NUS Crusaders' Not-pology

Just a day after a photo of its poster spread virally over the social networks, the NUS Campus Crusade for Christ took the posters down and issued an apology. The Straits Times online article reports:

A Christian student group at the National University of Singapore (NUS) apologised on Thursday for making insensitive remarks about Buddhists and Muslims.

The NUS Campus Crusade for Christ, made up of 80 to 100 students, posted an apology on its Facebook page for remarks made on its website and on posters it put up on campus benches on Wednesday.

The university also apologised on Thursday. The Ministry of Home Affairs, which is looking into the incident, said that while people are free to propagate their religion, it should not be done by insulting or denigrating other religions.

The Christian group's posters promoting a mission trip to Thailand said that the country, known as The Land of Smiles, was actually 'a place of little true joy'.

The NUS Campus Crusade for Christ has the following apology on their Facebook wall:

Dear Netizens,

We humbly apologize for the distress we have caused you through the poster of ours that has gone viral online. We recognize that our choice of words used should have been more sensitive and tactful. We acknowledge that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and it is definitely not our intention to force anyone to believe in what we do.

We have since removed our posters and websites, and will be watchful of future actions. Thank you for your understanding and our deepest apologies again for the distress that this incident has caused you.

With sincere apologies,
On behalf of NUS Campus Crusade

What's the poster that caused this explosion of attention on intolerant/bigoted ideas? You can check it out here at YawningBread where there is too an article on this incident.

Now back to the apology. Notice the statement "We recognize that our choice of words used should have been more sensitive and tactful."? There is not an apology for the bigoted idea expressed in the poster. Rather it's apologizing for the tactless way in which it was phrased. Sweet, huh?

Yet, I would consider it typical or, at least, logical that a Christian would endorse the poster. After all, if you sincerely believe that your religion is the ONE TRUE religion and that you can only experience TRUE happiness by following that religion, then that IS what you would say to non-believers of your religion. To  do otherwise would be being inconsistent.

But the thing is, it is a bigoted idea. So there you have all the other religionists jumping in to say that that is intolerant, insensitive or plain wrong. Liberal Christians jump in to say essentially "that's not what our religion is about".

Some people stated that freedom of religion allows for such offensive speech. Others say that religion or not, bigoted ideas are a no-no.

So how does this resolve in Singapore? Combine the two. You have the freedom to have those beliefs but you cannot express them (lest you cause a fracking riot or something).

That is why I have said before: Religious harmony in Singapore is not religions running happily through the green meadows but an uneasy roundtable where a wrong move by any one religion triggers a free for all; "Harmony" is a euphemism for begrudging tolerance here.

The former is what I suspect most people want (but I contend is impossible) but the latter is what Singapore produces. And that is unhealthy for our society -- we're simply waiting for disaster.


Anonymous said...

Really...universities should disallow all religious activities on campuses because they are not theology colleges. Universities are supposed to be secular.

Atheozoa said...

I might have to disagree with that. What it means to be secular is to simply not to favor some/one religion over others/none. Being secular does not necessarily entail being devoid of religion.