unrealistic.

  27. 47 Martha de Beest 8 September 2009 at 21:33

    “Z says
    8 September 2009 at 18:08
    From the way Art 15 is drafted, it seems to me that ANY ACT, novel or not, can be considered a profession of religious belief UNLESS it contravenes public order, morality or health.

    Would you agree with that?”

    Not really, it’s not what the section says. There’s nothing there to suggest that “profess” is anything more than the right say “I am a Christian/Hindu etc.”. Some say it extends to the right to wear religious symbols at all times,eg at school, but that is also contentious for others.

    Even if you were correct on that point, the question is would a judge be impressed. I don’t think so. You’re just repeating your opinion without any explanation of how it can feasibly relate to a secular (or any) building, and without any authority for your contention, such as a similar case (anywhere in the world,say). How is a building “an act of profession of belief”? It’s an object.

    If I were arguing your side I would perhaps try claiming that the act of building a church or temple itself was a profession of faith, and that this is comparable. You would have to come up with some similar case or analogy. But it’s stretching things too far, and the logical corollary is that you could build a religious building wherever you liked and planning laws would be undermined. Even building a church/temple is really building a place where you can go to profess your belief, by , say reciting the catechism with your fellow believers, rather than a profession of belief in itself.

    Then, as you rightly said, you have the public order point. I believe the authorities would be likely to see a 26 storey neon cross built by an aggressive religious movement in a secular space as corrosive of that secular space, potentially leading to friction.

    Finally, if there were such a thing as style police, they would have a field day😉

    • 48 Z 10 September 2009 at 10:45

      Martha,

      In the ABSENCE of any precedence, it is still the case that ANY ACT can be considered a profession of faith unless it falls under Art 15(4). The debate, within ourselves or even before a judge, is fundamentally about Art 15(4). And the burden of proving “a 26 storey neon cross built by an aggressive religious movement in a secular space as corrosive of that secular space, potentially leading to friction” remains with you, and it still remains unproven in this scenario. It’s simply over-exaggerated by a fringe group of over-sensitive ‘secularists’. Go on the streets, or to your offices/schools and ask how many non-Christians are even tangentially affected by this harmless act, and the answer would be clear.

  28. 49 . 9 September 2009 at 02:29

    sloo,

    wow! now that i’m hearing this, with such sites waging wars, albeit spiritual against non-believers. its pretty scary. i’ve always thought that the focus was on self, on improving their relationship with their god and such. if what you say is true maybe one day non-believers will organise themselves to wage wars against believers. really do hope that Sg will not descend into such anarchy. *crosses fingers*

    I definitely agree with you that the government should look at these spiritual warfare groups… war normally ain’t good, spiritual or not.

  29. 50 sloo 9 September 2009 at 14:14

    Problem with most non-christians is that theytend to take such initiative by the fundies as something to ignore politiely then go their own way. My Buddhist mum chastise me when i bring up incidents of death bed conversions and smashing of idols, saying that all religions are good, that we should not criticise others even though she is personally uncomfortable by these actions. In the past when fundies were practically unheard of and their churches not built yet, most singaporeans had no big issue living side by side with other races and people of other beliefs. It is ironic that in our modern world, where we praise ourselves as being more open minded, advanced in thinking and highly educated in the ways of the world, we have enacted more walls, iniated hatred towards others and encouraged intolerance.
    There are local sites with testimonials by pastors that decry their previous taoists religion as demonic and satanic. I find it amazing that these churches are so well attended by young people, that the govt has closed not one but two eyes to such actions and words and that no one had complained or made a stand against these people.
    Its time to stop being tolerant in the face of intolerance and hatred; its time to make a stand for what you believe in; it time to bring some reason and rationale to a secular space that is increasingly threatened by people who have no respect for others.

    • 51 Martha de Beest 10 September 2009 at 17:28

      Sloo,

      “There are local sites with testimonials by pastors that decry their previous taoists religion as demonic and satanic…”

      I think that takes us neatly into the discussion on the Sedition Act…

  30. 52 sloo 11 September 2009 at 23:10

    well i checked and apparently as long as it is a personal view (as for this particular pastor) and no on that the church is trying to advocate, then its no really an offence. And they are preaching to their own, not to non-christian like m who happen to come across their sites and statements.
    I actually think TLA speech about the launch of new sit singanews borders may be problematic. check it out on The Online Citizen Breaking news….

  31. 53 humph 1 January 2010 at 04:26

    This is the condo in question, haha:

    http://www.iproperty.com.sg/singaporeCondominiums/condominium.aspx?condo=Newton_One

    Does it give me the creeps? As an agnostic, absolutely – I suppose in the same way a giant heart that size would nauseate the hell out of any non-believer of romantic love.

    Furthermore, I’m not ignorant of the doings of the Lippo Group, Thio Gim Hock, Thio Li Ann, Thio Su Mien, COOS, etc etc etc, and especially of the Riadys’ aggressive evangelistic actions in Muslim-Indonesia, or their repercussions.

    Also that the property was to have been named “Trinity Towers”.

    Although in daylight it looks harmless enough:

    Was still good to know the context, and being Aware.


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