Monday, May 09, 2011

Church in Politics or Politics in Church?

If asked if I am a godfearing Christian, I would readily admit to it.

I have been attending Cathechism (for Catholics) since I was old enough to read, and would be at best, an average Catholic. In my formative years, church was the Holy Rosary, a quaint church helmed mostly from time to time by Mandarin speaking priests who originated mainly from China.

I can recall having some angst against the government at some time in my life, mainly so when I was out of school. No activism, no rebelling, just some degree of angst. The only time I ever got involved was the lead up to the march 08 elections. Heck, I even contributed during the 2008 elections, and as I have oft repeat myself, but since then I live with the change I got.

I recall attending many masses and completing them (which would mean having attended mass from beginning till end) as long as the priest was preaching the word of god. And when I got married and moved to Nilai, I attended mass in Mantin, where Fr Martin Lam chastised the congregation whenever they were more concerned with anything other than church.

When I moved back to Subang Jaya, it was regular Sunday Masses at the Chapel Kurnia Kristus (CKK as it was known). At CKK, vsiting priest would conduct mass, and church volunteers would set up the multipurpose hall (which included Badminton courts) before mass starts. Often, if the hall was used for some private function on the Saturday before, you would see baloons and other stuff hanging on the walls.

But although I am a devout catholic (to some degree) I would often feel really uneasy when the priest in attendance would chide the Prime Minister or even the government, generalising at times. In fact all the time. How the word of god is equated to Government and Tun Mahathir is beyond me, but it seems it is a very Christian thing to do, preach against the government. When that happened, my family and I would simply walk out of church. Politics to me should be kept out of church.

But during the lead up to March 08, I took it upon myself to get some signatures from church going members for some petition that was lead by Harris's People's Parliament (for the life of me, I can't remember what the petition was about!!). Taking the cue from Augustine who got some 500 odd signatures from St Francis Xaviers, I offered to take it to my church. The response was pretty good.

At that time (and till present), I started going to a proper church nearer to home (Church Of Divine Mercy was officially opened in 2005). Perhaps due to the awakening of the congregation or the after effects of March 08, the incoming priest, Fr Paulino Miranda, had become more 'political' perhaps with his regular visits to Malaysia Today, and his regular meetings with Terence Fernandez, Teresa Kok and even Khalid Samad.

Church of Divine Mercy made breaking news when then newly elected MP Khalid Samad and his team visited and addressed the crowd of about 300. It did not matter to those present that Khalid Samad had insinuated that the government, in particular, then Deputy Prime Minister was somewhat responsible for the death of a Mongolian (go and do some homework and search for my-blogtv, the recording is still online), but the flavour of the day then was to 'embrace' PAS with open arms for the change we all desired.

I guess, Fr Paulino had something to prove, and he was subsequently arrested for public disorder at one of the many candle light vigils that pro-opposition NGOs are now known for. (I attended at least three of them prior).

Fast forward, and then in April last month, the Sarawak elections was held. In fact, no one can argue that the opposition had won mainly on the votes of the chinese community (whether they be Christians of buddhist or free thinkers). Better yet if you can look back to Sibu, prior to the Sarawak State Elections.

Did you ever wonder why the DAP campaign was so affective?

Through the likes of NGO's that are so called non-governmental, the DAP lead teams were able to penetrate into these groups by holding 'meet-the-congregation' sessions, that evolved into lecturing why they should reject BN and the component parties. There are also convenient 'register the voters' campaign alongside these sessions, seemingly to empower the recently-aware-politicos why they can now pursue that change, it seems.

Harris Ibrahim and Kee Thuan Chye, alongside Teresa Kok made their rounds to my church. I did no go for that session, as I was already privy to the kind of speech that they are capable of, thanks to my involvement prior to 08. Aptly titled '2 years on, what next?'. The message Harris choose to deliver goes something like this.

But Harris is no politician. Kee Thuan Chye may have developed a strong sense of hate against the government as he may have felt that he was made a victim of sorts from his days as a journalist, but he is no politician either.

Teresa Kok is the politician, and so is Khalid Samad, and as long as they take politics to the church community, then it is matter of time such posting like this appear. And who can blame them? In my church alone, Fr Paulino had at times supported the call for the PM being a non-Malay. I am not sure if members from the congregation would recall it, but I certainly do.

I was not privy to what happened in Penang. Of course, who am I anyway? The point is so long as politicians play on the naivety of the congregation, be it in churches or Mosques (as these are possibly the only two religions that have 'sermons') and using gods name to deliver justice, it seems, then it would be a question of time when sensitive questions come to the fore.

Therefore, IMHO, the Church should keep out of politics, and the Politicians too should keep out of churches (if they want to preach) fulfilling one's religious duties is a different matter.
The church is the house of god, and please keep god in mind, not DAP, or PR, BN or UMNO!

p.s, when I confronted YB Khalid Samad on his intentions to look into a proper church (and not one that is built in the corner of an Industrial park) he had said that he made no such promises. I beg to differ, I do have the recording. Just so to jog his memory, he did say that he will defend the right of churchgoers in CDM to have a proper procession around Shah Alam on feast day. Has it happened yet, 3 years on? NO!


Anonymous said...

Hi Tony. Hats off to you. You're truly Malaysian. How I wish all citizens of our beloved Malaysia possess your thinking and attitude, then we can go on living and coexisting forever in peace and harmony. May God Bless You.

