Archive for the ‘Social-Cultural Analysis’ Category.

Azril’s Call for Ban of Evangelicalism is Logically Flawed: Let the Facts on Conversion Speak for Themselves.

Azril Mohd Amin, CEO of Centhra explained to TheMalaysianInsight that his call for a ban on evangelicalism was prompted by the high number of Muslims leaving the faith for Christianity. He added that “there were some 400 conversion cases before the shariah courts and if the trend continued, it could have an impact on the country’s security.” [Azril: Why I said Christian Evangelicalism Should be Banned]

Azril’s charge against Evangelicalism is logically flawed and legally unjust. First, even if there are 400 cases of conversion before the shariah court, he has provided no evidence that they are converted by Evangelicals. Rather than blaming Evangelicals, an educated person like Azril should recognize that these people could be influenced by a variety of powerful media sources or by people they meet when they travel overseas, rather than by a small Christian movement like Evangelicalism in Malaysia. Second, Azril’s argument is logically flawed. Let me explain his flawed logic. Continue reading ‘Azril’s Call for Ban of Evangelicalism is Logically Flawed: Let the Facts on Conversion Speak for Themselves.’ »

Evangelical Essentials: Correcting Ill-Informed Muslim Activists and Fitnah Against Christians

Many social critics have ridiculed Azril Mohd Amin, CEO of CENTHRA for his ignorance when he called for Evangelicalism to be outlawed in Malaysia [Outlaw Evangelicalism in Malaysia, says Islamic Coalition]. Some even questioned whether Azril is intellectually competent to address the issue when he confuses and conflates such elementary terms like “Evangelism” and “Evangelicalism”.

“Evangelism” refers simply to the sharing of good news that “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:19) In contrast, “Evangelicalism” refers to the trans-denominational global movement which emphasizes the divine inspiration of the Bible with its central message of Christ work of atonement on the cross, and the necessity of experience of conversion.

In any case, the ignorance displayed by Azril is easily remedied by giving a concise history of Evangelicalism which includes many distinguished thinkers and social reformers. Continue reading ‘Evangelical Essentials: Correcting Ill-Informed Muslim Activists and Fitnah Against Christians’ »

Human Dignity: New Paradigm for Religious Liberty **

Precis:

Human rights circumscribe the limits of legitimate authority (including majority rule) and are inalienable for any individual, that is, they cannot be taken from any individual. Since human rights are inalienable and are inherent possession of every individual, they are not given by authorities. Human rights are the pre-political possession of the individual rather than a gift or concession from governing authorities. Otherwise, the state may claim the right to take rights back from citizens. Such a proposition is consistent with the understanding that human rights is not a matter of state policy, it is a matter of universal moral principle…

Man as a being created in God’s image is as such inherently entitled to equal regard regardless of race, gender or social position. It demands impartiality in how persons are treated. Acknowledgment of human equality entails protection from harm and along with it the range of inalienable human rights including the right to respect, the right to life, and the right to certain freedoms exemplified by fundamental liberties or bill of rights enshrined in modern constitutionalism.   In this regard, rights cannot be lost or taken away.

In summary, recognizing human beings as created in the image of God entails (1) equal dignity and interdependence of man and woman; (2) personal rights such as equality, freedom and dignity of the individual; (3) social rights arising from interdependence of  community members in matters of justice; and (4) stewardship of creation.

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I. Presuppositions and Social Realities
This paper is premised on three theses about the logical outcome of conventional Malaysian politics.

Thesis 1 – So long as Malaysian politics is negotiated on racial/religious terms, political discourse and public policies will increasingly become more Islamic. Only an Islam that undertakes a process of Ijtihad which reforms the Shariah Law can prevent the eventual emergence of an Islamic state. Itjihad is unacceptable to Sunni Islam practiced in Malaysia.

Thesis2 – Non-Muslims must reject the myth of monolithic identity of race and religion based politics (c.f. rebuttal by Amatya Sen, (Identity and Violence) and shift the terms of politics to one based on the human rights and equal citizenship in a modern pluralistic democracy.

Thesis 3 – Democratic rights are not just ideals but the outcome of political power, law and public policies enforced through social institutions. Furthermore, democracy practices can flourish only if it is supported by a strong civil society that nurtures democratic culture and democratic discipline.

This situation calls for a new paradigm of public discourse based on human rights and equal citizenship that can provide a robust social and moral critique of Islamic hegemony in a pluralistic society. Continue reading ‘Human Dignity: New Paradigm for Religious Liberty **’ »

Mourn for Maligned Alkitab

Friends and Countrymen, lend me your ears.
I come to share Alkitab goodness, not to use it to spread confusion.
This evil from the government will be remembered even after its downfall;
For the good Alkitab is suppressed by injustice of the Court.
The honorable judges declared Alkitab is dangerous to Muslims.
This is a serious slander and Alkitab paid dearly for it.
Do Christians threaten violence like Perkasa when Alkitab is banned?
And the Court insists Alkitab is dangerous!
Dangerous books make men spiteful and vindictive;
But Christians offer a message of God’s love and forgiveness.
Yet the court insists Alkitab is dangerous;
And the Court judges are honorable men.
I am not here to refute the Court judgment,
But I am here to speak what I know;
You all who love justice and peace, and not without reason:
What holds you from mourning for maligned Alkitab?
O Sound Judgment! You have fled from brutish beasts,
And honorable men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is with Alkitab interred in dark storerooms of the authorities,
And I must grieve till it is returned to the Christians.

