Singapore churches must ‘exercise due diligence’ when inviting foreign preachers, says national council

Singapore churches must ‘exercise due diligence’ when inviting foreign preachers, says national council

pastor yang cornerstone community church
Singapore’s Mufti Dr Fatris Bakaram (left) and Pastor Yang Tuck Yoong of Cornerstone Community Church. (Photo: Justin Ong)

SINGAPORE: The National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) on Thursday (Apr 5) reminded churches to exercise due diligence when inviting foreign preachers, in the wake of a controversy surrounding an American Christian leader's visit here.

The preacher, Mr Lou Engle, was alleged to have made anti-Islamic comments at a Singapore event last month, leading to an investigation by the Ministry of Home Affairs as well as Singapore police requesting him to return to the country for an interview.

Mr Engle was speaking at a conference organised by Singapore’s Cornerstone Community Church. Its pastor and founder Yang Tuck Yoong apologised to Muslim leaders yesterday and promised that Mr Engle would not be invited to Singapore again.

In a letter signed by its president Rennis Ponniah and general secretary Dr Ngoei Foong Nghian, the NCCS said it “notes with deep concern the controversy” caused by Mr Engle.

But the council added that it was “glad” to see Mr Yang’s apology.

“We appreciate Rev Yang’s clear disavowal of the remarks made as ‘insensitive’ and having no place in the multi-racial and multi-religious context of Singapore,” said NCCS.

“We welcome the pledge made that his church would exercise greater vigilance in the future when inviting speakers from overseas to public events."

NCCS also expressed its appreciation for Muslim and Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) leaders' “measured response” towards the incident. 

“Their gracious acceptance of Rev Yang’s apology shows a magnanimity which bodes well for inter-religious harmony in our nation,” said NCCS. “Where there are unintended hurts, it is marvellous that the relevant religious leaders can graciously and maturely handle the matter and keep unhappiness from deepening or spreading.

“The leaders of MUIS have shown a very good example in overcoming the present controversy and moving on positively in the established direction of nurturing good relations among different faiths.”

The council said that great vigilance and care would be needed to safeguard harmonious inter-faith relations.

“NCCS believes that with the goodwill already established among religious groups in Singapore, we can overcome this unfortunate incident with greater appreciation of the religious sensitivities in Singapore,” it said. 

“And, in the long run, develop stronger trust and understanding between followers of the different faiths that make up our homeland.”

Source: CNA/jo(ra)