12 May 2009

AWARE, steeplejackers and pink durians

There's a long history of church groups seizing other organisations, and the anti-gay rhetoric we hear today is merely a tool for these people in their quest for power, argues guest writer MS05L. Guest essay.

15 comments:

The said...

/// Let’s consider a hypothetical scenario. If a bunch of religious fanatics considered durians unholy, aggressively infiltrated the Association of Fruit-sellers for Action and Research, and then made a push to ban them, would they succeed? ///

That fruitcake body should be named Fruit Imports And Sales Coordinating Organization (FIASCO).

Anonymous said...

Now hold on a minute.

I am no supporter of the Thiocrats, neither of their agenda nor in the manner of their promoting it but pray tell, how is the AWARE takeover an attack on secularism?

At the end of the day, AWARE is simply an NGO. Even if all Singaporean NGOs are run and staffed by religious fanatics Christian or otherwise promoting their fire and brimstone agendas, it does not make Singapore a theocracy.

Cowardly said...

Actually Christain fundies behave as bullies in school do: whack only those you think you can eat.

For why attack just the CSE in schools when they have tolerate the teaching of Evolution ever since the dawn of Singapore. Why not steeplejacked MOE too or try get TSM to become Minister of Education and not merely a mentor?

Gays are easy meat. Whack them. But cannot touch the government. COOS may lose its license to preach.

(MOE was inadvertently drawn into the AWARE saga, and I dont think Josie and Gang wanted a fight with MOE.)

Anonymous said...

You could take the analogy a step further and introduce the cure of having the spikes cut off and pretending it’s a melon. Then start an ex-durian movement of durians posing as melons.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
“how is the AWARE takeover an attack on secularism?

At the end of the day, AWARE is simply an NGO. Even if all Singaporean NGOs are run and staffed by religious fanatics Christian or otherwise promoting their fire and brimstone agendas, it does not make Singapore a theocracy”.


How is replacing a respected, secular, science-based, multi-racial, multi-faith NGO with one run by a fanatical clique intent on promoting particular religious opinions in schools denigrating science in favour of myth and belief, NOT an attack on secularism? Maybe we have a different understanding of the word.

The article doesn’t mention theocracy (did I miss that?) but surely if religious fundamentalists succeed in convincing the powers that be that they represent the voice of the proverbial “man-in-the street” through their organized and vocal mail and internet campaigns (“astroturfing”), or by gaining international clout through for example the takeover of AWARE, they gain in power and so can influence official policy, as they clearly have done in some areas. Maybe this imposition of their values is theocracy by stealth.

Moreover, if you study the articles and look around the world, this religious “steeple-jacking” doesn’t just happen to NGO’s and mainstream churches, it happens to political parties and governments too. That really is a recipe for disaster in a diverse society.

Anonymous said...

Re: the castigation of "fundies"

My reply, taken from your post: "Moreover, if you study the articles and look around the world, this religious 'steeple-jacking' doesn’t just happen to NGO’s and mainstream churches, it happens to political parties and governments too. That really is a recipe for disaster in a diverse society."

AWARE isn't the Government of Singapore nor a political party. Again, what the Thiocrats did was abhorrent, but it's not an attack as secularism as I understand it.It's an attack on decency, of which the political left and right are equally capable.

Let me put the situation to you differently: are you saying that religiously motivated groups and individuals are disqualified from running NGOs as they see fit?

I would be interested to hear your vision of political liberalism.

Tris said...

The criticism of the article seems somewhat confused - is the criticism against the new guard's stance against homosexuality or against a religious group using an excuse to take over an organization?

The former was what happened here, and while it was done in a horrid manner that has divided Singapore it should be clearly distinguished from the other examples of what happened here. My point really being - is the author criticizing the Thiocrats for their anti-LGBT stance or them for being religious at all?

MS05L said...

Tris: Both, though more of the latter. Because pro-homosexuality was brought up as an excuse, and because are other articles on Yawning Bread and many other sources already tell the public that its biologically natural, using sane scientific arguments repeatedly to counter Thio and co's allegations will go unheeded.

A far better way to point out their more sinister aims is to point out how accusations of homosexuality is only one of several possible tools used in steeplejacking attempts.

Anonymous said...

To anon 14 May, 2009 12:38 -

To answer your question,

"are you saying that religiously motivated groups and individuals are disqualified from running NGOs as they see fit?"

Religiously motivated groups and individuals should be prohibited from running secular NGOs, but they can go form their own religiously motivated NGOs to forward their cause.

Taking over a secular NGO with the intention of spreading religious doctrines through it is an attack on secularism.

Thank you for reading.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:“it's not an attack as secularism as I understand it.It's an attack on decency, of which the political left and right are equally capable.”


