Pastor Yang Tuck Yoong of Cornerstone Community Church who joined the raging online debate by posting a message on his website urging Christians to be “battle-ready” for “not just for this battle, but for the many battles ahead of us” against the “LGBT bloc” has noticeably removed more than 100 words from his original statement.
The Singapore High Court is scheduled to hear two cases in which three petitioners are challenging the constitutionality of the long-standing law on in February and March.
An image comparing the original and edited statements was widely circulated online today by a Singapore socio-political news website, The Online Citizen.
The five-paragraph statement originally titled “Firing the first salvo” which was posted on Sat, Jan 19, reads: “We must sound the trumpet because the church must get herself into battle footing, and be battle-ready. The first salvo was fired by the Senior Pastor of FCBC this week on the LGBT issue and the churches are beginning to mobilise themselves not just for this battle, but for the many battles ahead of us. The LGBT bloc will of course be outraged, but that is to be expected. We must make a stand for righteousness in this nation. This war is winnable and the church will arise victorious. We are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus who loved us. Be ready for a sharp polarising of our society over the gay and lesbian issue and when it happens, you better make sure you know which side you are on. Grace to all of you."
The paragraph has since been edited to now state: “We must sound the trumpet because the church must get herself into battle footing, and be battle-ready. The church will arise victorious. We are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus who loved us. Grace to all of you.”
The website did not explain why the paragraph was removed.
Last week, pastor Lawrence Khong of the Faith Community Baptist Church spoke against the repeal of section 377A which criminalises sex between men during a Sunday service with the former Prime Minister of Singapore Goh Chok Tong in the audience. Khong warned that repealing the law will “take away the rights of parents over what their children are taught in schools, especially sex education.”
“It attacks religious freedom and eventually denies free speech to those who, because of their moral convictions, uphold a different view from that championed by increasingly aggressive homosexual activists,” he added.
Last Friday evening, Singapore law minister K Shanmugam announced in a Facebook post that he will meet Khong and representatives of LoveSingapore, a network of 100 local churches, to discuss what they see to be a "looming threat" "caused by "homosexual activists seeking to repeal Section 377A". In a letter published by the minister, Khong wrote that the network is concerned about the government’s stance on homosexuality as the minister had met with members of a lesbian group last year. He said: “This could be read as high-level endorsement of their agenda. We are deeply concerned. We have been concerned ever since October 2007 when Section 377A of the Penal Code was debated in Parliament.”. On its website, the network defines one of its aims as having influence in “government and leadership” alongside other six other "Gates of Cultural Influence" in Singapore.
Over the weekend, Khong appealed to not just to Christians, but to citizens of Singapore “regardless of language, race or religion” in several lengthy Facebook posts to support the retention of the law.
He wrote: “(T)he homosexual agenda is NOT fantasy. It is a fact. And it begins with the repeal of Section 377a of the penal code. It has to be stopped.”
The National Council of Churches of Singapore did not respond to queries from Fridae before press time.
In 2007 when the government announced that it would repeal section 377 (which criminalised oral and anal sex regardless of gender) but retain section 377A (which criminalises sex between men), the council advocated that a “similar prohibition ought to be enacted in respect of lesbianism, considering that lesbianism (like homosexuality) is also abhorrent and deviant, whether consensual or not.”