Archive for the ‘Christians’ Category


MUSLIMS ACCOUNT FOR 2% OF WORLD TERRORISM.

Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims. How many times have you heard that one? And that comment is often followed up by the question: Why don’t we see Christian, Buddhist, or Jewish terrorists? Or Hindu?

However, and this will probably shock many, so you might want to take a breath: Overwhelmingly, those who have committed terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe aren’t Muslims. Let’s give that a moment to sink in.

Are All Terrorists Muslims? It’s Not Even Close

By Dean Obeidallah

THE DAILY BEAST

What percentage of terror attacks in the United States and Europe are committed by Muslims? Guess. Nope. Guess again. And again…

“Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.” How many times have you heard that one? Sure, we heard Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade say it, but to me, that was simply part of the Fox News plan to make their viewers dumber, as we saw again this past weekend when its terrorism “expert” Steve Emerson was caught fabricating the story that Birmingham, England, is closed to non-Muslims. But more alarmingly, even some reasonable people have uttered this statement.

And that comment is often followed up by the question: Why don’t we see Christian, Buddhist, or Jewish terrorists?

Obviously, there are people who sincerely view themselves as Muslims who have committed horrible acts in the name of Islam. We Muslims can make the case that their actions are not based on any part of the faith but on their own political agenda. But they are Muslims, no denying that.

However, and this will probably shock many, so you might want to take a breath: Overwhelmingly, those who have committed terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe aren’t Muslims. Let’s give that a moment to sink in.

Now, it’s not your fault if you aren’t aware of that fact. You can blame the media. (Yes, Sarah Palin and I actually agree on one thing: The mainstream media sucks.)

So here are some statistics for those interested. Let’s start with Europe. Want to guess what percent of the terrorist attacks there were committed by Muslims over the past five years? Wrong. That is, unless you said less than 2 percent.

As Europol, the European Union’s law-enforcement agency, noted in its report released last year, the vast majority of terror attacks in Europe were perpetrated by separatist groups. For example, in 2013, there were 152 terror attacks in Europe. Only two of them were “religiously motivated,” while 84 were predicated upon ethno-nationalist or separatist beliefs.

We are talking about groups like France’s FLNC, which advocates an independent nation for the island of Corsica. In December 2013, FLNC terrorists carried out simultaneous rocket attacks against police stations in two French cities. And in Greece in late 2013, the left-wing Militant Popular Revolutionary Forces shot and killed two members of the right-wing political party Golden Dawn. While over in Italy, the anarchist group FAI engaged in numerous terror attacks including sending a bomb to a journalist. And the list goes on and on.

Have you heard of these incidents? Probably not. But if Muslims had committed them do you think you our media would’ve covered it? No need to answer, that’s a rhetorical question.

Even after one of the worst terror attacks ever in Europe in 2011, when Anders Breivik slaughtered 77 people in Norway to further his anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and pro-“Christian Europe” agenda as he stated in his manifesto, how much press did we see in the United States? Yes, it was covered, but not the way we see when a Muslim terrorist is involved. Plus we didn’t see terrorism experts fill the cable news sphere asking how we can stop future Christian terrorists. In fact, even the suggestion that Breivik was a “Christian terrorist” was met with outrage by many, including Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly.

Have you heard about the Buddhist terrorists? Well, extremist Buddhists have killed many Muslim civilians in Burma, and just a few months ago in Sri Lanka, some went on a violent rampage burning down Muslim homes and businesses and slaughtering four Muslims.

Or what about the (dare I mention them) Jewish terrorists? Per the 2013 State Department’s report on terrorism, there were 399 acts of terror committed by Israeli settlers in what are known as “price tag” attacks. These Jewish terrorists attacked Palestinian civilians causing physical injuries to 93 of them and also vandalized scores of mosques and Christian churches.

Back in the United States, the percentage of terror attacks committed by Muslims is almost as miniscule as in Europe. An FBI study looking at terrorism committed on U.S. soil between 1980 and 2005 found that 94 percent of the terror attacks were committed by non-Muslims. In actuality, 42 percent of terror attacks were carried out by Latino-related groups, followed by 24 percent perpetrated by extreme left-wing actors.

And as a 2014 study by University of North Carolina found, since the 9/11 attacks, Muslim-linked terrorism has claimed the lives of 37 Americans. In that same time period, more than 190,000 Americans were murdered (PDF).

In fact in 2013, it was actually more likely Americans would be killed by a toddler than a terrorist. In that year, three Americans were killed in the Boston Marathon bombing. How many people did toddlers kill in 2013? Five, all by accidentally shooting a gun.

But our media simply do not cover the non-Muslim terror attacks with same gusto. Why? It’s a business decision. Stories about scary “others” play better. It’s a story that can simply be framed as good versus evil with Americans being the good guy and the brown Muslim as the bad.

