Wednesday 8 August 2012

Forum mulls moratorium on conversions

Catholic Churches of Malaysia (CCM) general-secretary Hermen Shastri also says Christians must evaluate Pakatan Rakyat.

PETALING JAYA: Catholic Churches of Malaysia (CCM) general-secretary Hermen Shastri has suggested that there be a moratorium on conversions on two major faiths – Islam and Christianity.

“The most ideal situation is for us to have a moratorium for a period of five years,” said the Methodist Christian priest at a forum entitled “Jesus in the Changing Malaysia” organised by the Community Action Network and co-hosted by Christian Renewal Society and Friends in Conversation.

This, he said, was due to the evangelising traditions of both the faiths.

“This may not work because the faiths are using triumphalism Christianity and Islam,” he said.

Triumphalism Christianity and Islam refers to proselytisation efforts.

In Malaysia, proselytisation of the Islamic faith is state sanctioned whereas Christians are allowed to proselytise non-Muslims.

He also cautioned the audience of 40-odd people about a vote for Pakatan Rakyat.

This is because co-panelist rights and church activist Paul Sinappan had in his speech earlier said that the Indian communities he worked with are all in support for PKR.

“The estate workers know that the Barisan Nasional government doesn’t have a clear policy for workers. They are supportive of PKR and are aware that change cannot be brought about immediately,” he said.

Taking this point forward Shastri said the Christian community needs to evaluate Pakatan.

“If we are PKR friendly we may have problems with PAS,” said Shastri in relations to the Islamic party’s agenda of an Islamist state.

He further stated that the Christian voice was strongest in Sabah and Sarawak, citing the case of the Malay bible last year.

In that case, the federal government allowed Christians in Sabah and Sarawak to use Malay Bibles but did not allow Peninsular Malaysia based Christians to do so.

“The Allah issue is a stale mate,” said Shastri.

The alternative option, according to him, was to proselytise and evangelise Sabah and Sarawak.
“As long as they are interpretations on evangelisation, numbers matter,” he said.
But that too may not work.

He suggested that the Christians champion theirs on the basis of compassionate justice.
Shastri was earlier asked which political alliance would Christ support if he was a registered voter in Malaysia.

“Christ was not a political activist."

“He rebelled against the Roman empire by riding on donkeys and protesting just like (electoral reform watchdog) Bersih did,” he said.

He advised Christians to reflect on the life of Christ and their convictions before casting their votes.

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