The Madonna concert has come and gone. There was so much controversy in the lead up to her performance that the actual occurrence of it was a tremendous let down. That said, Arch Bishop William Goh and Pastor Lawrence Khong can breathe a sigh of relief.
Should any of their flock have strayed from religious counsel and ventured to attend the Material Girl’s concert, they would have not been faced with any of the anti Christian acts that created such furor in the first place. It would appear that the Rebel Heart was not so rebel hearted after all.
Now, I have never been a big fan of the self styled Queen of Pop. While I marveled at her chameleon like ability to stay relevant with the ever changing music scene, I would not have paid any attention to her shows if not for the letters penned by Archbishop William Goh and the heated discussions that ensued as a result with Pastor Lawrence Khong also wading in to give his two cents worth.
While some might disagree, I have absolutely no issue with Archbishop Goh and Pastor Khong giving advice to their flock. I support free speech and we cannot have double standards where free speech is concerned. It cannot be that you are only permitted to air liberal views in the name of free speech while more conservative opinions are not tolerated. Archbishop Goh and Pastor Khong have every right to address their flock in any way they see fit.
The only problem is when that advice seeps into secular Singapore and affects those who might not share the same beliefs as those of the Christian or Catholic faith.
It would appear that Reverend Dr Ngoei Foong Nghian, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches Singapore (NCCS), had earlier voiced his concerns to the government in December with regards to performers who are not sensitive to racial and religious issues when they apply to hold concerts in Singapore. Does this mean that the NCCS would like for concerts that may offend Christians to be banned altogether? What of the right for non Christians to attend such performances?
While I totally support the right of religious leaders to speak up for their respective religions and to their respective congregants, I would draw a line at any attempt for any religious group to impose its values on the rest of the country who may not share their beliefs. Freedom of speech is after all quid pro quo and lest we forget, Singapore is a secular country.
Madonna has long made her name by being provocative. Her antics towards crucifixes and the light are hardly new and to put it bluntly, rather tired. She isn’t some sort of anti establishment icon bent on inciting anarchy and hatred.
She is a mainstream artiste attempting to create a show that titillates. To ban her from Singapore on the basis that she might offend Christians would be akin to banning Christian rock bands from performing in Singapore because it might offend non Christians!
Christians who are offended by the antics of Madonna have every right to boycott her concert while any Singaporean who is a fan has the equal right to attend the performance and show his or her support to the pop icon.
I can understand if the church wants to ban a particular performer who has known ties to terrorist groups and is raising funds to incite violence and bloodshed. In Madonna’s case however, she is simply a pop star trying to create a show that will attract concert goers.
While I support the Church’s right to address its flock, I would be extremely concerned if it goes a step further and petitions the Government to ban certain performers just because Christians might be offended. Where then would you draw the line?
GHUI WRITES: Religious groups should not impose their views on others