May 5, 2009

Steeplejacking: The Internal Crisis of Christianity?

I learned a new word today - "steeplejacking". How interesting.

Someone used that word, when he commented on my previous post. He wrote: "Mr Wang, I am concerned over the steeplejacking that we've witnessed here in Singapore, especially when COOS has links to notorious steeplejacking organisations in America and Australia (eg Joel's Army, NAR)."

Maybe the word steeplejacking is well-known among Christians today, but then I am not a Christian. I didn't know the meaning of the word at all. So I looked it up on Google. The top hit was a website about a book entitled "Steeplejacking: How the Christian Right is Hijacking Mainstream Religion". And the commentary went like this:
“A how-to manual for progressive Christians who want to reclaim the church from intolerant, extremist factions. An important book.”— Julia Scheeres, author of Jesus Land: A Memoir

An unprecedented look inside the battle for religion in America, Steeplejacking exposes how a strident theocratic minority is attacking - or “steeplejacking”— mainstream churches in order to eliminate progressive voices and take control of America’s historic mainline denominations.

An insider account by two ministers on the front lines of mainstream religion’s longtime shadow war against the religious right, Steeplejacking reveals how conservative renewal groups, backed by a right-wing organization called the Institute on Religion and Democracy, use social wedge issues like homosexuality to infiltrate mainline churches and stir up dissent among members of the congregation, with the goal of taking over the leadership of the church, and ultimately, the denomination.

The book unmasks the covert methods that renewal groups and the IRD use to spread their propaganda, as well as showing how the pastor and other church leaders can act as either provocateurs or protectors in the face of an attack. Churches that have been “steeplejacked” are also examined to illustrate why some are able to withstand an attack, while others succumb.

Featuring a foreword by Michelle Goldberg, author of the bestselling Kingdom Coming, and an introduction by Frederick Clarkson, Steeplejacking shows how mainstream religion can fight back against the insidious tactics of the Christian right.
Since I have not even read the book, I'm sure I do not understand the issues very well. Still, I'm definitely reminded of certain very recent events in Singapore. What about you?

If you are a concerned Christian, perhaps you should buy the book, read it carefully, and see if it is in any way relevant to what's happening to your church in Singapore today.

On a separate note, here's an email I just got from another reader. I'm not sure if he wants to be identified, so I'll just refer to him as Yio:

Dear Mr Wang,

I am an avid reader of your blog, and I know, blogs are personal spaces and if I'm not happy I can just leave.

I won't say I am offended by the title of your latest post but, it did strike a raw spot within me. Would you, use 'Thank Allah the Muslims were defeated' if it was the Muslims and not the Christians who did this? Yes, it's hypothetical. I doubt the Muslims in Singapore would.

Also, before I get branded a fundamentalist, I would like you to know that; no, I'm not anti gay. Neither am I pro gay. Finally, I do not think that what Thio did was right, there were better, less hostile methods that could have been employed.

I believe, in a world such as ours, agreeing to disagree is the way forward. You can never ever bring pro choice and pro family together. Two bloody ends of the spectrum and you can argue till the cows come home and you will not have a winner.

Yes, it is a historical day for Singapore. 'Freedom!' some cry. I think it's merely the beginning of a long hard journey, not the end of it.

Again, we agree to disagree. I will continue to read your blog for the many insightful
posts.

Yio was referring to my earlier post entitled Thank God the Christians were Defeated. I make no apologies at all for that title, because (1) I think it's a good title, and (2) I had already explained, in the very first sentence of my article, the specific individuals to whom the title was referring.

I'm actually slightly pleased to see Yio's discomfiture, because that discomfiture is a good sign. I think Yio is upset at least partially because he regards himself as a Christian, but at the same time dislikes the possibility of being associated with the Christian fundies.

Well, Yio, if you feel that way, then, to me, the solution seems to be rather obvious. You should simply disassociate yourself from the fundies, and explain loudly your reasons for doing so. In other words, speak up without fear.

But maybe this message shouldn't come from me. After all, I'm not a Christian. So instead, just consider this example of a staunch Christian who did decide to speak out, in no uncertain terms. Here's an excerpt from NUS lecturer Gwee Li Sui's recent and powerful article, originally published on his own Facebook, and then reproduced on Wayang Party:

As a secular body, AWARE rightly cannot have a vision that treats women from different backgrounds through the outlook of just one religious system. Indeed, I dare say that an appropriate Christian response is to resist the actions of these Christians. Just as God gave every person free choice and the opportunity to believe, we ought to support the sanctity of this right for others to make up their own minds and live their own lives. Just as we do not force the Christian faith down someone’s throat against his or her will, we should not take over a non-religious organisation for the single purpose of making others unlike us behave as we believe. To do this would be a gross misapplication of the message of Jesus.

If you support the new ex-co’s actions, be aware that you are sending a string of possibly irreversible wrong signals to every Singaporean. Consider carefully whether you are willing to shoulder the responsibility of damages that would affect the longstanding good work of Christians in Singapore. Since the government has chosen not to be involved in the matter so far, whatever happens will be seen clearly by all as the response of particular sectors of society.

Here is my short list of obvious implications:

[1] Support the new ex-co, and you are effectively saying that you condone its quasi-corporate act of infiltration, with related strategies of secrecy, disinformation, moral coercion, and fear-mongering. You are saying that you support its less-than-Christian covert moves more than traditionally Christian ones like dialogue, open engagement, honesty, and clarity.

[2] Support the new ex-co, and we will go down a slippery road with wide-ranging repercussions for all. Don’t believe for a moment that the manoeuvring will stop here. What this invites others to see is that infiltration is the most effective way for small groups of like-minded individuals to seize power quickly — and where will this end? What is to stop any religious or ideological group from doing the same to any social institution at every level? In the long run, who do you think loses?

[3] Support the new ex-co, and you potentially make light of the freedom that is God’s gift to every human being. Against your best intentions, you may send out instead the message that we Christians think that we know better than everyone else and that we are willing to outflank, overpower, and overwhelm if we do not get our way.

[4] Support the new ex-co, and, if they stay and behave as predicted, you will be directly responsible for undoing the trust that many Christians have taken years to build with their non-Christian friends. This is a trust built on mutual respect. You will have made the Gospel of Christ more difficult to hear for years to come because people will think that they know what it is about. You will have created a new generation of Christ-haters.

This matter, in short, is not to be treated lightly. Jesus tells us all to be “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves”. There are times to be passionate and helpful in a gungho way, but this is not the time. Christians can be wrong about many things too. So please, by all means, pray for the AWARE debacle to be resolved amicably and for Christians in AWARE, but do not, in the name of our common faith, go in blind support of other Christians because you are Christian!

Lots of food for thought there. Don't you agree?

76 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would think that the "new ex-co" (now new-old) were merely employing tactics that they see used so effectively in political circles. Has history not shown in the immediate geography that the end is all that matters, and the means is a distant second in consideration in the path to implementing one's goals?

