Jakarta hardliners - Masks of Sin


The Jakata Globe reported on 28 Sep 2010 that "Islamic Hard-Liners Protest Indonesia’s Gay and Lesbian Film Festival". The group "Islamic Defenders Front" also known as FPI of about 100 protested at the venues. The Q! Film Festival director John Badalu is expecting the protestors at the venue - Erasmus Huis. The religious fundamentalist website of FPI declares that it was fighting "adultery, homosexuality and lesbianism in Indonesia" concealed as a film festival.

It is fortunate that such religious fundamentalist groups are not allowed in Singapore to raise its ugly head. If they had succeded, a sight of them demonstrating at the Singapore's Esplanade would have damaged our reputation and reduced our multi cultural space. However, in Indonesia, religious fundementalism has taken a foothold, and such hardline sympathies  are common. 

Should freedom of speech be defended if it ultimately causes harm and violence against the innocent purely based on hardline religious motivations without any conscience nor moral inhibition. The freedom and peace enjoyed in Singapore is God's blessing. This freedom is fragile as seen in the AWARE incidents where a very large church (4000 strong) almost succeded to take over a small woman rights group (less than 100 strong).

Religious fundamentalism is often about the majority misusing its power, and size in order to scapegoat a small minority group for blame. We often transfer our sins to the innocent lambs to be slaughted and thereafter enjoy a good meal.

The religious fundamentalist often hide behind masks. When we hide behind masks of religious fervour to represent a particular religious group, we loose our basic and common humanity. It also takes away our individual rights, responsibilities, opinions and theological reflections. Wearing a mask makes it annonymous, hence takes away the individual accountability for harmful actions.   We become part of the group with our individuality and dissenting opinions lost.

When our humanity is lost, we loose our capacity for relationship, love, and connection with those we now maligned on the cover of a mask. We loose what makes us human. It is said that religions are ultimately about love, when the opposite is often true that religion often descends into fundamentalism causing grave harm. We loose our humanity and merged ourselves with religious extremism.  We become hardened, without a heart for people. We become little gods imposing our hardline religious views on others to follow.

We often rationalise our harm by creating a delusional religious reasons. In this case, the FPI accussed the gays and lesbians of promoting adultery in order to gain popular support. Similarly, Christian groups often have an anti-gay agenda which comprises of spinning the truth by asserting that gays were responsible for all kinds of social harms eg divorce, family breakdown, abuse of children etc. They needed to create an illusion of harm that there is somehow a gay agenda against Christians to justify their own evil actions against gays. For Christianity however, making a false witness resulting in harm is a grave sin which we will have to answer to God here on earth and in heaven. We have sinned not only against an individual but a whole tribe.

Hiding behind our religious masks does not make us less guilty. God sees passed the masks and holds us individually accountable for the harm done.

When Jesus came down from heaven, He took away the mask from God, for hitherto no one has seen God, The religious fundamentalist could not see God, because they expected God to be like them, full of judgement, Yet God revealed Himself to be a God of mercy, a God of grace beyond our wildess imagination. Jesus died for us to pay for our sins, showing the ultimate demonstration of love. He rose again, signifying the acceptance by God of the sacrifice, so that we too can be a child of God, our face to longer hidden from God by the masks of our sins.



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