As Singaporeans remained skeptical and bewildered about the recent probe into City Harvest Church and its purchase of several eyecatching properties, MyQueenstown Team has decided to find out more about how religious bodies in Queenstown operate so that our community has a clearer picture on what's going on.
This article was intended to be posted a fortnight ago but our team had decided against it because of its controversy. So what had happened so far?
On 31 May 2010, police rounded up several individuals linked to the church for alleged misuse of funds. The 17 people who are assisting police with investigations include the founder, Senior Pastor Kong Hee. Financial records and computers from the homes and offices of the people involved were taken away too. It was believed the speculations have been making rounds of the congregation since the church's Suntec deal and Singaporeans have been skeptical over the large amount of reserves the church has in its 2009 audited accounts.
That was not the first time City Harvest was in the spotlight. In 2001, the church moved into a $47.6 million compound in Jurong West street 91, which is titanium clad and has a $583,0000 fountain that leads to questions about the lavishness of the church building. One of the cell leader, Donny Tan, an "intelligence" army officer, commented that "the lavishness of the church building reflects aptly on their love and respect for God."
Furthermore, questions were raised over Sun Ho's ( the wife of Pastor Kong Hee) raunchy music video, China Wine.
On 12 June 2010, The Straits Times reported that two Americans, Professor Sid Buzzell and Dr Kenneth Boa, who co-auothered a Christian study book have hurled allegations at Kong Hee for plagiarizing their work on his website and books.
City Harvest Church in Jurong West
In response to the City Harvest controversy and the rising religiousity displayed by Singapore, Andrew, pastoral coordinator in Blessed Sacrament Church commented, "There is a truth is every religion and it will be irresponsible for someone to run down others' religion and it is not grounded in the bible for anyone to do so. There are about 4000 members in the church and we didn't collect much from them."
Andrew from Blessed Sacrament Church
New Creation Church-another mega church in the spotlight
On the other hand, Mr Ang, volunteer at Tiong Ghee Temple, a Taoist temple, felt that, "every religion has its own practice and traditions. For instance, when a taoist makes a prayer, he will fold his hands such that a ying and yang sign can be seen. Similarly, a Buddhist, a Muslim or a Christian makes different signs while praying. Therefore, it is not for us to judge what's going on."
Tiong Ghee temple in Stirling Road
Therefore, it is significant for residents in Queenstown to put our subjective judgment aside first before the dust is settled as we are living in a multiracial and multireligious community. Everyone has a part to play and we should not be overt in criticising other religion.
Additional information from Straits Times and chc.org.sg