Honestly, when is the last time we heard the media refer to those who attack abortion clinics as “Christian terrorists,” even though these attacks occur at one of every five reproductive health-care facilities? That doesn’t sell as well. After all we are a so-called Christian nation, so that would require us to look at the enemy within our country, and that makes many uncomfortable. Or worse, it makes them change the channel.

That’s the same reason we don’t see many stories about how to reduce the 30 Americans killed each day by gun violence or the three women per day killed by domestic violence. But the media will have on expert after expert discussing how can we stop these scary brown Muslims from killing any more Americans despite the fact you actually have a better chance of being killed by a refrigerator falling on you.

Look, this article is not going to change the media’s business model. But what I hope it does is cause some to realize that not all terrorists are Muslims. In fact, they are actually a very small percent of those that are. Now, I’m not saying to ignore the dangers posed by Islamic radicals. I’m just saying look out for those refrigerators.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/14/are-all-terrorists-muslims-it-s-not-even-close.html?via=desktop&source=facebook



Pope Francis may have been an unlikely successor to Pope Benedict XVI, but he is already emerging as a remarkable pontiff, one who has always led a simple life himself, who understands the kinds of lives led by many Roman Catholics, and who also knows the dangers of a remote clergy apparently more concerned with specific forms of orthodoxy than with the mission of providing a spiritual space for all of the faithful in our complex and troubled times.

That the Church of Rome faces serious problems is clear, with declining attendance and a shrinking priesthood, especially in developed countries, with widening rifts between followers’ attitudes in the developed and developing worlds, and with terrible scandals of child sex abuse, corruption, and incompetence which would have destroyed many a lesser institution. The Pope’s fellow priests probably know that very well, but the way His Holiness has responded to the situation is making the world sit up and take note.

In an interview with the Italian Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica, which has been translated and republished in the American Jesuit journal America, the pontiff says the Church is “the community of God’s people.” Therefore, one of its first tasks is to recognise “how human beings understand themselves today.”

The Pope had already made waves by replying to a question on gay priests, “Who am I to judge?” but now he has gone further, saying that the Church must not “interfere spiritually” in the lives of gays and lesbians and that priests must not be obsessed with homosexuality, abortion, and contraception to the neglect of their wider mission, which is to proclaim and spread the “saving love of God.” Even the way that is done could be radically reformed; Pope Francis says local doctrinal issues are best addressed by local bishops’ conferences, with the Vatican available for consultation.

Furthermore, the pontiff is clear about a stronger role for women: “the feminine genius is needed wherever we make important decisions.” Just as radically, on September 22, the Pope told 20,000 listeners in Sardinia that the world must abandon its “idolatry of greed” and reform the global financial system.

Significantly, the Pope has not proposed changing the church’s line on homosexuality, contraception, and abortion — or on women priests — but he has reminded all the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics that if they do not end their obsession with those issues and start acknowledging humanity as it is today, the Church’s moral edifice could fall “like a house of cards.” For Roman Catholicism, His Holiness may well be a truly world-historic figure.


(A fourth century fragment of papyrus that divinity professor Karen L. King says is the only existing ancient text that quotes Jesus explicitly referring to having a wife)

A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’” The faded papyrus fragment is smaller than a business card, with eight lines on one side — in black ink legible under a magnifying glass. Just below the line about Jesus having a wife, the papyrus includes a second provocative clause that purportedly says, “she will be able to be my disciple”.

The finding was made public in Rome at an international meeting of Coptic scholars by the historian Karen L. King, who has published several books about new Gospel discoveries and is the first woman to hold the nation’s oldest endowed chair, the Hollis professor of divinity.

The provenance of the papyrus fragment is a mystery, and its owner has asked to remain anonymous. Until Tuesday, Ms. King had shown the fragment to only a small circle of experts in papyrology and Coptic linguistics, who concluded that it is most likely not a forgery. But she and her collaborators say they are eager for more scholars to weigh in and perhaps upend their conclusions.

Ms. King gave an interview and showed the papyrus fragment, encased in glass, to reporters from The New York Times, The Boston Globe and Harvard Magazine in her garret office in the tower at Harvard Divinity School last Thursday.

She repeatedly cautioned that this fragment should not be taken as proof that Jesus, the historical person, was actually married. The text was probably written centuries after Jesus lived, and all other early, historically reliable Christian literature is silent on the question, she said.

But the discovery is exciting, said Ms. King, because it is the first known statement from antiquity that refers to Jesus speaking of a wife. It provides further evidence that there was an active discussion among early Christians about whether Jesus was celibate or married, and which path his followers should choose.

