More churches express concern over Madonna show

More churches express concern over Madonna show
Singer Madonna performs during her concert at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, France, Dec 9, 2015, on her Rebel Heart Tour. Photo: Reuters
Published: 11:13 PM, February 23, 2016
Updated: 10:40 PM, February 24, 2016
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SINGAPORE — More churches and religious organisations have come forward to express their concerns over pop diva Madonna’s concert this Sunday, as well as voicing their support for the Catholic Church’s public stand on the matter.

The Archdiocesan Communications Office on Tuesday (Feb 23) issued a fresh statement, three days after the Catholic Church expressed its reservations on the Rebel Heart Tour concert on its website.

The latest statement noted that the Church’s comments on Saturday were posted in response to appeals by concerned church members who had sought Archbishop William Goh’s guidance on whether Madonna’s “brand of entertainment was to be supported”.

The church members had also cited concerns about the singer’s “consistent and blatant” use of Catholic symbols and lyrics in her performances.

Stressing that the Church does not impose its faith on non-believers, Tuesday’s statement noted: “Nevertheless (the Church) has a moral duty to enlighten and speak the truth on moral issues unflinchingly for the good of humanity.”

For church members who have already bought their tickets, the Church urged them to “act according to their informed conscience”.

Last month, the Media Development Authority (MDA) rated the Rebel Heart Tour concert R18 for its sexually suggestive content.

Religiously sensitive content which breaches the MDA’s guidelines, such as Madonna’s Holy Water song, will not be performed in Singapore, it had said then. The MDA’s position has not changed.

Several Christian and Catholic organisations contacted by TODAY expressed support for the Catholic Church’s stand.

Faith Community Baptist Church’s Pastor Lawrence Khong said he had written a letter to Archbishop Goh to express his “full support” for its statement. In his letter, Mr Khong, who is also the chairman of LoveSingapore, a network of about 100 churches, said Archbishop Goh has given his “flock sound counsel on the right response to ‘anti-Christian and immoral values promoted by the secular world’”.

Echoing Mr Khong’s sentiments was Reverend Dr Ngoei Foong Nghian, general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS), who pointed out that the NCCS had already communicated its concerns with the authorities regarding Madonna’s concert in December.

The NCCS said that it had received several assurances that the concert performances would not be used as a platform for profanities against any religion or religious symbols that represent the various faiths in Singapore.

Stressing that it is ultimately up to the public to decide if they would attend the concert, the Reverend added: “It is our hope that the authorities will be cautious with performers who are not sensitive to racial and religious issues when they apply to hold concerts in Singapore.”

In 2012, the NCCS had also voiced concerns over pop superstar Lady Gaga’s concert here, pointing to the profanity and blasphemous content of her performances.

The Catholic Church, in its Saturday statement, acknowledged that the Government has a “challenging” task in balancing freedom of the arts and public sensitivities.

However, Archbishop Goh had also said that “we cannot afford to be overly permissive in favour of artistic expression at the expense of respect for one’s religion”.

TODAY understands that Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam met leaders of some churches on Tuesday, as part of the Government’s regular engagement with religious leaders of various faiths. A similar engagement was held with mosque leaders a few weeks ago.

At the lunch meeting with church leaders, several issues were discussed, including the Madonna concert.

Mr Shanmugam reiterated the Government’s position that any attacks or denigration of any religion are not tolerated, and there are clear laws setting this out.

Meanwhile, some Madonna fans have come to the singer’s defence, saying her provocative antics are part of her artistic expression, and have nothing to do with disrespecting the Catholic faith.

Film-maker and performer Megan Barker, who is a Roman Catholic, said: “I agree that some of her material is provocative and if you are offended by it, don’t go and don’t play her music to your children. But it’s 2016, and I believe in freedom of expression, whether it’s talking about sex or religion, we should be able to sing, paint and openly discuss these topics.” ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY HON JING YI

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