Anonymous said...

Well done, Bro.

My sentiments exactly.

These "religious" lunatic politicians are corrupting religions with politics.

Yes, religion and politics should be separated, with religion ABOVE politics and not the other way round.

Panji Hitam

Freddie Kevin said...

Dear Tony,

That's why I am a baby blogger.

You've written the words, my sentiments exactly, as good as it gets.

I once walked out of Fr OC Lim's homily in SFX at the height of Sodomy I. And I will add I deliberately sat at the front pew, stood up and walked out the moment he started mentioning the ex-con.
To show my objection.

I go to church to pray for spiritual well being, period.

That aside, I respect him for his religious but not political conviction, becoming a man of the cloth despite being heir and declining his family fortune.

I pray for his good health.

I will repeat what I said at BigDog on breaking the issue,

'God has more important things to do than getting involved in politics'

Take care and God bless, you and the family.

Yours truly

Cruzeiro said...

Please Tony- you really don't know the meaning of spirituality, do you Tony?
Read up a little, before you confuse your religiosity with spirituality, mate.
Too bad that your view doesn't gel with all the right thinking people of the church or on the street. ....
Anyways- thank for your view on what you think the church should do in the face of injustice.
If you have the time, do take a peek at what I wrote- it may help you reason a little.
(You can be sure that some people would be quite interested to know what a "god-fearing Christian" fears for "his church" ....)
Take care, mate.

Pauline said...

I would just like to say that Jesus himself was involved in civil activism! He was a civil activist at heart and spoke up against what he perceived as injustices in His society. Remember when he got angry with the people who were selling things and ripping people off at the temple? He threw them out for turning a place of worship into a marketplace.

If Jesus were just about religion and spirituality, He would have just kept quiet and just prayed in the synagogue. If you recall, when He was just 12 years old, He was in the synagogue teaching the temple elders! He did not just keep quiet when He saw injustice.

I fear that you have compartmentalised Jesus into a little comfort zone of yours. Admittedly there is a group of Catholics who are uncomfortable with activism cos it disrupts their comfort zone.

But remember that the Church teaches about social justice and I believe that one should not just keep quiet when one's neighbour is being bullied and his/her rights are affected.

Let me leave you with this:
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

I hope that you will allow this comments to be in your blog in order to give a balanced account

resident.wangsamaju said...

Have you been sleeping in church, Tony. I can see that you are spinning to make the Church look bad for standing up against the social injustice that's in the country.

Anonymous said...

Being a Christian means I should keep away from speaking against injustice & tyranny?

Please don't even start with how much more of a "Christian" you are than the rest.

Anonymous said...

Tony, your points are valid and reasonable. I don't really agree but I respect you sentiments and understand your uneasiness.

I think priests should tone down their political preferences no matter how passionate they feel about the injustice done by the ruling government. Especially during the mass sermon.

Tony Yew said...

9.39pm post was a dupicate.
I don't censure comments for no reasons.

Thank you for your comments. As I was reminded by another blogger who did not prefer my comments, I am reminding you of the same.

My postings in my blog are that of my opinion. If you do not share yours, please, do start a blog of your own. There you can say what you like, including encouraging the church to go full on in politics. Heck, get them to start a political party.

But going to church as a catholic will not ensure that one MUST ACCEPT whatever is being dished out to you from the priest.

I do not accept the church as being used as a tool by the opposition, having these themed talks.

There is a difference of being made politically aware, and being made into political activist.

I don't know about your involvement, but I have been there.

Again, these are my views. You can comment anyhow you like, but at the end of the day, I know there are many out there who do not share the views of these priests but do not say it.

Anonymous said...

From your post, you seem to say that politics and religion are 2 different things, like 2 divergent scientific theories.

FYI, humanity includes everything that affects the daily life of humans.

Do politics and religion affect each other? IMHO yes they both do !

So how do you separate politics from religion ? Both are human social activities from different sides of the same coin ( human).

Your "timely argument" after the BIg Dog shit is deeply(intentionally ?) flawed and shows your ignorance of worldly affairs or...worse you have an evil ulterior agenda

Anonymous said...


Religious doesn't mean spiritual/holiness. The Talibans and Al-Qaeda are religious too and claim to be more religious than many other muslims and that's the reason why they go to the extend to kill and blow themselves up in the name of religion and being religious.

If you are pro govt, just admit so and no need to go around the world and pin it on priests and pastors that participated in the candle light vigil. The Father/priest/pastors are citizens of Msia and fulfilling their role and civic duty to voice against evil. Christian or not, they are doing it in the capacity as Malaysian. As far as I know, Fathers/Priest/Pastors do not turn the church into a political house. We are voters and have the right to share our sentiments regardless of position in church.

Aren't you are doing the same thing in championing for BN? Same with Freddie Kevin who are so active in defending the BN govt and yet in his comments here, appear to be non-partisan spiritual brat.

Old Fart said...

Hi Tony,

My kid needs a picture of Judas. Can I use your pic?

Just a Muslim said...

Tony, you really rock!

No wonder someone defined politics as corruptions. It is driven by power which, nowadays, always, feed on money, not conscience.

The mosques in PR-run states, especially Selangor, have now been taken over by PAS. The sermons are not even veiled hatred messages. They are unabashed open hate-BN clarion calls. One could be excused if he were to wonder whether the khatib is not, in fact, the devil incarnate.