Rants and raves about stuff happening in and around my life in Singapore

Saturday, March 08, 2014

An Open Letter

6:02 PM By Barry Smyth , 2 comments

An open letter sent to Faith Community Baptist Church, Nation Council of Churches in Singapore  and to The Real Singapore.

To whom it may concern

While I appreciate anyones right to follow the religion of their choice, that choice is between them and their God. Any beliefs they may hold as a result of that choice cannot be placed across the wider society as a whole, many of whom do not follow that same religion. With respect, while as an individual they are free to challenge any decisions the government may make with regards to the laws of the land, that challenge should not be one that is based solely on their religious belief. We are a secular country with a separation of religion and state and are striving to build a society based on “Justice” and “Equality” regardless of “Religion” as enshrined within our Nation’s pledge.

Any religion is free to advise it’s followers on how they should conduct their life in accordance with that religion’s morals, principals and/or beliefs. However, such advice should be limited to those individuals and in the correct forum. I did not, nor will I ever give anyone dominion over my beliefs.

In my personal view the Christian religion is clearly biased in relation to anything to do with LGBT and seeks every opportunity for that biased view, based on its religious beliefs, to be aired publically. I, like many others, do not support that same view. I will not challenge your religious beliefs in this area as I have no right too, but likewise you have no right to challenge mine or to try to impose your view on me or the wider society. If you feel that followers of your religion need to have such religious beliefs made law in order to adhere to them then there is a fundamental disconnect with your understanding of the role of religion in a secular state.

Already in Russia innocent people are being bullied, raped, mutilated, tortured and murdered simply because of who they are. In Uganda the same is happening now as a result of a change in the law there. In both cases these changes have been in part driven by religion. I cannot believe that any God would endorse this violence against individuals who have broken no law, who have committed no crime, who are worthy of our love and respect. And just as religion is in part to blame for this situation, religion must by association hold itself accountable for the direct suffering of these same people.

Recently a federal Judge has ordered Pastor Scott Lively to stand trial for crimes against humanity under international law for his alleged role in the persecution, arrest and murder of gay people in Uganda. The federal judge went on to say that ‘The history and current existence of discrimination against LGBTI people is precisely what qualifies them as a distinct targeted group eligible for protection under international law. ‘The fact that a group continues to be vulnerable to widespread, systematic persecution in some parts of the world simply cannot shield one who commits a crime against humanity from liability.’

Religious beliefs, like mankind must evolve and we have seen examples of this evolution already.  Gone are the days of drunken debauchery of its clergy and the mass murder of innocents through the inquisition and crusades and witch hunts. Gone are the days when a wife must be shriven for consummating her marriage, gone are the days when it was forbidden to handle the Eucharist and so on. History, if anything, shows us that change is possible.

I am saddened to the very core of my being as I write this knowing that it will do little to change anyone’s views today, and though I am not a Christian I pray that the Christian community see’s the light and love of the God they follow and come to understand that all of his creations are equal in his eyes and worthy of our love and respect and not our condemnation for simply being who God intended them to be.

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  1. Chien-Yeat Ow1:49 PM

    The views expressed by the Christian community in Singapore is a minority worldwide. Christians in Singapore are largely influenced by the Bible Belt in the US, which explains their fundamentalist stance. Although I attend a local Presbyterian Church (if I attend that is) and have friends there, I consider myself an inquiring Presbyterian, ie I do not hold on to ALL the traditional beliefs. None of my church friends agree with my "gay lifestyle" nor do they agree with me questioning those cardinal "truths", they just let me be. Barry, I would like to assure you that Christianity on the global level is less oppressive. Archbishop Desmond Tutu is one such individual. Also do visit the website of More Light Presbyterians in the US. It's a movement for gay members of the Presbyterian Church USA. :) Religion aside, the Singapore government would never sanction gay marriage, because gays can't reproduce! The Singapore government is obsessed with encouraging people to give birth so they will NEVER say yes to gay marriage with or without the church.

  2. I can definitely see the influence of the US in the Christian community here. You only have to look at the "City Harvest Church" with its pay your way to haven approach to see that. What strikes me is why any person would even consider that "God" would actually care about material wealth let alone spend his time on returning it 10 fold. Anyway, as for marriage I don't care about that, it's meerly a meaningless religous ritual (as the divorce rates clearly show). However, any couple (regradless of sexual orientation) who take the decision to spend their lives together should have the right to do so from a legal perspective. The problem with the religious community is that they struggle to separate the legal perspective from their religious beliefs.