“This fragment suggests that some early Christians had a tradition that Jesus was married,” Ms. King said. “There was, we already know, a controversy in the second century over whether Jesus was married, caught up with a debate about whether Christians should marry and have sex.”

Ms. King first learnt about what she calls “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” when she received an email in 2010 from a private collector who asked her to translate it. Ms. King (58) specialises in Coptic literature, and has written books on “the Gospel of Judas”, “the Gospel of Mary of Magdala”, “Gnosticism and women in antiquity”.

The owner took the fragment to the Divinity School in December 2011 and left it with Ms. King. In March, she carried the fragment in her red handbag to New York to show it to two colleagues, both papyrologists: Roger Bagnall, director of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, at New York University, and AnneMarie Luijendijk, an associate professor of religion at Princeton University.

They examined the scrap under sharp magnification. It was very small — only four by eight centimetres. The lettering was splotchy and uneven, the hand of an amateur, but not unusual for the time period, when many Christians were poor and persecuted.

It was written in Coptic — an Egyptian language that uses Greek characters — and more precisely, in Sahidic Coptic — a dialect from southern Egypt, Ms. Luijendijk said in an interview.

What convinced them it was probably genuine was the fading of the ink on the papyrus fibres, and traces of ink adhered to the bent fibres at the torn edges. The back side is so faint that only five words are visible, one only partly: “my moth [[er]]”, “three”, “forth which”.

“It would be impossible to forge,” said Ms. Luijendijk, who contributed to Ms. King’s paper. Mr. Bagnall reasoned that a forger would have had to be expert in Coptic grammar, handwriting and ideas. — New York Times News Service


My Muslim hero has always been Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī. He is better known as Rumi. Rumi is an Islamic Sufi mystic from the 13th century who lived in what is now Konya, Turkey. I got really interested in Rumi when I first read about Rumi a number of years ago and ever since then I have been searching and learning about Sufism. I chose Rumi as my Muslim hero because I believe that Rumi is a shining example of the things I admire most about culture. Growing up as a non-Muslim in Malaysia I had become accustomed to the powers-that-be treating me differently because of my religion. I got used to thinking that the first thing the government see when they look at me is not the type of person I am, it’s my religion.

I assumed that’s how its going to be for a long long time in Malaysia because religion is used to the maximum by the powers-that-be. That all changed when for the first time I met a Sufi in India in 1980. I was welcomed with open arms and he wanted to get to know me the person. He brought me to the Sufi Center in New Delhi. For the first time in my life I forgot about my religion and could just be myself. It was a complete culture shock for me because for once I wasn’t judged based on my religion. I cannot even put into words how good it felt. I think this is a shining example of Rumi’s teachings on love and tolerance.

I see so many similarities between Rumi’s teachings and Hinduism and even Christianity. Sufism also has meditation as an essential part of prayer. For instance Rumi and his followers used simple music in meditation and prayer so that they can bring themselves closer to God. Perhaps the most critical and mind boggling event was when I saw both Muslims and non-Muslims praying together. This made me open my eyes. It taught me that I too can participate in things like Ramadan without compromising my identity or my belief.

These cross culture experiences have led me to be a stronger and well-rounded person. Therefore Rumi will always be my Muslim hero because he has helped me to understand the true meaning of peace, tolerance and love.

I want to post here a video of another Muslim I admire a lot, someone I recently discovered. He is Author of “The Arab Awakening” and Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University, Tariq Ramadan. In this video Professor Tariq shares his thoughts on applying Islamic values in a multi-ethnic society like Malaysia. Among some of the other things he talks about in this video is the Hudud Law, equality between the rich and poor, setting up of an Islamic state and the level of tolerance Muslims should have towards homosexuals.

Watch this…


http://www.chc.org.sg/_eng/index.php

By Joanne Chan | Posted: 27 June 2012 1005 hrs

Description: City Harvest founding pastor Kong Hee arriving with wife Sun Ho at the courts on 27 June. (Photo: Ooi Boon Keong, TODAY)SINGAPORE: Five senior members of City Harvest Church (CHC), including its founder Kong Hee, have been charged in court on Wednesday with misappropriating church funds.

The prosecution is levelling three charges against the five – involving over S$50 million in total.

This is more than the S$23 million earlier announced by the Commissioner of Charities.

The first charge centres on purported bond investments made by the church in two companies, Xtron Productions and PT the First National Glassware.

These bond investments, which the prosecution said are “sham transactions”, were allegedly devised to conceal the diversion of some S$24 million from the church’s Building Fund to fund Ho Yeow Sun’s music career. Ho is Kong Hee’s wife.

Four people are liable for the first set of charges – Kong Hee, Tan Ye Peng, Lam Leng Hung and Chew Eng Han.

