Censorship and the church

Source: Wikimedia Commons

A pastor of a mega church in Singapore was charged yesterday with criminal breach of trust involving S$23 million (RM57 million) in church funds.

The money was allegedly used to finance the secular music career of Rev Kong Hee’s wife from 2007 to 2010. Kong is the founder of City Harvest Church.

I posted on the Facebook page of an evangelical church in Malaysia a June 26 press release by the Singapore Commissioner of Charities, which said that its inquiry into City Harvest Church had revealed financial misconduct and mismanagement of at least S$23 million.

The administrator of the Malaysian evangelical church’s Facebook page, however, deleted my post.

She told me that the church only allowed “encouraging and edifying” posts. She added that the congregation was not “mature enough” to handle such news.

She warned that the “repercussions can be endless” as “misinterpretation will inevitably occur for those who do not understand the situation”, especially since both Christians and non-Christians, young and old, visit the church’s Facebook page.

When I asked if the church was only interested in telling good news, she replied that people can easily read about the scandal in the papers. But people should not read about it on the church’s Facebook page as it might invite all sorts of remarks that could damage the church’s relationship to City Harvest Church.

The point, however, is not about people accessing the news elsewhere.

It is about the church censoring negative information about Christianity as it deems both Christians and non-Christians as not being mature enough to digest such information. That is quite similar to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad saying that Malaysians are not mature enough for political debates.

It sounds downright condescending.

A Christian said that the spiritual life of some new Christians might be affected because they may think that all Christians are like that City Harvest Church founder.

Another Christian said that my post might cause non-Christians to stumble in their exploration of Christianity.

A third Christian said that pastors are also humans who sin, so why sensationalise the news.

What does it say of Christianity when believers are afraid of revealing unpleasant truths? Is the Christian faith so weak that it cannot tolerate open discussion of controversial issues; for fear that someone might be led astray?

This is the same church that not-so-subtly tells its congregation to vote against corruption.

The evangelical church could have allowed my post, and stated its stand on the matter while allowing people to read and talk about it. It doesn’t matter if such discussions will solve anything. The point, rather, is to let people think for themselves.

How can people mature in their thinking if information is not presented to them in the first place?

Preaching about the “absolute” truth with a capital T is hypocritical when you suppress other truths you dislike.

If people decide to renounce Christianity because of corrupt Christian leaders, so be it. Religion is always a personal choice. If you are buying a product, you would want to know both its benefits and flaws as an informed consumer.

The worst thing the church can do is to hide its flaws, instead of explaining them.

Unless, of course, the church just wants a flock of mindless sheep who obeys rules without question.

By deleting my post, the church has shown that it is no different from the BN government that blacked out parts of an article in The Economist on Bersih’s rally for fair elections.

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I want to save the world. It would be great if the newspapers were full of the good things that people do instead of the usual wars and rapes and murders. I love writing - whether it's fiction, or research papers or reporting facts. I have published two short stories; one of which is called "City of Flesh" in an anthology titled "Urban Odysseys: KL Stories" under my pseudonym RK Boo. It's available in MPH bookstores. I've also published a preliminary qualitative study titled "Work Experiences of People with Mental Illness in Malaysia".

Posted on 29 June 2012. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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