An indictment against the Christian community

“Are they not God-fearing Christians, just like Muslims are also God-fearing? Why then did the organisers remove the sacred crucifixes? Isn’t it logical to deduce that they are not God-fearing beings but Satan-fearing arse-licking politicians who claim to be Christians? God-fearing Christians would have defended the crucifixes, Jesus Christ and God. Do they value the presence of the PM more than God?” Jackson asked.

Thomas Lee Seng Hock, Sin Chew Daily

My friend Jackson Ng has raised a very rational and legitimate point in his comment in the Malaysia Chronicle on the matter of the Najib aides asking the organisers of the Christmas Eve gathering at the St John’s Cathedral in Kuala Lumpur to remove the crucifixes, and the banning of singing hymns.

Jackson asked why didn’t the church organizers object to such unreasonable instructions?

Although he is not a Christian, Jackson said he decided to write on the issue because it is a matter concerned with the universal acceptance of basic principles and the rights of mankind.

He has rightly pointed out that the removal of crucifixes and the banning of hymn-singing at St John’s Cathedral constitute a violation of religious freedom guaranteed under Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution.

According to news reports, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s aides had ordered the removal, claiming that the crucifixes would be offensive to the prime minister.

Jackson said he was not only upset with the instruction given by the Najib aides, but more angry with the church leaders for their failure to stand up and speak out on the matter.

“Are they not God-fearing Christians, just like Muslims are also God-fearing? Why then did the organisers remove the sacred crucifixes? Isn’t it logical to deduce that they are not God-fearing beings but Satan-fearing arse-licking politicians who claim to be Christians? God-fearing Christians would have defended the crucifixes, Jesus Christ and God. Do they value the presence of the PM more than God?” Jackson asked.

“As it was, the organisers, for reasons best known to them, felt the presence of the PM was more important than their Jesus Christ and God. To them, it was more important for the PM to grace the function and, therefore, abandon Jesus Christ and their God. Disgraceful and shameful are two words best to describe the organisers,” he said.

“God-fearing Christians must therefore start defending Jesus Christ and their God by throwing out the organisers from their holy house of worship. If not, they too are condoning what they did,” Jackson said.

Strong words, indeed, but Jackson certainly is right to lambast the church leaders for being spineless cowards in the face of such violation of human, civil and constitutional rights.

Jackson’s denunciation of the action or lack of it of the Christian leaders is perhaps the first public indictment against the Christian community in Malaysia, as far as I know. And it is not without justification, and surely, appropriate too.

One of the major reasons that the fundamental human, civil and constitutional rights are slowly being eroded is the failure of so-called community and religious leaders to stand firm and steadfast to preserve, protect and promote these rights.

I am very familiar with the Malaysian Christian community, having been a Christian for nearly 45 years and actively involved in teaching and preaching for nearly 40. Hence, I think I am well-qualified to make observation and comment on the Church in Malaysia.

There are basically three types of Christians in Malaysia.

The first common type is the introvert conservatives, who are generally shy, reticent, and typically individualistic self-centered persons, predominantly concerned with their own thoughts and feelings, with nary a care for things outside the walls of their church.

These traditionally orthodox Christians are always concerned about their own “spiritual growth”, and are generally timid and harmless. They live their lives in the familiar safe comfort zone of their church community, and speak a sort of churchy language, often convicing themselves that they will be okay if they go to church regularly, give often to the church and their pastor, pray always in whatever situation they are in, and shun, evade and eschew controversial matters, especially political ones. They dress decently and avoid elaborate and spectacular extravagant and lavish display of wealth and luxury. They made good church members and citizens as they never ask questions or challenge any rule, precept or instruction, no matter how excessive, unreasonable or even oppressive the rules and instructions are. They are generally afraid of anything official, especially the government and its enforcement agencies. Mention the ISA or May 13, and they will secrete cold sweat and clinched in fear.

