Singaporean writer Joshua Ip took to Facebook on 12 March to discuss the apparent double standard applied by authorities when it comes to banning individuals and groups who threaten religious harmony.
Pointing out two articles by Channel NewsAsia – one about the local church’s response to the banning of anti-Christian heavy metal ban Watain, and the other about a local pastor apologising for anti-Islamic comments made by a foreign preacher.
Joshua highlighted this from the first article:
“Watain is free to perform the music as they please wherever they’re welcome,” said senior pastor of Cornerstone Community Church Yang Tuck Yoong on Tuesday (Mar 12), in response to queries from Channel NewsAsia.
“However, we feel it’s inappropriate that their ideologies be given a platform in multi-religious Singapore, given our shared values of mutual honour and respect,” he added.
“(Black metal bands) may have evolved over the decades, but many of their ideologies and expressions remain unapologetically anti-Christian, misanthropic, rebellious, violent and even outright occultic,” [Yang] said.
“While not all may be as extreme, we believe our social cohesion needs to be protected against those that are (extreme), while informing the public on why their ideas are detrimental to public interest.”
From the second article, Joshua highlighted:
“A local pastor apologised to Muslim leaders on Wednesday (Apr 4) over alleged anti-Islamic comments made by a foreign Christian preacher in Singapore last month.
Pastor Yang Tuck Yoong is the founder of Cornerstone Community Church, which organised the three-day Kingdom Invasion 2018 conference at which American Lou Engle spoke. During Mr Engle’s sermon on Mar 13, the Christian preacher seemed to suggest that Islam was a threat to Christianity, an online publication reported.
Joshua then suggests replacing the words black metal band with Christian churches and anti-Christian with anti-Muslim in those the first article mentioned above.
Essentially, he is attempting to highlight the double standard of how it seems that the authorities more readily guard the sensitivities of the Christian religion over other religions in Singapore.
He pointed out how a Christian church, specifically the Cornerstone Community Church, is allowed to invite an anti-Muslim speaker three years in a row who preached anti-Muslim rhetoric and did ‘damage’ in front of an audience of over 7,000 people while an anti-Christian band is forced to cancel their concert for a much smaller audience of only 200 people.
Cornerstone Church also ‘got away with a simple apology’, said Joshua, even after the damage was done.
He also pointed out a different incident where Pastor Rony Tan of the Lighthouse Evangelism Independent church got away with insulting Buddhism and Taoism in public and in online videos with just a simply apology.
This double standard extends beyond just ‘getting away’ with anti-religious comments, though. Joshua also noted how all Muslim sermons have to be vetted by the Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS) before being delivered to the public while no similar rule applies to Christian sermons.
He added that he agreed WATAIN should have been vetted and banned from performing in Singapore. He also agreed that Muslim sermons should be vetted to weed out radicals and ban them from preaching.
However, he says that as a Christian, it is also “all the more important personally for me to stamp out radical, occult strains of thought that are filtering into my religion from foreign agent”.
He continued, “These anti-Muslim, anti-Buddhist, anti-Taoist, anti-religious harmony agents are not Christians. They are attempting to take control of our government and they are not shy about it.”
Joshua suggested that, therefore, all Christian sermons should also be vetted by a central Christian body in Singapore – like MUIS – to ensure that radical and distruptive ideas do not affect Singapore and Christianity.