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Bertha HarianBertha Harian

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Church vs State

What, in heaven’s name, is City Harvest church up to?

I know this is a day late, but I cannot figure why the church seems so intent on putting itself on a collision course with the State. Never mind exhortations and reminders that this is about five individuals breaking the law, it seems City Harvest wants to put the full weight of its congregation behind the five. It is even arguing on  theological grounds  – promoting Sun Ho’s secular singing career to reach non-Christians is part of doing God’s work. In fact, the church gave details of the “fruits” of its controversial Crossover project – how money made from the more than 80 concerts (at least I think its money made from the concerts although the church never said how much) have gone into funding global humanitarian projects.

The church seems to say that the members didn’t think anything was wrong. (And they got their money back anyway…) News reports quoting church members seem to say the same. I guess short of doing of poll of all its 30,000 members or so, we wouldn’t know. So I suppose when the case comes up, lots of paper will turn up – minutes of meetings and board resolutions and the like – to show what really took place.

So why can’t the church wait?

I cannot believe that there are no lawyers in the congregation advising the church on what it can or cannot say – legally. That the statement is subjudice and contempt of court. Church insiders say the statement is an attempt to calm the congregation. Really? So I suppose the church does not mind? care? about the consequences of itself breaking the law by speaking about the case before the judge has a chance to hear arguments? Maybe the church figures that the State would be hard put to throw the book on a whole Church. What’s the penalties for subjudice anyway?

The trial hasn’t even started and I am already confused about what is the issue at hand….

Shorn of all the legal jargon, I thought this was about whether the church members know where their donations are going to – or not. So were they conned by their leaders – or not? And when the leaders were supposedly found out, they did a complicated series of transactions (is this itself illegal?) to cover it up?

I find it disconcerting that while the five leaders were suspended from their posts by the Commissioner of Charities, the pastors among them are allowed to preach. I suppose there is a line drawn between the CoC’s powers over charity governance and interfering in the work of religion…It would seem to me more appropriate if they took it upon themselves NOT to preach while the case is going on. Even if their sermons do not touch on the case, you can bet that feelings will run high. Whatever they say on the pulpit will be analysed and re-analysed for signs of emotion, distress or grievance. Why put the church through this? Why not let justice take its course? There will be vindication if no one did anything wrong.

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An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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