|Pastor Rony Tan and imparting grace|
The Senior Pastor of Lighthouse Evangelism, Rony Tan, was taken to task 08 Feb 2010 by the Government for his interviews with ex-Buddhists, and had to apologize for his remarks seemingly mocking Buddhism during a 20 minutes long interviews during a miracle healing service. The suspect video became known after it was posted in the Lighthouse web site and then on various forums resulting in a strong debate between Christians and Buddhists leading to complaints to the Government. His remarks at the expense of Buddhists drew laughter and applause from the Lighthouse crowd.
The Church is not a private function with an invited guest list, but is a public event for all to come in, and to visit, hence there must be certain boundaries especially as one of the main churches in singapore. The sermons from mega churches are usually broadcast live and widely seen through Internet streaming, and TV channels around the world. Therefore, such reckless public discourse could have caused a major religious dispute in Singapore irrespective of whether who is right or wrong. Fortunately, the Buddhists associations have been kind anough to forgive him and accepted his apology but wanted to know how this could have been prevented from occurring again. Others doubt his sincerity and has called for a stronger action than just a reprimand to discourage future occurences.
The Lighthouse Evangelism is no small church but a mega church in Singapore, with more than 12,000 members. It was not a side remark of a few seconds that got Pastor Rony in trouble, but a full 20 minutes of continuously mocking the Buddhist faith in public to a very wide audience of a few thousand. I am reminded of the strong response by the supporters of the mega church pastors even at the smallest criticisms of their pastors. Hence, they have a god like status in Singapore, never wrong, having the religious power, wealth and influence. Those who criticized them were deemed to be against God’s anointed. However, where there is religious pride, a big fall is not too far away.
Pastor Rony was very good at framing his illogical arguments to make it convincing. On Buddhist recarnation, he referred to the New Age Spiritualist, Shirley MacLaine, as the basis rather than any well known senior monk. He also declared that women are equal to men in Christianity as opposed to what he sees as the lower status of women in the Buddhist faith. He failed to mention that women are not allowed to be ordained as clergy in the major Christian denominations in Singapore. I am reminded by the novel "Animal Farm" where "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others". Pastor Rony Tan has also continued to mock the Gay community even whilst condeming the Buddhist faith. He tried to associate Gays with Buddhism, when he mockingly commented on the remark by the ex-monk that if one had bad karma, he may end up being re-incarnated to a woman in the next life. Pastor Rony joked that he has absolutely no intention of being a woman, and that there is no half-half, indirectly mocking gays to the laughter of the audience.
The remarks by the Lighthouse Pastor reflect the increasing Christian religious fundamentalism Singapore. The Gay community was their first victim, and now the Buddhists. In comparisons to his condemnation of gays, the remarks by Pastor Rony on Buddhism actually seemed quite mild. In March 2009, he interviewed a Lesbian, and made very strong allegations that gays are all pedophiles. The Christian Post article on 02 March 2009 "Pastor Explores Pedophilic Roots of Homosexuality" asserts that most homosexuals are pedophiles seducing young children whose victims become homosexuals themselves in an article concerning the allegations made by Pastor Pastor Rony Tan of Light House Evangelism when introducing the testimony of a Lesbian who apparently was healed of her “lesbianism”!. The allegations were based on the worst kind of stereotypical opinions. When we define Pedophilia as the sexual abuse of children, we find that rarely the case involving gay men, and almost never involving lesbians. Homosexuality has no direct relationship with Pedophilia, any more than heterosexuality.
He was not taken to tasks then, and as a result became more lawless.
Despite all his failings, Pastor Rony Tan is a very good preacher mightily used by God, and has been a blessing to many. His strength is in his preaching and speaking ability. However, his strength became his weakness when he step out of truth and begin to criticise and condemn gays using wild and unproven theories drawn from the Christian Right Agenda. He did not check his facts, whether they were logical, correct, and make common sense. He just spoke it out from the pulpit as God's representative causing many gays to be condemned. Grace is the surest way of self control, because we do not want to take God's grace for granted not grieve the Holy Spirit with a corrupt word. As a one of the main Christian leaders in Singapore, he actually represents the face of Christianity and hence must show utmost constraint in what he says and does.
Jesus had strong words but it was against the bible believing religious hypocrites, because they were corrupting the temple of God, and likewise today we are corrupting the image and reputation of Jesus Christ. He kicked out the money changes from the temple, and if He was here today, His strongest criticism will be against the Christian Fundamentalist for their lack of love, grace, and mercy, their false witness and hypocrisy.
Let us impart grace to the hearers and edify all that come into our contact, that they may know through our living testimony, the Christ in Us, the Hope of Glory. Without showing and speaking with grace, we can never never show forth God's love, and our message will be like an empty gong.
Pastor Rony Tan’s apology: