Christianism, Singapore

“He said nothing wrong, you know.”

02.26.10 | Permalink | 12 Comments

So I’ve been reading page after page after page of comments on blogs, forums and bulletin boards trying to see what people are saying about Rony Tan vs Gays and everywhere I go, I see self-professed Christians taking upon themselves the divine role of apologist for Rony Tan in a massive, uncoordinated astroturfing campaign.

Many of these people will do one or more of the following:
1. Tell you “But he said nothing wrong, what” — followed by some ridiculous projectioning of Rony Tan as some kind of modern-day Elijah who’s warning people of their sin because he loves them. (Except, as I said many times before, nobody’s feeling his “love”)
2. Throw you heaps of Bible verses. Any attempt to engage these guys in a discussion that doesn’t involve the Bible is futile. Because they just will not listen to you. And because they really believe the state should run on Biblical principles (ie.,  anything that doesn’t fall in line with *their* interpretation of such principles should be BANNED).
3. Obsess over anal sex — how dirty, evil, unnatural or sinful it is — and I mean OBSESS.

I have something to say to all these people:
SHAME ON YOU. YOU KNOW NOT WHAT MANNER OF SPIRIT YOU ARE OF.

How, oh how, does one go about justifying, ignoring, downplaying, covering up Rony Tan’s out-of-this-world lies that gays = paedophiles = bestialists and claim to have the Spirit of God in his heart?

For those of you who say Rony Tan was well within his religious rights to say what he said, I now ask you: Rony Tan also sincerely believes that other religions are of the devil. Should he be also allowed to preach this on the grounds of religious freedom?

Religious rights cannot, should not and must not be unlimited and unfettered. If not, all hell would break loose and you would have faith leaders inciting followers to kill non-believers in the name of God — as has happened in the Middle East and in developed Western nations.

Spin it whichever way you will, but what Rony Tan said was NOT right. And if the man is not going to own up to it, then the least that his fellow-believers could do is to disavow themselves from his statements.

Also read:
Pastor Rony: “I’ve said nothing wrong, you know.”
“I’ve said nothing wrong, you know” Ctd

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Christianism, Singapore

Christian Post’s report of the Rony Tan ex-gay service in March 2009

02.25.10 | Permalink | 6 Comments

Here’s Christian Post’s report of that fateful miracle service [mirrored] on 2 March 2009. The title truly deserves an “Epic WTF Award”. Christian Post has since removed the story from its website but I think it’s good that we archive this. Can there be any misunderstanding or misinterpreting of what Rony Tan said that evening at all?

Pastor Explores Paedophilic Roots of Homosexuality
by Edmond Chua

Is homosexuality an inborn genetic trait or is it an acquired behaviour? Proponents of homosexuality would seek to prove that it is nature while its opponents try to show that it is nurture.

Stepping into the fray, independent church Lighthouse Evangelism has dedicated a miracle service to the subject the video of which was recently uploaded on the church’s newly revamped website.

In his introduction LE’s Senior Pastor Rony Tan showed that homosexual behaviour could have been acquired as a result of child molestation, in addition to other causes – mostly relational – including abusiveness of parents sharing the same sex as the person in question.

For example, there could be those who as little children were sexually attacked by paedophiles thus confusing boys about what they should feel toward other males since their first sexual encounter and during their formative years was with a man, and in the case of the part-time LE staff, an ex-lesbian, who shared her testimony, developing in girls a repulsion and disgust toward males in general.

That said, the pastor emphasised that barring a very small percentage of the homosexual population all homosexuals are so by “acquired taste”, stating that many of the homosexuals are adults who turned to homosexuality only after marriage and having children.

“The homosexual urge could be developed especially when a person is very lonely and very disturbed and very confused,” he said, calling such cases perversions.

The well-known regional faith healer also warned against indifference to trends of homosexuality such as barrenness and a downward slide into different forms of bestiality.

“I tell you it is abnormal and if we don’t warn people against it then there will be more homosexuals,” he said. “Many of these people will be not all of them of course but many of these people will be harassing and seducing young boys and they in turn will become homosexuals because of confused sex orientation at such a very early age and very soon half the world is homosexual meaning that half the world will be barren. It’s a serious problem. Proper sex means life, it propagates life. Lesbianism and homosexuality simply mean death, barrenness.

