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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pastor Tan of Lighthouse Evangelism

I wrote in to the Singapore website, Racial Harmony, after I saw his videos.

This is the feedback I gave on 4 February 2010:

I would like to bring to your attention a few videos from Youtube, on Pastor Rony from Singapore Lighthouse Evangelist Church.

He denounces other religions and specifically mentions "satan and demons coming into people's minds". (timed at 4.50)

There are a few more videos of him and a few other people.

I believe this is a serious denouncement of religions and he should be reminded, if not reprimanded, of the importance of racial harmony in Singapore.

Please take the necessary actions to ensure that he does not repeat such speech nor are these to be broadcast in public domains.

I have removed the video links because I don't think it needs any more broadcasting. If you have absolutely no clue what I am talking about, read the article from Channel News Asia (Source) as below:

Pastor apologises personally to Buddhist & Taoist federations
By Hoe Yeen Nie, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 09 February 2010 2332 hrs     
SINGAPORE: The pastor who was called up by the Internal Security Department (ISD) for making insensitive remarks against the Buddhist and Taoist faiths has apologised personally to the leaders of the two religions.

The leaders of the two faiths accepted Pastor Rony Tan's apology, and wish to let the matter rest.

Pastor Tan of Lighthouse Evangelism made the comments at his church sessions. These sessions were video-recorded and made available on Lighthouse Evangelism's website.

Video clips of these sessions subsequently became available on YouTube and other websites. The clips showed Pastor Tan interviewing a former monk and a former nun.

Some who viewed the videos felt the pastor had insulted the Buddhist and Taoist faiths.

On Monday, the pastor was called up by the ISD. That same night Pastor Tan issued a public apology on his church's website.

On Tuesday, he met the leaders of both faiths at the monastery at Bright Hill for about an hour and apologised in person.

Venerable Kwang Sheng, president of Singapore Buddhist Federation, described the meeting as amiable. "When he first came in, he said he wished to apologise to us, saying that things on the video clip seemed to be very uncalled for.

"He realised that it was a mistake and the magnitude of the response was quite large. So he realised it was a serious issue, and he wishes to apologise to the Buddhists and Taoists for his wrongdoing.

"And (he) said that he will not repeat his mistake again. We accepted his apology."

When asked if he was satisfied with what Pastor Tan said, Venerable Kwang Sheng told MediaCorp: "Yes, because what else can we demand if someone else has already apologised? He said he was quite ignorant of other religions, he doesn't know the practice of Buddhism."

Venerable Kwang Sheng added that there will be room for better communication in future. "We exchanged name cards, and perhaps in future we may be able to meet and talk about our religion and his religion and if there are any misunderstandings in future, we can communicate."

In response to MediaCorp's query, the Singapore Bible College said it trains would-be pastors to be mindful of what they say, especially in a multi-religious society.

Dr Albert Ting, principal of Singapore Bible College, said: "You can talk about your uniqueness, you can talk about your values, you can talk about your doctrines, you can talk about what constitutes the basis of your faith.

"That is all within the allowable discussion. That is your faith, you can't change it. But whenever you're engaged with others, then you want to show your respect."

In a statement, the National Council of Churches said an advisory was issued to Christians in 2008 "not to denounce other religions" even as they evangelise.

But in the heat of the moment, a preacher can cross the line. And here is where the popularity of new media has made the situation more complex, because once these speeches are uploaded on the Internet, they can be easily forwarded to other people and posted on other websites.

Alvin Yeo, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Home Affairs and Law, said: "There becomes a greater onus on whoever is making the video or being in the video, to take responsibility for their actions."

"The new phenomenon of the Internet and, you know, where everyone's mobile phone has a video facility, means that whatever you say and do, even in more limited confines, can well be spread to thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or potentially millions others," he added.

He also said the answer is not greater regulation but personal responsibility, adding that "depending on whether the message is incendiary (or not), I think authorities will move fast to take action, particularly if the outreach is that much greater."

The Islamic Council of Singapore said comments that "denigrate and trivialise" other faiths are unacceptable in Islam, while the Inter-Religious Organisation said it is "comforting" to see that many of the public comments speak for the need for religious harmony in Singapore.

I cannot believe it took so long for his comments to be noticed. Does this mean that everyone who heard it kept quiet because they agreed with him or simply do not feel the need to take action?

Racial harmony is important.

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thQnk :)


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