Category: Law

Grace & truth

Much has been debated recently regarding Singapore’s Penal Code, in particular Section 377A, following the recent decision by the Indian Supreme Court to rule in favour of decriminalising homosexuality. Several individuals (including prominent public figures) and groups have weighed in on both sides in print and online media platforms, and some have even been aggressively garnering support for online petitions either to support or repeal. What follows is a personal reflection on this pertinent and controversial topic, and by no means reflects our church’s official position. The intention here is also not to debate on a theological level, as if to prove or defend my position on 377A or homosexuality. Instead, my hope is that it will encourage reflection of our own personal response, suggesting a more balanced approach towards this and related issues.
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In memoriam | Roseburg, Oregon

Our heartfelt condolences and prayers goes out to the victims and families of the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.

Related articles:
Why the U.S. has the most mass shootings | CNN
994 mass shootings in 1,004 days: this is what America’s gun crisis looks like | The Guardian
Shooting in Oregon: So far in 2015, we’ve had 274 days and 294 mass shootings | The Washington Post
Guns killed more Americans than AIDS, war, terrorism, drug overdose combined | Christian Today
Franklin Graham praises army veteran for sacrificing self to protect others in Oregon | Christian Today
‘Daddy, he shot her’: Oregon massacre as told by one survivor, a pastor’s daughter | Christian Today
Oregon mass shooting: father tells how dead classmate’s blood saved daughter | Sydney Morning Herald

Obergefell v. Hodges

On 26 June 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage, also known as the Obergefell v. Hodges case. The date coincides with the anniversary of 2 landmark rulings, United States v. Windsor that struck down a federal law denying benefits and recognition to same-sex marriages 2 years ago, and Lawrence v. Texas that struck down sodomy laws in 13 states 12 years ago. Incidentally, Justice Anthony Kennedy authored the majority opinion and was considered the “swing vote” in all 3 cases.

You can find more information about the case and ruling below.
Obergefell v. Hodges (Wikipedia)
Supreme Court ruling makes same-sex marriage a right nationwide (NY Times)

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Texas governor signs important act to protect churches from SCOTUS gay marriage ruling
Why these four Justices rejected marriage equality
Anthony Kennedy – How one man’s evolution legalized marriage for millions
These 35 companies just told America exactly what they think about the SCOTUS gay marriage ruling
What else to read about the gay marriage decision (CT)
Voters say US Supreme Court too liberal, want justices voted off, serve limited term

Sweet Cakes by Melissa

In January 2013, a Christian couple, Aaron and Melissa Klein who run a bakery “Sweet Cakes by Melissa” were asked by a lesbian woman, Rachel Cryer, to bake a cake for her upcoming marriage ceremony to Laurel Bowman. The couple declined, saying that doing so would violate their faith. They were subsequently were sued under Oregon state law, and ordered to compensate the same-sex couple $135,000 in damages. They eventually closed down their bakery after an overwhelming viral social media campaign against their business. However, they have managed to raise over $372,000 within 2 months through crowdfunding.

Related articles:
Goodwill gesture: Christian bakers send cakes, Ray Comfort’s film to gay groups | Christian Today
Gay pastry chef calls fellow gays ‘Nazis’ for bullying Christians to make their cakes | Christian Today
Bakery owners: Same-sex wedding cake ruling is ‘persecution of Christians’ | Washington Times
Christian bakers raise $372,000 on fundraising page after refusing to make cake for lesbian couple and fined $135,000 in damages | Christian Today
Record-breaking $358K raised for ‘Sweet Cakes’ Bakery for Christians who refused to make lesbian wedding cake | Washington Examiner
GoFundMe shuts down crowdfunding for anti-gay bakery | CNN
‘He’s doing this to the wrong Christian’: Bakers hit out after court rules that they must pay $135k to lesbian couple after they refused to make them a wedding cake | Daily Mail UK
Christian bakers face 135k fine for refusing to make cake for gay wedding | NY Post
Oregon judge fines Christian bakers $135,000 for refusing to bake a gay ‘wedding’ cake | LifeSiteNews
Christian Couple Forced to Close Bakery Due to Gay Activism May Face Over $150K in Damages | Christian Post

KUALA LUMPUR – After months of wrangling, a Malaysian court ruled on Thursday, December 31, that Christians are entitled to use the world “Allah” in their publications to refer to God, overturning a government ban.

“The applicant has the constitutional right to use the word ‘Allah’,” High Court Judge Lau Bee Lan told a packed courtroom, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.

The use of the word Allah in Christian publications in the local Malay language has triggered a controversy in the Muslim-majority Southeast Asian country since a local Catholic weekly, The Herald, used it in its Malay-language edition.

The government threatened to revoke the weekly’s license if it continued printing the word.

It later allowed Christian publications to use some Muslim words, including Allah, as long as the phrase “For Christians” is printed on the cover.

However, the government backtracked after some scholars said this might offend Muslims, who make up more than 60 percent of the population.

