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Meditatio de Religione April 19, 2008

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.

So lately in Singapore there’s been a case of a couple getting charged under the Sedition Act for spreading an Evangelical publication, The Little Bride, in Singapore. You’re not getting the link to this, because if you do and somehow get offended enough to want to see me in court, then i’m going to be in trouble. However, here’s the States Times version of it, for your perusal:

ST April 15, 2008
Couple charged under Sedition Act
By Elena Chong

A COUPLE were charged on Tuesday with distributing a seditious publication to two others.

Ong Kian Cheong, 49, and Dorothy Chan Hien Leng, 44, are alleged to have distributed The Little Bride, an evangelistic material, to Sembawang resident Irwan Ariffin last Oct 19.

They are also said to have distributed the same publication to one Madam Farharti Ahmad at her home in Woodlands on March 6 last year .

It is not clear why they face the Sedition Act and the Undesirable Publication Act when the publication is the same.

Ong, who works in a telecommunications company, and his wife, a bank employee, were represented by Mr Selva K. Naidu.

The police prosecutor sought an adjournment of the case pending a Health Sciences Authority on handwriting specimen.

The couple were freed on $10,000 bail each. Their passports were impounded.

The case will be mentioned on April 29.

Under the Sedition Act, the maximum penalty is a $5,000 fine and/or a jail term of up to three years.

The maximum penalty under the Undesirable Publication Act is a fine of up to $5,000 and/or up to 12 months.

I have no sympathy for these two people, despite the convictions they carry in spreading the faith courageously. For ‘though i walk the valley in the shadow of death, i shall fear no evil, for Thou art with me.’ I have no sympathy for them, though, because they seem to be so believing that they have effectively decried all other religions as fake and evil. At the bottom of every pamphlet of The Little Bride, there is a little box saying how “The Bible says there’s only One Way to Heaven’, and so on, and so forth. I read an issue dealing with Islam, and Islam was portrayed as a religion full of false prophets.

I won’t say that this is controversial. I’m going to say that it’s downright fundamentalist. Everything is based word-for-word and then mangled to fit the Christian view that their religion is the only religion which can give Salvation. For did not Jesus die on the cross for our sins? But it is a refusal to interpret, the fear of going off by interpreting wrongly, which leads these fundamentalists to commit the very error they profess not to make. They mangle other texts to fit their only interpretation. And that is the very reason why this can be seditious. Why this can be dangerous.

I mean, probably there isn’t another way to do it for these people. Yet, Christianity is based on a systematic way of closing out the gentiles, as St. Thomas Aquinas describes these people. For faith is based on a choice – the choice whether you accept God into your life, or not. And for those who choose to accept, they can and will be saved at Judgement Day before the Apocalypse. But how can God be ultimately good, if he only chooses to save those who have decided to accept him in a way which is hardly divine – through a human religious organisation which claims to have the divine mandate? Does not God love his creation in its entirety, even if he does not have to?

And it is said that love only works both ways. Which is true. But then now, wouldn’t a better explanation be that God loves universally, and we love God in our own ways? I am not a Christian. Nor am i a Muslim. But i believe in a God, where it is insignificant, if he loves or not. The issue is this: how can you say that God loves us and not you, and you are evil and will be punished, because God hates you? Do you even have the right to give God human emotions and characteristics?

If God loves, man kills. For a religious person can love, and out of love, he tries to spread the word and tries to save others as well. But isn’t there the intrinsic, subtle belief or precondition here that this religion is superior to that religion, and thus my God must be superior to yours? God is dead, because another God has killed it. But there probably isn’t a theological war amongst the Gods – it is Man who has killed all other Gods in the name of one.

And why? Because the Bible says so. But then again, belief is a choice – do people have the right, then, to force others to adopt their choice? No, they don’t have the right to, because they have a fundamental choice to make. Perhaps the key to finding God is, firstly, recognising that there are many ways to the same end, perhaps an end which makes all religions unnecessary, because it is an end beyond religion.



1. Agagooga - April 20, 2008

It is possible to evangelise without condemning.

2. guojun - April 20, 2008

it’s possible, but there’s a very thin line between the one and the other. Just that in this case, perhaps there is condemnation. And i think that evangelising without even implicit condemnation is near-impossible…

3. Sprachen Sie Singlisch? - April 27, 2008

No matter what your views are, there is still the matter of Sedation Act v.s. Freedom of Speech. Is it fundamentally right to to punish someone for communicating his/her views, even if these views are offensive?

4. guojun - April 28, 2008

it is fundamentally wrong, especially when it comes to choice. Let’s say that they aren’t brought to court. will there be a public reaction? So does the public have a fundamental right to say no, or to reject what these unpopular statements are and what they stand for?

The state has the power to do that via the Sedition Act. They may not always represent the interests of the people, but this time they have.

