Saturday, February 06, 2010

"Do to others as you would have them do to you" [Updated]

"Do to others as you would have them do to you" -- Luke 6:31, NIV

Last year, in reaction to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's 2009 National Day Rally Speech, I wrote a blog post in which I expressed my concern that the PM's appeal for continued religious harmony and tolerance in Singapore may fall on deaf ears of a significant minority of religious believers.

Yesterday, as I watched a series of videos on Youtube, it would appear that this concern of mine is not unfounded. Specifically, I was watching a series of three videos in which the founding pastor of a local church "interviewed" two individuals, who are supposedly ex-Buddhist clergy and have converted to Christianity, and in the process of doing so, questioned some of the teachings of Buddhism and made disparaging remarks about these teachings. In fact, in one of the videos, the pastor implied that Buddhism is a "false religion".

[aside: I would not be including links to the series of videos as I do not desire to aid the spread of the potentially seditious remarks made about Buddhism in them]

Besides being available on Youtube, the videos are also being spread online on Facebook and in some local internet forums. In fact, one of the videos was shared on Foreign Minister George Yeo's Facebook page (however, despite there being a long debate between two "fans" of the minister, the minister himself has yet to express his opinion on the video).

As I have said in a previous blog post of mine, I have nothing against any particular religious faith or religious believers attempting to propagate their beliefs, the contention, however, which I have is with the methods employed by some religious believers to propagate their beliefs. Thus, with regards to the series of videos in question, I do not mind the pastor preaching to his congregation but what I do mind is that his presentation of Buddhism and disparaging remarks about it will leave a distorted impression of Buddhism in the minds of his congregation (just to clarify, I am not a Buddhist). And as some have pointed out, the remarks of the pastor can potentially be considered as seditious in nature within the context of Singapore law.

To conclude, in case it is not clear to you all, I am writing this to express my disapproval of the remarks made by the pastor and the manner in which he disparages one religious faith to propagate his own. And I would not be surprised if someone, after watching the videos, lodge a police report against the pastor.

Update No.1 -- 6/2/2010, 2247hrs

Judging by the most recent comments made about the videos on Youtube, it appears that someone have alerted the authorities about the videos.

Update No. 2 -- 8/2/2010, 2252hrs

According to Channel 8 news, the Ministry of Home Affairs have warned the pastor in question regarding the videos and the remarks he made about them. The pastor has released a statement on his website saying: "I realized that my presentation and comments were wrong and offensive. So I sincerely apologize for my insensitivity towards the Buddhists and Taoists, and solemnly promise that it will never happen again". And since the identity of the pastor is evidently out in the open already, I may as well tell you all that the pastor in question is Pastor Rony Tan of Lighthouse Evangelism (Church).

Update No. 3 -- 8/2/2010, 2355hrs

CNA: Pastor's comments on Buddhism/Taoism "inappropriate and unacceptable": MHA

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