Keep our places of worship out of the election

Opinion  |  S Thayaparan
Published:  |  Modified:

Religious ideas, supposedly private matters between man and god, are in practice always political ideas.”

- Christopher Hitchens, ‘The Monarchy: A Critique of Britain's Favourite Fetish’

COMMENT | The Council of Churches issued various messages – coded – urging the flock to vote, with the diocese of Melaka and Johor bishop Bernard Paul going so far as to say, “This GE14 is that moment to move for a better Malaysia and a better future to create a nation that we can be proud of and die for.”

Really? What nation is not worth dying for now? So all those state security personnel, they are what, just living on ‘dedak’?

With all these mainstream Christian leaders urging the flock to vote and opposition politicians wearing their religious beliefs on their sleeves, is it any wonder that someone like Umno secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor reminds civil servants to beware of the purported evangelical wing of the DAP?

The “evangelical” meme has been a staple of right-wing Malay social media ever since certain politicians and their churches made extremely careless remarks in their exuberance for regime change in the last election. Since then, this idea of a surreptitious evangelical invasion has gained currency among the Umno elite and this new front of attack against the DAP has made the old meme of “chauvinism” obsolete.

Opposition types like to go about how China is bailing out the Umno hegemon and that the China deals are an attempt to subvert the sovereignty of this country but maybe the Umno hegemon in its latest attack against the “evangelicals” is taking a page out of the playbook of how China deals with Christians in their country. From the Vatican/China deal to the policing of underground churches in the motherland, the idea of the state imposing control on the religious practices of non-Muslims could take on a new turn here in Malaysia where the state already defines Islam....

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