There may be a difference in what we understand by an attack on “secularism”, but, to me, a covert attack and takeover of a secular organization that plays an important role in a secular and diverse society, by a narrow and extreme religious group opposed, due to their beliefs, to the ideals of that organization and to the diversity of the society it serves, would be to me a clear breach of the secular principles that a particular society may be founded on. They may not verbally attack “secularism”, in fact they may pose as secular and pay lip-service to it, but their actions undermine it, and as such it could be seen as an attack on the secular nature of a society.

Say for example there was a secular NGO that specialized in running all the family planning and abortion advisory services in a country, and it was steeplejacked by a group of religious fundamentalists that was opposed, because of their religious beliefs, to those services being offered to anyone, whatever the client’s beliefs. Their actions, to me, would again be a breach of the secular values of the country.

Or say, as another hypothetical example, such a group took control of an NGO or of panels of citizens that had a large degree of control over what is broadcast over the airwaves, and then effectively censored programs that are not in accord with their fundamentalist beliefs. I would also consider that to be undermining the secular basis of a society.

If the steeplejacking continued to spread unchecked, then theirs could ultimately be the only voice that was heard.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon 20:55,

Thanks for the response.

One last question, a hypothetical scenario: if Josie Lau and Co. did start up an NGO of their own spewing anti-gay messages, would you consider that as an attack on secularism?

Anonymous said...

Anon said "one last question, a hypothetical scenario: if Josie Lau and Co. did start up an NGO of their own spewing anti-gay messages, would you consider that as an attack on secularism?"

The response 2 before yours wasn't mine.

But to answer your question, if the covert purpose of a hypothetical NGO were: to turn a country into a nation of a particular religion, and create the "kingdom of god" on this earth, by, for example, spreading misinformation about gays or any other minority and persuading a government to criminalize them through astroturfing campaigns, then in my opinion that certainly could be considered an attack on the secular diversity of a society.

As for a hypothetical, purely secular, hate group aimed at gays, such as a fascist organization, in many countries it is specifically illegal to incite hatred against gays, just as it is to spread racist propaganda. I expect there are broad laws that could be used against anyone who spreads misinformation about the gay section of the community that might lead to hatred or violence.

MS05L said...

Re: 00:22
'....if Josie Lau and Co. did start up an NGO of their own spewing anti-gay messages, would you consider that as an attack on secularism?'

It would be an attack if they protrayed themselves as speaking for all of secular society as opposed to promoting their own faith group.

Anonymous said...

I think the vocal anti-gay group who usually comprised of largely the Christian religious right are simply not very good people. However they tried to make their arguments convincing, the fact remains that they are motivated by hatred. They went into the streets and they saw gay people, people who are a bit different from them and their reaction is not to live and let live which any normal good person would have done. But they felt that they have to deny this group of people their right of existence. Isn't it true that most of these people belong to the Evangelical Christians? According to the Christian message, everybody is a sinner. Even if you consider somebody a sinner, isn't this sinner accountable to God in the final judgement and he, himself is responsible for his own salvation. To a straight Christian, there are more important issues that are more personal to them such as balancing of material and spiritual life. The caricature, albeit self-righteously they can of gays is to equate them with thiefs and prostitutes. But why is it they do not make their mission in life to "eradicate" thiefs and prostitutes? Even if they disagree with what an organisation is doing, why did they have to go to such great lengths to expend so much of their energy and time to take over the leadership of an organisation, even to the extent of by one of them to risk offending the wishes of her employer. According to the Christian message, the world can never be free of sinners and there is therefore a need for the Second Coming of Christ. Why do these group of Christian right think they can rid the world of sinners when even their saviour has never attempted to do so? Are they not trying to usurp the role of GOD. They are not only not good people. They are also not good Christians.

Anonymous said...

Josie Lau and her gang are not good Christians and are not even good human beings. Their actions show that they are motivated by hatred. To a straight Christian, there are more fundamental issues in their lives such as balancing a spiritual and material lifestyle. Obviously, they go out in the street and meet gay people who are slightly different from them and their reaction is hatred, just like some people who will hate racial minorities. To cite simple logic, if you are not a gay person, why would the gay issue be so important to you as to go to such great investment in time and energy to try to take over the leadership of a society that has minimal impact on your life. The motivation must be hatred. Therefore, the conclusion is that they are not good human beings. Furthermore, they are not good Christians. The Christian message is that all human beings are sinners. If even Jesus Christ makes no attempt to rid the world of sinners. Or else, there would not be a need for the Second Coming of Christ. And the criteria for salvation is belief in Jesus Christ as the saviour. Who do they think they are to judge on other people? Are they trying to usurp the role of God? Thus, the coclusion is that they are not good Christians.