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.


arem8 said...

tx for the posting. i think the new team at aware better get moving fast in calming the situation.
the best, and actually easiest, thing they should do is to call back the so-called Old Guard and make amends.
and the organise events that everyone could attend.
apols didnt come over for the makan at botak jones the other night. there were, ahem, other things at work that night!

Carpediem said...

Yo bro!
Totally agree with you. But I think their attitude and intensions were already wrong from the start. It's hard to see how they can suddenly change that overnight and decide they will bring the old guard back and make sincere amends.

I reckon I know what "other things" were at work that night...hrrhrrr!

Anonymous said...

Well said!

One of the biggest losers in this saga is Christianity, with its already diminishing reputation. These people certainly do not represent the moderate stance most other Christians take, and their actions have closed more doors than opened. Should more moderate Christians come forward to denounce their actions as misguided? I think we should, but then it's a no win situation, for then we'd look divided.

Tough call...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. I'm a Christian and thoroughly ashamed too.

0ne said...

BEWARE (Bitchy Evangelistic Women with Agenda for Re-education) is the new AWARE

Anonymous said...

I am a Christian and I believe that civil society must always remain free from religious influence in one form or another.

Leave that to our religious groups.

Carpediem said...

LOL! BEWARE (Bitchy Evangelistic Women with Agenda for Re-education) is the new AWARE - That's the best line ever!

Thanks for this One!

flyingdagger said...

"AWARE is NOT A CORPORATION for goodness sakes!!! When it comes to human needs, there is no such thing as too diversified. "

Well said!!

When I saw that Josie Lau putting on a pretence and speaking those words about consolidation, I want to puke!!

la nausée said...

One needs to distinguish the viewpoints of the new Exco (ostensibly 'religious') from the means by which they've seized power. Even though I'm a dyed-in-the-wool liberal/atheist, I do not think that religion should be excluded from civil society (although it should be excluded from affairs of the State). Of course, religious debate in the public square needs to be moderate (having regard to our socio-cultural milieu), but it ought not be expunged entirely, particularly when such policy issues as gambling, pornography, euthanasia, etc. are being debated.

What is unacceptable is the way the new Exco have sought a platform for their views, i.e. by unceremoniously sweeping aside the old team (including the subcommittees) which has presumably cultivated at least some goodwill and trust amongst the larger community, and trying to exploit the AWARE 'brand' to promote a wholly different set of views.

Anonymous said...

Thio su mien, Josie Lau, alan chin and derek hong have embarrassed the majority of Christians terribly. We should send a clear message to these lunatics that we are not, and never will be standing behind them. On their behalf, we apologize to the rest of Singapore.

Anonymous said...

Aware is suppose to be a help for the women in need , not a religion/private organization to impose any rights of thinking to any human. Much say... and with due respect.. we are living in a globalized world and thinking so selfishly only for the red dot. Big things are happening the world. Open your eyes and your heart.