Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Creation Church Faces Up To The Inconvenient Truth

A 10-minute video of excerpts of an English sermon by New Creation Church's Pastor Mark which was posted on Youtube by someone (not NCC) has upset many people in Singapore. I did not and am now unable to watch that video as Youtube has removed that video upon NCC's request but the Straits Times reported that the video "mocks Taoist beliefs" and in it, Pastor Mark "can be heard joking with the congregation about Chinese rituals; in one instance, he compared praying to Taoist deities to 'seeking protection from secret society gangsters'."

The Ministry of Home Affairs said that "'We are aware of the case. ISD has looked into it and taken up the matter with the New Creation Church.'" New Creation Church has placed an apology on its website (I reproduce it here for your convenience):

Response To Recent Circulation Of Audio Clips Of A Sermon Preached By Pastor Mark Ng In August 2008

New Creation Church (NCC) would like to express our deepest apologies to any person who may have been offended by the remarks made by Pastor Mark Ng during a sermon delivered in August 2008. Pastor Mark has explained to us that his intention was to highlight what he viewed as some inconsistencies in the local Chinese practices, and not meant to cause disrespect to any race or religion.
Following the widely covered media reports in February 2010 of another incident not related to NCC, we initiated an internal review of all past and ongoing sermons. In the course of this review, we realised that Pastor Mark had in this sermon, inadvertently spoken in a manner that could be regarded as slighting these practices.
Arising from this review, we immediately stopped the circulation and sale of this and several other sermons that were deemed insensitive. We also strongly emphasised to all our pastors that sermons of this nature are not acceptable and should not be repeated.
We recognise our responsibility in this major oversight in allowing this sermon not only to be preached, but also, as a usual practice, to be made available as a resource for sale. It is unfortunate that while we have endeavoured in every way to stop the circulation of this sermon, its recent appearance on the Internet continues to possibly cause offence when it was never Pastor Mark’s intention to do so. We assure the public that NCC has no part in the current surfacing of this sermon.
Pastor Mark offers his unreserved and unmitigated apology to the public for his insensitive comments and for failing to observe the basic tenet of Christianity, which is founded on love for one and all. He humbly appeals to those whom he has offended to forgive him of this serious indiscretion.
NCC takes this opportunity to affirm our commitment to the public that we place a high premium on the value of both racial and religious harmony in our multi-faceted society. This is evidenced by our years of consistent support for the many nation-wide programmes on racial and religious harmony.

New Creation Church Council
13 June 2010

I am glad that NCC was prompt to apologize and heartened that it was straightforward and did not engage in linguistic gymnastics to try to save face.  I am also glad that NCC was proactive in initiating its own review following "the widely covered media reports in February 2010 of another incident not related to NCC" (i.e. the Rony Tan incident).

It should be stressed that, unlike the Rony Tan incident,  NCC did NOT put up that video on the internet. However, some might say that Pastor Mark and NCC should not have preached that kind of sermon in the first place.  While I have not watched that particular Youtube video, I have heard Pastor Mark preach live on several occasions, and he had talked about certain aspects of Taoist practices drawing from his own personal experience as one who had followed the Taoist faith for many years.  To put his sermon in perspective, Pastor Mark was not out to demean other faiths but to "highlight what he viewed as some inconsistencies in the local Chinese practices" from his present Christian perspective to fellow Christians in a regular Sunday service.

I admit that through the course of sharing his experience, Pastor Mark's jokes may be construed as being disrespectful to other faiths but here, I must also confess that I also laughed at Pastor Mark's jokes and the fact that the jokes might cause offence to other faiths did not cross my mind.  I was sitting in a church service and naturally never had thoughts for other faiths in my mind.

I wonder how many Christians (or for that matter, anyone with his own religious beliefs) also behave the same way I do, that is, we are mindful of religious sensitivities in a public setting in multi-religious Singapore but let our guard down in our own cosy church/religious environment. This incident is a good wake-up call to us Christians (as well as believers of other faiths) to be sensitive at ALL times in order to maintain racial and religious harmony in Singapore.


(The Today paper also reported on this: http://www.todayonline.com/Hotnews/EDC100615-0000107/New-Creation-Church-pastor-apologises)


Daughter Of Sarah said...

Great point.

1) I am also glad NCC was straight forward about it.

2) It truly is a great reminder to all of us that we need only preach Christ's love and grace and the Word to bring people to him. He doesn't need us to mock other religions. He should be the focus and the draw. We don't need to crack jokes at others.

Chloe Ask said...

IMHO this whole debacle is just the result of some narrow minded nitwit making a mountain of a molehill. The pastor was preaching to his flock: if someone in attendance takes offence, he/she can 1) complain to the speaker straight away, or 2) stop attending the service. How does making a police report change things? I recall, as a child, laughing at my neighbour for telling me not to point my finger at the moon, or else my digit will fall off. Well, I did it in front of him to demonstrate it won't, and his mother happened to be standing nearby, and disaster did not befall me. Later on, I realisd it was his mother's way of teaching him not to point fingers at someone, as it is rude to do so, and I felt contrite for ruining her parenting. But, from my perspective at that time, I was merely helping my friend to grow up and wise up. Should he or his mother have made a police report and have them lock me up for mocking their "religious beliefs"?
The whole wide world must be laughing at Singapore right now, in particular the ISD officers who actually made a case of it.

Kaffein said...

Well what do we Christians expect?

I have said time and again, if a Muslim were to stand up for his faith and call other religion followers as infidels, he will be highly regarded for his faith.

But when a Christian compares his faith with other religions and shares about the absurdity of them, he will be condemned with intolerance and arrogant.

No wonder Paul had so many hardships in telling people the truth. The question is not whether he is telling the truth, but rather do people want to be set free.