Militant secularists after Pastor Rony Tan

 

"Dissatisfied with the way the controversy over a pastor's remarks on Buddhism has panned out in a successful meeting for reconciliation between leaders of the respective faiths, a group of militant secularists is calling for the arrest of Lighthouse Evangelism founder and senior pastor the Rev. Rony Tan." Christian Post SG "Militant Secularists Demand Rony Tan's Arrest" dated Feb 11, 2010.

There is a counter argument against those who have come against Pastor Rony Tan for mocking the Buddhist Faith. They are now labelled as "Secularists", and "Militant", in an attempt to portray Rony as being the victim to a strong and large grouping of non religious "activists". There appears to be a strong delusion of persecution complex amongsts the Christian Fundamentalists which is very dangerous. We see this in the Middle East, where the Arab Nations see themselves as victims of the Western Nations despite giving the Jews only a small plot of land called Israel. This portrayal of being the victim can be used to justify crimes of religious violence in retaliation. Our hope that a lesson may be learnt from the Rony Tan saga may be futile if there is no humility and admittance of wrong doing both publically and privately.

The Christian Right has alleged that the complaints to DBS for associations with the Focus on the Family were by the same "militant secularists" now against Pastor Rony. However, this generalisation is not insightful, as Focus on the Family is one of the most agressive anti-gay groups in the USA, and going out of its way to persecute gays and insisting that gays be jailed. It is no gentle Christian Lamb. In response, to this increasing foreign religous influence into Singapore via the mega churches, the Gay Community voiced their concerns to DBS which took them seriously. It would be naive to presume that the Gay community would not react when being taken advantage of.

The Christian Right also claimed that $35,000 was given to Aware from the Chen Su Lan Trust for the Comprehensive Sexuality Education workshops which they say promoted homosexuality. This again is highly exagerrated when the teaching itself hardly mentioned homosexuality and was neutral on this issue. How is a one minute neutral mention in a 3 hour course summarised as "promoting homosexuality". The truth was that the sexuality workshop was only an excuse, they took over Aware in retaliation for the DBS FOTF affairs and after Aware had reached out to Lesbians in a fund raising event. We again see the Christian Right portraying themselves as the "good guys" despite planning the take over.

The strategy of the Christian Right borrowed from America is to use labels which effectively justifies the action taken against others based on the labels we put on them. This is self deception, for how could those against Pastor Rony Tan be considered secular. They most likely belong to the other religions which he has condemned. The anti-Rony Tan group has never claimed to be secular nor advertised their secularists disposition unless the Christian Right considers all non Christians as secularists. How could they be called militant when they set up only a facebook site and with 300 followers, when Lighthouse Evangelism alone has 12,000 followers. It seems that the lesson has not been learnt at all when deep inside we consider ourselves the victim despite being the perpetrator of the crime.

The Christian Right in Singapore has conveniently labelled and grouped all those against them as godless militants, when they were entirely different groups that responded after being antagonised by them:-

a) The Gay Community in the FOTF/DBS issue

b) The Buddhist Community in the Rony Tan Issue.

c) The Women Rights Supporters/ non Christian faiths in the Aware issue

I am reminded on the detailed planning by the Anglican Church of Our Saviour to carry out the take over of Aware. It was very well organised, with a clear and determined focus, and clinically executed. If this was not militant, then what is? The Christian Right has a sad tendency to accuse others of their very own sins.

Perhaps we can understand why the Christian Right are so perturbed by this event. They can't publically criticised the Government, the other faiths, can't openly support Pastor Rony Tan, and in the final insult, even after apologizing have to bear with calls for Pastor Rony to be further penalised. And so they lumped all their misgivings on the "secularists", called them "militant" and took out their laundary lists of past misgivings as proof of continuous persecution.

That said, the call by those who wanted Pastor Rony Tan, to be further persecuted is clearly unwise, and ungracious. What Pastor Rony Tan has suffered is worst than death for many chinese elderly folks - for it is a very big loss of face. The Government was wise not to make him a martyr, and a rallying point for Christians but instead even worst for him to apologize in the old chinese way of bowing down humbly presenting a cup of hot tea in asking for forgiveness admitting that he is the lesser. The most pertinent statement in the Straits Times on Feb 10, 2010 article "Buddhist, Taoist leaders accept pastor's apology was the first three sentence:-

"The apology was accepted the old fashioned way - in person, over a pot of hot tea, and with a firm handshake"

Whether a lesson has been learnt depends on how far he had bowed down in his own heart. The door for a downfall was opened when Pastor Rony Tan went after the Gay community. It was a very weak and marginalised group who will never be able to stand up against the 12,000 strong church but God will humble the proud and those who make use of their power and position to persecute the poor, weak, and defenceless. Ultimately, his decline was sealed when he first made fun of gays.

 

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