Laughing and crying at an ‘evangelical ban’

JUNE 24 — I chuckled at the call by the Centre for Human Rights Research and Advocacy (Centhra) for the government to introduce anti-evangelicalism laws in order to, uh, “ensure that the attempts by evangelicals to dominate the Christian narrative do not occur.”

Clearly, I don’t have a darn Christian clue what Centhra CEO Azril Mohd Amin even means by “dominate the Christian narrative” but, well, it sounds sufficiently speech-worthy and everyone sitting next to Azril must have been nodding in profound agreement when he said it, so I guess that some folks will take him seriously.

How did groups like Centhra do their research, I wonder, comprised as they are (I’m sure) of world-class researchers and scholars of religion, philosophy, sociology, anthropology and many other “ogys” that the average person has never heard of? 

Has the TED Talks committee been furiously deliberating about whether or not to grant spokesmen like Azril a full month of presentations? What is it with such groups?

I chuckled at first. 

Then I wept.

Because I am from an evangelical Christian church (based in Petaling Jaya) — that makes us the target of Centhra’s accusations, like it or not — and, duh, the very idea that we’re out to “dominate” anything sounds like a joke so bad we should laugh just to not humiliate the joke-teller.

Dude, we’re struggling to even get our own members to come to church — suddenly we’re some terror-merror US-based group plotting to unravel Islam in Malaysia?

Bro, most of our members fight to even stay awake during the Sunday messages and we have to pressure and cajole people to come for prayer meetings, Christmas carolling practice, to help teach the Sunday School — and now we’re at the forefront of a sinister plot to undermine the country’s Constitution?

Macha, in my church most of us worry sick for our children, hoping they’ll be healthy, “socially adjusted” and maybe show some interest in living godly lives, all the while trying to not go bankrupt and (maybe) live past 70 years without causing unbearable suffering to our families ─ and we’re accused of threatening our country’s internal security and breeding national disunity?

What.

The.

(Okay, never mind).

Or take macro examples. 

Every Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and even atheist worries about our basic rights, our financial futures and our very identities. 

The very idea of “sharing our faith” with a Muslim raises alarm bells of being arrested.

Even bringing in a shipment of holy books turns into something that looks like a drug bust.

And yet groups like Centhra have to say that WE are responsible for ruining peace in the country? 

The very thought of setting up a new place of worship raises concerns about permits and “obstacles.” Many churches do not even register themselves as churches. No, they are either “well-being sanctuaries”, “community centres” or, believe it or not, wholesale chair-sellers.

Can Muslims imagine constructing a mosque but telling the authorities it’s a “dome-oriented recreational space”? Do groups like Centhra even know what in God’s name (literally) non-Islamic religions have to put up with, especially over the past three decades?

And yet people like Azril can casually point the sedition finger at US while, in the same breath, exonerating himself from sedition? Does anybody in Malaysia even know what “sedition” means anymore?

Because I sure as heck don’t.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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