Sorry No Count, Playground Taunt
An apology rejected. That is what the online mob is driving at arguing that there are double standards in the government’s treatment of Rony Tan from Lighthouse Evangelism and the 3 Facebook kids who were arrested for racism. One can understand the ire of the mob, that Rony Tan, a community leader, got off easily while 3 originally supposedly anonymous kids would have the good book thrown at them. However, there are 2 important distinctions in this case which most deliberately try to ignore.
Firstly, the 3 kids were anonymous and this suggested that their intention was maliciously “catch me if you can” dumb. The pastor was not anonymous, his identity and video was up for all his community to see in the church’s website, and his intention was just not malicious, just plain evangelical marketing dumb. So dumb that he did not even realise that once it is in the internet, someone would just put it in Youtube and other sites.
Secondly, Rony is a community leader and presumably respected in his church. The government did not want him to become a martyr by arresting him. Rather they wanted to him to apologise as an apology from any leader is something hard to come by. Have we heard any apology from a PAP minister on flawed housing, transport, immigration or health policies? Not a squeak. An apology from Rony, however reluctant, is a more symbolic gesture of him making amends with the Buddhist and Taoist communities.
The Buddhist and Taoist communities graciously sought the opportunity to accept the apology for now. Rejecting it would be bad form, just like making fun of Buddhism and other religions publicly is equally bad form. So at the superficial level, the religions in question are making do with moving on publicly, however grudgingly privately both sides may be. Let tempers cool first as this is a better option than going at each other’s throats. Hopefully, the lynch mob would get the message and rant now all they want as it is their right, but realise quickly that ranting too long only makes things worse. Would we want to descend to the type of religious tension inferno in Malaysia?
ISD calls up pastor for insensitive comments
Tue, Feb 09, 2010 The Straits Times
THE Government called up a Christian church leader yesterday after receiving complaints about online video clips that show him making insensitive comments about Buddhism.
The Internal Security Department yesterday met Senior Pastor Rony Tan, founder of the Lighthouse Evangelism independent church, and told him that what he did was wrong.
Last night, he posted an apology on the church’s website, promising to respect other faiths and ‘not ridicule them in any way, shape or fashion’.
I have received a number of e-mails from people who have been saddened and hurt by the testimonies of an ex-monk and an ex-nun. I realised that my presentation and comments were wrong and offensive. So I sincerely apologise for my insensitivity towards the Buddhists and Taoists, and solemnly promise that it will never happen again.
When we received those e-mails, we immediately removed the video clips from our website. I urge those who have posted those clips on YouTube to remove them as well.
After reading the frank views from those e-mails, I was also prompted to tell my members not only to continue to love souls, but also to respect other beliefs and not to ridicule them in any way, shape or fashion.
Let’s put our goal to build a harmonious Singapore a top priority.’
Leaders of Buddhist, Taoist groups urge restraint
THE Singapore Buddhist Federation said Senior Pastor Rony Tan’s act of apologising was the right thing to do – for a start.
But it will still approach the authorities and have its voice heard in order to prevent similar incidents in future, it said last night.
‘It is good that the authorities have looked at this matter, but this is a matter of national concern. We want to appeal to the public and the authorities to make sure there is no second time,’ said the federation’s secretary-general, Venerable Kwang Phing.
The man behind the controversy
SENIOR Pastor Rony Tan, founder of the Lighthouse Evangelism church, was born into a Taoist family.
In an online biography on his website, he wrote of how his childhood was a time when he was lost and bewildered, and how he ‘blindly followed’ the practices of his parents who worshipped ‘a great variety of gods’.
He was filled with uncertainties, doubts and fears, and said that in matters of religion, ‘I was left on my own to figure out the mysteries of life in order to make some sense out of sheer nonsense’.