Malaysiakini - While churches fume, Gerakan's Yong apologises (extracts):
Gerakan Youth deputy chief Andy Yong has been accused of singling out Christians in his recent statement on why religion and Bersih should not mix.
Yong, however, claims his views were misconstrued by the media and said he was sorry if any churches were offended. [...]
Yesterday, Yong said that some churches held masses and services before the rallies in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 19 and had their believers conspicuously supporting one side.
He added that a bishop who joined the rally encouraged his followers to do the same.
Yong said "to use the sacraments to encourage support or affiliation to certain political agendas is not appropriate".
"He should consider whether he risk fuelling the anger towards (from those of) different faith and political support. He must consider the consequences of his actions.
"I am not advocating that persons who are religious should be excluded from government affairs or influencing others to do the same but its sensitivity. We cannot use religious tenets as a justification for our support in government or politics," said Yong.
He argued that religion and politics should not mix because it would lead to violence.
Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, Bahais, Sikhs, Atheists (wakakaka) and Christians as individuals (and not as a religious mob) should always be allowed to participate in politics, rallies and whatnot, provided those are NOT illegal activities.
But what is objectionable and should NEVER ever be allowed is those participants using the name of their religion, organizations (mosques, temples, gurdwaras, churches, etc) or the credentials of their priests (or monks or elders) or the priests (or monks or elders) themselves to marshal, galvanise and influence their adherents into partisan politics.
Hence my post day before yesterday on Matthew 22:21 had been in support of Andy Yong's reminder, backed by the two-thousand year old words of Yehoshua ben Yosef.
Earlier Bishop Bernard Paul of the Malacca and Johor Catholic Diocese had the brazen nerve to poke his church into Malaysian secular politics by urging his people to join Bersih 5.0.
The Church stands for this and that BERSIH.
The Catholic Church or its priests may not have any influence over me but what about hundreds of thousands of Malaysian Catholics?
Was not above instructions by a Catholic priest gross involvement in Malaysian political activity?
Obviously the Bishop has forgotten Yehoshua ben Yosef's advice as contained in Mathew 22:21.
These church people - when it suits them they quote the bible, but when it doesn't they ignore it.
Thus Andy Yong was correct that religious organizations or their priests must NOT be allowed to influence politics. Thei adherents can participate as individuals but the churches and their priest cannot and must not use the mantle of their religions as political motivators.
Religious-propelled motivations and influences are far too dangerous in secular politics as they suggest the almighty would be involved on one side of politics - that's why the USA, with 95 million voters who are Evangelistic Christians, has blindly supported Israel.
When a supernatural force like one's god is brought into politics, or more specifically one side of politics, the user of that supernatural force (eg, a priest, monk or ulama) is imbued with unfair and indeed very unscrupulous powers of influence.
And when I mention 'religious-propelled motivations and influences' I mean of all religions, which currently in Malaysia seem to be mainly of Islam, Christianity and Hinduism (Hindraf). Pity there is no practice (open practice) of Judaism here or I would have called it the Abrahamic religions, wakakaka.
Mind, once there were Ayah Pin's Sky Kingdom and his Teapot Affair (wakakaka) and on a more serious note, the Al Arqam cult.
Incidentally, Waythamoorty of the Hindu Hindraf has a fond propensity for involving or involvement of foreign nations, firstly (last year), wanting to sue Britain and now calling on the UN to intervene in freeing Maria Chin Abdullah.
The former, that of suing Britain, is a Waythamoorty nonsense with no practical result ever in sight. while on the latter, Waythamoorty might as well called on the OIC who would probably have more influence on the Malaysian government than the UN, wakakaka.
And now a word from the National Secular Society of (I'm a bit like Waytha, wakakaka) Britain, which I want Bishop Bernard Paul to read:
What is Secularism?
Secularism is a principle that involves two basic propositions. The first is the strict separation of the state from religious institutions. The second is that people of different religions and beliefs are equal before the law.
Separation of religion from state
The separation of religion and state is the foundation of secularism. It ensures that religious groups don't interfere in affairs of state, and makes sure the state doesn't interfere in religious affairs.
In the United Kingdom there are officially two state recognised Christian denominations – the Church of England and the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. The Queen is both head of state and Supreme Governor of the Church of England. There is no established church in Northern Ireland or Wales but the 26 unelected bishops of the Church of England who sit in the House of Lords influence laws that affect the whole of the UK.
Christianity is one major influence among many that shape our current ways of life; we are a nation of many denominations and religions and large sectors of the population do not hold, or practise, religious beliefs.
If Britain were truly a secular democracy, political structures would reflect the reality of changing times by separating religion from the state.
Secularism protects both believers and non-believers
Secularism seeks to ensure and protect freedom of religious belief and practice for all citizens. Secularism is not about curtailing religious freedoms; it is about ensuring that the freedoms of thought and conscience apply equally to all believers and non-believers alike.
Secularism seeks to defend the absolute freedom of religious and other belief, and protect the right to manifest religious belief insofar as it does not impinge disproportionately on the rights and freedoms of others.
Secularism ensures that the right of individuals to freedom of religion is always balanced by the right to be free from religion.
Secularism is about democracy and fairness
In a secular democracy all citizens are equal before the law and parliament. No religious or political affiliation gives advantages or disadvantages and religious believers are citizens with the same rights and obligations as anyone else.
Secularism champions human rights above discriminatory religious demands. It upholds equality laws that protect women, LGBT people and minorities. These equality laws ensure that non-believers have the same rights as those who identify with a religious or philosophical belief.
Equal access to public services
We all share hospitals, schools, the police and the services of local authorities. It is essential that these public services are secular at the point of use so that no-one is disadvantaged or denied access on grounds of religious belief (or non-belief.)
All state-funded schools should be non-religious in character, with children being educated together regardless of their parents' religion.
When a public body grants a contract for the provision of services to an organisation affiliated to a particular religion or belief, such services must be delivered in a neutral manner, with no attempt to promote the ideas of that faith group.
Secularism is not atheism
Atheism is a lack of belief in gods. Secularism simply provides a framework for a democratic society. Atheists have an obvious interest in supporting secularism, but secularism itself does not seek to challenge the tenets of any particular religion or belief, neither does it seek to impose atheism on anyone.
Secularism is simply a framework for ensuring equality throughout society – in politics, education, the law and elsewhere, for believers and non-believers alike.
Secularism protects free speech and expression
Religious people have the right to express their beliefs publicly but so do those who oppose or question those beliefs. Religious beliefs, ideas and organisations must not enjoy privileged protection from the right to freedom of expression.
In a democracy, all ideas and beliefs must be open to discussion. Individuals have rights, ideas do not.
Secularism is the best chance we have to create a society in which people of all religions or none can live together fairly and peacefully.
Amen! And glory be to Amen-Ra.