Anonymous said...

Eh .. yio's discomfiture is more likely due to *your* christian-bashing. You may have specified the "christians" in your 1st line but the title was obvious flame bait. Though I guess I should thank you for this article.

Anyway, its not like moderates are not speaking ... we are simpy drowned by the folks who dun like Christians and even more so the gahmen-controlled MSM. Actually I do not understand the perception of "christian-elite". most Christians I know are humble and normal folks. Are the Lees christian? The last I check, they are big on Taoist-buddhist & fengshui. Minister Khaw is I believe a pious Buddhist (or so he says). The fundies are not christians either. They profess to speak for Christ but as Bible *hehe* tells us ... Jesus does not know them.

Moderate

Mr Wang Says So said...

I already summarised my views quite neatly, in another recent comment. You might be interested to read See Point 6, perhaps also Points 5 and 7.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Wang,

I am a Christian, but am also in strong objection to the actions of the so-called Christian Right. For so long, the Bible has been misused by these people for their own purposes. Anyone with a passing knowledge of the Bible will know the following to be true:
- Jesus' own life bears testimony of what he expects from his believers
- Jesus did not use his not inconsiderable powers to overturn the regime of the Romans or the Jewish High Priesthood, even though he detested them (he could have zapped all of them with his magic powers)
- He often hung out with the undesirables of society (the tax collectors, the prostitutes etc.) without judging them or forcing them to 'convert'. In fact he had no interest in hanging out with the rich and powerful
- He often taught his disciples that their kingdom was in heaven and not on earth, and nothing he ever taught indicated that he expected his believers to get involved in secular society or to change or takeover any secular or political organisation.
- His message was of love and peace without condition (he certainly did not exclude the gays and lesbians)

Nothing in my Christian religion and my study of the Bible is consistent with the actions of the so-called Christian Right, and in particular, the actions of the New Exco. Maybe they read a different bible and their Jesus is a different person from mine.

chengguan said...

have a round of applause for Anonymous - May 5, 2009 10:26 AM.

Jesus did not do that as God has given us the free choice.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,
I am a non-believer. But your one-sided Christian bashing, is also not helpful in hat the old-guard are sending signals to our young ones condoning homosexuality, anal sex, easy-sex.
I am glad that there is now an email going round getting people to appeal to the PM to get MOE to be more alert in what's going on at some some schools.

Anonymous said...

Being a religious "moderate" is not an excuse. Christian "moderates" believe in the same holy text as the fundies do, and that very religious text is what motivates and justifies religious bigotry and dogmatism. After all, the Bible *does* condemn homosexuality and even prescribes their execution in Leviticus 20:13.

Christian "moderates" are just people who pick-and-choose what they want to believe in from the Bible. So they embrace politically correct messages that make them feel good, such as verses that speak of love, humility and charity. But they turn a blind eye to the many other passages that demonstrate God to be a petty, bloodthirsty, cruel being (such as the OT passages where he commands the genocide of entire races simply because they refuse to believe in Him).

To me, you either reject the whole thing, or you accept the whole thing. Choosing some parts of the Bible to believe in while rationalising away other unsavoury portions is just intellectually dishonest. That is why I stopped being a Christian long ago.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, you (and your readers) might be interested to read this, if you have not already done so ---> http://dogemperor.newsvine.com/_news/2009/04/24/2729992-a-steeplejacking-of-a-womens-ngo-in-singapore-a-rare-glimpse-at-how-joels-army-groups-work-in-practice

Anonymous said...

And some people talking about TSM here: http://forums.vr-zone.com/chit-chatting/426811-dr-thios-interesting-background.html

Anonymous said...

i am not a christian, nor do i condone the tactics of josie lau and gang.

i am for same-sex marriage, and it was heart-warming to see constance singam and gang reinstated.

still, i am concerned about the wording of aware's cse. for instance: "anal sex is healthy ..." this is medically untrue, whether for homosexuals (gays) or heterosexuals. i could go on, but i'll leave you to decide.

http://inspirationfortoday.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/aware-20073.pdf

also, i wonder why aware hasn't taken the time to put this up on their website. true, this is a trainer's manual, and we, the public, aren't trainers appointed by aware. but given that the cse was at the centre of the controversy, aware could have done more to assuage the fears and suspicions of the public at large.

Anthony said...

-sigh-

Everytime someone chooses to raise unreasonable passages in the Bible, Leviticus rears its ugly head.

Please get this clear - Leviticus is a book of priest law, akin to old Jewish tribal law. It is entirely correct to say that it is outdated and should not be followed in the modern context.

My point to the above is that counching belief structures in "all-or-nothing" is absolute bullocks. This applies to belief structures in general, not just religion.

Context is everything. Most belief structures believe that killing is wrong, but the actual application of this depends from belief structure to belief structure. Is eating animals killing? Is self-defense alright?

As a rational Christian, my duty is not just to "rationalise the parts I like" - I rationalise the WHOLE of the teachings of Christianity and one of the methods I use is historical context - i.e what used to apply does not necessarily apply now. Surely that cannot be unreasonable?

More importantly, surely that is more reasonable than either accepting the bible wholesale or rejecting it wholesale?

Anonymous said...

Bait all the fundies you want, Mr. Wang. It's your right. It's your blog. It's up to the readers to decide for themselves. They can easily go and read some other stuff on the Net. Don't let them tell you what headlines to put for your blogposts.

Onlooker said...

Steeplejacking have been happening for a long time.

The first thing that came to mind though is Westboro Baptist Church.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westboro_Baptist_Church

Extracted
All the principals of the Phelps Chartered law firm, a firm founded by WBC founder Fred Phelps, are members of WBC. Phelps Chartered handles most of WBC's legal work and has received significant awards of attorney's fees from the Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Award Act of 1976 when WBC had been improperly prevented from picketing.

There is also the question of the $90000.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:56am:

Leviticus also forbids the eating of pork, compulsory circumcision and the death penalty for adulterers. You don't hear churches preaching about that do you? It's not a question of whether one is a 'moderate' or not. It's a matter of whether you choose certain passages of the text (as you correctly pointed out) and totally ignore the context of the entire book (as pointed out by Anthony). I'm not even sure what a 'moderate' Christian is, perhaps you mean a Christian who is less active or fervent. However, I know many Christians who are both active and fervent, and who abide strictly by the principles of the religion, yet are not 'fundies' as they do not behave in the same way.

It's way too simplistic and fundamentally wrong if Christians are grouped into only 2 categories: fundamentalists (i.e. the nut-jobs) and moderates (i.e. the lazy inert ones).

Tan Ah Beng said...

The title "Thank God the Christians were Defeated" did shocked me, but it also caught my attention. And upon further reading, it was apparent that the post has nothing against our usual Christians, but just particular few.

What I'll say is, the title was controversial, but worked well as an eyes-catcher.

Anonymous said...

How come Christians associate the word "god" with theirs and nobody's else's?

