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"Perhaps there are other less offensive terms that can and should be used," says letter to TOC.

Letter criticises TOC for use of “divisive labels” in article

Dear Sir,

I refer to the report: “TOC Report: 150 call for vote of no confidence” by Choo Zheng Xi.

I write this letter in response to two objections I have about what the author of the article wrote. :

1) Christian Fundamentalism

Firstly, I object to the pigeonholing of AWARE ex-co members as “Christian Fundamentalists”, a term which the author employs in his article. After quoting a statement by Angela Thiang about her stance against homosexuals, Mr Choo then makes the logical leap (and a huge one that is) in the very next line to conclude that AWARE is now run by a group of "Christian Fundamentalists."

I take issue with making this huge leap because (i) nowhere in the article is there suggestion or evidence that the ex-co is now Christian fundamentalist, (ii) an anti-homosexual stance does not equate to Christian fundamentalism.

True, Jenice Chua and Angela Thiang had both previously attracted attention for their anti-homosexual stance. But is that evidence of Christian fundamentalism? Is that a good ground for labelling them as such? How is the Author sure that they are Christians in the first place? And even if they are Christians, why must they be pigeonholed as being "fundamentalist" as opposed to "misguided" or "uninformed Christians" or "Christians who may not be totally familiar with Christ's teachings as a whole."

Attaching the "fundamentalist" label on them just results in tarring public perception of their reputation because "fundamentalist" as a term carries with it a negative connotation. A glance through some of the comments on TOC using the search function to look for the term “fundamentalist” would perhaps make this point of mine much clearer.

Mr Choo needs to be more aware of the implications of using certain terms before using them loosely as he has done.

2) Christianity and Regressiveness

The second grouse I have is Mr Choo’s quoting of the Glass Castle Magazine's editor, Jolene, whose view is that Christian fundamentalism leads to effects that are "regressive to women’s rights."

Firstly, I think that there must be more justification on Mr Choo’s part first to show why Christian fundamentalism leads to a regression in terms of women's rights. Simply putting a quote there will not do. Again, we see here a large logical leap that it unjustified. It seems as though the Author has made the erroneous assumption that Christianity is against women having rights or worse, that Christianity leads to a diminution of women's rights – both of these are untrue.

Many questions follow from his quoting of Jolene's views:

- What is the Christian stance on women's rights?

- Does it in the first place negatively affect women's rights or does it promote women's rights?

- Is Mr Choo even aware of how Christianity views the issue of women's rights? If he does not, is he therefore justified in making such an equation between Christianity and regression of women's rights?

One perspective that I hope Mr Choo will consider is that Christianity holds women in high regard. The Bible affirms that women are equally valued, equally treated and share the same divine image of men. Husbands are to love and honour their wives just as they love themselves. Let it also not be forgotten that the Biblical accounts of Christ’s resurrection sees women as the first ones at the empty tomb. 

From this and from other articles on the TOC website, it seems to me that TOC is trying to side with the old committee of AWARE. Based on what Mr Choo wrote and based on the lack of evidence, it seems very contrived for him to try and link the new committee to anti-homosexual and "Christian fundamentalist" stances, both of which are deeply dividing terminologies.

Concluding, I wish to urge against the use of such divisive labels such as “fundamentalist” as it is unhelpful in promoting civil discourse. Even if one believes bona fide that someone is a “fundamentalist,” perhaps there are other less offensive terms that can and should be used.

Yours Sincerely,

Tang Shang Jun

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Editor’s note:

TOC apologizes for any offence caused by the terminology employed in the article in question and highlights that it was not our intention to criticize the Christian community as a whole. 

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