Description: Pastor Kong Hee (R in white) holds his wife Ho Yeow Sun's hand as they leave the subordinate courts in Singapore on June 27, 2012. (AFP Photo/Roslan Rahman)The second charge relates to a series of transactions that some of the accused had created to clear the purported bond investments off the church’s accounts.

They allegedly misappropriated a further S$26.6 million from the church’s funds.

It’s alleged that the money was circulated through a complicated series of transactions to create the false appearance that the purported sham bond investments had been redeemed.

For these charges, which have been termed as “round-tripping”, three people are liable – Tan Ye Peng, Chew Eng Han and Tan Shao Yuen Sharon.

The third charge relates to the falsification of church’s accounts to cover their tracks.

It’s alleged that Tan Ye Peng, Chew Eng Han and Tan Shao Yuen Sharon doctored the church’s books to give the false appearance that the bond investments had been redeemed.

In all, pastor and church founder Kong Hee faces three charges; senior pastor Tan Ye Peng faces 10 charges; finance manager Tan Shao Yuen Sharon faces seven charges; senior member Chew Eng Han faces 10 charges; and former secretary of the church’s management board Lam Leng Hung faces three charges.

All five church members stood solemnly together in the dock when the charges were read to them.

The five have each posted bail of S$500,000 and have had their passports impounded.

Earlier in the morning, a media scrum broke out when Kong Hee and his wife, local songstress Sun Ho, arrived outside the Subordinate Courts.

Supporters belonging to City Harvest Church were also gathered outside the court.

Some were there as early as 7.30am. Their numbers swelled to over a hundred within an hour.

PART 2

An analysis into the Wealth of the City Harvest Church

No offence yeah.

June 27th, 2012 | Author: Contributions March 29, 2010

Although I am aware that City Harvest is one of the richest churches in Singapore, I am still shocked that it is rich enough to pay SGD310 million for a stake in SuntecCity. Nevertheless, an entity which is able to amass such wealth is certainly worth studying. I was  determined to understand the secrets to the church’s wealth.

I apologize upfront if the points raised give offense to loyal followers of City Harvest Church. Please regard this article as a business analysis of the factors that contribute to the wealth of City Harvest Church, not as an insinuation that the Church got rich through questionable means. The fact is that CHC is very rich and this makes f or a fascinating academic exercise to examine its sources of wealth. Just treat it as a business case study.

I have tried my best to stick to the facts. Please correct me if there are factual mistakes. However, if there are differences in opinions, please disagree with courtesy.

1. Clever packaging of Sunday services

The income of a church is dependent on the tithes collected (10% of income from church-members). Therefore, the earning power of a church is highly dependent on its ability to retain its existing church members and attract new ones. The larger the church membership, the greater its earnings. I watched a sample of CHC weekend service on its website. Compared to the boring Sunday classes I attended as a kid, CHC church service was most refreshing (Watch “The 10 Laws Of The Harvest”). The beginning part resembles a rock concert with good singing and enthusiastic audience. It is an enter taining way to enjoy your Sunday mornings. Going to church becomes a weekly event to look forward to rather than a chore to attend to.  With church services so well packaged for its customers, its customer  retention rate and new customer acquisition figures should look good.

2. Extra revenue in the form of advertisements, sales of CDs

This church is unlike the other churches I know. It generates extra revenue through advertisements during its Sunday service (watch the videos). It sells audio CDs on its website. There is an online shopping cart for convenience to those who want to buy online.

3. Efficient collection of tithes

Church-members can pay their tithe online via credit card, eNets or even Giro!! Once members started donating using Giro, the earnings quality of the church improves. Donation collected via Giro tend to be more stable. With a globalised economy, people travel round the world a lot and may miss Sunday services. In the past, the churches will lose income when these members fail to turn up to pay their tithe. Now, with online payment, they can continue collecting the tithe even when the church-member is working overseas for an extended period of time. With Giro, the church can
continue collecting tithes for a few more months even when the member leaves the church as people have a habit of forgetting what they pay on Giro.

4. 30-fold, 60-fold, 100-fold returns on your church donations

This is where genius of CHC lies and the secret to its superior earning power. In fact, I have yet to encounter any public-listed company on SGX, HKSE, NYSE, Nasdaq that demonstrates better potential. The pastor preaches that God will give 30-fold, 60-fold, 100-fold returns on your tithe. But, you have to be generous in your donations first so that you will receive in harvest proportions. I guess that is th e origin of the name City Harvest. Please watch the video “The 10 Laws Of The Harvest” yourself in its entirety and interpret for yourself. It is a message that cleverly uses an astute understanding of human nature to maximize profits. If I were a CHC member, I will be tempted to increase my tithe as much as possible. Not mincing my words, I am doing it out of pure greed. I do not think I will be alone. It is perfectly fine if members of CHC strongly disagree and thinks that I am not representative for most of them. After all, I can only speak for myself. 

