Pastor apologises personally
Wed, Feb 10, 2010
my paper

By Joy Fang

TWO religious organisations have released statements on a recent furore over Pastor Rony Tan's insensitive comments about Buddhism and Taoism.

Pastor Tan, the founder of Lighthouse Evangelism church, was criticised after three video clips showed him questioning a former monk and a former nun, both Buddhist, about Buddhist and Taoist beliefs.

The clips were taken during a church session and posted on the church's website.

They have since been removed from the site, but the videos made their way onto YouTube and Facebook.

The Singapore Buddhist Federation posted a statement on its website yesterday,saying that it applauded "the timely involvement and advice by the authorities in stopping the potential damage done to both Buddhist and Taoist communities" by Pastor Tan's inappropriate remarks.

"Repentance must be sincere and be followed up with deeds, lest this untoward event be forgotten and repeated. Genuine and continual inter-faith consultation is preferred instead of open instigation," it said, adding that it "welcomes all initiatives from all quarters to facilitate the maintenance of religious harmony in Singapore".

The National Council of Churches of Singapore also issued a joint statement from its president, Anglican Archbishop John Chew and its general secretary, Mr Lim K. Tham, on the matter yesterday.

"Some of Pastor Rony Tan's comments were insensitive and offensive to followers of the Buddhist and Taoist faiths. We are glad he has made a public apology, and has promised that such insensitivity will never happen again," said the statement.

It added that member churches are advised "not to denounce other religions" and that they "should always be respectful of the beliefs of others (and) careful not to create or sow ill-will".

On Monday, Pastor Tan was called up by the Internal Security Department, which said that his comments were "highly inappropriate and unacceptable as they trivialised and insulted the beliefs of Buddhists and Taoists".

The pastor later issued an urgent message on the church's website that night, saying he realised that his "presentation and comments were wrong and offensive".

"So I sincerely apologise for my insensitivity towards the Buddhists and Taoists, and solemnly promise that it will never happen again," he said.

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