Thursday, 29 March 2012

Teachers seminar theme stirs paranoia, decries Bishop Paul Tan

Catholic Bishop Dr Paul Tan Chee Ing expressed fears that an education seminar in Johor on the threat of Christianisation of Muslims would stir paranoia and resentment towards Christians.

Themed ‘Strengthening the Faith, the Dangers of Liberalism and Pluralism and the Threat of Christianity towards Muslims. What is the role of Teachers?’ the seminar this weekend for religious teachers from 55 national schools in the state has provoked concerns for and against it.

Some Muslim bodies hold that there is nothing amiss with the theme while Christian and interfaith groups have aired their misgivings.

The head of the Catholic Church in the Melaka-Johor diocese, Bishop Paul Tan, weighed in on the side of the detractors.

“The way the theme of the seminar is phrased, it would take a lecturer of the most delicate detachment to avoid stirring paranoia and resentment towards Christians,” offered the prelate.

“Given that religious demagogues have sprouted here and there speaking without tendering proof that Christianisation of Muslims has occurred, is it advisable to load a seminar theme the way it’s done in this case?” asked the  bishop.      

“When you allow religious hustlers to go around making claims without substantive proof that Christianisation of Muslims has occurred, I suppose you will wind up with a situation where the gulf between the imagined and the actual is so wide that it is not possible to be objective anymore.”

Authorities sit on their hands

Bishop Paul Tan said he was stupefied at the neutrality of the powers-that-be before “religious demagogues who go around saying things and making inflammatory claims that are simply not true.”

“What are we to make of this neutrality that allows people to stir paranoia and create fear with impunity?” he asked.

Bishop Paul Tan pleaded that the time has come for moderates of every religion in the country to speak up against the purveyors of paranoia and resentment.

“When religious demagogues are let loose, religious moderates must hold together to thwart them,” said the prelate.


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