Anonymous said...

Accoding to one person who commented on http://xenoboysg.blogspot.com/2009/04/carafas-eye.html , COOS itself got steeplejacked!

Anonymous said...

If there ever was a person called Jesus Christ, he was born a brown Palestinian, not the white guy whose image appears on crucifixes.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anthony,

I am familiar with the arguments Christians make to rationalise why they ignore certain verses and not others. Suffice to say that your "historical context" argument can apply to every verse in the Bible, given that virtually all of them are addressed to a particular audience in a particular period of time with vastly different circumstances from ours.

For example, a Christian who doesn't like something that Paul said (perhaps one of his backward views on the status of women) can dismiss it by arguing that it was directed at a particular church in a particular cultural context, etc. However, when it comes to verses that they like, the same Christian would readily accept it without raising questions of modern applicability.

This does not mean that we should throw the baby out with the bathwater. Rather, we should accept the Bible as a collection of writings by flawed humans living in an unenlightened day and age, but who nonetheless had some useful moral insights. That way, you can justify picking out the parts that are valuable and good for moral guidance while discarding the parts that are outmoded and barbaric.

On the other hand, if you insist that the Bible is the word of God, you are affirming the very basis that fundies use to justify their abhorrent views. After all, the hallmark of fundamentalism is the uncritical acceptance of everything that the Bible says as gospel truth, not because it accords with logic or evidence, but because of the unsupported premise that the Bible is divinely inspired. Christian moderates who accept this view of the Bible only provide fuel for the fundamentalist fire.

fr0z said...

If you are Christian, and object to Christian fundamentalists, then denounce them publicly. Make yourselves heard. Only then will non-Christians see if they are the majority or not.

Until then, failure to disassociate yourselves makes the fundamentalists more prominent, and by association, more like Christian leaders.

Anonymous said...

Off-topic: If right-wing Christians in SG are really so concerned about the moral fibre of our society I always wonder why they never agitate for compulsory 5-day work week for our domestic maids. I will truly respect them if they do this :-).

Why so many hang ups about homosexuality, legalised abortion etc etc? Surely there are far more important things to worry about...

Anthony said...

Dear Anon,

First of all, let me state one very important matter - there is a limit to how much you can apply logic to articles of faith.

The issue of whether the Bible is divinely inspired is not an unsupported premise, but an unsupportable premise. It is unfalsifiable. Whether you want to treat the Bible as divinely inspired or not is not an article of evidence, but an article of faith.

In fact, if I were to apply logic and evidence to the teachings of the Bible, I would find a lot of the teachings counterfactual and nonsensical.

Let's take the example of turning the other cheek when your enemy slaps you. If I were to apply logic and rationality here, this teaching would completely not make sense - likelihood here is that the other guy would continue slapping you.

However, read in totality of the teachings of Christ and based on the moral principles that I see in the Bible, I read this as an ideal, a sign of striving for patience even among those who are out to hurt you.

In other words - even if I choose to apply context to these, there remains the question of whether I'm choosing to interpret the Bible consistently and constructively or whether I'm interpreting the Bible to bring out the contradictions and failings.

I'm not eliminating the possibility of error from the Bible, nor am I proposing that the Bible is flawed. I think it comes down to a decision that each person has to make with religious text and to a lesser extent, all text seeking to guide behaviour and morals.

That choice is whether you choose to interpret these texts constructively and glean as much of it as you can, or whether you wish to interpret the Bible destructively, and point out the flaws in it.

In short, the two choices you've set out is a false dilemma. It isn't a situation where I have to choose between the failings of the Bible versus the infallability of the Bible - I can just as easily take a conditioned stance on the basis that my own understanding is limited, but want to make a sincere good faith effort to try to understand the Bible, and will as such, make as much effort to interpret the Bible as consistently as possible.

I don't think the issue here is due to doctrinal problems with the religion. I think it's just an issue of good faith - that fundamentalists do not read context into the Bible, and merely lift and quote directly into the text. Insofar as this harms people, or goes against the fundamental teachings of Christianity, I will oppose it and have opposed it.

Recognise this is not us versus them, and that even among Christians there are differences in levels of understanding and enlightenment.

Alan Wong said...

So it is revealed that the ancient holy book actually condone genocide while at the same time contained many taboos such as homosexuality, abortion, eating of pork, adultery, etc.

But how come some of the Churches like COOS are so anti-gay only ? Adultery is OK is it ?

Pastor Derek or Dr. Thio, what say you ?

Anonymous said...

Indeed, some teachings of the Bible do [i]seem[/i] extreme and irrational to apply in our daily lives. But this is not limited to Christianity alone.

Some similar teachings of Buddhism on patience & kindness to your enemies:

- When others, out of jealousy, mistreat me with abuse, slander and so on, I will accept defeat and offer the victory to them.

- Whenever I meet a person of bad nature who i overwhelmed by negative actions and intense suffering, I will hold such a rare one dear, as if I had found a precious treasure.

The said...

This is freaking scary...
Then again, maybe we should ask HER to protect Singapore from the Swine Flu...


"Last February, a USSPN Washington Regional Coordinator was present during a report given by an international lawyer from Singapore, Thio Su Mien (Su), who is gifted in prophetic intercession and healing. She shared about some of the things going on in the area of Indonesia before the tsunami.
She explained how the SARS virus hit Singapore a year prior to the earthquake/tsunami. The Lord alerted the intercessors and told them that if they did not get on their faces and repent on behalf of their nation's involvement in abortion as the contraceptive of choice, that the land would suffer from His hand of judgment.
Because they saw how devastating the SARS virus had been, the intercessors immediately took action to seek His mercy and forgiveness. Singapore was not touched by the earthquake disaster. The Malaysian intercessors joined them in diligent prayer and also opened healing rooms in Kuala Lampur. The area on the Northern Coast of Malaysia was hit hard. There are amazing stories of God's grace and mercy in saving souls and lives there.
It was the prayers of the intercessors that had saved the disaster from affecting an even larger area. She emphasized that the intercessors crying out with repentance and asking for mercy, along with declarations of the Word of God over the land (both written and rhema), released the curse upon the land and the people were spared. It was a plea for intercessors to step up to the plate and continue to press into God for mercy from judgment coming."

From http://www.elijahlist.com/words/display_word.html?ID=2997

The said...

/// Anthony said...
First of all, let me state one very important matter - there is a limit to how much you can apply logic to articles of faith. ///

Anthony, what limit? Logic and faith are antithesis. Just focusing on the Bible, you either belief in its entirety because of faith, or you don't because of logic. You cannot apply logic at all when dealing with religious faith. Period.

Anonymous said...

A little off-topic too - I really liked reading the exchanges between the other Anon and Anthony. Thanks for posting and thanks for debating this rationally. This is exactly how I think secularists and the religious should be interacting, without one group forcing its opinion on the other, as the Aware episode has shown.

