Friday, October 14, 2005

Christianity in Singapore

Our Christian jihadists

I hope you don't think I am singling out yawning bread for attacks, but I find the arguments to be somewhat unconvincing. They just sound like angry diatribe.

Fristly let's look at Islam and Christianity. They are by their very nature proselytizing religions. They seek to convert. So of course a certain amount of attempting to convert happens. I generally think most Singaporeans from the traditional Christian denominations don't come across as being overly forceful. Also these religions naturally hold that there is a Truth beyond mere truths. There is anunbending, unyielding Truth, that does not change. And in it holds the moral compass of life. This is as far as I understand the two religions.

I want to make a few arguments. If the child is in a Christian school, then don't complain if Christianity is taught. Don't go to that school, there are tonnes of non-Christian schools out there. I do agree that the teacher should be more cautious about preaching her religion to young impressionable minds. As teachers our first and foremost goal is to give a variety of opinions and let young minds make that decision themselves. So there I agree with the author.

Here's my take on the Boys' Brigade and Scouts. The scouts are less religious by nature. It wasn't designed with religion in it. It may have been influenced by Anglo-Saxon values which have Protestanism in it, but then again Capitalism (as Weber argues) also has protestant roots. The Boy's Brigade however has a religious dimension to it, like St John's Ambulance Brigade. I mean if you really feel that your child shouldn't touch anything remotely Christian, I would argue that they should transfer immediately to the National Cadet Corp or the National Police Cadet Corp. That has not religious inclinations at all.

As for the doctor... That doctor is silly. If he did work in the government hospital, then I think he overstep the line. If he was in private practise, then all I can say is don't visit him again. Trying to legislate religion goes against my belief that government in private lives should be kept to the minimum. Why should the state tell religions what they can and cannot do? Already there is government regulation regarding Christians spreading their faith to Muslims, so now they should be regulated on all other faiths and races? My theory is just avoid them. If they act in a public authority then they must keep the proselytizing out of their work, but if they are in private practise, businees or in a Christian school, then they have every right to talk about their faith. I would expect no less from a Muslim school.

Why do the people of Singapore keep asking the government to nanny them? Do it yourself. Just ignore the Christians. I mean if they keep coming back call the cops and say they are harassing you. If you told them politely once to back off, they have been warned. This is a matter of privacy not anti-religion. I mean if Christians have no right to impose their beliefs on you, then what give you a right to impose your anti-Christian beliefs on them? Quid pro quo. Just ignore each other. I get approached by Mormons frequently, and I tend to tell them I am not interested and they tend to leave me alone. I mean I am a cultural Catholic so I do know the arguments and theology of my own denomination as well as of others, including those of Islam.

I do agree that the teacher did overstep her bounds though. Bad teacher. Teaching is about providing opposing facts and letting young minds make their own decision about the world. Leave the teaching of religion to the churches. However on the Boys Brigade and Christian schools, I've made it quite clear that they are Christian by design, so if you don't like it go elsewhere. You can't have your cake and eat it. The doctor is just a silly little man, I cannot help but laugh. And I feel more sorry for the man with the cancer relapse. Maybe the doctor just wanted to pray since there was no hope... Who knows... That one is just plain funny.

Homosexuality in Singapore

The government is not homophobic, the Prime Minister says

I honestly believe that the government is somewhat homophobic. Not in the sense that members of the ruling party are homophobic, but their policies are.

I can understand their policy of not wanting to upset the vast majority of the population. Politicians tend to pre-empt public opinion. We see that too often in Britain and the US. Similarly in Singapore all the politicians are trying to do is get re-elected.

While I believe that government interference in people's personal lives should be kept to the minimum. I disagree with the writer of the above article on several points.

I do not think the Christian minority is the only group trying to foist their believes on the entire population. I do believe that Muslims also feel that way. Together that's roughly 30% of the population, let's say half of them are strongly against homosexuality. I don't even know how many conservative non-Christian Chinese and Indians are out there. So let's put it at 10% of the population (and that's making the numbers very small). So roughly 25% of the population would balk at this. Now let's look at the pro-gay population. I doubt gays amount to more than 5% of the population, and their allies wouldn't be more than 10% of the population (and I am being very generous on this end). That makes 15% of the population. Which leaves the remaining 65% as the silent majority. They either don't care or don't want to talk about it. As a politician it would almost seem like the best thing to do is play to the larger group, the anti-gay coalition than the pro-gay coalition. Just because that immediately gaurantees you 25% of the vote. Of course Singaporean elections are not usually a single-issue race, so the other 65% will be won by other means.

As to comparing Thaipusam to the Nation. That's a logical stretch. One is religious and another is a lifestyle choice. Unless you're going to tell me being gay is a religion. Banning Thaipusam just because it is barbaric would mean that other religious holidays may have to go too. Ramadan can be seen as unhealthy if you want. Fasting all day and then stuffing yourself at night and before sunrise. Some Chrisitans would also have to be forced to stop fasting during Lent. Religion and lifestyle choices are two different things. So to should parades and parties. There's enough moral outrage at straight parties, gay parties would evoke even greater outrage from the moral police. Personally I think if gays want a party they should. What I dislike is the argument that the writer of the article is making. Let each approach his fate the way he feels most comfortable with. To think that Thaipusam is barbaric is to fall into the same trap that makes people think homosexuality is unnatural. Small, narrowminded and parochial.

Personally if gays want to get married, I say let them. They can deal with all the hassles of marriage and divorce. Many gays I know here in the US are anti-marriage. They are unhappy that a vocal few are spoiling their image. Some fo course are more unhappy that liberals are using them as a way to win votes in elections. The gay men I personally know (all 3 of them) think that marriage is bad for them. They don't want to deal with hassles of a divorce (instead of a breakup, which can be bad enough), and all the pressures to get married that their partners could put on them if gay marriage was allowed.

I think that to be fair though, if gays can get married (hence removing the argument that the state should regulate marriage) then polygamy and polyandry should also be allowed. It seems like the logical step. After all judegements on monogamy are also made from a moralistic point of view. Again I say if a man or woman wants to have more than one spouse, go for it. One woman is more than I can handle without going nuts.

But I think the majority of Singapore's population is not ready to accept gays in the open. It's just not ripe. Even the proposal to allow single people of the same sex to purchase HDB flats if they are over a certain age met with some moral indignation. So allowing gays in the open would cause a massive amount of social displeasure. Furthermore, it should be noted that looking at our last census, Christians (I include Catholics of course) do form a large bulk of the middle to uppermiddle income bracket. Economic clout translates to political clout. It's the same reason that gays in the US have so much clout. They have economic clout. They are largely the uppermiddle class and they fought hard. Alot of their opponents tend not to be drawn from the uppermiddle but the lowermiddle class. Economic power. It helps move the debate.

I think the gays in Singapore are asking for the sky before they've won the ground. You've had little successes here and there. You may have fought hard or not at all for it. It seems each time the government gives a little, it has been with little pressure from gays in Singapore. That's just my impression. Fight the little battles first. Fight the cultural battles, not the political one. Lest it becomes tyranny of the minority over the majority. Find allies. You may not all agree on gay marriage, but if you agree that the governments job is not to moralise issues then fight that battle first. The Civil Rights movement was people finding common ground to tackle the problem. It will disspate when the goal is met, but at least you're one step closer.