Freedom … …

A peaceful response to an insensitive posting?

http://news.insing.com/tabloid/nus-christian-student-group-insults-other-religions/id-8d303f00 *updated*

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!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Say-Yes-to-Religious-Harmony/173624062750703?sk=wall

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!

References

What is the "Crusades"?

What is the "Inquisitions"?

Inter Religious Organisation in Singapore

  • Merlin

    Do note that the author did post an update after receiving a reply from NUS BS… And he acknowledge that the post is merely “an rhetorical device and object lesson in mutual religious discourse”.

    Do note that the author did post an update after receiving a reply from NUS BS… And he acknowledge that the post is merely “an rhetorical device and object lesson in mutual religious discourse”.
    The Logic of Faith: As a Christian, I am Offended for Singaporean Buddhistslogos-pistis.blogspot.com

    • Thanks Merlin for the update.

      It is of interest to note that his accusation of NUSBS is actually groundless as NUS Provost acted on their own and not on complaints by NUSBS as Kwek Yan pointed out.

      In any case, it is good that he has extended his unreserved apology to … NBS?  Erm, he don’t quite get the acronym NUSBS does he?

      • Sanath_sg

        As much as the blog author has apologized, I feel it is ironic that he should say that Buddhists are acting irresponsible when it was NUSCCC that made degratory remarks about Buddhists and Muslims. Even if the NUS Provost acted on the complaints by NUSBS, it is justified, because the remarks on the poster were offensive. It’s not a matter of censuring, but wouldn’t Christians or anyone else be equally if the same degrading remarks were made at them?!

        • Most agreed.  It seems like a new trend to not apologise for one’s actions, but for the semantics, the words, … 

    • Leong

      It is hypocritical for the author (Dominic Foo aka Rubati) to state, on hindsight, that the post is merely “an rhetorical device and object lesson in mutual religious discourse” after groundlessly bashing NUSBS in the first place. If I spit you in the face, can I then say that was just rhetorical? Rubati, you can just stop rationalising and admit that you’re just a bigot.

      There is absolutely nothing wrong even if NUSBS did report the CCC’s denigrating posters to NUS management. We should always stand up to correct such shameful actions by the evangelical Christians in constantly degrading other religions and yet labelling that as love for others.

  • Hi,

    This is Rubati, a friend referred me to your blog.

    First, I would like to say that yes, I do think the NUS provost is guilty of what I’m saying in censoring the religious beliefs of other groups. Whether censorship of religious opinions come from a Papal curia or a secular state, both are to deplored and rejected without question.

    Secondly, you raise a lot of issues in your perception of Evangelical Christians, Christianity, etc. Some of them are
    true, some of them I think needs to be nuanced, some of them wrong, etc. However, the essential point is that I hold that you have a right to express your opinions on Evangelical Christians, *whether I agree with them or not*, and I do not think that you should be censored for doing so. Thus, it is not my purpose here to engage the issue of the character faith and mindset of Evangelical Christians, but merely to acknowledge that I respect your right to your opinions about them, whether or not I agree with the opinion itself. Your right to your opinion is one thing, but your opinion itself is another. I respect the former, but the latter I have to disagree and will engage it at another context.

    I take encouragement from your ending that you don’t think they should be censored and that maybe I am right. I hope that we can at least agree on the fact that there is no need to resort to censorship to engage in religious disagreement.

    Yours,
    Rubati

    • Hi,

      Welcome to my blog.

      While I personally don’t think censorship is healthy, irresponsible speech that agitate and trigger violence is worse.  As I mentioned above, “Free speech comes with responsibility.  If you cannot handle the latter, you give up the former.”

      About my thoughts about Evangelical Christians, it may be good to clarify the parts that are true, to be nuanced and those that are wrong, so that they can be appropriately reviewed and if suitable updated.  To me this lead to understanding.  Keeping quiet or shutting up the other party does not lead to understanding.  But again, see above for exception clause.

      Maths teachers should stick to teaching maths and history teachers, history.  If people limit themselves to sharing their own religious beliefs or teachings with those who go to them and not start distorting others’ teachings or misrepresent them, and go door to door to push religion into people’s lives, there will be more hope for religious peace and harmony.

      With metta,

      Ven. Shi Chuan Guan

  • Related blog & forum postings
    * http://lol8.blogspot.com/2012/02/proselytizing-rears-its-ugly-head-again.html
    * http://sparrowsandsandcastles.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/this-is-christianity-in-singapore/
    * http://yawningbread.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/crusades-are-conflicts-by-another-name/
    * http://ahhengwrites.blogspot.com/2012/02/buddha-would-have-said-everyone-calm.html
    * http://milomel.blogspot.com/2012/02/stupid-christian-evangelists.html
    * http://forums.hardwarezone.com.sg/eat-drink-man-woman-16/%5Bgpgt%5D-nus-group-campus-crusade-christ-insults-thai-buddhists-turkey-3608986-11.html

  • Hi there.

    I am a church-going free-thinking humanist, if there is such a hybrid creature! 🙂 As such, I think I have some credibility in claiming that christianity, as a social phenomenon as well as a belief system in Singapore is largely religiously exclusive and “intolerant” to other religions. You know, the alleged poster is very very MILD when it comes to the christian community in Singapore – there are much more disrespectful nonsense being preached in churches like City Harvest, New Creation, Lighthouse Evangelism and FCBC every Sunday. It only takes an investigative journalist to expose the poison that is evangelical christianity.

    Anyway, unlike christianity in Asia, Africa and the US Bible Belt; there are beautiful expressions of Christianity like that of the Church of England (think of Archbishop Rowan Williams) and its US counterpart, the Episcopal Church, which accepts ordination of women and gays, accepts the validity of other religious traditions and interprets the bible in intelligent ways. It is sad that 98 per cent of what is christianity in Asia belongs to the fundamentalist evangelical category which interprets the bible literally, which no modern bible scholar accepts these days.

    • Most agreed, and I have been fortunate to meet Christians from different continents to see that the fundamentalist evangelical group is not necessarily the norm in many countries.  Unfortunately, they tend to be the most vocal, and until the moderate Christians stand up to speak against such insensitivity, they unfortunately condone it with their silence.

      The bright end of the tunnel is that there are some individual Christians who are standing up through their personal blogs to voice their disapproval of the insensitive and disrespectful actions.

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