Anonymous said...

dear Mr Wang and anon_May 5, 2009 12:28 PM,

my first exposure to the word "steeplejacking", was from that article. haha.

yamizi said...

Sometimes, I just feel that are christians considerate people? All the hots and colds about their God seems to undermine the existence of other Diving Being in other religions.

I wonder how many christians can honestly tell a non-believer that he/she will not go to hell simply because they do not believe in their God.

Chee Wai Lee said...

Anonymous May 5, 2009 10:56 AM -

I was about to respond to your comment, but it seems Anthony had already done so.

I would just like to add that Christian Fundamentalists are attempting to do exactly what you had proposed: to accept or reject the entire bible as it stood.

I am a skeptic, though I try to be as respectful as I can about it. From what I can tell, the bible as it is today is a collection of a subset of gospels written by various people over a period of hundreds of years. The gospels identified with various apostles do not even seem to be written by the apostles themselves. Shoe-horned into that collection is the Old Testament from the Jewish tradition and as I found out from a Jewish friend, it is not even clear it was translated correctly from Hebrew to Greek and then Greek to other languages.

It would be a true divine miracle if such a collection had any consistency when logic is applied to its current form. I'll give kudos to the early church for respecting the original works and not conveniently editing every bit to suit their purposes when trying to form a consistent theology (they would fail if they tried, frankly).

Anonymous said...

I think we shd all leave religion outside our discussions.
People can get carried away. People don't know when and where to stop.
Religion is inside our psychic, our blood, etc.
It doesn't pay to play with it, right?
Then of course the dissidents will also chip in as usual on any issue to assoicite it with the government (PAP) and launch their attacks subtley or openly.
So beware danger lurks . . . .

Anonymous said...

I like this website.
http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2008/05/10-reasons-you-should-never-have-a-religion/

Especially this part:

3. Engineered obedience training.

Religions are authoritarian hierarchies designed to dominate your free will. They’re power structures that aim to convince you to give away your power for the benefit of those who enjoy dominating people. When you subscribe to a religion, you enroll in a mindless minion training program. Religions don’t market themselves as such, but this is essentially how they operate.

Religions are very effective at turning human beings into sheep. They’re among the most powerful instruments of social conditioning. They operate by eroding your trust in your own intellect, gradually convincing you to put your trust into some external entity, such as a deity, prominent figure, or great book. Of course these instruments are usually controlled by those who administrate the minion training program, but they don’t have to be. Simply by convincing you to give your power away to something outside yourself, religion will condition you to be weaker, more docile, and easier to control. Religions actively promote this weakening process as if it were beneficial, commonly branding it with the word faith. What they’re actually promoting is submission.

Anonymous said...

- When others, out of jealousy, mistreat me with abuse, slander and so on, I will accept defeat and offer the victory to them.This actually teaches the philosophy of not taking offense, not engaging in needless or senseless negativities, debate and arguments.

Learn to smile and walk away.
"Defeat" is but just a word with no meaning, if one learns the above.

- Whenever I meet a person of bad nature who i overwhelmed by negative actions and intense suffering, I will hold such a rare one dear, as if I had found a precious treasure.This phrase attempts to teach one to emphatise with those who did wrong and not understand the nature of peace.

To hold the persona dear, is to love the "evil", embrace it with as much love and care as you will "good". For all are equal, and all can be forgiven. And "evil" can one day correct their ways. Only if we take the first step in showing them the caring and loving.

yamizi said...

anon@ 10:03am,

Probably you need to study Buddhism more in order for you to understand what those 2 lines mean =)

Anonymous said...

Agree with Anon 7:11.

"Die religion ist das opium des volkes"

Anonymous said...

I think what Anthony means with respect to his 'faith vs evidence' point is this: you take your bible in your own faith, you yourself are convinced of it without proof. This is something which happens within yourself. However, if you seek to convince someone else of it, then you need evidence and faith is not sufficient. Hence faith and logic is not contradictory but instead apply in 2 distinctly different situations.

Accordingly, I believe that Christians should not try to impose their own faith on others (that has been the source of dispute for many religions for many generations). They are free to live their lives according to their own faith, but cannot seek to legislate the lives of others solely because of their faith (well, at least in a secular and multi-religious society like Singapore).

In any case, no Christian has the right to tell another person (Christian or otherwise) that he/she "will not go to heaven". Only God has the right to do so (as far as former is concerned) - the Bible is explicitly clear on that.

Anthony said...

I'm not sure if I can explain the interaction between logic and faith properly, so I'll try by using an example.

Take the example of the ban on shellfish in the Bible. Examine it with logic - does it harm anyone if I eat the shellfish? Am I a tribal Jew? Is it inconsistent with the central teachings of the bible i.e love, tolerance, forgiveness?

In all these questions, it would come down to the sensible answer - probably not. It would therefore be a pretty extreme leap of faith for me to swallow that God hates shellfish and will condemn all who eat shellfish.

A more difficult example would be turning the other cheek. Logically speaking, it is counterfactual to human experience on at least one level - an agressor is likely to continue attacking, and you would continue to be hurt. It is however, consistent with other teachings in the Bible. The possible logical implications of this passage can vary from adopting pacifism to mere tolerance of enemies.

So what do I do now? Among all these varied interpretations which one do I choose? For me, I choose to adopt an interpretation that permits self-defence against an act of violence against my body. However, I do acknowledge that the Bible encourages me to forgive him after the act is passed.

The question here is - is faith any diminished from this logical exercise? Not at all because ultimately, the question of whether the interpretation I select is the correct one and pleasing to the eye of the Lord is a matter of faith, because I don't know or claim to know what the Lord thinks.

I'm not alone in this endeavour. There are many other Christians who sought to use both logic and faith to intepret Christianity - St Thomas Aquinas is the first that comes to mind.

In short, I think that faith and logic are not mutually incompatible. Rather, they just work in overlapping, sometimes competing, sometimes complementary rulesets.

*********

I'll go one step further - I'm willing to bet dimes to dollars that the issue most people have with Christianity is that they have encountered Christians that act like jerks.

I've encountered my fair share of them in my youth as well, so you are not alone here.

I think really the issue here is respect and non-typecasting. I'm Christiant and proud of it, but I personally think that I need to treat people with respect if they are to treat me with respect. I don't know the answers to the big questions - I only think I do, and I am aware of that.

I'm asking those out there - please do not tar all Christians with the same brush. Not all of us are rabid. Faith is not the problem here - the problem here is a misapplication of it.

Anonymous said...

I thought we did not get hit by Tsunami because we have no shore front facing the open sea (and not to mention a giant breakwater called Sumatra)? It's amazing how crazy some people are to claim credit for praying to save us from disaster when physically it's impossible for this disaster to happen anyway.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 7.11am:

Thank you for the quote. I must add however that the author was referring specifically to organized religion (as opposed to all forms of spiritual belief). On that point I agree with him. For one, I can't imagine giving such control over my thoughts, feelings and behaviour over to someone who just happens to be standing behind a pulpit.

