Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Singapore schools forbid evangelism

This letter appeared in the Straits Times newspaper today:
No proselytising allowed in schools

A RECENT Insight article ('Say aaah... men'; ST, Oct 15) discussed the issue of proselytising.

Any form of proselytising to students is strictly not allowed in our schools, including both government and mission schools. Schools will take action against any teacher found to have engaged in proselytising.

The article cited the case of a National Junior College physics lecturer who invited his class to a Christmas party and prayed over them, and who attached Christian sayings to his lecture notes. The principal has warned the lecturer and counselled him. The lecturer is remorseful about his actions.

If parents have any concerns regarding any action involving their children being encouraged to join a religion other than their own, I encourage them to approach the school.

Ms Geraldine Chay Mei Fong ('Not true that all schools are secular'; ST, Oct 14) pointed out that religious values are imparted in mission schools. She supported this practice, and felt that parents who want a secular education for their children should send them to government schools.

Mission schools follow clear rules. While they can conduct prayers, religious classes and chapel services or mass, these must be optional. They cannot compel any student to participate in any religious activity against the student's wish.

Students are allowed to withdraw from any such activity if they are uncomfortable with participating in it, or if requested by their parents.

Further, attendance at any such activity cannot be a condition for students to be admitted to the school. The time used for these activities must also be in addition to that required for the schools to cover the subjects in the regular Ministry of Education curriculum.

It is in school that children of different backgrounds build bonds and develop shared aspirations as Singaporeans. We encourage parents and schools to work together to ensure that we sustain the strong social cohesion that we have built so far.

Wong Siew Hoong
Director of Schools
Ministry of Education
While I agree that teachers have a responsibility to perform their official duties during school hours, I see no reason why teachers could not befriend their students and preach the gospel outside of the school premises.

Sure, the Word of God tells us to submit to all authorities (Romans 13:1-7). However, there are, of course, obvious exceptions to this Biblical teaching. Take for instance, in cases where the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ is concerned, we are to disobey ungodly rules and laws that hinders evangelism.

The Acts of the Apostles recorded the following historical event that took place:
Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. "We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name," he said. "Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man's blood."

Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him."

Acts 5:27-32 NIV

And of course, there is this unmistakeable commandment in the Bible that is otherwise known as the Great Commission:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Matthew 28:19-20 NIV


Blogger :)X said...

DId that teacher really feel renorseful about it? If she/he did, I am very sad! SOmetimes the rice bowl seems more important than our faith. It's really disturbing to see such compromise.

Can u imagine if that teacher stood up for what she believed and quit rather than teach? I remember a ST article and some stuff in the Forum pages about this nurse who was sharing the gospel while this dude was having his blood collected which he then wrote a complaint? The article said something about keeping such things from government sector. I was wondering, if we are free to practice what we believe in, isn't the guvmnt persecuting us by limiting our practices? Is that discrimination?

What do u think?

2/11/05 8:48 AM  
Blogger beowulf said...

Technically, article 15 of the Singapore Constitution states that "every person has the right to profess and practice his religion and to propagate it."

As a working professional, I believe we are ethically obliged to carry out our job responsibilities without any personal agendas.

Take for instance, I would not appreciate a doctor trying to push his MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) products while I am visiting his clinic. However, I see no issues with the doctor's MLM sales tactics if I am meeting him outside his clinic for an informal lunch appointment.

In any case, we should play by ear. I find that it is easier to preach the gospel directly to the person rather than to invite him or her to a church service. Most of the time, I would try to create opportunities for the potential recipient to ask about Jesus Christ.

4/11/05 6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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11/11/05 1:52 PM  

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