5. Quality of customers

With the 100-fold return message, the kind of church members attracted will be most conducive to profit-making. Money-minded people will be attracted to the church. These money-minded people tend to be ambitious and have a great desire to make lots of money. Millionaire minds have a higher chance to become rich. Hence, th e quality of customers that CHC attracts are of the highest quality. The richer the church-member, the higher is the church’s tithe per member. Customer quality will be enhanced through the passage of time due to survivor bias. Suppose out of this pool of Millionaire-Mind Christians, 50% become satisfactorily rich and the remaining 50% still unsatisfactorily middle-class. The 50% who got rich will donate even more because they think their source of wealth comes from their donations. It is most unlikely they will cut back on their tithes because they will be afraid God will punish them by cutting back the returns. If they are not afraid, the  church will be there to warn them not to do so. The remaining 50% who did not get rich will be disillusioned and probably leave the church.  The loss is of little significance to the church. These people are not rich and their tithes will not amount to much. Many Christians will be disgusted with the concept of using tithes to get rich. These people will probably leave the church after attending a few Sunday services. Again, the loss is of little significance to CHC. These people will not be highly profitable to the church even if they are rich because they are not going to tithe as much as the others who believe their tithes is the way to wealth. To the credit of the Pastor, I think he has devised a wonderful process of filtering out non-profitable customers and sucking in the lucrative ones. There is only so much physical space that a church can have to service its church-members. To maximize profits, the church has to ensure that each unit of space is used for servicing lucrative customers.

6. Kill off competition

CHC has tremendous economic moat that kills off competition. In the  video “The 10 Laws of The Harvest”, the Pastor cited Law #5 “Your Seed must be planted in Good Ground” which is an effective weapon in killing off his competition – the smaller churches. Many Christians feel that they ought to donate to the needy, smaller churches rather than rich mega-churches like CHC. The Pastor’s argument is that you do not get good returns like 100-fold in the small churches. You have to donate to mega-churches to maximize returns on your tithe because they have a track record (rich church members). In other words, the seed is not planted in good ground when you donate to the small churches. In his own words, ”I don’t always give to the neediest but to the ground that  will give the greatest yield”. To illustrate his point, he used an analogy on weak banks and strong banks. You do not deposit your money in a weak bank because it desperately needs fresh funds to survive. You deposit your money in a strong bank which invests your money wisely and yields goo d returns. The church has an iron-grip on its members who believe its message. As illustrated previously, its customer base is of the highest quality. This is its track record. Existing church-members will definitely not move to another smaller, needier church with poorer track record.It has a very strong economic moat as it is very hard for its competitors to get its customers to switch over.

7. Providing a place where the rich can network

As the Pastor said, his church provides a good ground on which you can grow your riches. Rightly so, indeed. For property agents or insurance agents trying to hit their sales quota, City Harvest  Church will be an ideal place to hunt for lucrative clients. This church concentrates several rich and money-minded people into a single location. The church offers a unique advantage to sell things. In a religious setting, people tend less to be on their guard and can be more easily persuaded to part with their money. Businessmen also like to network in places where there are rich and powerful people who will come in handy in future. The Pastor has done a good job in gathering such people in his church and it makes good sense to make use of this advantage by joining the church.
The rich will attract more rich and the gathering moss snowballs to provide an ever-rising pool of donation to the church.

8. Preach what people like to hear

As a teenager, I was discouraged when I read Bible verses like Matthew 19:23-24 “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” and Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” It seems like if I become rich, I will be condemned to hell. In the video “Rich God? Poor God?”, the Pastor preaches that it is absolutely ok to be rich. Some prophets of God were very rich.  (Abraham, David, Solomon) There is nothing more musical to a money-minded person than to hear that God is on your side in your pursuit of money. The church-members who are more money-minded will love this and donate even more.

9. God pays for the returns, not the church

The church collects the money, but God pays for the returns. The church does not need to pay a single cent for the 30-fold, 60-fold, 100-fold returns on the donations. This is as good as you do the work for me, but not only do I not pay you, I shall also collect your salary. You toil and sweat, but I shall eat your bread. God must surely be a miracle worker and people will pay handsomely for his service. I cannot think of a more advantageous economic position to be in to be able to collect money rendered by a miracle worker.

10. Social pressure to conform in church settings and ease of influence

If everyone around you donates, it is hard not to. When everyone else makes sacrifice, the one who does not will look like an outcast. There is tremendous pressure to conform in such a herd setting.

