Reuters blog archive
Singapore has warned an evangelical Christian pastor that his online videos are offensive to Buddhists and Taoists, underlining the city-state's concerns that religion is a potential faultline for its multicultural society.
Pastor Rony Tan, of the Lighthouse Evangelism megachurch, apologized and pulled the video clips off the internet after being visited by the government's Internal Security Department (ISD) on Monday, the pastor and the government said on their websites. "I sincerely apologize for my insensitivity towards the Buddhists and Taoists, and solemnly promise that it will never happen again," Tan said.
The Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement on Tuesday that "Pastor Tan's comments were highly inappropriate and unacceptable as they trivialised and insulted the beliefs of Buddhists and Taoists. They can also give rise to tension and conflict between the Buddhist/Taoist and Christian communities. ISD told Pastor Tan that in preaching or proselytising his faith, he must not run down other religions, and must be mindful of the sensitivities of other religions."
Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng repeated that in another statement the next day, adding that Tan had met with Buddhist and Taoist leaders and apologised personally for his coments. "While each of us is free to propagate our religious beliefs, it must never be by way of insulting or denigrating the religious beliefs of others," Wong said.
Malaysia's government has filed for a stay of execution pending its appeal of a court ruling allowing a Malay-language Catholic paper to describe the Christian God as "Allah", amid growing Islamic anger in the country. We reported on the dispute here yesterday, including how it has spilled over into Facebook.
What lies ahead in this row threatening to increase religious tensions in the mainly Muslim but multi-racial Southeast Asian country?
from Raw Japan:
In the minds of many people, religious rivalry could occasionally be expected to spill over into violence in places as diverse as the occupied West Bank or Glasgow's 'Old Firm' football derby.
Japan's Kansai region, home to the world's most renowned Zen gardens and some of the country's finest cuisine, on the other hand, is not generally seen as a tinderbox of religious tension.