Anonymous said...

Actually in retrospect what troubles me more is not so much the underhand takeover of AWARE by the COOS-connected exco BUT what they did in the aftermath of it - changing locks, recording communication, installing security cameras, sacking long-time staffers not connected to them. Man, this kind of aggressive militant behaviour is only seen in politics where very critical national issues are involved.

But here is a gang of churchgoers acting like some kind of Gestapo.

In retrospect I think the instincts of Singaporeans were right on spot. These are dangerous people, out to destroy whatever little social culture we have left under the dehumanising policies of the current political regime.

That little social culture is about social ethics and not about law, as the COOS exco showed repeatedly they were very much oriented towards during the Suntec EGM.

Another thing is when PAP first said it would not interfere but later welcomed the NCCS's criticism of COOS, shows a hypocrisy that is dictated more by circumstances than principle.

Look, PAP too was very hands-off in NKF, Ren Ci and other charity bodies even though as the govt it was responsible for looking into their finances. In fact all along these organisations had the strong support of PAP as they were helping PAP lighten its responsibility to the people.

Alas, when the dirt in NKF could not be hidden anymore PAP jumped in like a white knight to slay the dragon. F

The same storyline goes for the AWARE saga. In all probability, PAP in its calculative thinking had judged that the COOS-connected exco's agenda would lessen PAP's responsibility towards society. Hence its "blessings" by being hands-off in the beginning.

Anonymous said...

As a multi-racial and mutli-religious society, let us be more tolerant of each other's views and opinions.

Using a title such as "Thank God the Christians were Defeated" by itself is disrespectful regardless of whether a disclaimer was done in the article.

How would you feel if the title of my post was "Thank Your Mother for....."

With that in mind, I hope other readers and bloggers can be more mindful and respectful of one another.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, I think I should really make this clear to your readers (especially Christians) that the word "God" is not exclusive to Christians. Muslims may use Allah and God interchangebly. And "God" is a universal word. People have used the word God before the revelation of Jesus. I really don't think the Christians should get really upset about it. Its not like as if the word "God" belongs to them.

God = Allah (arabic which means The God)
God = Yahweh (hebrew which means The God)
God = Baghwan (sanskrit which means The God)
God = Tuhan (Indonesian which means The God)

Anonymous said...

"A more difficult example would be turning the other cheek. Logically speaking, it is counterfactual to human experience on at least one level - an agressor is likely to continue attacking, and you would continue to be hurt. It is however, consistent with other teachings in the Bible. The possible logical implications of this passage can vary from adopting pacifism to mere tolerance of enemies." - Anthony

Your take is prudent but remember this is just your interpretation of the saying of "turning the other cheek" not what it says outright which is to encourage your opponent to attack you even more.

That you choose self-defence - which was not in the teaching - instead of turning the other cheek just goes to show clearly that the teaching is nonsense. It cannot be practised without making one into a hypocrite.

It is in the life instinct of every man, animal and plant to protect itself, called it self-preservation or selfishness. But the Bible tells you that the world is wrong, it is not loving enough, it is sinful against some primal principle called God or whatever.

On that basis, Jesus - if he really ever existed - attempted to save the world and tell people to live in ways that are sometimes simply nonsensical to start with.

If it is really possible to love your fellowman as yourself, then if you have $1000 you would give the first guy in need $500. Then when you see another poor fellow you give $250 out of your $500. So you are left with $250. If you go on applying this so-called principle you end up a pauper, a few cents in your pocket and the people you have helped have become richer than you.

You say nobody do this kind of thing. Precisely, the teaching is therefore nonsense. So don't even give it the label that it is an ideal only. Ideals are not made up of nonsense. Ideals are realizable objectives that are good for one and all not objectives that destroy a person in the end.

Be careful, just because teachings sounds so poetic, so beautiful to the ears they are innocuous or good. In fact for the sincere person who tries to practise them, they can be dangerous to his welfare eventually.

So nonsense is nonsense, don't try to rationalise it. When you see something like "turning the other cheek" as quite impossible to practise and you reckon you should practise self-defence you are not practising what Jesus - if he really ever lived - taught.

Anthony you look like a learned man, so why are unable to recognise this?

If you want to really study moral teachings there are down-to-earth teachings in other cultures that can be studied and practised without all kinds of convoluted interpretations which you involved yourself in.

As for the deriding of Christianity, I too do not wish to do so because there are so many well-meaning people who look to Christianity for hope and solace in life. But if we go on taking this route of untouchability of religion, the danger of it to humanity will never be exposed.

Just to give an example of what I mean by its threat to the world:

I seriously l think the war on Iraq was a religious war, supported by the American people to a large extent. Yes many Americans may claim they are not Christian but when surveyed 90% says they believe in God. I bet their concept of God is still subconsciously a Christian one, a personal being up there and America is special in being divinely ordained by it with a Manifest Destiny to rule the world and dictate what is human rights, even if it needs be with guns and bombs. It is an ethnocentrism greatly influenced by Christianity.

So it is not just militant Islam that is a threat to the world. The greater threat in right within American's own soil especially given is arsenals.

Therefore I highly commend level-headed, problem-solving President Obama for what he is doing to take down this idea that the US can continue to dictate to instead of cooperating with the world.

Anonymous said...

I am a Christian (but not a fundie). Last weekend, when I read in the news that the New Guard had been defeated in the EOGM, one of the first things I actually did was to pray to Jesus and thank Him for this outcome.

Come to think of it now, it just goes to show (in my own opinion, of course) how apt Mr Wang's title was.

Because .... we must ... INDEED .... be thankful that ... THOSE Christians got defeated.

Anonymous said...

I am a Buddhist. The advice to turn the other cheek may sound counterintuitive and illogical. But if you try to apply it in real life, then your own personal experiences may begin to show you the true power in that kind of teaching.

Very often, when you counter violence with violence, anger with anger, all you will create is even more violence and anger. But if you are peaceful, quiet and courteous, then you will discover that somehow, the people in your life will also treat you with more peace, more kindness and more courtesy. And I guess you could say that the world then becomes a better place.

Before I became a Buddhist, I was a gang member. I spent a few years in jail because of the things I did then (which I don't want to talk about anymore). This was many years ago. I guess you could describe me as an "angry young man" then. Getting into fights and beating people up (and getting beaten) was a common thing in my life then. I did not see this behaviour as "wrong" or "stupid". I saw it as "necessary" and "brave" to support my "brothers". If you asked me about it then, I would have given you a lot of reasons why a man must stand up and fight for himself and his territory.

But it is all very stupid, you see. I learned this much later on, from Buddhism. If you "turn the other cheek", then you will find that all the reasons you have, for fighting, for being angry, for being violent, will start to go away. It's like your reality will change.

It's not just about physical fighting. It also applies to things like arguing and quarreling with other people at home or in the workplace.

Try turning the cheek. You may be surprised. :)

-- An ex-convict.

