Monday, April 20, 2009

BeAWARE: Keep religion out of civil society

So Reme, here's a new blog entry just for you.

I was two minds about whether to write about the recent AWARE saga or the adoption of the Slumdog millionaire actress, but thought I should diversify a little and not talk about India all the time :p

I've been following the shocking take-over of the AWARE leadership last couple of days and am appalled. This new group of women who have taken over AWARE obviously engineered a leadership grab, and have made it their personal vendetta to "consolidate" an organisation that has "diversified too much", "like any good corporation" would - in the words of its new president Josie Lau.

Firstly, the fact that the new president is talking about AWARE like she's talking about DBS Bank is very troubling. AWARE is NOT A CORPORATION for goodness sakes!!! When it comes to human needs, there is no such thing as too diversified. The people who set up AWARE drew no boundaries to what sort of women they help, regarding what issues.

The second most troubling thing is that these women are Christians! I'm Christian myself, and frankly I think they bring shame to Christianity. There is nothing Christian about the way they've handled this. I do not sense their compassion or empathy for women from all walks of life, all backgrounds, and all sexual orientations, which Christianity teaches. And judging by Josie's response in today's paper, AWARE is soon to be AWARE PTE LTD.

I am shocked that such a thing could happen in Singapore, though I cannot say I'm not thrilled by such controversy in a city where nothing usually happens. But I also find it very disturbing that these women, majority with a conservative Christian background should come into a public organisation and impose their values on it.

It is fine with me when Christians confine their religious believes and practices to their own circle. We do after all live in a multi-religious society. But the same way you don't bring your religion into politics, don't bring it to civil society. This is the one space where people of all backgrounds, class, religion and sexual orientations come to seek emotional and social support. There is no place for religion here.

If they believe so strongly that AWARE is not doing the right thing, then they should just set up their own organisation for women, and keep their crusade under their own banner for Christianity, or whatever it is they believe they're representing. Why ride on the good name AWARE and its predecessors have established, only to undo all they've achieved?

As a Christian, I'm ashamed of what my fellow "believers" are doing here.