A peaceful response to an insensitive posting?
I just read a couple of different blogs and forum postings on the latest of "Christians vs Buddhism" religious knock-out matches. Actually, for the most part, it is "Christians vs ________" 'cos we Buddhits were not invited to the match, so it is mostly some of these evangelical Christians doing a one-man boxing match, on their rounds of spreading Fear-Uncertainty-Doubt, to borrow a term from the tech industry where I came from before donning the robes.
This turn, it is the Christian Crusade for Christ (CCC) NUS chapter, who put up a denigrating poster on Buddhism and Thailand, and one on Islam. Click the images below for a bigger clearer picture.
According to Rubati (Dominic Foo), author of "Logic of Faith", he is "offended for Singaporean Buddhists".
From Logic of Faith, Rubati writes
"I am offended that the NBS would insult Buddhists in NUS and Singapore by insinuating that they are so insecure about their faith and joy in Buddha that they would have to resort to censorship to answer this slanderous attack by the CCC. "
I am offended that the NBS would make Buddhists out in Singapore to be the equivalent of paranoid Medieval Christians who had to resort to inquisitions and burning of books and opinions to stamp out false charges against them.
…. (See links below or click on image above for full text)
First off, it is not about security or not in one's faith,
it's more about mutual respect towards other's faith. Name calling in religious discussions only does one thing, it shows us what is in your mind, what is in you as a person, as a group — Lack of sensitivity and mutual respect for others.
The irony of it all is that Rubati should compare NBS (NUS Buddhist Society is the correct acronym if that is the society he is referring to) with the Medieval Christians, 'cos the Crusades is precisely from that era of Medieval Christians where one either surrender to the gospel or the sword. See references below on What is the Crusades?
Is NUSBS resorting to "inquisitions and burning of books and opinions to stamp out false charges against them"? If so, then NUS provost is, according to Rubati, equally guilty.
NUS provost has issued a statement rapping such insensitivity by the Campus Crusade for Christ,
Professor Tan Eng Chye, Deputy President (Academic Affairs) & Provost in commenting further on the matter said, "NUS is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious community. We expect every member of our community to be respectful towards the religious customs, beliefs and sensitivities of others. The University does not endorse any comment or action by members of our community that disrupt religious harmony or disparage the diverse communities that live in Singapore and overseas."
Wait, NUS, the University as a whole does not endorse the actions by Campus Crusade for Christ, so does that, in Rubati's eyes, make them equal partner in "crimes"?
Free speech comes with responsibility. If you cannot handle the latter, you give up the former.
It is amusing to read his article as all the charges he places on NUSBS is precisely what evangelical Christians are guilty of. But in any case, his article is a digression from the matter at hand, that
1) in this day and age where we cannot do enough to strive for religious peace and harmony, CCC and other evangelical groups should still be devoting themselves to missionary trips to convert people while
2) expressing their denigrating statements so blatantly
3) no consequences other than a slap on the wrist from the authorities
Do we really need to spread the news when in this day and age, almost everyone has easy access to the internet?
There are enough churches in the world for people to know its existence. People can make their choice. In Singapore, churches have access to prime location while new Buddhists and Taoists temple are relegated to light industrial estates or areas designated for associations and societies, such as Geylang. But I digress.
Christian apologetics will tell you that they are doing this out of love. I will say that it is love with lots of misinformation and discrimination. I can quite safely say that in all religions, followers are encouraged to share their teachings. The Buddha urged the monastics and lay alike to share the teachings for the welfare and benefit of all sentient beings. Fortunately Buddhitsts have the decency to share when appropriate, what is appropriate. With all the Christian wisdom, shouldn't evangelical Christians know what is decent, sensitive and appropriate? It is good that they are the minority. But it begets asking, if all is pre-ordained by God, preaching to me would not work 'cos I'm meant to choose out of my free-will to accept the Buddha's teachings …. ? Again I digress.
CCC's poster, pastor Rony Tan's video, the Christian couple charged in court, … these only surfaced in the past few years because of
technology and growing awareness in Buddhists and Taoists, that they cannot simply stand by and watch attacks on their religion go by.
But I ask this question. Should we continue to play religious "wack-the-mole" with evangelical Christians who time and again attacks other religions or should something be done?
Each time something happen, the authorities talk to them and issue a warning. They take down said materials and "sincerely" apologise for their misdeeds. Seriously, unless CCC was living under a rock the past 2 to 3 years, they would have heard of pastor Rony's case amongst others.
Note that these are university students, not run-of-mill ill-informed zealots. Thinking, intelligent, bright, crème de la crème of the nation. They just lack sensitivity and respect for others.
Truly, can anything be done? You can tie up a person or imprisoning him and restrict his action. You can seal his mouth with tape and restrict his speech. But you cannot truly restrict one's mind and views.
Calling out on these Christians' misdeeds merely trim the leaves but leave the roots untouched. There is no end to this.
I shared with some students yesterday, that perhaps a better thing to do is for them to apologise but not take down those posters. Let the posters stay, for six months or half a year. Kinda like a memorial where visitors get to learn of the wrongs that were done and so that we do not repeat them.
Perhaps Rubati is right. We should not censor these posters, we should enshrine them in a Hall of Shame, for posterity.
For seriously, the very namesake of Christian Crusade for Christ is already very telling of the very nature of this society. Can we really expect anything more from them?
Aftermath There are consequences.
Below is a page set up by Buddhists to promote Religious Harmony. Gee … Buddhists are just too nice!
This page is for people of all faiths (Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and all other faiths) and people with no religion.
Recently Campus Crusade for Christ has made some insensitive and seditious promotional materials against Buddhism & Islam. We call upon the Presidential Council of Religious Harmony to issue a strong statement denouncing such acts.
Like this page if you believe in Religious Harmony and respect for all faiths and practices.
Let the voice of the silent moderate majority be heard!
What is the "Crusades"?
- Google on "Crusades"
- Documentary on "Crusades" part 1 of 4 (see the rest on youtube)
What is the "Inquisitions"?
- Google on Inquisitions
Inter Religious Organisation in Singapore