“I want to declare to you two men or two women cannot make a family. That’s impossible, cannot be regarded as a family. You see man’s heart is so wicked that if you allow that next time people will get married to a monkey and they want rights they want to apply HDB flat with a donkey or a monkey or a dog.”

The mega-church founder also made it clear that while there would be some “loud-mouthed homosexuals” most of them are not fighting for rights as homosexuals but admit that homosexuality is an abnormality. And he urged those with such tendencies to be prayerful, revisit and examine their past and seek the Lord for a miraculous healing to set them free.

Outspoken opponent of homosexuality Church Of Our Saviour Senior Pastor Rev Canon Derek Hong ran a sermon series on the topic during the period of parliamentary discussion in which he clarified that homosexuality is viewed as a sin according to the Bible, highlighted that change is possible for homosexuals and showed through two live testimonies of his congregants that the behaviour could have developed due to the abusiveness of the parent with the same sex as the child and the indifference and absenteeism of the other parent.

And, oh, before we forget — Rony Tan still maintains that he said nothing wrong at all.

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Christianism, Singapore

The churches are silent, Ctd

02.24.10 | Permalink | 20 Comments

So what are the key Christian bloggers in Singapore saying about Rony Tan vs Gays?

As it turns out, pretty much zilch. zero. nada.

Over the last few days, I’ve been diligently looking into what they’ve been saying, and here’s the summary of my findings. Please feel free to point out to me any other important blogger I left out (NOTE: I have only included overtly Christian Blogs here, not just any blogger who happens to be Christian):

So as you can see, we’ve got lay members, theological students, pastors, senior pastors above. Put them all together and you find that the silence is very deafening, especially when you take into account how the rest of the Singapore blogosphere is abuzz with Rony Tan. This is what befuddles and troubles me so much.

I do understand the dilemma that some of these guys find themselves in. On the one hand, they are of the conviction that homosexuality is sinful (I’m not challenging this) and on the other, they are profoundly embarrassed by Rony Tan’s frivolous slander against gays. I understand this, I do.

But seriously, how can anyone be SILENT or NEUTRAL with the assertion that gay people are paedophiles and bestialists?

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Christianism, Singapore

Tan Tarn How: The churches are silent

02.23.10 | Permalink | 11 Comments

Tan Tarn How, policy researcher in the Institute of Policy Studies, tells TODAY:

“I don’t think you should have complete freedom of speech on Internet, even though it is very hard to police. The existence of these things (hate videos and speech) is problematic. But if its roundly condemn by society, especially institutions and opinion leaders, there is a vaccine against the virus of hate speech. The opinion of society is very critical, not just of individuals but opinion leaders and institutions. Unfortunately, it seems churches are keeping silent on this. This has become Buddhist criticising Christians, but rather should be Christians criticising this pastor. This would be a more potent weapon against such talk. It is a failure that media do not go out and talk to churches and seek their responses. Of course, the Buddhists will be angry.

I want to another point. Unfortunately, it seems to get the small guys and let the opinion leaders relatively free with an apology. The right approach is, if he is an opinion leader, he ought to be more severely dealt with than if he is just a small individual. The opinion leader has more influence. I think the pastor is let off too lightly.” [Emphasis mine; read more of Tan Tarn How’s views here and here.]

The above interview was given by Tan Tarn How to TODAY in the wake of the first part of the Rony Tan saga (featuring the anti-Buddhism/Taoism remarks) but I think what he said applies to the Rony Tan vs Gays incident too — the churches are way too silent.

It is time for moderate Christians to stand up and disavow themselves from all the infactual insults made by Rony Tan against the Buddhist, Taoist and gay people of Singapore. Then and only then can the healing begin.

In Singapore’s fight against terror, moderate Muslims were encouraged to speak up and distance themselves from the likes of Osama bin Laden and Jemaah Islamiyah. That has proven to work very well (I think).

Of course I’m not saying here that Rony Tan is like Osama or JI, but the principle remains the same — when a small group of people hijack the faith and make the headlines for all the wrong sorts of reasons, then it’s time for the silent majority to speak up and say, “We do not accept this. This sort of behaviour is incompatible with our faith.”

That time has come. Will they?

