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