Anonymous said...

To all those who seek to put us down;

'Let he who has no sin cast the first stone.'

Anonymous said...

Hi ex-convict

What you mentioned is more a case of practising peacefulness and not reacting to the aggression of others. This is no easy accomplishment but still that is not what turning the other cheek for the opponent to strike means.

Well in some self-defence straegy or debating skills there is indeed such a technique of baiting the opponent to attack one on a certain point but I don't think the Biblical "turning the other cheek" has anything to do with that.

But in all lets us remember peacefulness by itself does'nt solve life many problems. Sure, it can be a basis for being more effective with people but sometimes by making it a point to always avoid dispute, problems are swept under the carpet only to eventually explode into the open when they cannot be contained anymore.

The AWARE saga is a case in point. If the former exco has not fought to overthrow the new COOS-exco, will it be a better situation?

Strangely peace can be accomplished by studying war carefully because then you know how to avoid conflict and resolve problems.

The "Art of War" by Sun Tzu is brilliant work on this. It could be more aptly entitled "Art of War/Peace".

Anonymous said...

Hi Anthony,

This will be the last post I make on this issue due to time constraints.

All I want to say is that what you wish to do - obtain moral guidance from the Bible through the application of context and common sense - does not necessitate treating the Bible as divine and inerrant.

As I noted earlier, one can read the Bible with the eye of an appreciative sceptic, who does not blindly believe in its truth but who is nonetheless open to sifting out useful and relevant teachings from it. You can approach the Bible like you approach any other work of moral philosophy.

This has two beneficial effects. First, you retain intellectual consistency - you are not forced into situations where you have to distort verses or rationalise them away in order to maintain your belief in the infallibility of the entire Bible. You can just regard that verse as incorrect or misguided.

Second, you reject the basis of religious bigotry. Fundies justify their beliefs (at least to themselves and other fundies) by reference to Biblical inerrancy. They believe that their views (e.g. on homosexuality) flow from the clear words of the Bible, and you know what, they are correct. Christians who argue otherwise are just being wilfully blind to the indisputable fact that the Bible condemns homosexuality in unequivocal terms, in both the Old and New Testaments. The only way to refute fundamentalist bigotry is to deny that the Bible has any special claim to truth.

In sum, there is really no reason to believe in the absolute truth of the Bible. I am not saying that we can go through life without believing certain things on faith. However, in light of all the harms that flow from this particular article of faith, and since you can retain the benefits of moral guidance without subscribing to Biblical inerrancy, you are better off without it.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang & friends ... historians believed that if Jesus was indeed human, he was influenced by Buddhist teachings. Hence the golden rule to treat others as u would others to treat. charity. etc. Another exampe, it is true that many individuals got richer by GIVING away money WITHOUT expectations. eg Rockfeller who was dying from worry of losing $. When he "let go" and strted giving, he actually made more $ than ever. Having said that it is quite sad to see it twisted into the "prosperity gospel".

It is also believed that the Jewish Torah was adapted from even older religions (summerian?).

Btw non-christians here seems to delight in quoting bible out of context. Seriously, I dun think this is/should be a religious blog/battleground.

Anonymous said...

To Anon @ 1201pm

You forgot about the Taoist "gods" - there's one for every occasion...

I suspect it is also true for the Greeks and Romans as well...

To Anon @150pm

No one is looking to cast you or anyone else down...

Your post reeks of intolerance - either we are with you or we are not...sigh

By the way, if I read your sentence literally, can I get my mom to throw the first stone since she is technically not a "he"?

Anthony said...

Anon,

It took me a while to realise this but I'm going to point it out now - based on what you have told me, it seems that you have committed the informal logical fallacy of composition - i.e what is true to the parts must be true to the whole.

I think Buddist Anon's point is incredibly relevant both on a logical and contextual level. On one hand, yes, turning the other cheek is counterfactual, because it would probably encourage other people to whack you more.

On the other hand, I take to heart what Buddist Anon said and agree with him - done with enough patience and sincerity, turning the other cheek -does- work.

I think there are shades of truth and much wisdom to be obtained in the Bible. Ditto the Koran, Tao Te Ching, and the Lotus Sutra. However, in order to obtain such wisdom, one must first make a decision - do I believe that such wisdom exists in these books?

That is not a question that can be answered by reason - you need to believe that there is wisdom to be found in the first place in order to find it. That comes down to the original question I posed to you - do you interpret the Bible constructively with a mind to learning, or do you interpret the Bible destructively, with a mind towards discrediting?

As for Christianity's role in the Iraqi war, yes, I would not deny that Christian Fundamentalists have steeplejack American politics for many years. I can name you more examples of holy wars if you like.

However, as a counterexample, I can also cite you examples of how the Bible and Christianity inspired good works. Mother Theresa is an example that's so common it's become cliche. Ditto the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, etc.

Barack Obama vs George Bush is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. Both are Christians, yet they couldn't be more different. It's clear to me Obama takes a lot of his moral strength and courage from the fact that he's a Christian. It is also clear to me that a lot of Bush's misguideness is also from the fact that he's Christian.

How can that same text inspire such different responses? That's a question I ask myself often, and ultimately, I think it's a question of whether the reader has in sight the fundamental teachings of Christ - love, forgiveness, understanding, wisdom and hope.

That is why I remain a Christian.

Anonymous said...

There is a Malay saying that goes "Siapa makan cili rasalah pedasnya" which means if you eat the chilli you will taste its heat.

So if the title "Thank God the Christians were Defeated" makes you feel bashed, then perhaps you should asked yourself if you are that sort of "Christian" too.

And I do not think steeplejacking is a Christian phenonmenon alone.

The Taliban's infiltration of the Pakistani Intelligence Service, or Wahabism deep influence in the Saudi government can be thought of as equivalent to steeplejacking too. (And similarly by analogy COOS can be deemed as Christian Talibans too.)

Similarly there should be no qualms or disrespectfulness - or riots or effigies burning or fatwas - to proclaim loudly - when it happens (Alas! when?)- "Thank Allah the Talibans are defeated".

Finally anyone and even anything can be God. That is a basic human right I suppose: no one ought to compel you what to think or belief. You can for that matter call everyone and anyone Peter or Ahmad or Velusamy too. But I am who I am no matter what you call me, or not.

Anonymous said...

In response to:

" To all those who seek to put us down;

'Let he who has no sin cast the first stone.'

May 6, 2009 1:50 PM "

I do not think people are putting you down, and certainly not even thinking about stones.

What is really happening is that you have displayed your fruits to the public, and we have tasted them, and they taste hard, bitter and toxic. That is a fact.

Also a fact is you have shown yourselves to be pretty good stone throwers.

Apparently you have forgotten to look at the beam in your own eye, before you point out the speck in others' eyes.

The Psalmist from long ago said, "He who digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit he has made." [Ps 7:15]

Anonymous said...

To: yamizi, you asked "I wonder how many christians can honestly tell a non-believer that he/she will not go to hell simply because they do not believe in their God."