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Christianism, Singapore

Pastor Yang Tuck Yoong of Cornerstone Community Church agrees with Rony Tan that gays are paedophiles and zoophiles

02.22.10 | Permalink | 11 Comments

In the latest letter to his congregants, Pastor Yang Tuck Yoong of Cornerstone Community Church (remember him?) says nothing about Rony Tan’s odious lies that gay people are paedophiles and zoophiles. Instead he urges his church members to “not dilute, adulterate or compromise” the Truth. Belittling other people’s religions is not kosher, he says, but apparently demonising gay people the way Rony Tan has requires no censure. Here’s what he said:

A THORNY ISSUE

The recent big blow up about Pastor Rony Tan’s highly-publicised sermon on Buddhism and Taoism, and the most recent attack[1] on his statements on homosexuals is a reminder of the continual scrutiny and the pressure that the Church will face in the coming years. Having watched the video myself, I thought that the reaction from the public was a little excessive. But still nonetheless, we live in a multi-cultural and multi-religious society and the need to be careful and vigilant with our words is vital. I’ve been in touch with Pastor Rony via his personal assistant and Pator Rony has requested for our prayer support, for which we’re more than happy to oblige.

There are a few things we can learn from this painful ordeal. Firstly, in Acts 19, we’ve a record of a riot in the city of Ephesus. The whole city was filled with confusion against Paul and his traveling companions and they had already seized several of Paul’s companions, threatening to injure them. When the riot threatened to get out of hand, the town clerk got up to silence the crowd and look at what he said in verse 37: “For you have brought these men here who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of your goddess.” This is an amazing statement because Paul, in all his preaching, did not attack or belittle any other religion. All he did was preach the everlasting Gospel because the Gospel alone is the power of God unto salvation. And that’s exactly what we need to be doing: we need to preach the unadulterated Word of God and let the Word transform lives.

There’s of course another side to this as well: When preaching the Gospel, we must not dilute, adulterate or compromise on the potency of the Word; because it’s Truth. And truth spoken in love is a very powerful weapon in God’s Hand. When Paul was in a Roman dungeon, he said something very precious; he said that while he may be in chains, God’s word cannot be chained. And that is the truth. In Acts 4, we find the disciples being hauled in for preaching the Gospel and they were threatened by the religious order of their day to cease preaching. Peter, with unusual boldness said: “Whether it is right to listen to you more than God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Such boldness is contagious and God-breathed. After that, we’ve an account of a prayer meeting the disciples had and as they prayed for boldness to speak the word of God, God answered by shaking the place they were gathered in and the disciples were all filled with uncommon valor. What’s the conclusion then? Let’s be sensitive; let’s be careful; but let’s not compromise on the truth.

Pastor Yang Tuck Yoong
20 Feb 2010

Well of course I am not surprised by Pastor Yang’s message. I’ve heard him preach hell fire and brimstone since I was a little kid back in the day when his church was still called Bedok Christian Centre. But I’ve got news for you, Pastor Yang, if you’re reading this. The public would not be on Rony Tan’s back so much if he had not said such stupendiferous things to begin with.

As for your remarks about “truth spoken in love”? The Buddhists and Taoists sure ain’t feeling the “love”. And neither are the gays.

Hear, hear, from the man who proclaimed that Cyclone Nargis, which devastated Myanmar in 2008, was the “hand of God” teaching the nations righteousness. I wonder if the Burmese felt his love?


Footnotes:
1. Notice how he made the hunted the hunter? Tsk.

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quotations

Martin Luther King on the greatest danger in the world

02.22.10 | Permalink | Comment?

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
~Martin Luther King, 1963

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Christianism, Singapore

“My stand is with the average person and the Government.”

02.21.10 | Permalink | Comment?

Just reread Rony’s response again — is he suggesting that the average Singaporean and the Government agree with him that gay people are paedophiles and bestialists? Horrifying.

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Christianism, Singapore

Christian to Christian: Collective Repentance

02.21.10 | Permalink | 3 Comments

This open letter to Christians in Singapore has been republished with the kind permission of Dr Gwee Li Sui. Dr Gwee is a literary critic, poet, and graphic artist. He wrote Singapore’s first graphic novel Myth of the Stone (1993) and a collection of humorous poems Who Wants to Buy a Book of Poems? (1998). He also recently edited a significant collection of essays, Sharing Borders: Studies in Contemporary Singaporean-Malaysian Literature II (2009).


