Monday, February 20, 2012

Who is intolerant in Singapore? Any idea how to be tolerant here?


Anyone thinks that the local non-Christians, who always criticize Christians for being intolerant and insensitive to non-Christian beliefs and practices, are missing the fact that Christians are not the ones who complain to the authorities when non-Christians display disagreement to Christian belief and practices?

When was the last time an individual Christian or a Christian organization complain to the Home Ministry when they come across disagreeable opinion given by non-Christians on Christian belief and practices?

Take an example: Any Christian complain to the Internal Security Department (ISD) when local non-Christians ridicule some of the Christian beliefs and practices, such as glossolalia (speaking in unfamiliar languages when a person is overwhelmed by the power of God the Spirit), calling it "rubbish"?

Ridiculing glossolalia is insulting most of the Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians, which includes some among the mainline denominations under the National Council of Churches of Singapore. But not a single Christian who practices glossolalia complain to ISD about this. Nor did any Christian make a big fuzz over it. 

That is probably because Christians in Singapore respect and tolerate different views in the real manner. They don't criticize non-Christians who express disagreeable opinion as intolerant. Neither do they lodge report to the authorities against non-Christians when the latter publicly express their opinion on Christian belief and practice.

On the other hand, local non-Christians always criticize Christians as intolerant because Christians hold and express their own view of non-Christian belief and practice. As if that is not enough, the non-Christian would lodge report to the authorities against the Christians. (Aren't the recent ISD's investigations on religious affairs came about when non-Christians complained against the Christians for publicly expressing their disagreeable view?)

To me, this situation in Singapore can be simplified in the following way.

Y makes a disagreeable opinion about X's religion. X does not react by making a big fuss about Y as intolerant. Neither does X lodge report to the authorities against Y.

X makes a disagreeable opinion on Y's religion. Y reacts by making a big fuss about X as intolerant. Y goes on to lodge report to the authorities against X. On top of that, Y accuses X for attempting to inaugurate religious war into the country, and hence disturb the harmony in the society.

It seems to me that many locals like to think that (1) Y is correct to make a big fuss about X as intolerant, (2) Y is correct to lodge report to the authorities against X for being intolerant, and (3) Y is correct to accuse X for attempting to inaugurate religious war into the country, and hence disturb the harmony in the society.

And it also seems to me that the fact that the local authorities take up the cause of Y implies their agreement with and approval of (1), (2), and (3). 

If this is the case, does that mean for me to be "tolerant" in the local context, I would have to make a big fuss about those who publicly express disagreement with my religious belief and practice, lodge a report to the authorities against them, and accuse them as intolerant war-mongers who disturb the harmony in the society?

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