Here's an interesting video clip of world-reknowned evangelist BILLY GRAHAM, who seems to say that Christ/God can be found in all other religions! Yes, there is more than ONE WAY to Heaven. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axxlXy6bLH0&feature=PlayList&p=7DF6E6495777B998&index=0

Anonymous said...

As much as non-Christians dislike Christians telling them to be Christians, Christians also likewise do not want non-Christians telling them not to be Christians.

Anonymous said...

# Anonymous May 6, 3.01pm

You may also wish to note that there are numerous similarities between the ancient Taoist text and the early Christian books (how the earth was born in 6 days), and such Chinese cultural practices as fengshui, which features the Sigil of Saturn that was also found in Hebrew texts and even on Catholic edifices. Like you said, dont surprised that Jesus was influenced by Budhist teachings, and that the Three Wise Men who travelled to Bethelm were indeed Buddhist Astrologers of Indian/Tibetan origin.

Anonymous said...

Thio and her husband apparently are deeply involved in faith-healing and speaking in tongues. So they are supposedly "true Christians". If you guys bother to google and even check up on youtube, you'll find a number of prominent evangelists who claim that speaking in tongues has its roots in pagan religions. If Christians would bother to really study their religions instead of condemning others, they may realise how similar all religions are, and how we could all be drinking from different rivers that flow from the same source.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:01 PM,

You sure take the award for the joke of the day when you said historians believed Jesus was influenced by Buddhist teachings ... true, if you were the historian. Another equally great joke you made is that Rockefeller got rich by giving away money, haha.

Don't ya know John D Rockefeller together with other famous names like J P Morgan, Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie amongst others, were known infamously as the "Robber Barons" of the US. They got rich not by giving but killing off the competition and consolidating their respective industries. Their behaviour were judged unethical by society hence the term "Robber Barons".

The "Gospel of Wealth" also in all likelihood originated from some of these robber barons, not least Rockefeller who connected God to his ability to get very rich.

Anonymous said...

Why do Christians hate Gay People? In 1967, Loving vs. Virginia was a hotly contested court case that saw a black woman marry a white man in the District of Columbia (as was allowed in the American capital.) When the married couple moved back to their home state of Virginia, a grand jury issued an indictment against the couple as they'd married in violation of Virginia's segregation laws.

On sentencing the couple, the judge announced the following:

"Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And, but for the interference with his arrangement, there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."

Anonymous said...

Let's take time out to enjoy this sweet video by ever so-grateful Rev Tony of Lighhouse.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2O67SyJiyzY&feature=related

Anonymous said...

Dear Anthony

You asked "How can that same text (Bible) inspire such different responses (Bush vs Obama)?"

The answer is actually not a secret. The key factor to the current change is not who is the President and his religion, but rather the circumstances - economic crisis & Iraq situation - that had forced American people to seek for a new leadership.

But it does'nt mean the ring-wing militaristic Christian thinking is dead in America. This we have to be aware.

Anthony said...

I was actually talking about the kind of person that Obama and Bush were, not the responses of the country to them.

I'm well aware that fundamentalism isn't dead in America or Singapore.

I'm also rather amused that when I write about my faith, people automatically take on certain responses to it. To set the record straight, the point I was getting at wasn't why you people weren't Christians, but why -I- am a Christian, and what I feel as is my duty as a Christian is with regards to interpreting the Bible.

To wit, I don't expect anyone to convert based on what I've said. Neither have I done any disrespect to other religions. At least, I think I haven't. If I did, I apologise - it was not my intention.

However, one of the reasons why I write lengthy comments is because someone (presumably an atheist) is asking me why I am not an atheist, given all the harm and contradictions in Christian doctrine.

My answer is pretty simple - because Christianity isn't just about how to behave. It fills a spiritual need in me.

Your mileage may vary. Some fill the need through discovery, some through money, some through self-actualisation. I choose religion. It has works for me.

That is where my issue about the dichotomy between logic and faith come in. In many ways, one can use logic to determine what is good behaviour. Philosophers ranging from Plato to Marcus Aurelius to Confucius to Nietzche have all given a good solid crack at it, and their works are all very good and logically consistent to varying degrees.

However, this isn't enough for me. I need answers to questions that are not only unanswered, but unanswerable. Questions like "Is there a God?", "What is my place in the universe?", "What is love?", "Why is there evil in the universe?" etc etc. These questions are impossible to answer based on logic, because the answers are unfalsifiable.

The answers I choose to give these questions are based on faith. I have no issues with people who answer these questions differently from I.

I find it really interesting that at least one person has come outright and questioned my decision to remain a Christian. To me that is firmest indication that Christians don't have a monopoly on telling other people what to think.

It's pretty easy to point fingers at a doctrine and say "that's the thing that's screwed up about the world". Morality and conduct in the real world is a lot more complicated than that. We are all human, and fallible. Just because I believe in a doctrine does not mean I practise it perfectly. Just because I practice a doctrine perfectly does not mean I got all the doctrine right.

One thing is for sure - the minute I'm absolute sure I've gotten it right, that will be the time I've gotten it all wrong.

I ask you to consider that last sentence well.

Anonymous said...

You sure take the award for the joke of the day when you said historians believed Jesus was influenced by Buddhist teachings You may wish to check with the UK Churches. I believe I read somewhere that it was some Anglican Church which started the research and came up with decent prove.

Making peace said...

Dear Wang, I hope I do not offend with using a Buddhist story to answer why lifting texts in full, may just not be the best way.

A senior monk and his junior were on their way back to the temple after a day doing prayers in town.

They soon came to a stream. A young lady is there standing. Helpless. Not wanting to wet or soil her clothes, while needing to cross the stream.

The senior monk took a bow, carried her up and across the stream. He let her down, took a bow, and they went on their own ways.

Just before reaching the gates of the temple, the junior monk finally let burst. "Senior, why did you carry the lady just now? Our teacher says not to touch women!"

The senior monk, took a glance at the junior monk and repiled, "Junior, I have left the lady at the bank of the stream. Why are you still carrying her in your heart?"

Anonymous said...

Dear Anthony

I think what we are addressing here is more about the impact of a religion on society and not so much how a follower can benefit from it.

If religion as Christianity were just a private affair then probably there won't be such an issue. Point is religion does have a very significant impact on society, however much followers treat it as private.

This is mostly on the subconscious level through the concepts that have been drilled into the believer. And when many believers are involved, the mass sentiments coerced even political leaders to act in accord with them.

In my view, that explains much of what Bushism was all about. It was nothing but a religious crusade.

If churches in Singapore generally feel that the kind of steeple-jacking that has occurred in the AWARE saga is unacceptable, then they need to make their views known not just to its local community but also the American movement where it originated.

This sounds like making a mountain out of a molehill.

But in reality the impact of American politics - swayed as it had been by crusading American Christianity - on Singapore has been grave if not very grave.