My fellow Christians in Singapore:

In less than a year, we have found our faith at the centre of more than a handful of national controversies. It began with events tied to the AWARE saga, followed quickly by Christian allegations of “militant atheism” made even in parliament. Then, a Christian couple was convicted for having circulated anti-Islamic tracts, and an archbishop caused outrage with his strong remarks on non-traditional families and relationships. Most recently, a megachurch’s senior pastor took centre stage for ridiculing Buddhists, Taoists, and gay people.

This is an astounding concentration of events that have cast the Christian faith in a negative light. They have almost all involved leaders in church and society representing Christianity’s place in the world in a defensive and varyingly anti-social way. We may stress that these events are, by and large, unconnected and do not speak of the general state of our faith in Singapore. We can even choose to dissociate ourselves and see these as more about other Christians than about us or our own communities.

But when the social climate has become so toxic that murmurs of Christians being “at it again” recur, we should be vigilant and have an answer. What we cannot ignore is the damage the controversies are already doing to our collective identity as Christians. We must thus be prepared to examine ourselves thoroughly and go beyond just hoping that the spotlight on us will go away. We must learn to draw a clear line between what we believe and the insensitivity of our words and actions, often made without provocation. We must be able to show real commitment to preventing the latter even while we are affirming the former.

But our attempts will not be serious enough unless we first admit that shame has already been brought upon the Christian message here. We should consider how we have failed, directly or indirectly, to follow Jesus’s most basic commandment: we have not loved our neighbour. Who is a believer’s neighbour? When a Jewish lawyer posed this question to Jesus, Jesus answered with a story not of the Good Jew but of the Good Samaritan, someone whose faith was radically different from the Jews’. He concluded his story by challenging his followers to conduct themselves in the same way as his Samaritan had.

What Jesus affirmed was the possibility — and even necessity — of learning real compassion and love from others and not just from fellow Christians. He implicitly required his followers not to value their own righteousness but to embrace a sense of common decency and kindness that is shared with others. In other words, we should never consider our words and actions kind or even Christianly unless those at whom we direct them recognise them as such. This is how God is to be glorified through us.

Given this principle, we ought to take note of our following failings. They have nothing to do with the question of homosexuality that a few Christians have consistently forced us to see:

[1] We should feel shame for being slow to admit wrong and doing so only in a grudging manner. We have already failed when we need the authorities to warn us to be nice or when we are selective in our apology to those we have hurt. We are guilty when we choose to blame others for highlighting our mistakes, even sharpening our knives against Christians who point them out to us. We err when we brush aside every God-given chance to reflect on our own wrongdoings.

[2] We should feel shame for all the times we could have helped to stop others promote hate and fear but did nothing. You and I know that the current trend of narrow-mindedness has been in the making for a long time. Yet, we choose to encourage intolerance through the way we talk, share, and joke among ourselves and how we do not seek peace but converse only in terms of spiritual war. We sin when we treat dialogue with non-Christians aseither pointless or contaminating or when we share a gospel of love while harbouring thoughts of hate, saying one thing in public and another in private.

[3] We should feel shame for having no interest in deepening our religious knowledge while being ready always to act on our ignorance. We mis-educate ourselves by listening and reading in a narrow fashion. We look at religious and social differences without an intention of forming mature responses to them and care for no other theological position beside our own. We condone the words and actions of those who teach us to hate and fear in Christ’s name and yet attack those who remind us to glorify Christ through love.

[4] We should feel shame for caring little about enlarging Jesus’s message of unconditional love. We diminish this message when we take the way Christians see things differently for granted, treating it as an end rather than as a personal challenge to reconcile it with Jesus’s command to love. We sin mentally and emotionally when we do not allow our deep-seated idea of difference to change or the message of love to be made relevant in both our lives and our society.

Shame recognises that our wrongdoings hurt our relationship not just with others but also with God. It has no right to insist that others accept our apology just because we have made it; this is not a bargain. If people do not forgive us, the way forward remains the same as if they do: to strive not to commit the same thoughtlessness again and to show our sincerity through our own transformation. Shame recognises that we owe others and ourselves to be better human beings than we have been before.

