Gay backlash

THE Government's change of policy in hiring gays is causing a stir in the Christian community. So far, it has prompted a meeting led by the mainstream National Council of Churches of Singapore and an online campaign against homosexuals by another group.

The Straits Times understands that the council, which represents Anglicans, Methodists and Presbyterians, among others, met last Thursday and is expected to issue a statement soon.

The council president, Methodist Bishop Robert Solomon, could not be contacted as he is overseas.

Also on Thursday, a group of 20 Christians from different denominations, voluntary organisations and professions, met and agreed on a plan of action for Christians to tackle 'a volatile situation' that they said had arisen out of the policy announcement.

This point was reflected in an e-mail signed by Pastor Yang Tuck Yoong, who is from the Cornerstone Community Church.

He said that the Thursday meeting ended with a 'consensus to draft an immediate plan of action that every pastor and church can adopt in our battle against homosexuality'.

He asked Christians to 'express their concern' to their Member of Parliament, through letters or during Meet-the-People sessions, and send their views to the Feedback Unit and write letters to the media.

This group's reaction comes in the wake of Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong's recent revelation that the Government is now employing openly homosexual people, even in sensitive jobs.

When contacted, Pastor Yang said that his church was not officially involved in organising the Thursday meeting, during which participants called on fellow Christians to act against the 'homosexual agenda'.

'We are merely alerting our members to the importance of speaking out on a matter of public policy - as individuals,' he said.

When asked how many people the e-mail had been sent to, a spokesman said about 400 but later amended the figure to more than 100.

The church in East Coast Road was started in 1990 under the Anglican church umbrella but became an independent Pentecostal church in 1995.

In a July 20 message titled 'Don't keep silent', on the church's website, Mr Yang stated: 'We cannot stand idly by. Homosexuality is a sin and it is far more rampant, militant and organised than most of us actually believe it to be.

'The battle lines are now drawn and it is time for the Church in Singapore to rise up and make a stand.'

The gay issue has been hotly debated in the media.

In a letter published in Streats yesterday, Dr Thio Su Mien and eight signatories said 'we should not allow our society to be slowly eroded by the growing agenda of homosexuals in our society'.

Expressing a different view, Reverend Yap Kim Hao, a Protestant, said in a recent letter to The Straits Times: 'I applaud the stance of the Prime Minister in announcing that the Government is more open to employing gays now.'

Sister Theresa Seow, president of the Inter-Religious Organisation and a Catholic, said: 'It is not very Christian to provoke people to go against a group of people who, I believe, would not want to be what they now are if they have a choice.'

Feedback Unit chief Wang Kai Yuen said that while groups have the right to express their views, they should do so within certain boundaries.

'They must respect the views of others and respect a person's right to be what he is,' he said.