In February, the Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam, as publisher of Herald, filed for a judicial review against the government for the right to use Allah.
“Even though Islam is the federal religion, it does not empower the respondents to prohibit the use of the word,” ruled the court.

The court ruling was swiftly welcomed by Malaysian Christians, who make up around 9.1 percent of the population.

“It is a day of justice and we can say right now that we are citizens of one nation,” said Father Lawrence Andrew, the editor of the Catholic weekly.

He immediately declared that the paper would use the word “Allah” in its upcoming Sunday edition.
“This also means that…the Christian faith can now continue to freely use the word ‘Allah’…without any interference from the authorities.”

Officials from Malaysia’s Islamic Party (PAS) have supported the case of the Catholic weekly as a constitutional right.

Malaysia has a population of nearly 26 millions, with Malays, mostly Muslims, making up nearly 60 percent.
Christians, including a Catholic population of nearly 800,000, make up around 9.1 percent of the population.

Hoe Yeen Nie (CNA, 5 July 2009)

This article notes Singapore’s Law Minister K. Shanmugam’s comments and reactions to India High Court’s recent decision to decriminalise gay sex between consenting adults, overturning colonial-era legislation that outlawed homosexuality.

Law Minister K Shanmugam has said Singapore will not decriminalise gay sex but the courts have the power to decide how the law, Section 377, is applied. Section 377A of the Penal Code deems sex between men a crime.

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by Nathanael Ng (Christian Post, 2 Jun 09)

A Christian couple has been found guilty of distributing seditious or objectionable material to three Muslims and being in possession of seditious publications.

The case of Ong Kian Cheong, a SingTel technical officer, and Dorothy Chan Hien Leng, a UBS associate director, marks the first time in the republic that a full trial under the Sedition Act has been heard.

In 2005, a man was jailed for a month for posting inflammatory and vicious remarks about Muslims and Malays on the internet. The following year, an accounts assistant received a stern warning for posting an offensive cartoon of Jesus Christ on his blog.

For many years, Ong and Chan had been involved in mass-mailing evangelistic tracts to members of the public. Three recipients of some of the booklets found them seditious or objectionable and lodged complaints.

They received the two evangelistic tracts titled The Little Bride or Who Is Allah? in December last year and told the court they felt angry, insulted and offended and believed a Christian group had sent them.

Ong and Chan were arrested on January 30 last year. The couple was also found to be in possession of 439 copies of 11 publications deemed sedicious at their Maplewoods Condominium.

(read more)

Related articles:
Couple sentenced to 8 weeks jail for distributing seditious publications (CNA, 10 Jun 09)
Couple deserve jail: DPP (ST, 5 Jun 09)
Couple guilty of sedition (ST, 29 May 09)
(CNA, 18 May 2009)

His redemption is now complete. After his release from jail last year, and the end of his home detention scheme last month, Father Joachim Kang now has been restored fully to his duties as a priest.

The decision had been made last week by the head of the Catholic Church in Singapore, Archbishop Nicholas Chia, and revealed to churchgoers on Sunday in the church’s fortnightly newsletter, Catholic News (see statement here).

(read more)

See related articles:
Archbishop: Father Joachim Kang to be given meaningful church ministry (CatholicNews, 18 May 09)
RC priest jailed for embezzling S$5 million (23 Apr 04)

Riverside Church lawsuit
NY Daily News, 22 Apr 2009

Call it the stimulus package from God.

Manhattan’s Riverside Church – one of the country’s most illustrious religious institutions – is paying its new senior pastor, the Rev. Brad Braxton, more than $600,000 in annual compensation.

That’s twice what Braxton’s predecessor, James Forbes, one of the country’s best-known preachers, was getting after running Riverside for more than 18 years.

It amounts to almost 10 times what William Sloane Coffin, the legendary anti-Vietnam War clergyman, was paid in his last year as senior minister at Riverside in 1987.

Braxton was selected in a vote of the congregation last fall and is to be officially installed Sunday.

A group of church dissidents claims the members were never told about the lavish package.

Those dissidents filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court last week to stop Braxton’s installation, revealing a growing divide among the church’s 1,500 members.

The Wall Street-like package, the dissidents say, is outrageous for a man of the cloth – especially when you consider Riverside’s long history of advocating social justice.

Church sources say it includes:

  • $250,000 in salary.
  • $11,500 monthly housing allowance.
  • Private school tuition for his child.
  • A full-time maid.
  • Entertainment, travel and “professional development” allowances.
  • Pension and life insurance benefits.
  • An equity allowance for Braxton to save up to buy a home.

    On top of that, Braxton immediately hired a new second in command at more than $300,000 a year.

    (read more)

    Related articles
    New Riverside pastor’s compensation splits congregation (NYTimes, 22 Apr 09)

  • Report exposes Islam in Australia
    Catch the Fire Ministries, 11 Jan 2009

    Article on the Daniel Scott lawsuit.

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