During the invasion of Iraq where Singapore became a part of its so-called coalition of the willing, our country was put in jeopardy because we exist in a sea of non-Christian nations.

How could anyone pretend that the danger was not there? Do think the US will care much if something bad happens to us? Can you trust completely the US for all its naval base here is really here to protect us?

For all you know our little country is just a dispensible pawn on the chestboard of the US military strategists, just like Iraq or Kuwait had been.

So to those local Christians who have been sold on the American brand of superior-complex Christianity, I say wake up your minds. No God of yours is gonna save this country if through your own stupidity you blindly follow whatever divisive doctrines that comes out of America.

Sophie said...

I am actually Anon May 6 12:01, I would agree with Anthony that the Bush administration and its agenda might definitely be nothing more than a modern day crusade minus the tin armour suit, however I cannot agree with further speculations that we might be in jeopardy because the US is our allies. Years ago, during the war with Iraq, I came across an article on the ST World section, I can't remember exactly the title but it went something like this, "Bush's Christian outlook: dangerous and misleading says Pastor", it had definitely got something to do with Deuteronomy 28:49, "The LORD will bring against you a nation from far away, from the ends of the earth. The nation will swoop down on you like an eagle. It will be a nation whose language you won't understand."

Anonymous said...

"I cannot agree with further speculations that we might be in jeopardy because the US is our allies. - Sophie

Is'nt this view shared also by some when they say that the J.I. and its plan to bomb Changi Airport and Yishun MRT are just a tale created by the authorities. Frankly I also don't know the truth behind it.

However one does'nt have to depend on such news to know what's real. Open your eyes, my friend and see what kind of religious fundamentalism - the dressing, the teachings etc - have swept into this country over the last 30 years since the rise of Khomeini in Iran.

Anonymous said...

This is what I heard from a friend this evening.
2 of her siblings were christian and the sister got her pastor to try to convert the elderly father. The elderly man kept refusing and asked my friend to call the pastor to stop visiting him. The pastor insisted that he heard that from my friend’s father and refused to accept the explanation that he had asked her to convey his wish. Later her christian sister called and said that her pastor called him to complain that my friend scolded him. This increased the rift between the sisters.
The maid late (after elderly man passed away) told my friend that he was forced to attend a service at a church despite screaming in protest.
Some time later, the christian daughter told the father that he had to see a nurse in a hospital. The mother went along and she later called my friend to say that it was a scheme to baptise the father as the pastor was waiting for them at the hospital.
Some time passed and the elderly man’s illness got worse.

One evening, my friend was called to visit her father in the hospital when he was critically ill, he was on oxygen and unable to speak clearly but he was looking at her, grabbing my friend’s son’s hand and refusing to let go. He was trying very hard to say something but no one understood. When they had to forcefully remove his hand, his eyes were following my friend as she left the hospital room.
She felt uneasy, not being able to understand the father.
He died soon.
My friend went into a state of depression from guilt for some time. Her son has learnt to hate christians.

Is this kind of evangelism pro-family?

How many non-christian parents have suffered and have to suffer when their “western” educated children became christians?

Instead of blaming gays for breaking up families, I sugggest that christians do some self reflection and see how their dogmatic belief that only Jesus can save everyone, has destroyed traditional families like my friend’s!

Sophie said...

To Anon 3.40pm May 7, Obviously I know what has been going on in this country, however what I was pointing at is that we have to be more aware of even the most innocent things close to heart, especially religion and its propagations. Benefit of the doubt is good but too much of it is no good. We have to apply our logic as we go along.

Anonymous said...

Sophie,

You are a joker, hehe. Apply logic as you suggested? Well to start with, I don't have your level of intelligence to even comprehend your confused logic.

Don't try too hard. Relax and be of good cheer!

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 8.10am:

That is a very sad story. I too have seen something similar, when my friend's brother kept badgering their elderly parents to convert. Her parents become so frustrated and unhappy that eventually they consented to be baptised, but didn't want to go to church, etc. Then her brother ended up resenting them for being "hypocritical".

Who are the hypocrites, really?

Anonymous said...

Beyond Belief: a Buddhist Critique of Christianity

Cutting Verses Out of the Bible

Proof that the Bible has been tampered with is found on every page if one looks carefully. The text of the Bible is arranged into chapters which in turn are arranged into verses. As we read we will sometimes notice that one or two verses are missing. In the New International Version of Bible printed by the New York International Bible society, verses 44 and 46 have been deleted from chapter 9 of the Gospel of Mark. Verse 37 has been cut out of chapter 8 of Acts and verse 28 has been removed from chapter 15 of Mark. How can Christians possibly claim that the bible is the infallible and unchanging word of God when they cut out inconvenient verses and words? And why have these verses been removed?

Selective Interpreting

Whenever Christians want to convince us of the truth of their religion they will quote from the Bible, believing as they do, that every word in the Bible is literally true. But when we quote from the Bible to prove that their religion is primitive, silly or illogical (e.g. that smoke comes out God's nose and fire comes out of his mouth, Ps 18:7-8; or that donkeys can talk, Num 22:28) the Christian will say: "That's symbolic, it is not meant to be taken literally." Christians are very selective in how they interpret the Bible. Some passages are 'God's word' and literally true and other parts, usually the embarrassing parts, are not meant to be taken literally. Either the Bible is God's infallible word or it is not, one cannot pick and choose. And if indeed some passages are meant to be taken literally and others are not, how do Christians decide? If the Stories about Balaam's donkey talking, Adam and Eve eating the apple, or Moses turning his stick into a snake are not meant to be taken literally, perhaps too, the stories about Jesus' resurrection are only symbolic and not meant to be taken literally.

Mr Wang Says So said...

I actually don't pretty care if Christians believe in their miracles or other weird paranormal events. Nor do I care if the Hindus or the Buddhists or the followers of any other religion believe in their own equivalents of such incidents. Reality is a strange place, there could be some truth in some of these purported events.

The point is - we've all got to beware if any of these groups start infiltrating secular organisations; or trying to impose their beliefs on the rest of society; or doing anything sneaky.

Anonymous said...

I chanced upon this article written by David Modell, an award-winning film maker, who was doing a TV documentary on Christian fundamentalism to be aired in the UK on 19 May 2008, almost a year ago. What he has written just blew my mind, the coincidences with what happened with AWARE saga were scary. This should leave no doubt what type of Christians are the Thios and the ousted Ex-Co. Read this. It's like glimpse into what can happen to Singapore if Christian fundamentalists "steeplejacks" our politics.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1975933/Christian-fundamentalists-fighting-spiritual-battle-in-Parliament.html

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somaie said...

Experts have talked about this before. How many times have you read about the importance of ‘adding value’ for your audience? How many times have you read about ‘building trust’ with your readers/prospects?
Many, many times. You know it well. Every marketing guru has spoken about this topic. I’m sick of hearing it. But it STILL bears repeating.
www.onlineuniversalwork.com