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NEWS LINKS:

MalaysianInsider – Christian paper loses battle to use ‘Allah’

MalayMailOnline – ‘Allah’ ruling vindicates Mais, Jais in bible tussle, says Perkasa

Prime Minister Najib Gave Christians a Bounced Check

Finally, the truth is out. The 10-point may bear the signature of PM Najib, but it has no cash value. Honestly, it is a bounced check.

To be sure, it is imprinted with high face value – 10 points to be exact. This includes freedom for Christians to print and circulate the Alkitab and other indigenous Bibles in Peninsula Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak; it even threatens punishment for government officials who failed to honor the PM’s check, and much besides.

But now the PM says, whatever the face value of his personally signed check, the final decision whether the check is cash-able is up to the State Bank. Unfortunately, nine of the eleven State Banks have since long ago circulated directives which say the kind of checks that the Prime Minister gave to Christians have no cash value. Regardless, the PM assured Christians his check will be honored, especially when the Sarawak State elections was just round the corner in 2011. Continue reading ‘Prime Minister Najib Gave Christians a Bounced Check’ »

The End of Democratic Constitutionalism in Malaysia?

Many of you probably missed my debate with some Malay nationalists or ‘political royalists’ on the Social Contract, Islam and the special position of the Malays way back in 2006. Click on highlighted yellow link in the right panel of this site (Debates on Social Contract/Multiculturalism). LINK. Don’t miss the sections containing historical records on the formation of the Federal Constitution. Part 1 and Part 2

I post here a recent article by the distinguished scholar Clive Kessler, as it provides incisive insights on how the debate has escalated because of heightened existential anxieties (angst) of some influential streams of the Malay ruling elite. These politically astute, influential and powerful zealots intend to sweep away very democratic foundations of our Constitutional democracy.

We are faced with a frightful, clear and present danger. It is incumbent that everyone of us, regardless of our racial and religious background, go beyond our parochial self-interests, set aside our relatively minor differences and unite to defend our fragile democracy.

God forbid that we continue to “main-main masak” or just “masak-masak” while extremists have started a dangerous fire in the kitchen! Continue reading ‘The End of Democratic Constitutionalism in Malaysia?’ »

Christians as Convenient Collateral Damage in Political Contest between Putra Jaya and Selangor Government

BSM officials complied with an order to report to JAIS. After the meeting, BSM put the blame of the raid onto the Selangor government. BSM further suggested since Putra Jaya kept its word, therefore, Selangor must formally accept the 10-point solution to assure BSM of its concerns. Understandably, the Selangor government wants to wait for Putra Jaya first to publicly affirm its ongoing commitment to the 10-point before responding to BSM’s suggestion.

Instead of (re)taking public ownership of the 10-point, the Prime Minister who personally signed the 10-point in 2011 has chosen to remain silent. Furthermore, the de facto Law Minister’ Nancy Shukri put the problem squarely on Selangor state. In effect, Putra Jaya has abandoned the 10-point and abdicated from its original commitment.

It would be laudable if Putra Jaya first renewed its commitment to the 10-point, reprimanded JAIS for the raid, and then approached the Selangor government for assistance to ensure compliance of the 10-point. Continue reading ‘Christians as Convenient Collateral Damage in Political Contest between Putra Jaya and Selangor Government’ »

The Beginning of Persecution of Christian Minorities in Malaysia?

The raid of Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) by the Selangor Islamic authorities, JAIS (Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor) is a flagrant violation of religious liberty and a deliberate affront to the dignity of the Christian community. LINK JAIS’ action suggests that a threshold in inter-religious relations has been crossed, that is, the Islamic authorities have progressed from harassing to persecuting Christian minorities in Malaysia.

The raid is not unexpected, given the orchestrated agitations and provocations coming from Islamic authorities and NGOs in the last few weeks. The decree by the Sultan of Selangor which bans non-Muslims from using the Allah word was followed by a statement by JAIS new Director declaring that JAIS will be sending warning letters to all churches. Islamic NGOs followed suit with police reports against Herald and the Catholic Church. Next, the former Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir accused Christians of irritating Muslims in using the Allah word, and the Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin publicly supported UMNO Selangor in its campaign against the editor of Herald. Strangely, the Prime Minister has remained silent although he has personally guaranteed Christians their right to use the al-Kitab a few years ago. The ominous beating of war drums can only lead to hostile action against Christians. Continue reading ‘The Beginning of Persecution of Christian Minorities in Malaysia?’ »

Homosexuality and Respect for Democratic Rights: YES, BUT – The Sociological Minimum

The Bible considers homosexual practice sinful since it violates God’s moral order (using Biblical language), or natural moral order (using language of public discourse). See earlier post, LINK.  Still, there is no need to single out homosexual activity for disapprobation as it is listed as one sin amongst many other sins. This theological truth is foundational for Christian moral teaching, but Christians need to supplement theological truth with sociological insights when they address the homosexual controversy in public discourse. In this spirit I offer the following propositions. Continue reading ‘Homosexuality and Respect for Democratic Rights: YES, BUT – The Sociological Minimum’ »

Appeal Court Inept Judgment Based on Internet Research

The Court of Appeal in Putrajaya on 14/10/2013 over-ruled the earlier decision by Justice Lau Bee Lan in the Kuala Lumpur High Court to allow Christians (Herald) to use the word Allah. The wide ramifications of the Appeal Court decision calls for careful analysis to ascertain whether it is based on accurate facts which are foundational for a coherently argued and impartial judgment. I shall focus on the judgment delivered by one of the three judges, Justice Mohd Nawawi bin Salleh, since it ostensibly examines the facts pertaining to the legitimacy of Christians (the Herald) using the word Allah. Continue reading ‘Appeal Court Inept Judgment Based on Internet Research’ »