Their pastors and church leaders love these church members, because they are literally under their complete control, and want them to remain in their innocent gullible situation. Hence, there is no real teaching of doctrines, biblical and theological matters, and on issues concerned with life, thoughts and faith in relation to the world outside the church. Actually, the pastors and church leaders themselves are as biblically and theologically disabled as their church members. Hence, they play church happily, and never growing beyond their religious pubescence. The church is their safe abode, and anything outside the church is none of their business.

The pastors and leaders of such churches generally avoid speaking up on issues, even if the issues affect their churches or their rights to religious freedom. They will not sign petitions to seek release of political and religious freedom fighters, and will not want to be part of the movement to struggle for the right to use the word “Allah” in the worship, teaching, preaching and publications of the Church. We have many of such Christians in the Malaysian Christian community.

The second type of Christians are the so-called Health and Wealth charismatics, whose main focus in their life, thoughts and faith is material wealth and luxurious living. Their church worship services are no difference from that of an entertainment disco joint, with whirling colourful psychedelic lights, with an intense, vivid and swirling abstract loud music and repeated chantings masquerading as worship songs that produce religious hallucinations and apparent expansion of spiritual consciousness.

Most of the worshippers jump, wave, swing, sway and undulated to the thumping rhythm of the deafening music, and wail loudly, with some making animal sounds. There is no solid biblical exposition, only entertaining motivation talks masquerading as sermons. A good preacher is one who tells a lot of stories and joke, and make the congregation laugh. No Bible message, just a feel good prosperity gospel.

Such churches are usually housed in mega complex with attractive facilities like gyms and swimming pools to attract members of other churches to their fold. There is no growth by evangelism or conversion, only the seduction of church members from other churches.

My personal observation is that most of these people are no different from those under the influence of psychedelic drugs, with their mental intuitive capability almost unilaterally being under the complete control of an irrational runaway emotion. These people are certainly brain-washed into giving large sums of money to their churches and pastors. Most of the pastors of such churches receive big fat pay packets, driving top brand cars, and live in luxury houses in upmarket residential areas. They go on church-sponsored overseas holiday masquerading as “mission trip” two or three times a year.

Obviously, the pastors, leaders and members from such churches couldn’t care about what is happening in the real world outside their churches. They are in a world of their own. For the members, the churches are where they can find escape from their frustration, misery, griefs, mental suffering, and get release and relief for themselves. For the pastor, the church is a bigh income generator, giving him undreamt of wealth and luxury. The recent news reports of a mega church in Singapore, where the pastor is a multi-millionare is one example of such a church.

Such churches will not hestitate to remove any religious artifacts, like the Cross, and stop singing hymns and praying in order to receive a non-Christian VIP. To the pastors and church leaders, the Lord Jesus Christ is irrelevant so long as they receive material benefits such as government grants for their mega church building and facilities. After all, Christ is just a brandname of their religious commercial enterprise.

Finally, there are the radical non-comformist Christians, who will stick out their necks to stand up for their faith and principles. There is no organised body of such Christians, but they are found in various churches, especially the traditional denomination churches. These are Christians who are well-educated in their faith, know what it means to be “salt of the Earth” and “lights of the World”, are professionals in the various fields in the secular marketplace, are outspoken and articulate in issues, especially on matters concerning the truth, righteous, justice, fairness, racial and gender equality, freedom of religious practices, freedom or speech and press, and accountability and transparency in the church and in government.

These are the Christians that the pastors and church leaders generally ignore and avoid, and will distance themselves from, for fear of getting into the bad book of the authorities. We don’t find them holding leadership positions in the churches, but we see them active in the secular marketplace, spearheading the struggle for the advancement of God’s kingdom among the people of the world, standing up and sacrificing career prospects for the sake of the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

These radical non-conformist Christians will never allow their faith and ethics to be compromised for the sake of acceptance by any unreasonable and oppressive regime.

My friend Jackson Ng is right. It’s time the Christians who are truly God’s people stand up and be counted in the face of the increasingly exessively unloving and tyrannical repressive regime.