SINGAPORE: The National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) on Wednesday (Jan 27) urged church leaders and the Christian community to be vigilant and to "continue careful nurture of youths" that worship in the churches.
The statement came after news broke that a teenager had been detained under the Internal Security Act for planning an attack on Muslims.
The 16-year-old, who was not named, is a Protestant Christian, said the Internal Security Department earlier on Wednesday. He had planned to use a machete to attack Muslims at two mosques in the Woodlands area in March, on the anniversary of the Christchurch attacks.
NCCS said it was "deeply saddened" to learn that a radicalised youth who attends church had made plans to "cause harm to Muslims in Singapore".
"We receive this alarming news with grave concern and wish to express our appreciation to the authorities for the swift action," said the council, which represents about 200 churches.
"We totally reject any ideology - even if they should come fictitiously under the label 'Christian' - that promotes or incites violence against another, especially if they are of a different religious community," the council added.
NCCS said it believes this is an isolated incident and that the youth developed his extremist ideology on his own rather than from any teaching from churches in Singapore.
"Nevertheless, we urge all church leaders and Christians to be vigilant and to continue careful nurture of youths who worship in our churches," said NCCS.
"NCCS treasures the special relationship it has with the Muslim community," the council also said. "Therefore it wishes to assure our Muslim friends that there is no animosity between our communities, and that we remain committed to defeating hatred and violence.
"We will not be deterred from our common goal to build harmony and cohesion in multi-religious Singapore society."
"VIOLENCE HAS NO PLACE IN SOCIETY": SINGAPORE CATHOLIC CHURCH
The Catholic Church said in a statement on Wednesday that it was "deeply concerned" by the youth's arrest.
"We wish to affirm our solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters and our strong belief that Islam is a religion of peace," it said, adding that "violence has no place in society, let alone misperceived martyrdom through taking the lives of others".
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore said that the Catholic Church stands firmly behind its principle of respect for all religions, and places a high priority on fostering religious harmony.
"With the proliferation of errant and violent materials readily available on the Internet, it is all the more urgent and incumbent on teachers and guardians to guide our youths to wholesome teachings, especially in matters of faith, which can lift people to great good or incite the worst offences against humanity.
"Our thoughts and prayers are also with the young man and his family. With good guidance, may he come to understand and share a respect for all other religions and races which we celebrate in Singapore," it said.