Saturday, December 25, 2010

Bad year for mega churches

Dec 17, 2010

HACKLES were raised over two church-related incidents this year.

In February, tempers flared when tapes, uploaded to YouTube, showed Mr Rony Tan, founder of Lighthouse Evangelism, making fun of Buddhist and Taoist practices.

The clips were actually recorded in 2008, and if not for a redesign of the church's website, they would not have made it online - and certainly not to YouTube.

But they did and his remarks led to a warning from the Internal Security Department. He was also criticised by the Government, public and Christian leaders.

In his first public appearance at the Woodlands church a week later, Mr Tan said the episode had left him feeling so 'unbearably terrible'.

After a brief hiatus, he returned to the pulpit. In October, he launched a book, Armed For Triumph, recommending a 'spiritual armoury' to do God's work.

But the sting of public censure may not have worn off just yet. This month, an anniversary dinner held by the Taoist Federation had the Taoist chief singing on stage with a deacon from New Creation Church - another megachurch whose pastor was caught insulting the Taoist faith in June.

What might have been a trio of voices became a duet. Mr Tan was busy and could not attend, said a Lighthouse spokesman.

In March, another church got people hot under the collar. City Harvest Church made headlines when it said it would spend $310million to become 'co-owners' of Suntec Singapore.

In fact, the $310million paid for shares in the convention hall's holding company and included cash for rental and renovation.

Had the church gone about its investment quietly, it might have avoided controversy. Instead, the ensuing debate led the Government to announce a 20 per cent limit on religious use in commercial properties.

Founder Kong Hee, 47, was among a dozen or so church leaders questioned following complaints about church finances.


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