Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Pastor Tan Tapes

In the 50s and 60s Singapore was wracked by a series of racial and religious riots, much as still happens in some other countries in the region. The government realized that if the country was ever to progress it was going to have to deal with such problems, and to this day the maintainance of racial and religious harmony is one of the cornerstones of Singapore policy. And it’s a policy that has served the country well. Singapore’s various religious and ethnic groups get along very well. One source of possible conflict has been the evangelical Christian determination to make as many converts as possible by almost any means possible. There has been a tactic agreement that evangelical churches will not ‘target’ the country’s Muslims which has meant that the full force of their conversion efforts have fallen on the Buddhists and the Hindus. These efforts have ranged from subtle, to insensitive, to very insensitive, to denigration. Because of the usual Buddhist problems – disunity, passivity, the ‘everything’s impermanent’ syndrome, etc – Buddhists have borne the very insensitive assaults by shrugging their shoulders, biting their lip or grumbling under their breath. And unless there is widespread complaints, the government usually doesn’t take action.
Some weeks ago one of Singapore’s mega-churches put several videos on its web site with interviews between the church’s pastor, Rony Tan, and a former Buddhist nun and supposedly a former Buddhist monk who have now ‘seen the light’. Using the usual cheap shots, distortions and lies, Tan succeeds in mocking Buddhism and getting the audience to laugh at it. I suspect this sort of this thing is standard fare in evangelical churches but the Lighthouse Church made the mistake of putting it on their web site, from where it has been picked up and widely disseminated. It even got on Youtube. There has been an outcry from Buddhists and Taoists (another video mocks Taoism too) and officers from the Internal Security Department have had a word with Pastor Tan. Normally Singaporeans would go to great lengths not to attract the attention of the ISD. The Ministry of Home Affairs has also issued a statement saying that Tan’s comments were highly inappropriate and trivialized and insulted the beliefs of Buddhists and Taoists. Tan has now expressed his deepest apologies and remorse, saying that he deeply regrets his insensitivity to Buddhists and Taoists and has promised that it will never happen again. He has also affirmed that he will tell his members to respect other beliefs and build a harmonious Singapore. Apparently, miracles happen at Pastor Tan’s church on a regular basis (see http://www.ronytan.com/ ). His change in attitude towards other religions has been so sudden and so out of character that it might even be considered a miracle too. But one wonders whether it’s a genuine change or was brought about by some external cause. Will Pastor Tan and other evangelists become more tolerant and respectful - or just more careful?


Buddha said...

One notable thing is the Muslims keep the Evangelist at bay by the Presence of Huge nos and total Lack of Tolerance (including Usage of Violence) for any insult flung on their Religion.

For Once i agree Huge numbers do matter :-)

Nil said...

Instead of reacting with violent, we are practicing Buddhist should make known our position on this matter.

The only thing Pastor Tan will learn is to do things but don't get caught.

Sicken that he does not practice what his Lord teaches, i.e. love, tolerance, patience and kindness.

Where will this person guide his sheep? Down the cliff it seems.

Walter said...

A poor specimen of the human race whose instantaneous change in attitude is indeed as remarkable as his lack of humility. Truly an example of the impermanence of mental formations, ha! Such mocking of and poking fun at other's religious beliefs originate from an outsized ego, from certain mindsets, and has nothing very much to do with the religion itself.

Kenneth said...

Here's what Pastor Rony Tan thinks about gays and lesbians:

Shravasti Dhammika said...

Dear jaded cynical, headstrong, obstinate, opinionated, iconoclastic, rebellious Kennith, thanks for the interesting link to ignorant, misinformed, retrograde biased, self-satisfied Rony

Anonymous said...

Well that's Karma for you

Kenneth said...

@Shravasti Dhammika:

Hehe... you are welcome!

Your most avid reader in Shanghai,

BeeHoon said...

Looks like the ISD calling is more guiding than JC/God/Holy Spirit. But comparing the differential treatment of the Pastor, c.f. boys of the 'raciast comments" it is till disappointing..
Hope it serves as a warning to evangelistic pastors and more as a warning sign to their sheeps.

Unknown said...

Obviously the greatest miracle is that the guy has beome super rich and the ISD has its hands tied (being in a state surrounded by ikan yu, sharks).

Mass hysteria is certainly popular among the protozoan elements of human awareness. However, the followers should take advantage of this and take along their corpses, dead pets, and other assorted stiffs, after all ordinary miracles like the blind suddenly being able to see and the crippled leaping out of wheelchairs are fairly commonplace at evengelical meetings and no evangelist worth his wealth would be without a resurrection or two in his cv.

wizwman said...

Look at the photos of Venerable Kwang Sheng and Rony Tan shown side by side in the newspapers yesterday. As the saying goes, a picture tells a thousand words. It is testimony of the 2 different spiritual paths taken (if indeed RT practise true Christianity).