Tuesday, May 05, 2009

National Council of Churches of Singapore's Statement on Christians & AWARE

NCCS' (National Council of Churches of Singapore) statement in respond to the AWARE saga (emphasis added):

The National Council of Churches has been following the recent events related to AWARE. We are concerned that religion has been dragged into the unfortunate situation. The matters related to AWARE should be solved by its own members. We do not condone churches getting involved in this matter; neither do we condone pulpits being used for this purpose. Our member churches are not involved in the present saga. In fact, our heads of churches have very recently reiterated to their clergy the standing instruction on the proper use of the pulpit.

This does not preclude individual Christians, like all their fellow-citizens, from contributing in matters of social concern and well-being. Nor does it preclude churches from being involved in public square discussions within the rules of engagement in a multi-religious society that Singapore is. On various occasions in the past, the NCCS has done so responsibly when called upon to give our opinions or when there was a need to add our voice. We believe that we can engage together in our common spaces in a spirit of mutual respect so that we can contribute positively to the well-being of our nation.

In this particular situation, we should all step back and give AWARE space to settle its own matters.

Archbishop John Chew, President, NCCS
Lim K Tham, General Secretary, NCCS

Church Involvement:
What does NCCS mean by not condoning churches to get involved? Not involved in what way?

Be it critically support or against the power-struggle within AWARE, can't churches make a stand or voice out concerning the saga?

Has such a socially significant issue being swept as irrelevant to churches? Unless NCCS thinks that this saga is not a social concern. If it is not, then the media must be too bored and decided to cover the saga for 2 months just for the sake of coverage.

If it is not, I wonder would NCCS need to issue such statement in the first place.

Individual Christian Involvement:
Can NCCS separates an individual Christian involvement from the churches? If the "Church" is the collective of individual Christians, then NCCS is saying that it is alright for individual Christians to involve as long as he/she doesn't do that in a group or though an explicitly Christian institution.

And that seems rather anarchistic and an discouragement to possible communal efforts to engage the public. This in turn contradict NCCS' own objectives:

(v) Through mutual consultation and action to form Christian public opinion and to bring it to bear on the moral, social, national and international issues of the day, particularly those which may affect the life and welfare of the people of Singapore.

The statement betrays NCCS' short-sightedness by its over-looking and underestimating:

  • the social implications of this saga which affect the lives and welfare of people.

  • the political dimension of God's kingdom and Jesus' word and work.

  • the theological position of the "Church" within the secular context.

  • the engagement between Jesus and his community on one end with the political authorities of the Romans & Temple priests on the other.

  • the further affirmation of privatisation of the Christian faith among Christians.

This post is not to suggest Christians to join AWARE and start voting according to their cause. I'm highlighting the dubiousness and irrelevance of the public statement which unbelievably produced by a national council representing the Christian churches.

1 comment:

Steven Sim said...

It's a plague all of middle-class church.

When responding to national crisis, first, you exempt "the Church" from liabilities - we are "apolitical" (http://www.stevensim.org/2008/01/christians-and-the-election-what/), "we are not involved as a church", "we are neutral", "we do not condone".

Then we say something about christians (i.e., the church?)' invovlement. We are letting the so called individual xtians (they are almost never individual) stand on their own feet against the world.

I would much prefer the church shed the "exemption" clause, and go straight to exert that we are pro-justice, pro righteousness, pro poor, pro equity. of course if we are indeed pro those. ;)

But again, we're reminded that "bigger" thing is at stake...wutever that means.

Steven Sim