We Christians must repent for our self-pride, our self-exclusion, our fear of others who Jesus called us precisely to love, and the way we use our minds, our resources, our time, and our friendships to justify and grow that fear. We must repent for our lack of faith that has led us to close our hearts and guard them with great jealousy rather than to surrender them in love. We must repent for having followed the words and deeds of others without thinking, having thought about serving God and others without feeling, and having felt a form of spirituality without understanding its responsibility. Today must be the day we begin to recognise the sins we normalise in our communities and to answer anew God’s call to His people to share in His sacrifice for others.

Yours Truly,
Gwee Li Sui


Have you got something to say too? Write to me at singaporeano AT gmail DOT com

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Christianism, Singapore

“I’ve said nothing wrong, you know.” Ctd

02.20.10 | Permalink | 1 Comment

A Christian friend reacts to Rony’s response:

I think this just proves that some people’s fear of ISD is stronger than their fear for God.

How true. Oh, how true.

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Christianism, Singapore

Pastor Rony Tan: “I’ve said nothing wrong, you know.”

02.20.10 | Permalink | 9 Comments

There were so many things that Rony Tan could have said when the Straits Times asked him for a response to the police reports made against him, but what did he do? He stuck to his guns, made no apology for what he said, and instead reminded gay and lesbian Singaporeans that they were criminals in the eyes of the law. Here’s the part of the ST report [behind paywall] that relates to his response:

When contacted by The Straits Times, Pastor Tan, 64, defended his remarks.

He said: ‘I’ve said nothing wrong, you know. Like I said, my stand is with the average person and the Government.’

He said he had always taught his congregation that the homosexual community should not be discriminated against.

‘But, of course, you know there is a law against homosexual acts, so that’s always been my stand.

‘I’ve always taught my people that…if they (homosexuals) are talented, we should not deprive them. And if we have friends, we should still continue the friendship.’

He added: ‘The act is wrong, (but) as a person, there are a lot of good points that we should appreciate.’

Remember Rony’s preposterous claims that gay people were paedophiles and boy-molesters that would run around doing bad stuff to kids if they weren’t stopped? That if the church didn’t warn people about homosexuality, “half the world would turn gay”? That if this problem weren’t nipped in the bud, then people would soon ask to get married to donkeys and monkeys and dogs, and apply for HDB flats with them? Yes. Rony Tan stands by ALL of those claims. “I’ve said nothing wrong, you know.”

I especially love the way he hid behind the law and subtly played the patriotic card:
‘Like I said, my stand is with the average person and the Government…., you know there is a law against homosexual acts, so that’s always been my stand.’

Heartwarming. Makes me wonder what his stand on abortion is? Makes me wonder why he didn’t expend the same amount of energy and time railing against all those sinful baby-killers and the state for abetting them? This reeks to me of hypocriticism of the highest level.

The next line takes the cake. Here’s where Rony’s ‘agape’ love really shines through:
‘I’ve always taught my people that…if they (homosexuals) are talented, we should not deprive them. And if we have friends, we should still continue the friendship.’

I guess we all missed the video for this one! So gay people shouldn’t be deprived only if they’re talented? What should we do with gay people who aren’t talented? Smother them with a pillow perhaps?

I say, this man is devoid of the love, grace and compassion that he preaches about.

More importantly, he can hide all he want behind the court that runs on the law of the land. But he’s totally lost it in another more important court — and that’s the court of public opinion.

Since there appears to be no public relations consultant among the 12,000 members of Lighthouse Evangelism to help Rony Tan formulate his responses to the press, here are a few things I would have advised Rony to say if he had hired me as his crisis communications consultant[1]:

“First, I must apologise if I had offended anybody. That wasn’t my intention at all. I apologise unreservedly to anyone who has been offended by my remarks made in the Cheryl Bachelor ex-lesbian video.”

“I also acknowledge that I am not the most knowledgeable expert in issues related to homosexuality. I take back my remarks associating gay people with paedophiles and zoophiles, and once again, apologies are in order. I want to assure people that you will not hear me making such comments again.”

“We would like to open the doors of our church to members of the gay community and anyone who took offense to the contents of the video this Sunday [insert time here]. I would like to apologise to them personally for my remarks. Lighthouse Evangelism is a church with open doors, and we welcome EVERYBODY to visit us as they are. No exceptions.”

I know how sorry can sometimes be the hardest word to say. But hey, he wouldn’t have had to compromise one yot or tittle of his faith to say any of the above. And he would have scored so many more points.


Footnotes:
1. Not likely to happen in this lifetime.

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