TL;DR – What do you think?
Over the weekend, Kong Hee, one of the founders and key pastors of City Harvest Church, is quite well-known amongst Singaporeans. Some would say well-known isn’t quite the right word. More like notorious. Kong Hee’s arrest, trial and conviction for misusing close to $50 million of church funds were highly extensively covered by the media. He was convicted and sentenced to 8 years imprisonment. He’s still appealing the case and out on bail.
It seems that Kong Hee isn’t letting the conviction and sentence get in the way of his preaching and duties in shepherding his flock. Since his conviction and sentencing, he has still been very busy, going around, attending meetings, speaking, leading prayers, etc. And he posts many of what he does online. The latest act that he posted is this:
As expected, the video attracted snide comments. Take this for instance:
Interestingly, that comment can no longer be found on Kong Hee’s Facebook page.
Many people also questioned whether Kong Hee will be selling these bottles of anointing oil that he has blessed for cash. Apparently, he won’t. He intends to give them away for free. He believes that “these bottles of oil coupled with… effective, fervent prayer will avail much in bringing healing & deliverance!”
It seems like Kong Hee isn’t the only one who believes that it is possible to invoke divine power for protection. The famous Malay shaman Ibrahim Mat Zin also known as “Raja Bomoh Sedunia” and self-proclaimed “Datuk Mahaguru” (Grandmaster) released this video of him performing a ritual on a beach in their effort to protect the country from harm:
Mr Ibrahim said:
“This time, the ritual is to protect Malaysia from any threat or attack from other countries especially North Korea. Besides that, the ritual is also to soften the North Korean Supreme Leader’s heart so he will release the 11 Malaysians immediately and resolve this situation (Malaysia-North Korea diplomatic tension).”
I admit. When I first saw the two videos, I laughed. Maybe a bit too hard.
But then I thought about it. I know people who think that they should deposit money at specific times on the auspicious li chun (立春) so that they can have a prosperous year. I also know many people who are very particular about the layout of their homes, placing plants in specific places according to fengshui.
Aren’t these practices also attempts to invoke some other worldly forces to divert the course of our lives for the better? In essence, aren’t those practices of the same nature as what Kong Hee and Mr Ibrahim did? If we find what Kong Hee and Mr Ibrahim did was laughable, would we feel offended if other people laughed at some of the “superstitious” practices that we believe in?
We live in a multi-racial, multi-religious society. Each religion, each race or even dialect group has its own rituals, prayers, and practices to invoke higher powers for protection, health, and good fortune. To us, the rituals, prayers, and practices that other people have might seem laughable, silly, and perhaps even stupid. But remember, other people may think that of our rituals, prayers and practices too.
If we all start laughing at and ridiculing one another’s religious practices and beliefs, we are just setting the stage for misunderstanding between religions and races. That would perhaps just serve to deepen the fault lines of our society and threaten the racial and religious harmony.
Unless those beliefs and practices harm people or society, let’s not be so quick to judge and laugh at other people’s religious beliefs and practices.
Let’s live and let live.