11. Tremendous future earning power

Take a look at the congregation and you will notice the large number of young people. The income growth of young people is the fastest in the population. In the Pastor’s words, “You may be poor today, but you will not be poor all your life”. That is a long-term business plan in cultivating its customers. Therefore, if CHC can be viewed as a growth stock, its prospects are very bright as its young customers will accelerate its earnings.

12. Stable earnings in times of depression

Besides being a growth stock, CHC can also be viewed as a defensive and safe stock. People pray hardest when they fall in hard times. Strangely, some people have an urge to tithe when they are in financial troubles. In fact, in the video (The 10 Laws Of The Harvest), a couple came on stage. They talked about the dire straits they were in when they started out. Things change when God challenged them to GIVE themselves out of poverty (exact words from the speaker). Despite not having any money, they still pledged $250 to the building fund. In his own words again, “we often emptied our savings to give to the House of God knowing that this will be the answer to our financial problems”. Hence, not only will the church earnings be stable in times of depression, it may even grow.

13. Using Prosperity as a theme to appeal to customers

The Pastor preaches Prosperity Gospel which resolves around money. His business genius lies in choosing this theme for his church. Money has universal appeal. Everyone worships money regardless of race, culture, age, gender, sexual orientation. In one fell swoop, he has enlarged his market to cover the entire world. It is much easier to convert people to your belief by dangling money and promising great prosperity. After all, who does not love money? By enlarging his potential market catchment with a greater chance of  increasing membership, more donations will flow in.

14. Tax benefits as church is registered as a charity

This creates a huge, unfair advantage compared to all other businesses. This is what landed CHC in controversy. Enough has been said. If one day the Pastor switches to become a businessman, I will definitely consider investing in the company that he heads and founds. If  CityHarvest Church is listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange, I will cert ainly buy it. It  will be one stock that I am confident of hitting a return of 30-fold, 60-fold, 100-fold returns. PS: People tend not to question critically when it comes to religion. A charming smooth talker can easily sway minds with his interpretation of the Bible. In the final analysis, Faith is about simply believing. You cannot approach it scientifically because there is no way to test religious theories using the scientific method. We will only know the real truth when judgment day comes. The danger is that there is no accountability on the part of the preacher on whether his teachings are true or not. Even he himself cannot be sure that his interpretations is 100% correct. Given human nature, the interpretations will tend to be self-serving. In fact, it is not only dangerous to the students but to the teacher as well.
People will believe their own lies if it yields tempting benefits. That was how Wall Street drank its own Kool-Aid. While I respect the Pastor for his business savvy, I cannot agree with his  interpretations of the Bible. I pray for good health, peace and harmony for my family. Money-minded as I am, I am not comfortable with commercializing my relationship with God by asking for money. The Christian God that I know from my own reading of the Bible. Of course, if God wants to drop money from heaven on me, I will be more than happy to embrace it.


by Joe Fernandez
Guest Columnist

COMMENT Perkasa’s latest allegations on the Christians, given undeserved space by Malaysiakini, are going viral on the net.

This is the first time that a Muslim, Ibrahim Ali, has threatened to launch a Crusade — Perang Salib or War of the Cross — against Christians. So far, all Crusades in world history have been launched by Christians against Muslim occupation of the Holy Land.

If Perkasa wants to fight for the Cross, Christians would no doubt welcome it.

Christians have long considered Islam as a protestant branch of their faith.

If World Islam had a head, it could have decided like all the other Protestant Churches to join the Ecumenical Council initiated by the Vatican. The result so far, among others, has been a decision by the 77 million strong Anglican Church to return to the Vatican’s fold.

Perhaps what Ibrahim really means is a War of the Crescent or Perang Bulan Sabit against Christians and not Perang Salib. Why would any Muslim, unless he has become an apostate (murtad), launch a Perang Salib?

Ibrahim Ali is one confused character.

That’s why his threat to launch a Perang Salib against Christians has drawn no response from them and has sent malaysiakini, his equally ignorant co-backer besides Mahathir Mohamad, up the wall.

Ibrahim, the right-wing NGO’s Chief, has accused Christians of almost everything from converting Malays to the faith to plotting to put a Christian as the Prime Minister of Malaysia and declaring Christianity — presumably Roman Catholicism — as the national religion to thereby place the country on the world map as a Christian state, whatever that means.

There’s not even one Christian state in the world, given the separation of Church and State in the religion.

So, if Malaysia becomes a Christian state, it would be a world first.

Malaysia Boleh!

It was not so long ago that the Serbs fought tooth-and-nail against Bosnia-Herzegovina emerging as the first Islamic state in Europe. The Dayton Peace Accord subsequently outlawed the concept of an Islamic state in Europe and renewed its commitment to secularism.

In any case, if Perkasa’s allegations are the Gospel truth, to put a pun on them, the Christians could not be wrong by any yardstick.

