Saturday, February 20, 2010

Preamble: The misadventures of Rony Tan.

The animals at the Barn took time away from farm duties to attend an on-going roundtable discussion on the subject of Rony Tan, the governmental actions that have either already been taken, or are currently lobbied against him, and whether we think he should be allowed the right to think and speak how ever controversially he wishes on how ever sensitive, highly politicised a topic. Proceedings are being put together as posts and will be published over the weekend. This is a preamble.

How does one begin?


That's the founding senior pastor of Lighthouse Evangelism Church who's been making headlines over the last two weeks. He quickly established himself as a bonafide asshole who aggrieved the Taoist and Buddhist communities in Singapore when videos of his rather unpalatable sermons surfaced on the internet. The sucker punch, however, came in the form of an extremely public invitation from our lovely Internal Security Department (ISD) for Pastor Tan to join them for tea and scones. All this ended in removal of said videos, apologies, woeful sermon of regret, and other double-taking that all ran rather openly. Now his words on gay people are haunting him, as two film-makers have lodged a police report against him, ostensibly in hope of invoking aspects of the Sedition Act even if the Act is written to only protect racial and religious harmony. He has since come out to stand by and defend his position on homosexuality, "I’ve said nothing wrong, you know. Like I said, my stand is with the average person and the Government."

Here are some choice quotes that I've managed to dig up so that you can have a rough idea of what was uttered:

On religion; responding to a parishioner, Rita's experience with Buddhism:
[4:51 onwards]

Ok, now, here I pause again to, you know, let you all know that, when we talk about religions; false religions, we are not just talking about a set of teachings. We are talking about the spiritual world. we are talking about satan and his demons,coming into people's mind and dropping ideas like that, to get us away from ...

When rita was seriously, you know, in this religion, the demonic power would supernaturally put some ideas in her mind, and the same demonic power, you cannot see, put the same kind of thoughts into the Tibetan monk. So when they check up the facts, it's the same. It dazzles us. but if you were to look behind the scene, it is a cheap david copperfield trick, nothing more, nothing more, you understand? So conclusion, there's no truth in reincarnation.


When Buddha was dying, do you know what he said to his disciples? "I'm still searching for the way..."

[Grunts to suggest last breath, then steps forward.]

And Jesus comes, "I am the way." (Source)
On homosexuality:

What Pastor Rony Tan of Lighthouse Evangelism thinks about gays and lesbians from Kenneth Tan on Vimeo.

Don’t believe all those loud-mouthed gay people who tell you they are born this way... If we don’t warn people against this, then there will be more and more homosexuals... Many of these people will be harrassing and seducing young boys, and they in turn will become homosexuals... Half the world will be homosexual! Proper sex means life — it propagates life. Lesbianism and homosexuality simply mean death and barrenness... If you allow [homosexuality], next time people will want to get married to monkeys. And they will want rights. They’ll want to apply for HDB. With a donkey or a monkey or a dog and so on. It’s very pathetic. (Source)
You can see why animals and people alike have gotten prettttty upset with him. Yet, should we play Volitaire and defend his right to speak even if we gravely disagree with him?

Lest you too are the curious sort, you can view copies of the videos pertaining to religious insult here. Pastor Tan has beseeched that copies of the video be taken down as well, but I personally find this forced erasure/ amnesia of mistakes frankly stupid. I'm glad copies are floating around so that we can be constantly reminded of how horrible he was, even if those who took offense have since forgiven him.


  1. So there are people who disapprove of queerness. Alright, and they disapprove of abortion maybe, or fornication, or whatever. That's fine. I'd love to persuade them to accept these, but they're opinion issues and everyone has the right to believe what they want.

    And from a policy point of view, failure to procreate does depress the total fertility rate; from a social point of view, one might be concerned that Ah Boy isn't producing babies to carry on the family name.

    I like to think that's what Tan means by 'standing with the people and the government'.

    Where he doesn't stand with the people and the government is that the latter two don't tell outright porkies to make themselves look better. The latter two groups don't promulgate the usual lies of queer people as sexual predators. The latter two groups recognise that consent is the most important point of sex.

    That is what, in my simple optimism, I'd like to believe. There's a difference between stating disapproval, and telling outrageously defamatory lies. It seems he won't acknowledge this difference.

  2. Here's my take on Rony's response:


Please avoid (1) victim-blaming, (2) justifying any particular instance of oppression/exploitation, (3) explaining that we live in a post-feminist/racist/ablist/enter-oppression-here world, or (4) Mansplaining at all. Barn writers are free to moderate their own posts how ever they deem fit, and not obligated to entertain any comment. If you suspect it might seem offensive, don't comment.

(See our note on comments.)