5. Agagooga - April 29, 2008

They also represented the interests of the people when they refused to repeal 377A.

6. guojun - April 29, 2008

Did they? Or did they claim they were doing so?

7. Agagooga - April 29, 2008

Are they now?

8. Ark - April 30, 2008

The news article suggests that the couple actually approached the targets at their homes. Whether they have met physically or they just dropped the publications at the doorsteps, or whether they have targetted non-Muslims as well (using the same or some different tract) is yet to be known.

If they have actually met up with the targets and insisted on passing them the stuff despite their objection, I say they will most certainly be convicted of something. If there was no meet-up, then it will depend on the legality of distributing religious advertisements (and a very aggressive kind) at private places.

I don’t see why some pple have compared it to the DaVinci code and claiming a case of double standards, when the seditious nature of the incident is more to do with couple’s direct (going to pple’s homes) and aggressive (using overtly offensive material) evangelistic intentions (which are therefore likely to be inappropriate), and not so much or soley the content of the book. Of course it doesn’t help that the book is so fundie that one can associate it with seditious purposes without much difficulty.

The choice of words in the news article may be misleading as well: casting something in negative light isn’t anything quite like an unrestrained and outright assertive attack, at least that is what I gauge after I have seen and read that comic.

9. Sprachen Sie Singlisch? - May 4, 2008

guojun said:
it is fundamentally wrong, especially when it comes to choice. Let’s say that they aren’t brought to court. will there be a public reaction? So does the public have a fundamental right to say no, or to reject what these unpopular statements are and what they stand for?

I actually don’t see what the public choice has to do with anything. Lets say I hold a the strange opinion that “water fluoridation is used for mind control” and denounce PUB. Assuming the Right to Free Speech, do I have the right to say this? Should the public decide what I should believe or say? The public, in particular the individuals that make up the public, are certainly within their right to believe, ignore or heaven forbid say something contrary to my mad rantings. Should the Gov get involved in this entire process and decide one way or another?

My cher is Yes, No and No.

They may not always represent the interests of the people, but this time they have.
How do you know that this IS the interests of the people or fraction thereof (interests groups)? It certainly not in the interests of Christrian groups to see them arrested on Sedation.

Wonder if we can poll the public on their interest in this.

10. guojun - May 7, 2008

You can say what you want to say. However, it means that what you believe to be right is only what you believe. And if everything is relative, how can we say that there is a public or a society? The public may not be able to restrict you from what you are saying, but i didn’t mean that they will prevent you from saying what you want to say. Whatever the public interprets will come with an opinion of acceptance or rejection, and you cannot prevent that as well.

The answers to your three questions for me would be: yes, no, and they must. It is the function of the government in any country, even if they do not really represent us in Singapore, to regulate the ethical norms of a particular society. That’s why there must be laws. And it’s also why people can even be unhappy, because what the government does doesn’t gel with what we believe things should be like.

So pure relativism doesn’t work too…

11. Sprachen Sie Singlisch? - May 18, 2008

The role of Government is quite “simply” to maintain public order by managing the rights of various interests (groups and individuals) and protecting them.

So the questions is, whose rights do I violate when holding and expounding on my strange believes? If the answer happens to be nobodies, then government should not intervene.

The nominative morals of society or lack thereof is an entirely different question and has nothing to do with the argumentation.

12. Singapura cat - May 29, 2009

I think the Singapore govt is doing the right thing. In any such similar situation where one group offends another which is highly likey in a multi racial society, obviously those on the offending side will say they mean no OFFENCE when it is clear even to a child their intention was to OFFEND.
So there is no point to afterwards to philosophise whether offending remarks were offending or not. Obviously if it is not offending, no one would be offended in the first place right?

The singapore govt Iis not so Dumb. They can smell trouble makers miles away. And because of that the rest of us can have a peaceful and stable society to raise our children safely.

The offended party will naturally feel there is injustice if the govt close one eye and the majority side with the offenders because they share the same beliefs. or the majority think the other religion is too uncool to get their support.
In fact it is govts that adopt the cannot be bothered attitude to interfere that have alot of communal conflicts on their hands later on-where many discriminations against minorities goes unchecked eventually resulting in unrest. So what our govt is doing is right to avoid alot of pain in the future..

So naturally the Singapore govt have to step in to play the referee, moderator or executor of justice. Freedom of speech tempered without responsibility is just a modern western warped idealism which even the westernersare beginning not to believe in nowadays as their society is turning away form liberalism and atheism of the 60s to the Bush like fundamental beliefs of Christianity just like in the old days

Anyway bottle line is we are Asians. Asians live by respecting each other and not shooting our mouths off in the name of freedom.

I support this govt for being sensitive to society’s complaints and taking actions. Its better to do something now when the problems a small before they snowball into something big which no one can handle

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