The majority of the land area of Malaysia — Sabah and Sarawak — is Christian.
The 1963 Malaysia Agreement and the 20/18 Points clearly states that Sabah and Sarawak would have no state religion.

The Dusuns — including Kadazans or urban Dusuns — and Muruts, the overwhelming majority of the Natives in Malaysia, are Christian.

The Orang Asli, the only recognised Native group in Peninsular Malaysia, are mostly either Christian or Pagan.

The Federal Constitution, and rightly so, does not state anywhere that the Malay-speaking communities in Peninsular Malaysia are natives of the land. Bumiputera is not a term in law or the Constitution.

Again, while Article 3 of the Federal Constitution states that Islam is the religion of the Federation, it goes on to add that followers of other religions are free to practice their respective faiths in peace and harmony in all its constituent parts.

The freedom of worship guaranteed by the Constitution covers all citizens.

Under law, the Malay-speaking communities are free to profess any religion. There can be no compulsion to get anyone to profess this or that faith only. That would not only be against the very letter and spirit of the Constitution but also against international laws, against the United Nations Charter and against the Human Rights Charter.

The truth cannot be swept under the carpet just to serve the political interests of an elite group in power or aspiring to come to power.

There’s no contradiction here since no faith, according to the Federal Constitution, is the national or even official faith of the country.

Malaysia remains a secular state despite Perkasa raving and ranting against Christians and Mahathir declaring not so long ago, during his last days in office, that the country was an Islamic state. Pas was among the first to point out the sheer lunacy of Mahathir’s statement.

An Islamic state is one in which God is the head of state, the Quran is the Constitution and the Syariah — the Path of God — forms the basis of a still to evolve legal system.

By this definition, it need not be repeated, that Malaysia is no Islamic state. A state cannot be classified as an Islamic state simply because members of the Muslim faith are in a slight majority in the demographic make-up.

In fact there’s not even one Islamic state in the world and that holds true for Saudi Arabia as well and Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan — which broke away from India to form an Islamic state — and, among others, Indonesia which has the largest Muslim population in the world.

If Malaysia is not an Islamic state, it’s not a Christian state either.

However, that does not mean the Natives in Sabah and Sarawak are not free to declare their respective states as Christian states and provided of course the Church agrees. The 20/18 Points and the Malaysia Agreement, in letter and spirit, merely prevents a non-Christian faith from being hoisted on the people of the states as the national or official one.

Ibrahim should mind his language and not make it seem somehow that the concept of a Christian state is a mortal sin. That’s not only sacrilegious but a blasphemy. Before the advent of secularism in Europe, all states in the continent were Christian states. The Pope crowned the heads of these states.

The Perkasa Chief should also stop harping on Muslims turning to Christianity or any other religion.

It’s their fundamental right to pursue any religion without someone trying to force anything down the throat.

Religion is a private matter. It’s only proper that the adherents of any faith be allowed to pursue their beliefs in peace and harmony without this or that religion being knocked in the process or the Church, or any other organisation, having to run the gauntlet on the issue.

There’s nothing that states that members of the Malay-speaking communities or Muslims have to declare themselves or that they cannot practise any other faith, whether openly or secretly. We know from history that the first Christians in Rome, during a time of Empire, had to practise their faith in secret unless they wanted to risk being fed to the lions in the Coliseum in a new form of entertainment to amuse the Romans. This may be the case with the secret Christians in Malaysia.

The Christians in Malaysia must be left alone to practise their faith without being flogged to death on the matter.

Likewise they are free to install a member of their faith in the Prime Minister’s chair.

The Constitution does not bar any citizen, except for insolvents and the insane, from taking the oath of office as Prime Minister. Insanity is not a medical but a legal concept. That goes for insolvency as well.


(Bernama) – GEORGE TOWN: Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today he and the DAP had never asked Christian pastors to pray or interfere to make Malaysia a Christian country or to have a Christian prime minister.

In a joint statement with Penang pastors today, he said, they prayed at all time for the country’s peace and harmony, for unity among all races and for a fair and just leadership.

“The pastors and the church are disappointed by the false report in the media. We sincerely urge the prime minister and the home minister to take action against Utusan Malaysia for printing and spreading dangerous lies,” they said in the statement.

Utusan Malaysia reported on Saturday that the DAP was conspiring with Christians to make Christianity the official religion of the federation.

The statement said the report had disturbed multi-religious harmony and created unease and fear among Malaysians, especially Christians.

Lim said that meetings with Christian leaders would continue just like the meeting with Muslim ulama, Buddhist priests and Hindu priests, in line with his duty as the chief minister.

Meanwhile in PUTRAJAYA, the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) says it is not empowered to probe the allegation by Utusan Malaysia.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom said instead, matters related to other religions came under the ambit of security authorities, including the police.

“Jakim only looks after Islamic affairs, not other religions. Issues on religious conversion come under security authorities.

“Jakim has no rights to be angry… let the police investigate the claim,” he told reporters after receiving 10 lecturers from Al-Azhar University, who will teach in Malaysia, at his office here today.

-Bernama

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Posted: December 23, 2010 in catholics, Christians, Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone

Wherever you are, and whatever holidays you may celebrate this time of year, I wish you great peace and happiness. Thanks for reading & for making it possible for me to do this fascinating passion of mine.

All the best for the rest of ’10 and a great start to 2011,

selva


I received this from Suaram…

Media Release

The Christians in the Temiar village of Pos Pasik, about 70 km northeast of Gua Musang Kelantan, have been told by the Department of Orang Asli Affairs (JHEOA) that they have no permission to build a church on their land.

On 20 May 2010, the village head wrote to the Director-General of the JHEOA to inform him of their plan to build the church in their village, half of whom have converted to Christianity in recent years.

However, on 9 August 2010, the Deputy Director-General, writing on behalf of the D-G, replied that their “application” to build the church had been rejected and the community was asked to stop work on the building immediately.

The Orang Asli are not happy with this answer as they did not seek permission from the JHEOA. They merely exercised courtesy to inform them of their plans. The Orang Asli of Pos Pasik consider it their right to build such a structure on their land, in accordance with the Constitution.

The lawyer representing the Temiar headman has recently written to the D-G informing him that the department’s permission was not being sought. He also sought the reasons for the rejection of the church building.

If the church is demolished or stopped, it will be the second Orang Asli church in the state of Kelantan (and no less than 5 in the peninsular altogether) that have been demolished by the authorities on the basis of various excuses, including that the Orang Asli do not have rights to the land concerned.

But it is evident that the issue is religion-related as other structures, including suraus, have been build on such lands without any issue.

But as land is a state matter, the Temiars of Pos Pasik are seeking the intervention of the Menteri Besar of Kelantan in this matter.

For further details, please contact: Pastor Moses Soo – 012 3255678

_______________________________

Background facts

Pos Pasik is situated about 70 km northeast of Guas Musang in Kelantan. It is in forested area at the foot of the Titiwangsa Range. The post includes the villages of Kg Pasik, Kg Ayung, Kg Bayor and Kg Serai.

The Orang Asli here are of the Temiar ethnic group with a few being Jahai. It is situated on both sides of Sungei Jenera, with a population of over 600. The villagers are connected to the main road at Meranto by a logging track. Pos Pasik is only reachable in a proper 4 wheel-drive vehicle and takes about 2-3 hours of traveling time.

On 3 December 2001, 297 villagers of Pos Pasik were baptized as Christians, including the two Penghulu (headmen). A bamboo church was then built in the old village across the river (Sungei Jenera).

In the late afternoon of 19 December 2004, the Sungei Jenera overflowed its banks, rising to a height of 30 feet above the normal water level of the river. The bamboo houses of the Temiar by the river were all washed away. So too the church. By 2006, many of the villagers shifted to the current side of the river and the bamboo church was relocated there as well.

Currently, a total of 530 villagers of Pos Pasik have converted to Christianity but quite a number have left Pos Pasik to work in other areas.

In 2008, the government provided brick houses and agricultural plots for the communities there. The road has also been improved though it is almost inaccessible during the rainy season.

In late 2009, the Christians requested the pastor from the Gospel to the Poor church to help them build a brick/concrete church since most of their houses are already made of brick. This is to replace the dilapidated bamboo church.

Existing church constructed from bamboo

By April 2010, they started clearing the land of rubber trees belonging to one of the villagers. At one of their meetings, it was decided that the headman should update JHEOA of the latest development by informing them through the mail.

Work then began on the church construction. The workers were all Orang Asli volunteers with the necessary materials being raised through church donations.

The new church under construction

During this period of construction, they had a lot of uninvited visitors especially those from the religious bodies.


I’m joining all other right thinking peace-loving Malaysians in the condemnations against the cowardly violence committed against the 3 churches in the Klang Valley yesterday morning.

I’m also so proud to know that leaders of all the Churches have been so consistent when they all said with one voice that they do not harbour any ill-feeling against the culprits who damaged and set fire to their churches. The church elders did not stir up the emotions of Christians in this country and the appeal for calm and asking all Christians to forgive those who had done the damage is so heavenly and so inspiring. I’m lost for words!

The statement of forgiveness and tolerance made by the church elders
just goes to show that Christians in this country are both Godly and forgiving.

This is what Malaysians are all about – forgiving!

I take my hats off to the church elders.